Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trip of a lifetime - Week 1

I'm back and I have no idea where to begin. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. We saw so many amazing things and had many fun adventures. I took at least 1200 pictures and then when you mix in my favs from my friends pictures, there's oh, about a good 1500 pics. Very hard to pick which ones to show you (if there's even anyone left out there reading this blog - give a quick shout out if you're out there, please, so I know whether or not this is just for my own benefit). I'm going to make a lot of them into collages because otherwise we'd be here forever.

To start off the trip, Karen and I had a 10 hour layover in London. I believe this happened for one of two reasons. So the airline had time to find my luggage that didn't arrive in London, or my luggage got lost so that I had something to sleep in because I forgot to pack a t-shirt to sleep in and the airline gave me a nice overnight kit (that was geared for an extra large man), but none the less, it had a large t-shirt that I ended up sleeping in my entire trip. See, there's a reason for everything! :)

I'll try to explain some of the pics below, but a lot of them are self explanatory.

Pic #1 - I was shocked to see that the plane was almost entirely full, yet I had 3 seats TO MYSELF!!! That has not happened to me in a LONG time. Whoo Hoo!

Pic #2 - The Underground is the Tube (train) into London. Since we had almost 10 hours, we decided to hit the city.

Pic #3 & #4 - Big Ben and me and the London Eye

Pic #5 - 8 - Parliament Buildings, cute building, me in a red phone booth and Karen sitting in Picadilly Square

Pic #9 - Just a bus driving by with a sign that said, "The end is nigh ... ish" and I thought it was funny and thought my blogger friends would think so, too. It was an ad for some theatre show.

Pic #10 - 15 - By the end of our time in London, Karen and I had walked quite aways and were quite tired, so we said, "Let's go find a park and lay down in the sun somewhere (yes, there was sun in London!)." We found this beautiful park and saw a lot of people all walking in a certain direction so we figured out that Buckingham Palace was just in front of the park and then we said, "I wonder if it's time for the changing of the guards?" Sure enough. We just happened to stumble upon the changing of the guards. Couldn't have planned it better ourselves.

Pic #16 - Mind the Gap!!! :)

Next collage is what we got to enjoy after 42 hours of travelling. It was WELL worth it!!! Welcome to Santorini!

Pic #1 - Nefeli Homes - our home away from home for the next week.

Pic #2 - Our breakfast for the next week - a lot of white bread

Pic #3 & 4 - Our view for the next week - not too shabby, hey?

The cruise ships can't dock in Santorini because the port is really small and they can't anchor because the caldera is too deep, so they float around in this bay and tender in their guests.
This is the capital town of Fira. This is where all the cruisers would come to. We were in a town called Imerovigli. It was about a 10 - 15 minute walk to Fira. We walked there (downhill, which made for a wonderful uphill walk home) pretty much every day, but preferred our quiet town which wasn't overrun with cruise ship tourists. It was fun to go there and walk around but then come "home" and be able to relax in the quiet with our view of the ships in the background.
Such beauty everywhere. It was hard not to take a picture at every turn.

Yes, the white buildings with blue roofs. These are churches, and you'll see a few pics of them. They were so cool looking and looked just like I'd seen in pictures or postcards or in the movies. I couldn't help but snap away.

After awhile I got mocked for taking pictures of my food, but I did manage to sneak a few in. Here's my first chicken souvlaki meal. So yummy! I was a tad disappointed when I realized that pita and tzatziki didn't come with the meal, but it was still fun to actually eat this meal in Greece, rather than the Greek restaurant in my town (which I will still love as well ... it's just a bit different).

When I showed you the picture of Fira, I bet you were asking yourself, "How do those cruisers get from the dock to the town?" Well, let me show you a few options.

Welcome to the donkey trail.
It goes down, down, down to the water. We walked down this trail amongst all the donkeys, some being ridden, some lone, runaway donkeys as shown in picture #6 below.

I have to add this video to show you what it's all about. Note the Greek argument going on, the steepness and length of the trail and the lady whose donkey would not move and she had to have help. Karen and I gave help like this many times while walking down the trail. What an experience!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

It took us about 30 minutes to walk down and my thighs were a quiverin' by the time we were done. But how did you get back up, you ask? The first time we walked this trail, Karen took her life in her hands and decided to do this ...

While I, ever the smart one, took this ... :)

I can't even begin to explain how beautiful the sunsets were. Pictures will never do it justice, but we had to try ... over and over and over again. I'll just give you a small taste.

So, you go to bed with that amazing image in your mind and then you wake up and have breakfast looking at this ...
And look at this during the day ...

And get to eat Moussaka for supper ...
Or have an option of something you're more used to from back home ...

And then be able to look at this again in the evening. Was I not spoiled? Seriously! Yes, BC is beautiful as well, but this was a different kind of beauty. God is so creative and I'm glad He decided to let us enjoy His creativity. Amazing!

At this point, Bren joined us and we decided to explore the island by walking to the town on the northern most point of the island. Our town was just north of the halfway point on the island. We did the usual and left the hotel at about noon ... the hottest time of day! Why we did this almost every day, I don't know, but you'd think we'd learn.
There was a nice trail that took us about 3 hours to get to the beautiful town of Oia. Yes, it was a long walk, but it was well worth it.
Even their thistles are pretty!
When we got there, we deserved a snack, so we thought we'd see about getting some pita and tzatziki.

Interesting, hey? We ordered the tzatziki first, thinking it would come with pita, but when they put this big plate of tzatziki in front of us, we said, "Pita bread?" to which they said, "Oh, you want bread, too?" It tasted really good, but just not how we're used to eating it. It wasn't cheap, either!

Then we walked around Oia and saw the sites.

Instead of walking back, we took the bus. We're not totally crazy! :) For supper that night, I figured I deserved a treat after walking all that way in the heat of the day, so I order this lovely dish.
I think my favorite day on the island ... no, I KNOW my favorite day on the island was the day we rented ATVs.

We rented the ATVs at ... you guessed it ... noon one day and had them for 24 hours. The first day we explored the southern part of the island and made a stop at the beach. We were all so hot that we sat in the shade all day, but did go and swim a bit in the Aegean Sea. For supper we had a guest come and visit.

I LOVE the look on Karen's face. A little indifferent while Bren seems like she wants to take the dog home with her. I'm not saying that Karen dislikes animals (she has her own pet bunny, you know), but definitely doesn't pay them the same attention as Bren. I'm somewhere in between, I'd say. We usually had either a cat or a dog sitting by our table waiting for any possible scraps we may "accidentally" drop. No one ever shooed these animals away, so we indulged them every so often.

On the way back to our hotel, we pulled over to watch the sunset yet again and Bren snapped this beauty.

The next morning we had the ATVs until noon so we got up and out the door a little earlier so we could still explore a little more. We went back to the Oia and went to their dock. Look familiar at all?

If you've seen the movie Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, this is the dock where Lena meets Kostas. Can you see me reinacting the scene where she fell in the water? Side note: we went and saw Sisterhood Part 2 the other night and they use this dock again. So cool to see it now that we've been there. Made me want to go back already. :(

Our last full day on the island we took a small boat tour of the area. When looking at one of the pictures of our view from our hotel, you can see an island off in the distance. This is actually an active volcano and is said to be one of the biggest volcanic eruptions on Earth in the last few thousand years (as told by Wikipedia). This volcano used to be part of Santorini until it blew and then created the beautiful caldera that is there today. Here I am on the top of the volcano.

This is a view of the donkey trail from out in the caldera. Can you see how windy, steep and long it is? Remember how I said the first time Karen rode the donkey and I took the cable car? This time we all took the cable car. :)

We had to check out what this bluff was all about ... in the heat of the day.

If we hadn't explored, we never would've known that on the other side of that bluff was a church hanging on the side of the cliff. Isn't that the perfect place for a church? I wonder how many parishioners it has. Heck of a hike every Sunday.

Thought I'd show you what our cute, little room looked like. It was built into the side of the cliff, so we were pretty much staying in a cave. At least it was nice and cool in there.

One last picture of our roof garden.

After our week there, I said, "I can't believe we still have 3 weeks of our holiday to go. I honestly could go home right now and feel like we had an amazing vacation."

Goodbye, Santorini. You were so good to us. I hope to see you again some day.


Lovella ♥ said...

Fiona it looks just wonderful. I love the collages that works really well. Oh and the food pictures? They may have mocked your for that but this is one girl that took careful note of each dish . .
I look so forward to the rest of your trip. I sympathize with having to select pictures from so many wonderful pics to chooses from. So far, you are doing great,,makes we want to go.

Kori's House said...


Your pictures are awesome... I even see your cool blue sandal :)

Did everyone smell like Garlic?? Just wondering.

Did you say 3 MORE weeks! So cool!

Keri's Collage... said...

I can't wait to read/see more! What an amazing start to your vacation!
Every last bit of it looks exciting!!!

Unknown said...

I was wondering how this trip came about. It looks and sounds like you had a phenomenal time!

Oh, and Gary wants to know what's in the moussaka. He wants some. :)

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh.... so great to relive the memories. You've done an excellent job recapping the adventure. Looking forward to more installments. :)

Marni said...

you're a wonderful tour guide! and yes, you still have people reading your blog. :)

cayman77 said...

Oh my! I am just dreaming of the paradise you left. It looks like you had many memories to last a lifetime!
London looks amazing!

Rachel said...

What an incredible trip. I am jealous!!!! It's on my top five places I NEED TO SEE BEFORE I DIE!!!

Kori's House said...

Hi Fiona... remember us :)
blogworld... H E L L O ...

Sinead said...

Amazing! We spent one day in Santorini after taking a day cruise from Crete...and have promised ourselves we will go back for a week at some point in our lives! We thought it was absolutely beautiful and completely magical...I am delighted to see you were able to get the true experience. Loved looking at your pictures, thanks Fiona!

Keri's Collage... said...

Missing you in blogland :(