Call that a tour

Trip Start May 01, 2006
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Trip End Sep 01, 2006


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Monday, May 15, 2006

The "lack of information" gremlin kicked in again this morning.
We packed up and headed to Fira to get the Volcano and Hot Springs tour before leaving Santorini to destinations as yet unknown. Three more travel agents in Fira could not give me any further ideas how to get off the island or in which direction to head.

So we booked the 3 hour tour and perhaps an answer about our next destination would appear this afternoon. The tour description consisted of less than a dozen words: volcano, hot springs, boat tour, departs 11am and returns 2pm. There was no other information provided - none at all!! The boat trip itself was quite pleasant and after about 20 minutes we stopped at the base of the volcano. What they completely failed to inform any of the passengers, including the elderly couple onboard, was that the walk to the volcano takes an hour, uphill, on a slippery steep gravel path. The BOSS and I had worn thongs which was incredibly unsuitable footwear, and had we been told we could have easily worn our sneakers. The only alternative to climbing the hill was to sit on the boat for an hour and a half with nothing to do and nothing to look at.
We then headed around to the so-called hot springs and the boat moored about a hundred metres from the entrance. Passengers were then told that they had to swim this 100m of deep ocean before reaching the hot springs - and that anyone who could not swim or was not fit enough or was too old should not attempt it and should stay on the boat. As more than half of the 50+ passengers on board fitted into these above categories, I am sure they would have appreciated being given this information before departure and before forking over 30 euros. The last vital piece of information that we were not given was that the temperature of the 100m was approximately ten degrees. Upon executing a perfect swan dive off the side of the boat and swimming about 20m, my diaphragm was so restricted by the freezing water, the BOSS and a cute German tourist had to assist me and another girl who suffered an asthma attack to the warm waters. The hot springs turned out to be a brown, murky, lukewarm, jellyfish infested, disgusting pond. Although we could now touch the bottom the slimy sharp rocks made it impossible to stand up. No sooner had we reached the "springs", the boat sounded its horn for our return. Luckily enough the return swim was achieved with the aid of a life saving ring.

I have done many tours during my travels and also while I was employed as a travel agent and this is by far the worst tour I have ever experienced and I can't believe that they continue to suck people into buying this piece of rubbish.

The BOSS was able to redeem the day by taking a donkey ride up the steep stepped path back to the town of Fira. I decided to retain what was left of my dignity and got the cable car instead. Donkey video evidence at a later date.

The BOSS says "I named the donkey 'Donkey'. It was a hell of an experience and next time I am taking a pillow".

At the conclusion of our respective transport up the mountain we went back to the travel agent and booked on the first flight out of here. (Funnily enough, the travel agent did not ask us how our "tour" was - she already knew what our answer would be).
Relieved at finally making a decision, we spent the rest of the afternoon in a coffee shop in the plaza square.

Later 1.15am - the Rome connection is 7am in the morning - so guess who is spending a night in Athens airport. Every backpacker must do this at least once in their life - for the BOSS this will be her first time. I'm too old to be sleeping on the floor so I'm going to stay up all night playing on the free internet.

Sleeping (or not sleeping) at the airport is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Okay, the marble floor is cold and hard but a sleeping bag fixes that. Yes, it's light and noisy but it has clean toilets, free internet, food and coffee laid on and if you are really really lucky - you can get one of the few bench seats that don't have armrests and you can stretch out.
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