Greece 1

I took an early morning ferry from Kusadase, Turkey to Samos Island and spent that day in Samos Town (Vathy) coming to terms with Greek yogurt, marveling at the island's dry heat and cooling sea breaze, and enjoying the unassuming friendliness of the few Greeks I met.

That night was spent on ferries to Paros and then to Santorini.

I balanced out sleeping on the floor of a ferry that night by spending my first full day in Greece sleeping on Santorini's famed black sand beach. I woke up the next morning to catch the sunrise over the same beach with a couple of life-loving dalmations.

Actually, the beach wasn't black so much as grey and it wasn't sand so much as small pebbles. So, we decided, it really looks like a huge ashtray.

That same morning, I met Anne-Marie and then Carlos at the Youth Hostel Anna where we were staying and the three of us decided to check out the nearby Holiday Villa on a recommendation Anne-Marie had gotten. For about the same that we'd each been paying at the hostel, we shared a beautiful room that opened out onto a patio and pool.

Almost immediately we met Alice and Flora, who were also staying there. The five of us had another tough day of lounging at the pool and the Black Beach, sleeping, eating, and talking. That night we made a dinner of garlic with spaghetti and wine. A friend of Carlos', Sam, brought more wine after dinner and helped us finish it.

In what turned to be a Herculean effort of activity for the Greek Islands, the whole group (eight of us including Sam's girlfriend Inika and a friend of hers) went on a boat tour around Santorini's Caldera. The Calederia is the 10 km across hole where the rest of the island used to be. Sometime around 1600 BC the volcano in the middle of the Caldera erupted and caused the greater part of the capital of the Minoan civilization to collapse into the sea. Some people attribute the myth of Atlantis to this island, but then again, some people attribute leadership skills to Bush. Today, only the cresent edge of Santorini and a few opposite pieces of land remain. The entire inner edge of the Caledera has beautiful white adobe villages perched precariously over the 500' drop down the ocean and ports. The postcard page has some great views of the Caldera.

The first stop on the tour was a slight-heat-stroke-inducing hike to the top of the volcano itself followed by a swim in some nearby hotsprings that emptied into the ocean. We were told the mud from the hotsprings was supposed to be great for your skin. Whether or not that's true, who knows, but we can vouch for the mud's ability to stain anything it comes in contact with and it was weeks before I finally rid myself of all of it.

The boat then took us to the island of Thirasia where the less intelligent of us hiked up the 277 *huge* steps to the village and were rewarded with an amazing seafood lunch and accompanying view of the Caldera.

The boat finally dropped us off in Ia where we hiked five hundred-something sun-baked steps to wander through picturesque alleys and relaxed before catching one of the sunsets that Ia is famous for.

That was my last day with the group since people were splitting up to head to Italy and Turkey so I spent the next day on a moped seeing the rest of Santorini. The sand (pebbles) of the Red Beach made the beach even hotter than the Black Beach, so I didn't stay long, but Santorini's lighthouse made for a great ride and a great place to catch the sunset.

On to --> Greece 2

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