Suitcase and World: Oia and Ammoudi Bay.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oia and Ammoudi Bay.

We lost track of time, sitting on our patio and chatting.  There was still plenty of time left, before sunset, to explore Oia.  As comfy as we were, we decided to head out.

When we arrived in to Oia, pre-dawn, the place was dead.  We had retreated to the sanctuary aka our apartment when tourists were beginning to trickle in. Now, it was a different story.  It was a veritable sea of visitors.  The narrow streets were divided, ad hoc, into right and left lanes and you automatically knew which was the correct lane for the direction you were walking in. It was so crowded, you basically were *pushed* along by the folks walking behind you.  It was crazy!!

We had set Ammoudi Bay as our destination.  There are a few signs to mark the way but basically you want to find a way to head down to the water.

We eventually arrived at the promontory.  A few photographers were already in place, tripods and cameras set up and ready to go.  This view of the island faces west so it's perfect for a sunset photo.   As much as I would have wanted to join them, I had already decided to forego any pictures of Santorini in the sunset as I didn't think any photo I would take could come close to matching the dreamy quality of the ones I took at this morning's sunrise.  That and I really despise being in a crowd.

Somewhere, just past the promontory, a stone path lead down towards the water.  We decided to take it.  It's some 300+ steps from this point down to the water and Ammoudi Bay.  I had read several write ups that talked about how steep the steps are and how it's common for tired folks to take a donkey ride back up.  As usual, I was worried about how my weak lungs would hold up so I kept the donkey option in the back of my mind.  On the flip side, I've also read articles about how some of the donkeys are abused so one should refrain from riding them so as not to encourage the practice.  I tried to avoid taking sides on these sorts of philosophical discussions - there is no right or wrong.  For me, if I can walk, I will.

Bro simply said if it did indeed get difficult, we could take whatever breaks we needed and slowly make our way back up.  Whatever is the case, I will make it up from Ammoudi Bay to Oia.

"You should do it, it's a lot of fun!" were the words the young guy shouted out as he passed by us.

With that all said and done, we started our descent.  Going down is easy for me.  We stopped every now and again to take in the view.  I think that no matter how many times you see the iconic white washed stone buildings of Oia, it will always be a stunning view.

Part way down the hill, we heard the sound of clopping hooves.  Donkeys were on their way up.  It turned out to be a group of three - two tourists and a guy that I presumed was the owner of the pack.  The traveling twosome was definitely having fun! 

The walkway we were on zig zagged its way down the cliffside.  We were probably about two thirds of the way down before we spotted the buildings that make up the tiny village of Ammoudi Bay.  I think most people would think this place is just a neighborhood of Oia rather than a separate village.

The last few dozen steps of the walkway were heavily splattered with donkey poop.  We had to carefully avoid stepping in any and of course, the smell wasn't pleasant.  Nope.  Not good.  I guess the donkeys have to rest somewhere, between walks up and down, so it has to be close to the bottom. 

The walkway ends where a row of seafood tavernas begins.  Welcome to Ammoudi Bay!  I don't there are more than a couple dozen homes here.  There were no shops, bakeries or cafes just tavernas serving up fresh, albeit very pricey, seafood. 

The only path we could take had us walking through the restaurants.  As expected, waiters were trolling for potential diners.  One look at the pricey menus and I opted to pass on by.  Besides, it was much too early for a meal.

Advertisement for a restaurant though Greeks do dry octopus, to reduce the water content, before cooking it.

Ammoudi Bay is a port area.  Standing on the dock, you get a magnificent views of Oia and the northern edge of the caldera.

Oia perched up on top of the hill.

OMG!!  Another Chinese bride getting her wedding photo taken!

I really wanted to capture the full view of what I was seeing as I gazing up at Oia so I did a panorama.  I still don't it does full justice to the splendid sight I was looking at.

Panorama Oia
Use the scroll bars to pan to see the entire photo.

See those people at the top?  They're at the promontory waiting for sun set which won't happen for at least an hour!

The short row of tavernas ends at the dock area.  There were a few people lolling about a docked boat.  It was there that we realized you can also drive to Ammoudi Bay.  The cars were parked on along the road leading down from Oia. For some reason, Bro decided that the retaining wall next to the cars would be a good place to take a seat.  Not the nicest place to sit but at least we could enjoy views of the water and the largest of the islands in the Santorini chain, Therassia.  According to the guidebook, Therassia is nice place to go for a day trip - very quiet, a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of Oia.

After a while, we decided to head back to Oia.  Not a whole lot of anything happening in Ammoudi Bay.  Back at the dock, a boat pulled in and more people were standing about.  People got off the boat and those waiting on the dock, boarded.  We put two and two together and figured out that must be the boat that ferries people to and from Therassia.  Curious, we went looking for a boat schedule.  At the moment, we really don't have much planned for tomorrow so may be a visit to Therassia might fill the bill.

Wandering about, Bro saw a schedule tacked up to the door of a nearby building. We determined the boat leaves three times a day from both Ammoudi Bay and Therassia - around 8am, noon and 5pm.  It's a twenty minute ride.  So, we decided to look more in to Therassia tonight and then decide whether or not to go.

We backtracked our way, up the hill to Oia.  I opted to pass up doing the donkey thing.  The walk down didn't seem bad at all.  There's enough flat sections between the steps to make the walk fairly least I hoped it would be comfortable :-)

Hmmm....not sure I want to be behind the donkeys.  They poop every now and again.

We did take a few breaks.  Good opportunities for photo ops.

Santorini portrait :-)

That windmill must show up in every tourist's photo of Santorini!

All lined up, ready to go.  By the time we reached the top, there was not any space left at the edge of the wall.

Happy to be in Santorini!

I did better on the uphill walk than I had anticipated. Feeling good! All those high speed walks, at the highest incline setting, on the treadmill seem to be paying off!

We took one last break near the top of the walkway. My trainer will bhThere was a little bit of a nook that we could stand in, that had a small stone ledge.  Perfect for sitting while offering us a view of the windmill and surrounding hillside.

A lone woman happened along.  You couldn't have missed her as she was wearing a neon green/yellow shirt!  She asked if I could take her photo.  Of course!  Be happy to.  After I clicked away, we struck up a conversation.  Bro soon joined us.  It was nice to talk to a fellow tourist.  We found out her name is Farahnaz and she's from Iran.  She's traveling with her sister and they're staying in neighboring Immerovigli.  Apparently, her husband is not much of a traveler and until he went off to college, her son was a frequent travel mate.  We also found out she's a doctor.  All in all, a very accomplished woman and it was lovely talking with her!

Say hello to Farahnaz.

We soon parted ways.  She wanted to go to Ammoudi Bay so I warned her about the steep steps and especially about the donkey poop!  We said our goodbyes.  We had actually stopped in a very nice location so we decided to stay where we were to watch the sun set.  Much better than being submerged in the mob of people that we knew were standing on the hill above us.

Sky is getting dark and the setting sun has cast a warm glow on the white buildings.

At around 7pm, the sun started its trip down the horizon.

Seeing the sunset from the deck of a boat is a popular activity here.

The guy who doesn't take a lot of photos even got into the act.

It was an intense orange glow.  Stunning.  I can see why people love the sun set here.  Google+ turned several of Bro's photos into a cool little gif....a bit of a timelapse.

As I had predicted, we would meet up with a mob of people at the top of the hill.  All the way back to the apartment, we were walking shoulder to shoulder, front to back with people all around us.  Fortunately, everyone was well behaved.  No pushing or shoving.  Everyone relaxed and polite.  It wasn't a bad walk but I still hate crowds.

Along the way, we did stop to take some photos.  I wanted to capture views of the rising moon.

By the time we got back to the gate that leads down to our apartment, the sun had dropped below the horizon.  You could see the dots of lights.  So pretty.

Back in our apartment, Bro worked on getting dinner ready.  I wasn't quite ready to head inside yet.  I stayed on the patio and watched night fall.  Oia is as gorgeous at dusk as it is at dawn.

Our cute little apartment in the light of the fading day.

Finally, when it got too dark for me to take photos, holding the camera in my hands, I went inside.  It's moments like this when I regret not having brought along my tripod.

Inside, Bro was already hard at work at making dinner.  Our kitchen is about the size of a closet so there's enough space for one person.  Little tight for two.

Chopping up tomatoes and cucumbers for a Greek salad.

I had bought a pack of spaghetti when we were in Athens.  We never ate it there so I packed it into my suitcase.  Bro figured out that he could boil the spaghetti in the tiny little pot that is used for boiling water.

Our "stove" and the only pot we have.

Breaking spaghetti into the teeny weeny water pot.  All we have to cook with is a single burner atop the oven.

Once the spaghetti was done, the canned tuna that we had bought this morning, oil as well,  was mixed in and a bit of pepper sprinkled on top.  Our version of spaghetti con tonno  :-)  We had our Greek salad and some bread to accompany.  Dessert was fresh fruit. Simple meal but surprisingly satisfying!

Our coffee table served as our dining table.

After dinner, I did a bit of reading on Therassia.  Doesn't sound like all that much of anything interesting so I suggested to Bro that we go to Fira instead.  So, unless something else comes up, that's the game plan for now.

It's barely 9pm and I'm already for bed. You can't blame.  I've been up since 2:45am!  I'm still trying to fight off my cold so better to get a good night's rest.  Bro's also an early sleeper so it's going to be light's out in a few minutes.

Goodnight from Oia!