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JLH370's Trip Report for Santorini and Folegandros

JLH370's Trip Report for Santorini and Folegandros

Jun 11th, 2007, 03:02 AM
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JLH370's Trip Report for Santorini and Folegandros

I'm cutting and pasting from my travel blog, so hopefully this wil work fine.

After 20 hours of traveling, door to door, we are safely back. For some reason the travel back was much harder on me. Probably because I was drugged up on the flight out there and slept the entire 10 hours of the Athens flight. The trip back was brutal. A long metro to the airport, 10 hour flight to Philly, 2 hour flight to Charlotte, lots of begging to get us on an earlier flight, 4 movies, lots of pretzels, you get the picture. I have never been so excited to see my bed before in my life.

So the trip was GREAT! I wouldn't say it was what I expected, because I really had no idea what to expect. I can't really compare Santorini to Folegandros; we loved them both for different reasons. Santorini was beautiful, touristy and commercial. We were not too thrilled about the town of Fira there, but much preferred the more artsy town of Ia (where most of the pictures are taken when you visualize the Greek Islands) at the edge of the town. We were technically there in "off-season" and Fira was jamb-packed with tourists. It was a bit claustrophobic and I can't imagine what it would be like in July and August.

Ia was pretty magical. Quaint back alleys with low doors, flowers and a bit-run down architecture that captures a charm in a way that is indescribable. We only saw a sliver of the world famous sunsets, but it was pretty. We really enjoyed this island and had the most memorable two meals (Josh and I are split on which was our favorite) and an awe-inspiring hike here.

Folegandros is a remote island of only about 650 inhabitants (If I remember correctly). It took quite a bit of work to figure out the ferries and we only knew if we would have a ferry back, 36 hours before its departure. Completely worth the trek, though. Folegandros truly felt almost untouched by the outside world. I say "almost" untouched, because although you could feel the authenticity here, the younger men wore diesels and ipods were used at hotels to play the mood music.

Our time on Folegandros was quite relaxing. Our most difficult decisions of the day were usually which outdoor restaurant to eat at under the hanging lights in one of the five beautiful interconnected squares. We found our favorite beach on this island and had some great conversations with other travelers and locals.

I completely maxed out the space in my travel journal and I apologize in advance for how long my trip report will probably end up. I look back on my Costa Rica trip and love reading what I wrote then as it brings back memories of moments that I would otherwise have forgotten over time. Please enjoy and I hope that by reading about our travels, you will get the travel bug too.
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Jun 11th, 2007, 03:03 AM
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Greece - Day 1 - Traveling

THE FLIGHTS

All of our flights, ferries, etc. were on time throughout the trip. So we had no major catastrophes with travel plans. Josh was deadest on getting to the airport early so Chris dropped us off by 10:55 A.M. for our 1 P.M. flight. By 11:03 A.M. we were standing on the other side of security wondering what to do for 2 hours. We ended up just planting it at the gate and chilled.

The flights were uneventful. Well, the Athens flight had its moments, but apparently I was passed out for them. I have never taken sleeping medicine before now. Because of the 7 hour time difference, I was worried I wouldn’t get any sleep and that it would trigger my migraines. I gave in and took the medicine. I really didn’t notice any difference other than the fact that I slept at least 7 hours of the 10 hour flight. That is completely unheard of for me. I normally can’t sleep on planes at all. Josh, however, said that I was acting drunk and saying nonsense things. I woke up in the middle of the flight and thought that I should take another to go back to sleep. He forbid it, though.
While I was asleep, I apparently missed the near fight in the two seats in front of us. There were 2 guys in their 30’s in front of us. In front of them were a family of 3 who would rotate positions. Apparently, Dad wanted to lay his chair back – pretty normal for an overnight flight, right? The guy in front of us wasn’t having it, though, and would kick the chair repeatedly. Mind you, this same guy stored all his items under my seat, instead of his like you are supposed to, so that he could have more leg room and had his seat reclined the whole flight. Poor Dad finally got to recline after words were exchanged and the military looking guy next to us stared down the troublesome duo. I was happily asleep, though, and only Josh got to enjoy the shanigans.

Going through customs was very quick and painless. We found Aegean and were ecstatic when we were allowed to each carry both our carryons on the plane. We each packed our large camping backpacks and one additional small backpack. We didn’t check any luggage AND we fit all our liquids in those two little Ziploc bags. I was quite impressed with our packing abilities. The airline not only said you could only have one bag as a carry on, but it said it had to be smaller than either of our bags was. We lucked out. Our liquids bags got checked twice before we even got to security. Good thing I had packed them well.

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Jun 11th, 2007, 03:04 AM
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Greece - Day 2 - Arriving in Santorini


ARRIVING IN SANTORINI
The flight to Santorini took ½ hour longer because of traffic at the airport. We circled for a while and got to see the island from above. Not having luggage checked was a blessing. There was quite a mess of people waiting. It was drizzling outside so we hit the ATM quickly and grabbed a taxi to Fira.

THE LUNCH THAT NEVER HAPPENED AT TAVERNA NIKOLAS
We were quite hungry by the time we got to Fira, the biggest town on Santorini, and decided to grab a bite there before catching a bus to Ia. We had heard good things about Taverna Nikolas. After walking in circles for a while (it seemed each shop owner we asked for directions sent us in an entirely different direction) we found it. The place was small and backed, but one table was just opening up as we came in the front door. After telling us that we could wait for that table to be cleared, the Owner came back over to us and told us we weren’t welcome because we had bags with us. I started to argue that the two tables in front of were all occupied with guests who had more luggage then we did, but he repeated it again. He then said that if we really wanted to eat there that we could put our bags out in the alley in the rain. I was so overtired that I felt myself about to cry. Instead I pulled out my guide book and took us to the nearby Stani.

LUNCH AT STANI (FIRA)
At Stani, we made our way up the stairs to the rooftop. We were seated immediately and they even gave us a corner table so that we had more room to put our bags up against the wall. Since it was raining they had plastic covered pulled down over the open walls. There was a good breeze and it felt great after 20 long hours of traveling.

I ordered Mousaka (eggplant, potatoes & cream sauce casserole) and Josh got the roasted chicken and potatoes. We shared some water and tatziki. The tatziki was wonderful. Maybe I’d been living off of plane food for too many hours, but I ate almost the whole plate of it myself. It was extremely. I realized it didn’t compare to any I had ever had in the US .
ON TO IA

After lunch we ventured back to the bus stop, just behind the taxi stand) and jumped on the bus to Ia. Some people were confused about the bus because the sign on it read “Ia” and they were headed to “Oia”. They would walk up to the attendant and say “oy-yah?” Then the attendant would start this quick, almost song-like, repetition of “ee-yah, ee-yah, oy-yah”. I felt like I should join in with an Old McDonald had a farm… I believe that the town can be spelled both ways, but that the pronunciation is with the O silent.
The bus stopped right in front of the Ecorama Holidays office at the end of the route to Ia in the main turnaround. There are only a few shops there, so it is impossible to miss it. We discovered that if you tell the bus driver what hotel you are going to, he’ll stop at the right place for you. Good to know; much easier than trying to learn all his stops.

MUSSES STUDIOS
We checked in with Ecorama. They also have an internet café there, that I would end up using later, for 4 euros an hour. After we got checked in for #5, we were told to wait 5 minutes and that someone would come to take us to our room. After 20 minutes, the rain was picking up and I really wanted to put my things down and rest. We asked if we could just have directions to our place and we would walk. After much deliberation and a phone call to the driver, we were told how to get there. (From the one side of the phone call I heard, the driver had not left and wasn’t intending to for a while). The directions were really simple. We just had to walk back down the main street a few minutes and turn left after Alkion (sp?) restaurant. Musses was right there.

The studio was quaint and fully stocked like we had been told. Downstairs was a bathroom, kitchenette (with dishes, pots, microwave, minifridge, hot plate, etc.) a table for four and a sitting bench/sofa. There were French doors opening on the sea facing (not caldera) terrace. The coolest part (a lot of the places had these) was how the inserts on the door opened so that you could keep the doors open but see out the glass windows in the doors. You could also open the whole thing and just have the screens.
We really liked Musses and enjoyed staying there. It was a quick walk over to the caldera side. (If you are coming from what I call the boardwalk, walking away from Ia and towards Fira, turn left at the Filotera Villas and that will take you down to the main road and close to Musses. It is easier to walk that route than along the busy main street.) Considering it was only 45 euros a night and got a full kitchen, I think it is a great budget place. The cons were that it was the most uncomfortable bed of our trip. I felt springs. Also, we had cold showers the whole time. Now, we later learned that at many of the places you have to turn the hot water heater on 15-30 minutes before taking a shower. This was probably the case here and we just didn’t know it.

Once we were situated, we took showers and semi-unpacked (more like dumped) the contents of our bags. We knew that if we stayed in the room for too long that we would fall asleep and we were determined to get adjusted to the time difference. We grabbed the camera backpack (very nifty contraption we bought for the trip. It looks just like a small hiking pack, but is made with special compartments for the camera and has a place on the outside to store tripod) and our guide book and headed into Ia. We had no idea where to go as we were dropped off at the main road, closer to the edge of the island, but we had passed all the main resorts further down the street. We opted to go back towards the bus stop and start wondering around.


AROUND IA
We started by just wondering around the alleys that we later realized were a little off the tourist route. As soon as we stepped back into the first alley, we were glad that we had staying here rather than Fira. Beautiful galleries, less crowded and more sophisticated. It was still drizzling outside and there were hardly any people out. It was actually quite peaceful seeing Ia for the first time this way.

DINNER AT KATINA’S
We ended up deciding to hike down to Ammoudi, after we found our way over to the main part of the Ia village. We stopped as we trekked down and as Josh took pictures I would say “oh, I’ve read about that place”. We got down to the harbor just as the rain cam in. We ran for cover under Katina’s outside roof and nabbed a front row table for what would prove to be a beautiful show. Throughout dinner the rain poured down and we watched as the boats rocked back and forth. I can’t imagine a more peaceful setting. It was like lying in bed listening to the pitter patter of rain on a tin roof. We shared fried Calamari, a delicious and huge chunk of feta, a huge tomato salad, a “sea dream” fish, a beer and water. It completely filled the two of us up. Plus, at the end we got complimentary tastes of San Vinto. The funniest part was when the waiter asked Josh which fish he wanted and he said, “a little one”. They smiled and told him he had to pick it out from inside. I wouldn’t go look at the assortment but he said they have all the fresh, whole fish out from what the fishermen bring in that day. When they brought it out, it was served, cooked, as a whole fish. It was complete with the head in tact. We had no idea how to eat it. Although we were embarrassed, we were more concerned about butchering the dinner. Since I was the girl, I politely asked the Owner how to eat it. He again smiled and asked if we’d like it filleted without the bones. We happily said yes. Those folks must have thought we were idiots. When the fish returned it was open but still had the bones. We were happy enough.

While we had been waiting for dinner to be served, we noticed signs about, “Extras Wanted”. Once we read the sign we realized that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 was being filmed in Santorini when we returned later in the week. Two of my favorite TV shows are/were Gilmore Girls and Ugly Betty – so I was pretty excited that the two stars would probably be here. I’m guessing that filming here will be much different than in LA.


THE END TO OUR FIRST DAY IN GREECE
Right as dinner ended, the clouds were parting slightly and the rain had stopped so we decided to climb back up to Ia. Oh my gosh! That climb was horrible. I thought I was in shape, but I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. The sky had started turning black, so we were almost running up the steep incline.

We weren’t ready to go home yet, when we got back to the top of Ia. It was still early and we tried to photograph (unsuccessfully) the lightning for quite a while. We walked through some shops and I told Josh that “Yes, even though that glass blown chandelier is made with Santorini sand, is absolutely gorgeous, would look awesome over the new kitchen table and can be shipped and rewired, it would cost almost as much as this entire trip>” He was a little bummed but I finally got him on to another subject. We wondered into a bunch of gorgeous galleries. We made note of one photographer (I think his first name was Nikos and his studio is to the right of Zoe Houses) who did beautiful work.
By 9 the lightning had started to welcome rain and we ducked into an unnamed bar/café that seemed to be the liveliest. The doors were all open and it was on the corner across from Moby Dick’s. They served drinks and ice cream! We nixed the ice cream and each had a drink while we waited for the rain to stop. As we sat we marveled at how the dogs would all lay at your feet at the restaurants, but never beg for food. Most of them looked healthy and as if begging wasn’t required.

A little after 10 we headed home, proud we had stayed up so late
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Jun 11th, 2007, 03:07 AM
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Greece - Day 3 - The HIke Across Santorini


THE HIKE FROM IA TO FIRA
Before we left I had printed a bunch of hikes, for both Santorini and Folegandros, from this website: http://www.cycladen.be/IntroductionEng.htm. It was great. The hikes were extremely detailed in the directions and gave you an idea of what you were hiking by.

We intended to be up and hiking by 8. However, I woke up at 7:30 (I adjusted to the time difference immediately) and let Josh sleep in for another 45 minutes. I was lucky this morning and was able to get one leg shaved before the water turned cold! We still got out the door by 9. We decided to do the hike from Ia to Fira. It said it would take 2 ½ hours and we anticipated it would be more scenic than strenuous. Boy, were we wrong. We were going up and down mountains. There were stone paths at some places, but most of it was dirt or hiking through a bit of rock. There were some absolutely beautiful views along the way and we passed a bunch of old churches. One church near Fira was very stunning. We went up close to get pictures and I was quite startled when I realized the Greek man sitting on the church was not a statue, but a real person staring at me silently.


We saw people during the first and last ½ hours of the trip, but were completely by ourselves on during the middle portion of the hike. The sun was going in and out and I can’t imagine how hot it would be during the heat of summer.

It was neat to come into Fira from this way as we got to see a lot of the resorts and restaurants we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. There was a group of private houses in a resort like setting that were absolutely gorgeous.

LUNCH IN FIRA AND FERRIES
Once we got into Fira, we grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting on the bus to check out the wineries. We each got a spinach pie that seemed to fill us up at the Bakery next to the Toast Club on the main street, not too far from the bus stop.
We then decided to go ahead and buy our ferry tickets to Folegandros. (You can’t get them in Ia, only Fira.) That was simple enough and the tickets were only 7 euros a person for the 3 hour ride. We tried to get our tickets for Sunday also, but were a little shocked when they told us that there were no ferries that day – Only Saturday or Monday. I got out my trusty printouts that I had brought with the schedule for Sunday. The lady shrugged and said it must have been cancelled. We decided to try somewhere else tomorrow and see if we got a different story.

WINERIES, ETC.
After rejuvenating ourselves, we hopped on a bus to Kamari, as the map looked like it should put us in the vicinity of Canaves Roussos. True to form, we missed the stop and saw the winery on the right as we buzzed by. Somehow we got our point across to the bus attendant and he told us we could stay on the bus and he would drop us off on the way back. It worked out, because we were able to see the little town by Kamari Beach where there were quite a bit of hotels and beachgoers. This town seemed much different than the other two. They had a lot of outdoor restaurants.

During our bus ride, we had a group of Greek teenagers behind us. They brought their own boom box and played music and danced during the whole ride. They were obviously regulars on the bus. I was sitting there thinking, “man Greeks have an artist that sounds just like Jay-Z”. Then I realized it was. I don’t know if these kids spoke any English but it was hilarious hearing them sing along to pretty inappropriate hip-hop songs and wonder if they have any idea what they are saying.
Canaves Roussos has a small cave like room that you can go and guide yourself through. There are some explanatory signs that tell you what you are looking out and printouts in several languages. We looked around for a few minutes and then came back out to the tasting bar. I believe there were 7 wines that you could taste for 1 euro each. I tried the Niktori, which was a fairly good dry white and the Athiri which was a semi-sweet white rose. The latter was way too sweet for me. The terrace where they serve you is extremely peaceful. A lot of vines were growing overhead on the terraces and quiet spa-like music played in the background. We relaxed for a few minutes before making our way to the next destination – Art Space.

We had pieced together maps and directions and had a hard time figuring out exactly where all these places were. The lady at Canaves told us that Art Space was just a minute back down the main street and then off to the left. Once we were on the main street we saw signs that pointed us all the way to Art Space.


Art Space was one of our favorite places during the whole trip. It is a high end art gallery set in a series of cave-like buildings. The owner also makes wine and if I understood him correctly he had the last working pasta sauce making system. I believe he said he uses it for both the wine and the sauce. Don’t quote me on that because he had a very thick accent and I only understood about every other word.

When we first got there we were the only visitors and the Owner, in fact, was trying to fit in some lunch. He explained how busy it is and that it is hard for him to find time to eat. He unlocked the first cave for us and I instantly fell in love with the space. High quality art in a very rustic setting. Only a few minutes after we entered, a group of five Australians showed up. We ended up looking at each of the three rooms with them. The Owner explained that most of the work is from top notch Greek Artists, but that he did have some pieces from a Boston artist who loved painting Greece . The Owner would explain the background of any artist that intrigued you.
When I was awestruck with the beauty of the space, I told the Owner how much I loved it. He looked at me carefully, smiled and said, “You have beautiful eyes. (I actually get complimented on my eyes a bit, so I wasn’t too taken back, but then he continued.) Everyone has them, but so few people ever use them.” I thought about the simplicity and truth in what he had said. This set the mood for the rest of my trip – To actually “see” what we were experiencing.

After we were done looking at the art, we were invited to try his wines. We tried the San Vinto, the Nixtori and two grappas. He got a thrill out of seeing me try his double distilled grappa, which was an extremely potent straight alcohol. We hadn’t tried any grappa during our trip, yet, but the other group of folks told us that it was much better than any they had had at the restaurants so far. I bought a bottle of white for only 10 euros and he wrapped it up for us to take. He also gave us some suggestions of places to go in Pyrgos (the last small town on our itinerary for the afternoon), but Josh’s ankle was hurting and we decided to catch the bus.
Well, we should have just caught the bus back in front of Canaves Roussos. We decided to walk a little to meet the bus at the next stop. We were passed by the bus coming the other way, so we knew that it would be coming back around in about 15 minutes. We were relieved when we finally found a big blue sign with a red X on it. We had seen those before and assumed it meant bus stop. I looked in my guide book to see if there was an indication as to what bus signs looked like, but nothing. Within a few minutes we saw the bus come, keep going and stop about 50m past us. Hmmmm. We hadn’t found the bus stop. This was not good and the next bus wasn’t scheduled to come for quite some time. We flagged down a taxi and asked him to take us to Fira where we would catch the bus back to Ia. He tried to convince us that we had already missed the Ia bus and to use him all the way back. We decided to take our chances. That was a good choice as the taxi driver was wrong (or lying) and we still had 5 minutes to catch the bus. We were exhausted and headed back to the studio to rest before dinner.

We got back and Josh read (although he said he was taking a nap) while I went into Ia to get on the internet and check the ferry situation. On a side note, when did my husband start reading? In the 7 ½ years that we have been together, I think he has read one book. On this trip he read 3.

DINNER AT CANDOUNI
When I returned, we got ready and headed into Ia for dinner. We were amazed at the hordes of people walking towards the end of the village. We made our way over there and saw everyone lining the walks a good hour before sunset. We didn’t want to waste this great lighting and spent most of the time just wandering and getting pictures. We then fought our way into a spot on the castle to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, the sun slipped behind the low horizon clouds and there was no Santorini sunset to watch.

We then headed over to Candouri where I had made reservations earlier in the day when I was doing my internet errand. I wandered into the restaurant and was told to pick my table for the night. I ended up with #4, which I think was the prettiest. It was tucked into the left corner as you entered. When they reserve the table, they reserve it for the whole night. We came in and helped ourselves to our table. I can’t say enough about this restaurant. First it is absolutely beautiful at night – almost magical. I’ve only been to one restaurant that even came close in terms of romantic. I love candlelight, so that probably had a lot to do with it. There were candles everywhere. The walls that enclosed the terrace had alcoves built into them where candles were placed. The old wax dripped down the walls. There wood and fabric awnings over the sides of the outdoor terrace. Absolutely gorgeous. There were four other couples outside with us and a few groups inside. There were enough people there that it was alive, but not so many that we didn’t feel privacy. The closest table of people was a good 15-20 feet away. We ordered the Grilled Houllumi cheese as an appetizer. (I get hungry just thinking about it). They also brought a fava bean dip and caper spread with the bread. I had the penne in a light white cream sauce and Josh had the lamb with mustard sauce. He said that the lamb was the tenderest lamb he has ever eaten. We don’t usually order bottles of wine, but we felt as though this was a special occasion. We took the woman’s advice (I’m guessing she was the Owner’s wife?) and ordered the house white “Candouni” wine. I was a little skeptical why she was pushing the cheapest bottle of wine, but I figured that they must clear more on the house wine. I was wrong. The wine was a delicious semi-sweet white. Not too dry, not too sweet. Josh asked for a taste, but I knew what that meant. He would always ask for a taste, then pucker his face when he sipped it and hand it back. However, for some reason he really liked this one and ended up sharing the bottle with me.


We couldn’t believe it when we realized it was 11 and we were still at dinner. We got our check and headed out. We went over to Melenios bakery, because we had been eyeing the desserts in the window that looks down into their shop. We ended up getting a chocolate soufflé, a piece of mixed cake and a beer for 5 euro. You can’t beat that. I don’t think the beer was really part of the deal and it was a very shady encounter where Josh really wanted one of the Coronas that a “friend of the bakery” was drinking. We took our dessert back to the studio and ate it on the terrace before heading off to bed.
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Jun 11th, 2007, 03:09 AM
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Greece - Day 4 - Folegandros

THE BACKWARDS BUS RIDE
We slept in until 9, packed and headed to the center to check out a catch a bus to Fira. Everything went smoothly until we were on the bus. About one mile into the route we came across another bus and couldn’t cross the paths. (The roads are very narrow and hard for even two cars to pass). After sitting there for 15 minutes, with our bus driver on the phone the whole time, our bus backed up and the other bus passed. We had lost 20 minutes, but thought that we would continue on our way now. We weren’t sure what was going on, but the bus then started backing up the entire way back to the center of Ia. There was lots of yelling between the bus driver and a few locals on the bus. We ended up taking another route down by the sea, although, I don’t think it was any faster. My guess is that we were so far off now that they just wanted to avoid the first half of the stops. One couple was so mad that they refused to pay until they got to Fira. The money guy gave them a stern look and told them to be more polite. The one good thing was that we got a free tour of even another part of the island. We went by Sigalas Winery and the scenery was pretty.

Luckily, we had left really early and still had 30 minutes to kill before catching our bus to the port. WE went up the main road in Fira and stopped another travel agency. They told us the same thing – no ferries on Sunday. This was upsetting and we figured there was nothing we could do from here. We would wait until we got to Folegandros to figure out what to do. I went back to the bus station while Josh went to find food. Ten minutes later he returned with no food. He didn’t look happy and said that he spent all his time waiting at the gyro place and they wouldn’t serve him. They served everyone around him and beside him, but completely ignored him. Fira was not making a good impression on us. Maybe we just weren’t going to the nice places…
OUR EVENTFUL FERRY RIDE TO FOLEGANDROS

Disgruntled, we got on the bus at noon and headed for the port. We found some gyros before loading onto the boat and were off for our 3 ½ hours on the sea. We tried to sit outside, but the wind made it miserably cold and we went inside. We hung out in a quiet cabin area with several other American groups. I was surprised at the number of people who would leave their luggage unattended and go wander around the ferry. At one point the group of four behind us, all went outside to take pictures. While they were gone, two young girls came in. First they stated picking up their guide books. They taking them. I was about to follow the girls to get them back when the girls starting going through luggage. Being the good person that I am, I went and found the group outside. They came back and followed the girls to recover the taken items. Another young couple seemed to think the kids were harmless until three of the girls started banging on their laptops and pulling the lady’s hair. The boyfriend finally had enough and picked the girls up and took them away. It was quite amusing listening to the original foursome discuss how this just must be their culture and they wonder if they are real gypsies.
When we got to Folegandros, all the people were huddled by the ramp to disembark. We waiting as the mooring ropes were tied off. All of a sudden there was a huge bang, water fell from above and all the Greek men scrambled inside. One of the huge ropes snapped and came flying down. Luckily, no one was under it. We were ready to get off this ferry!

ANEMOMILOS APARTMENTS
Our host at Anemomilos picked us up in the van and took us up to the hotel. We were immediately more at peace. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful setting. We got a green-line room (trying to save a few pennies) right above the office. No Cliffside room, but still beautiful and a view of the sea through the pergolas across the walkway. Our patio was large and separate from everyone else’s, also. The pool area is nicely screened with lush plants so you can’t see the pool from our terrace.

DISCOVERING THE VILLAGE
After showing us our room, Cornelia told me that she got my email about the ferry problem. She assured me that there was a ferry on Sunday and to get my tickets from Diablos after 6. After getting settled (it was so nice to actually unpack our bags) we went to explore the village a little. We walked up to the church on the hill, Panaglia. It is quite a steep, but short, walk. The view is amazing. The church was quite pretty and their were stairs that allowed you to climb up onto the dome. It was a little windy, so Josh got nervous and made us get down quickly. There were goats and donkeys grazing on the hillside along the path as we walked. Quite different from the touristy place we had just come from.


We then wandered around the village. Chora (the main town) is a series of five interconnected town squares. They are all quaint and look like something you would see in the movies. Throughout the town are stone paths with white grout that the locals repaint each year. After we tried to get lost, we went back to get ready for dinner.

O KRITIKIES
Cornelia suggested that we try O Kritikies for some good local meat that night. I wasn’t sure that I was up for goat, but decided to take her word for it. After a game of chess out on the terrace, we headed out for dinner. In Santorini, everyone went out to dinner very late – at least after 9. Tonight, we got to the restaurant about 8:15 and over half the tables were already taken. By the time we left, they were completely packed. The crowd was a nice mixture of both tourists and locals. This was the trend we saw during our entire stay at Folegandros.

Our first waiter was the son of the Owner. When I asked him what was good on the menu, he responded, “Everything. My mother is in the kitchen tonight”. I thought and rephrased my question. “What is your favorite?” He told me that the Mousaka and Pork Steak were especially good that night. We took his advice and ordered those along with grilled feta (with tomato, green peppers, capers and olive oil grilled) and a ¼ of red wine (who knows what kind) and a beer. We were very happy when we got the bill and saw how much cheaper it was to eat here than in Santorini. The second waiter came over after we were done and said “Today is your first night on the island, right?” I told him yes and asked how he knew. He explained that it was off season and the locals notice everyone who is new. He then brought us pieces of the island specialty dessert (the name has slipped my mind). It is made with sesame seeds and honey. Very good.
THE A BAR

We asked waiter #2 where to go for drinks, as he was our age. He said it was really early in the season so if we saw anywhere with 10 people to go in, because that meant it was packed. He suggested the bar right across from O Kritikies that starts with an A (the sign was in Greek and even when I tried to translate it, it didn’t make sense) and El Greco. We had heard that the wine bar Kellari was great, but Cornelia told us earlier that it had closed. The owner didn’t own the building and had been forced to leave. However, he had opened a new place called Baraki, over by the grocery store. We went to Baraki first but it was closed.
We headed to the A bar, because it had 10 people! It was very small with a bar and one table at the front and one at the back. On nice nights, they would put tables outside also. I’m not sure how more than 10 people could fit in this place. The bartender was very friendly and had a huge collection of CD’s with some mixing equipment. At one point I really liked a band he had on. He explained that he wasn’t playing mainstream Greek music and that most people don’t realize that Greek music is so diverse. He described what he played as alternative. At one point he played a Bouzouki album recorded in NYC in 1965 for us. He explained one of the songs where all the Greek people were heading for America . Some of it reminded me of older Shakira Spanish albums.

We must have spent 2 ½ hours in the bar with our host and new friend from Switzerland . we heard what the Greeks really thought about the sinking cruise ship and even discussed why so many people dislike Americans. A larger group of Welsh tourists came in and we went ahead and called it a night.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:10 AM
  #6  
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Greece - Day 5 - HIking to the Folegandros Beaches

HIKING TO THE BEACHES
We slept way later than expected – almost 11. We were woken up by house cleaning, knocking to see if we were still there. I had woken up at 6:30 when the sunrise shone in the curtains. It was nice not having a schedule for today. We grabbed some printouts of the hikes, the guidebook and got ready for the day. We had heard that Kartego was a good beach, but not included in any of my planned hikes. Cornelia said we needed a motorbike and we told her that we liked to hike. She said we could take the port bus, hike to Livadi and then take a path down to the beach. The bus sign said the next bus wasn’t until 2:30, but the bus driver said there would be one at 1. After getting some cherries, nectarines, salami & water, it was only 12. We went for Plan B and I pulled out my hike from Chora to Angali Beach .


What a cool hike this was. You take some gorgeous old stone staircases out of Chora, down the hillside and cross the main road. The hike detail is good but you really have to place close attention. There was a part where we had to go over a wire fence and head down the hillside after climbing over some almost impassable bushes. We saw another couple confused at the spot for the wire fence. We found our way over the fence and the followed after us. Our directions told us to head towards the log cabin. Well, we hadn’t seen any wood construction on the island. We made our own way through the hillside and finally got down to the first beach – Fira (or Fyra). The cabin we were aiming for was actually a masonry building.


FIRA BEACH

Fira Beach was completely deserted and very peaceful. It was a tiny stone beach with beautiful crystal clear waters. We took the beach for ourselves and spread our lunch out on the rocks. We ate and watched the waves crash on the rocks. A few minutes later we continued to the other side of the small beach where the path to Angali continued. ANGALI BEACH
After a short climb from Fira, we found ourselves on a small beach that wasn’t named on our printed hike. It was very clear that whoever owned that land did not want us to camp or take our clothes off their, though.



After some more hiking, we got to Angali. In the busy season this beach is supposed to be packed because it is the easiest to reach by bus. Obviously, most people don’t take the route through goat pastures and over fences, like we did. We stopped for a few minutes here and decided to keep going towards Agios Nikolas Beach. This was a quite steep climb up and down here. The path was blocked at one point, but we climbed over as we had seen quite a few people head this way and no one had come back. We came across our Swiss friend here, again, and pointed him towards the good beach areas. From the top of this peak, their were gorgeous views down to all the bays. When we had almost reached Agios Nikolas, we found the Terrace restaurant. I don’t know what the actual name of it was, but that is what we called it. It was perched on the side of the hill overlooking the beach. I don’t think it gets more peaceful than this. We got some water, a coke and fried calamari. (Josh kept craving this all trip.) We spent over an hour here sitting, enjoying, writing, reading and listening to the waves crash below us in the breeze. Rejuvenated, we made our way back to Angali, not feeling like we needed to descend down to the last beach. Agios Nikolas looked like a lovely beach though. It had many trees that provided shade and it wasn’t overly packed.
The directions going back got us quite confused. We were supposed to look for a staircase and we missed it. We actually had to hop another fence that must have been added since the hike directions were written. We got back on course though and started our straight up climb to get over the mountain. We made it back to the hotel around 5:30 and felt completely gross. The ocean had been quite cold so we hadn’t gone in. Instead we dropped our packs off and got in the pool. Well, we got up to our knees. We then went and were excited to have our first hot showers of the trip.

DINNER AT CHIC RESTAURANT
At 7:30 we headed out for dinner. We walked around for a while and took pictures. (Can you tell this is our favorite time of day to do it?) We were running low on cash and went to the travel agency to cash traveler’s checks. We think it is kind of weird that they are only open at night. Still no word on the ferry for Sunday, yet. We wandered through the Castro area (there is a lot of history there, but I couldn’t tell you without looking it up). It is very quaint with the old homes, archways, tunnels and alleys. This is what I pictured when I thought of Greece before going.

Our theory each night was to find the busiest restaurants and go there. Tonight it was Chic. I had my heart set on the Spinach Pie, which I had heard was good, but they were out of it. Instead I got the Penne with Roquefort Sauce (I love that this country loves cheese) and Josh got the Pork with herb and mustard sauce and fries. The fries were awesome. They were thin, crispy and drizzled with olive oil. We started with an olive dip – one side was kalamata and the other a green olive. The meal was very good (especially the olive dip and Josh’s pork dinner) and the restaurant was packed every night we were in town.
After dinner, we checked to see if Baraki was open – nope. We tried to find El Greco, but we couldn’t. We even asked for directions, but that didn’t seem to help. I couldn’t figure out how we couldn’t find a place in such a small town. Instead, we picked up some fruit for tomorrow’s lunch and checked on the times for the bakery in the morning.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:12 AM
  #7  
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That is as much that I have typed so far. I forgot to mention that we were there May 27th through June 5th of this year (2007). I will post the second half of the trip once I get it typed up.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:16 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Your trip report makes me yearn for a Greek island. Can't wait to hear more about Folegandros.

By the way, what did the Swiss tell you about Americans tourists?
kleeblatt is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 11:58 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 679
Great trip report! We were in Santorini a few weeks ago and had a lot of the same experiences as you. In fact, I think we may have even sat at the same table at Candouni as you! Looking forward to reading the rest.

Meredith
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Jun 11th, 2007, 12:37 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 645
Loving your trip report - and have checked out the places you stayed - so nice and great prices!

I am craving going to the Greek Islands - sounds like the perfect vacation. Can't wait to read the rest!
camelbak is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 01:33 PM
  #11  
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It was actually the bartender who told me his take on why Greeks have a problem with Americans. (This was after another group started asking us our opinion of George Bush and we avoided political talk as much as possible.)

He talked about how for so long everyone loved Americans because of how much we traveled and what we had done for the tourism industry in many countries. He said that he thought that a lot of the resentment was from a decline in the amount of tourism dollars coming from America and that a lot of people blamed the US Government for putting so much fear in us. That coupled with the disagreement over whether we should be in Iraq. We tried to keep those discussions as brief as possible, because you never know who might be sitting by.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 11:23 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi J: Yup, the bartender described the situation to you in a very realistic way.

We aren't afraid to talk about politics in Europe and don't care who's listening. In fact, we consider it healthy to express our opinions as long as it's done in a civil manner. We rant and rave about our own politicans as well. It used to be that way in America too and hope it will be so again.

But enough of politics! Your trip report is wonderful. Please continue telling us about your dream vacation.
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Jun 14th, 2007, 04:14 AM
  #13  
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Sorry there was a lapse. Here is the next day....

Greece - Day 6 - Folegandros Sunrise & Ano Meria

THE SUNRISE
We had read about the amazing sunset from above the church, so we planned to get up early and make the climb. The alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. and it was already getting light out. We threw on some clothes and literally went running out the door. I thought I would have a heart attack by the time we got up to the church. We then realized we had to go to the top of the peak above the church. (A good ways up the side of a mountain.) We climbed some terraces and finally reached the top. Actually we went to one peak and realized we had missed the high peak and I made Josh hike even some more.



It was quite peaceful on top of the mountain at 5:30 in the morning. The ocean looked like glass with only a few fishing boats out. It seemed as though the only other living creatures at that moment were the roosters, donkeys and goats. As we sat waiting for the show, the sky had already started to glow red and a few roosters had now woken up. A herd of goats was on the adjacent hill and we watched as two of the younger goats got adventurous and took off down the side towards the ocean. We never saw what happened to them. It took ½ hour for the sun to finally poke out from the horizon. It was a red slice as it peeked out and quickly turned to yellow ball of fire. We sat on the rocks and watched until the sun was pretty high in the sky and headed back down towards our warm bed. As we stumbled back down the hill, we found that a herd of goats was blocking the last gate to get back onto the church grounds. We kept walking towards them, thinking they would scatter once we got close. We were wrong. As we got close, the Granddaddy goat started at us. He didn’t appear to be stopping and we back up a little. When we realized he really wasn’t stopping, and getting quite close, we got a little worried and started running up the steep incline. Rocks were falling out from under our feet and we had no other option but to climb the church wall. The wall was made of stones and we worried that it would crumble if we climbed on it. With Granddaddy Goat hot on our tails, we tried our luck and made it over the fence successfully.
A LAZY AFTERNOON & LUNCH AT POUNTA

Before heading back to the studio, we went to the bakery as soon as it opened at 7. We got some delicious croissants (one stuffed with spinach and the other ham and cheese) and headed back to the hotel. After doing some wash, we accidentally fell back to sleep and didn’t’ wake up until 11. We were still exhausted when we woke up and decided to go relax at the pool and read for a few hours. Josh was quite burned from our hike yesterday, so he found some shade while I lay in the sun. After a few hours, we got hungry and decided to try Pounta while it was still open. I think I overheard the Owner saying that he closes each day at 4. The back patio at Pounta is really peaceful. A few other couples were there and we were allowed to order off of either the breakfast or lunch menu. I was craving something different and hadn’t tried the Greek yogurt, yet. I ordered the yogurt with fresh fruit and honey. It was delicious and hit the spot. I now understand people’s love for Greek yogurt. It was light and whipped. Josh had the “special potato salad” which was a warm salad with potatoes, zucchini, carrots, olives, capers, salt, pepper, olive oil & onions. He wasn’t crazy about it.
ANO MERIA


We had checked the bus times before lunch and headed out to the square to catch the first afternoon bus to Ano Meria, the other town on the island. We didn’t really know where to go or what to do in Ano Meria, but the bus driver told us to get off at the very last stop. He explained that the Folk Museum was back down the main street. We decided just to walk through the town, making our way back towards the museum. There really wasn’t much for us to look at in Ano Meria. We were able to see some of the terrain that we hiked yesterday and we realized we were glad we hadn’t continued on to hike to the last beach and then to Ano Meria after our lunch at the Terrace restaurant. We knew that the next bus wouldn’t leave for two hours and we figured we could easily waste two hours just wondering around. The highlight of the walk through Ano Meria was the two old mills. The rest of the sites were mainly farm land and a couple restaurants. Only one looked as if it had opened for the season. We found the Folk Museum , but a local man across the street motioned that it was closed. It was only 4 and our guidebook said it didn’t open until 5. We weren’t sure if it would open or not, so we took the next bus back. We climbed up to the museum to rest in the shade while we waited for the bus.


DINNER AT PIZZA PAZZA(?), CHORA RESORT & FINDING EL GRECO!

Back at the hotel, we grabbed our books and some wine and headed down to the terrace again. There was a good breeze and the hotel turns on lounge music in the evenings. It was so peaceful with the ocean below us. Before we even realized it, it was already 8. By nine, we had showered and were heading back out for dinner. On the bus ride we saw the back portion of Chora that we had never explored before. It was past all the squares. As soon as we saw the Chora Resort and a few other restaurants we said “ah-hah!” This must be where El Greco is. I’m not sure why we were so obsessed with finding this bar. I am determined no to be defeated and I wasn’t going to let one little bar get the best of me. We didn’t go inside Chora Resort but peeked in through the gates. The pool, bar, grounds, etc. were beautiful. I haven’t checked the rates, but if the Cliffside location isn’t necessary, this place was gorgeous. Just off of our impression, this seemed more like a resort while Anemomilos was a family run group of villas. They would be hard to compare as they are so different. Next to the hotel was a cool looking bar that I think was called The UnderRoom. It wasn’t open, though, so I couldn’t check it out. Next to that was Sweet Chora. This was a really cool dessert shop. It was a gorgeous and modern all white shop. Very elegant. It looked brand new. We weren’t in the mood for sweets, so we can’t vouch for the food, but it looked delicious. Nearby was the closed Laomi.

We were in the mood to try the pizza place, so we headed over to El Greco, as it was located upstairs. This was the first place we went that was playing all American music. Rap, hip-hop, Elton John. It was a very eclectic mix of American music. Strangely, we were the only tourists there. The dinner was quite cheap. We got a full size pizza, half Greek - half 4 cheeses, and a Greek salad. After all the work to find El Greco, we weren’t in the mood to go to the bar that night. It looked like a neat place to hang out. It definitely had a bit of a funky vibe to it. On the way back to the hotel, we passed Eva’s Garden which is right past the last square. There was only one table of people inside, but it looked like a nice atmosphere with a lot of lit lanterns.
FINALLY GOT FERRY TICKETS

Before dinner, we headed back to El Diablos to check on the ferry ticket situation again. The girl behind the counter smiled and said that they in fact had gotten the schedule for Sunday. The boat we were expecting was on the schedule. Good thing since it was now Friday night. That was a little nerve-wracking. The Ios stop did get cancelled from our boat, so thankfully that wasn’t our ultimate destination.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 02:23 AM
  #14  
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I promise to finish this report. I had some stuff recently stolen, including my trip journal. Apparently, it was of little value to whoever took my things and it has been returned safely. Thank goodness! I almost lost my last few days of our trip. I will post shortly.
jlh370 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 07:26 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 169
This is a wonderful trip report! Can't wait to read more.
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