The Greek Islands

Kalispera! Today we are back on the road as a complete group, driving from Athens to Kavala. It’s been an incredible and quick week, and we’re over the halfway hump and onto the last couple weeks of the tour. It’s hard to think we’re only just over halfway done, but have 10 more countries to visit. Haha. Ios was absolutely beautiful. The weather wasn’t quite as nice and we would’ve liked, with powerful winds and overcast conditions most of the time, but still made for a fantastic time. After the last post, I went quadding around the countryside with AJ, Kelli, Lauren and Jay, up the Greek hillish mountains, past donkeys and sheep, before the wind got a little unsafe and we head back for gyros and crepes. That night we head in for dinner at a neat restaurant that gave us many mystery shots over the course of dinner, before heading back to the Fun pub for more pool and jenga adventures, hanging out with the group and other tourists, finally getting to drink with our bus driver Liz. We ended up at another bar later, before heading back home. It was a rather messy night, but definitely one of the best nights out. And, surprisingly, we all felt fantastic in the morning, which was a pleasant surprise. The next day we spent quadding around again, but the wind was even stronger. The waves of the bay were super impressive, looking like a mountain range from above, and watching them roll into the beach, occasionally over the wall and flooding the street. Some of the quads didn’t enjoy the salt water under spray, which caused a couple stall and not starting incidents. We had a BBQ dinner that night, some ouzo, and back to Fun Pub. The next day we returned our beloved quads and waited for our late ferry before taking the craziest and roughest ferry ride yet, takin twice as long and making half the boat sick. We arrived in Santorini, had a late lunch at a restaurant across te road, and spent the afternoon chilling near the hotel, before walking into town to catch the sunset and grab some dinner (gyros for those of us cheap wads, gotta love paying €4 for a gyros and a drink). The town was mostly closed by 9 that night, so we wandered back and a few of us locked out of our rooms hung out watching some english movie on Greek tv over casual beers, ringing in my birthday at midnight. Friday was my birthday, and definitely one of the best yet! We slept in as per usual, and walked into town to catch cable cars down to the old port of Fira. We wandered the shops before catching our wooden ship to our volcano tour. We hiked the volcano of Santorini, seeing the craters and the beautiful sea surrounding us. We hopped back on the boat and went to another volcano, for a jump in the decently cold sea for a swim to the thermal pools of the bay, which get warmer in the summer, but weren’t as warm as our hot springs in Canada like I was expecting. We did the cold swim back to the boat, and back to the docks where we shopped and rode donkeys up the 500-ish stairs to the top. We spent the day wandering the streets and shops, eating gyros and ice cream, and having an awesome day. We chilled out for a bit, before going out for dinner at Mama’s restaurant, where she hugged and kissed us each as we entered, and gave me an extra god blessing hug and told us to all have safe sex. We ate a delicious dinner, Hannah gave me flowers, there was a birthday shot of good old ouzo, and we were off on the bar hopping adventure of free birthday drinks. It was a fantastic day and an awesome night, and a very awesome birthday. The next day was definitely a slow one, with a large group of hungover people eating Pringles and ordered in gyros in the morning in the hotel lobby. I walked the long walk to the beach with Trish, and met up with those that had quadded down, where we lay on the black sand beach and watched other quadders mess around. It was a relaxing day, exactly what we needed after that night. I had a siesta and some down time before we head out to catch the bus to Oia for the sunset, where we explored the town, ate gyros again, and watched the beautiful sunset. Most of us had an actual quiet night and head back to the hotel, watching movies on the tv in the lobby and having an actual night in. Yesterday we didn’t have to catch out ferry until late, so we got the day to explore again. Kyra and I spent the day shopping, picking up souvenirs and gifts, wandering the stores, eating gyros and ice cream, and seeing the streets as sights on the gorgeous summer day. It was the clearest and calmest day yet, and absolutely beautiful looking out over the caldera. We decided to take advantage of our last day in Santorini, and got another donkey ride, this time down and back up again, which was super fun and definitely worth doing again. However, going up is way less scary than going down… We wandered back to the hotel, had drinks on the roof, and we’re off on the bus back to the port to await our ferry, drinking cheap €1 beer in the sunshine. The ferry ride was a long 5 hours, but we eventually arrived back in Athens, where the Egypt people greeted us in costume, with hugs and stories as we were all reunited. Today we are on the coach. We saw the monument of the battle of Sparta, had a reenactment of the battle with mops and brooms, and have spent the rest of the time sharing stories and catching up. Tonight we get a short while to organize ourselves for tomorrow’s overnight campout in Gallipoli for the dawn service for ANZAC day. Both Alicia and I are planning on joining the Aussies and Kiwis for the dawn service, because hey, how often will we be in Gallipoli for Anzac day, even if it’s not something we observe at home? It should be really good, and hopefully I’ll learn a lot more about the day and the tragic events that occurred.

Athens and Ios

Oh my goodness Greece is gorgeous! I’m currently laying by the pool, sunning myself in the slight overcast sun, taking a siesta from a day of quadding. Athens was pretty neat, but almost a ghost town when we were there due to the holiday. If things were open and the streets were busy, it might be different, but it wasn’t the nicest city I’ve been to. We took our tour of the city, walked up a hill to get a view of the city and the acropolis, and learned some history from the guide. We got a quick stop at the marble stadium, and at the Parliament building just in time for the changing of the guards, and had a walkabout dinner downtown. I’d like to have gone in the Acropolis, but that was out of our control. Hopefully there’ll be time to do it when we go back after the islands. We said our goodbyes to the Egypt people and had an early night to prepare for our early morning. Yesterday we caught our early ferry to the island of Ios, arriving to a gorgeous pool at our hotel. We were given welcome shots of blueberry vodka (it may have been noon), and spent the rest of the day lounging poolside with a beer or cocktail in hand. It was a lovely, relaxing day, and we spends the whole time posting photos to the contiki Facebook group to make the Egyptian counterparts jealous as they waited at the airport for their flight. We went for a late dinner at a traditional place, eating fried cheese, stuffed grape leaves, calamari and souvlaki before heading out drinks at one of Ios’s several pubs, Fun, where we played pool and giant jenga. We got a casual day today, of sleeping in and doing what we want. A bunch of us rents quads, and I’ve spent the day quadding around the island, exploring the town, the old town, an attempt at finding Homer’s tomb, and racing around the countryside. It’s absolutely fantastic, and an awesome way to see the sites and smells of this place. I’m gonna head off and do some more, I have the quad for the day and plan on seeing all I can. :)