Home of the Gods:Athens,Ios,&Santorini-Spring B II
Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
23Trip End Jun 04, 2012
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I have learned about the history of Greece since I was a young kid playing age of mythology ( An awesome computer game), and ever since that time I have been fascinated with the place. I never understood how just one simple yet beautiful place on our planet could have so much history and significance in the shaping of who we are today. But now I have a much better understanding of the place that was once home to Achilles, Hercules, and many others.
My journey to Greece started from Istanbul, and was the second leg of our spring break adventure. The plan was to stay in Athens for a day and then stay two days in Ios and Santorini each. Athens was not what I expected, for one it is much more modern than I would have expected and it was unfortunately also much dirtier than I would have presumed. Most Americans think that Greece is in such a horrible state having riots everywhere and basically in chaos; This Is Not True At All. The media is always searching for a story and when one little thing happens it is blown out of proportion immediately. There are many fiscal problems with the country and there are protests and service strikes but overall the people in Greece do a great job of helping you out and working around all of the announced protests and strikes.
Athens does however have an incredible amount of history and for the most part it is very well preserved for how old everything is. The problem with ancient ruins is that they usually need a lot of up keep and this was prevalent for all of the places that we visited including: the acropolis, temple of Zeus, ancient stadium, and a few other random ancient buildings and temples. It was awesome to be able to walk in the same place that the great people of history did hundreds of years earlier. We were able to see all of the main sights in one day in Athens like we had been told, and got ready for our relaxing time in the islands.
We went to Ios after Athens and it was by far one of the most beautiful and surreal places I have ever been in my life. It was my favorite place in Greece and I will be going back there at some other time in my life with out a doubt. We stayed at an amazing hostel/ hotel that overlooked the Aegean Sea and had perfect views that I will never forget. The first day in Ios we were able to go and walk around the somewhat deserted island and see everything that you can imagine a Greek Island would have, from the white houses with blue roofs, to the small Gyros stands with old grandmas sitting on their chairs. Our second day in Ios was filled with adventure and ATV'S. We were able to rent ATV'S for only about 30 US dollars which included a full tank of gas and we had them for 24 hours. We started early in the morning and drove all over the Island exploring small city streets as well as dirt and rocky roads leading to small beaches. Unfortunately it was pretty windy while we were there so we weren't really up for going into the water. Later in the day we drove the ATV'S about a hour up a very rocky mountain road leading to one of the highest peaks on the Island which provided a perfect view of everything, including some of the many small chapels built all over the island in seemingly random and remote places. This was probably the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life, I will never forget it. That night we went back to the Hotel and joined a group of locals in a pool tournament, and I even met a couple of Brits who moved to the Island and had been there for over 20 years. They started backpacking Europe after college and when the got to Ios they decided they loved the place so much that they wanted to move there, and they have been there ever since. I can't tell you how tempting that sounded, literally ha ha.
The next morning we had about 4 hours before our ferry to Santorini so we got back on the ATV'S and continued exploring the Island. We took the 2 hour ride to Homer, the writer of the Odessy's, tomb. The tomb was all the way on the other side of the Island and not really near anything else, it even had a newer and very nice road leading right to it and nothing else was on this 2 or 3 mile road. After exploring the coastline near Homer's grave we headed back to the other side of the Island and got our things ready to catch our ferry to Santorini.
Our ferry ride was only about two hours long and we arrived in Santorini around 2 in the afternoon. The owner of the hostel met us at the port and drove us to the hostel which was in Thira which is near the main town on the Island. The hostel was pretty nice but a little out of the way, so they suggested that we rent ATV'S there since the bus system was not in full operation yet, because it was not yet tourist season. I am extremely glad that I was able to rent those beautiful, yet very weak machines, lets just say they aren't as nice or powerful as the ones on the ranch. However, they did a terrific job with taking us all around the Island of Santorini, which was a little different than I would have expected it to be. It had a lot more open farm land and was a little dirtier than one usually sees in all the tourist pictures, but there definitely are the picturesque spots that one sees on a typical basis. The first day we got there somewhat late so we just unpacked our things and walked around for about 30 minutes before finding a good place to eat.
The next morning we woke up pretty early once again in order to get picked up by the mechanic of the ATV place and took us to his shop so that we would know where it was for later in the day when we returned from our boat tour of the volcano and hot springs. After getting dropped off we walked down the 600 something stairs in order to get to the old port where we would be departing for our expedition. The water was perfectly clear and just as beautiful if not more beautiful than the water in Croatia. The sun sulked boat ride to the volcano took about 30 minutes and once there we had a little over an hour to hike up the short volcano and take some good pictures if the surrealism that is the Aegean and Greek Islands. Following the hike we proceeded to the hot springs, which we about a 10 minute boat ride away. The boat simply parked in a small bay and told us to jump in and swim maybe 50 yards to the supposed hot springs, this was when we found out that the water was pretty cold and that as disappointing as it might sound, the hot springs were actually more like luke warm. Nonetheless, it was another awesome experience and I really did not mind the coldness of the water, which was nothing when compared to the Pacific Ocean or Lake Tahoe. After the boat tour Eric and I decided that we would be the strong and fit men that we are ;) haha and climb up the 600 something stairs back to the top of the Island.
The girls on the other hand took the cable car to the top, of course. The climb to the top was pretty difficult for someone who hasn't worked out like I am used to in quite a while, but in the end it wasn't that bad and we made it up only breaking a little sweat.
After the tour we went and had some amazing Gyros and a large bottle of water, on what was turning out to be a very nice and sunny day, which was a warm welcome from the grey that we have been used to. Later that day we took the ATV'S and began to explore more of the Island that we had not yet seen. Santorini is a very narrow but long island and the roads are able to take you pretty much anywhere that you would want to go. Kinsey and I decided to go to a view beaches and on the west end of the island which is where the famous sunset pictures are taken overlooking the village built on the hill. It did not disappoint one bit, and we even found an open field with some wild bushed that we were able to jump the ATV'S on. Yes, I went ATV jumping and I have pictures to prove it.
After the long day of exploring we headed back into the main town where we got dinner for the night and a few drinks around town. We were pretty exhausted though so we went to bed relatively early in order to once again get up early and explore more of the Island on our last day there. We got up and went to the Red and Black sand beaches that are world famous. They were definitely interesting to see and something that I have never seen anywhere else.
After our time exploring we returned the ATV's and got ready to head down to the port for our 9 hour ferry back to Athens where we would stay one more night before our flight the next day at 2. On our ferry ride back we met a Canadian guy in his late 20's who had been living in London for the last 4 years as a play-write and tour guide. He was now moving to Paris for the next few years and plans on traveling and moving all over the world. He plans to live on each continent, excluding the Arctic, for a minimum of 4 years, which I too would love to do. The one bad thing that happened on the trip was that somehow I forgot my passport in Santorini, and only realized it when I got to Athens. I was pretty stressed but decided my only option was to go to the embassy in the morning and see how things would turn out. Fortunately, I was able to get a temporary passport and made my flight back to Prague.
When looking back on this trip I realize it is something that I will never forget in my life, I am truly a very lucky person to be able to experience all of these things, and it has made me had a much greater and more in depth view of the world. I think everyone who is able should explore as much of the world as they can while they can, and thank all those who make it possible.