Thursday, October 9, 2014

Perissa and Megalochori.

Relaxing on Perissa Beach.  A most awesome and comfy hammock chair that I wanted to bring home with me!

Today's our last day in Santorini. Originally, the plan was to leave in the morning and island hop our way to Turkey but ferry schedules derailed that plan so now we're slated to take the overnight ferry back to Athens and then from there, fly to to Izmir, Turkey....the airport there services tourists staying in Kuşadası. As a result of the change in plans, there were some administrative tasks that we had to take care of.


This morning, it was Petros who was on breakfast detail. After we ate, Bro and I sat down at the communal PC and got down to working out some details.  I started with cancelling our hotel in Samos.  Then I called the hotel owner in Kuşadası to see if he could arrange for a taxi to come pick us up at the airport in Izmir.  He recommended that we take a shuttle bus instead - much cheaper.  With that advice, I then Googled to find a shuttle bus and book two seats.  Then, I turned my attention to the metro in Athens - will it be operational when we arrive before the crack of dawn and indeed it will.  Athens does not sleep!  While I was working on getting that stuff worked out, Bro was trying to figure out the Athens pieces.  More specifically, we arrive into Piraeus port at 5:15am but our flight to Izmir does not leave until 2:30pm so we have to figure out how to occupy ourselves and even more challenging a question, "what do we do with our luggage?" while we're traipsing around Athens.   Bro found some storage solutions.  Plan A is to store our luggage at the lockers in the train stations.  Lucky for us, Monastiraki has lockers.  Plan B is to store our luggage with a travel agency, located in Syntagma Square, that provides such a service for a fee.  Then, surprisingly, Petros came up with Plan C which was to find a small shop/cafe/bakery and ask if they will hold our luggage for us.  We were both pleasantly shocked to find out that this is common practice in Greece/!  I would have never dreamed of doing this but the ever so hospitable Greeks don't think twice about helping out a stranger in need of stowing their luggage for a few hours. 

After we got our administrative work out of the way, I said to Bro that we need to go back to the room and get packing.  Petros overhead this and said that we could have the room for the rest of the day, until we have to leave for the ferry.  Yet again, another hospitable gesture from a very friendly Greek.  Since we didn't have to rush along, we spent a few minutes more chatting with Petros.  He told us that it was his parents who built Acropole Sunrise and he and his sister run the place during tourist season.  She and her family stay at the guesthouse, he lives just a short distance away with his family.  During the off season, he's a teacher.  Very lovely man.  Both Bro and I really enjoy interacting with the locals and it's these experiences that I really treasure.  Yes, seeing the sights is memorable but truly, nothing beats getting to know the culture of the country through its people.  We've met a lot of wonderful folks on our trips!

Back in our room, Bro worked on getting a picnic lunch together.  He was determined to polish off our leftovers before we left tonight so. Well, I guess tuna fish and olive sandwiches aren't so bad though I have to admit, the butter and honey sandwiches that we had two days ago really filled the need for a sugar break.

The collapsible bowls I brought along came into good use.....just saying.

I had to pit the olives for him.  I make a very good sous chef :-)

Sandwiches into plastic bag, plastic bag into backpack and we're good to go!

We decided to spend our last morning at the beach.  By now, we had long come to the conclusion that the waters of the Aegean are much too cold at this time of year for swimming so we didn't even put our swimsuits on under our clothes.  We headed to Perissa Beach, the other black sand beach on the island.

The villages here are small.  It wasn't hard to figure out when we had arrived into Perissa; the road just dead ended.  The village church was another good sign that we were where we needed to be.

Where we parked our car.  Looked sketchy but in Greece, that's just appearance; it was perfectly safe!

As I got out of the car, I spotted this little church, high up on the hill.  People were on a path, walking up.

We parked the car in some empty lot and made our way down a side street that ran alongside the church.  A pretty little church.  Unfortunately, not open.  I had really hoped that we would have a chance to see the inside of a Greek Orthodox church but no such luck on this trip.  We probably should have gone to one last Sunday, when we were in Oia.  Oh well, perhaps on our next trip to Greece?




It was just a short block long walk to the beach.  We were standing at one end of a long promenade that ran alongside the beach.  Of course, the first thing that we did was test out the sand.  It's still not the fine, powder sand that I'm normally used to but it was much less *pebbly* than the sand on Kamari; quite tolerable, actually.

Perissa is a much larger beach than Kamari and I think a nicer beach. 


Looking down the long stretch of sand, there were plenty of empty lounge chairs as there werre only a few sunbathers around. Tourist season really is unwinding.


With the water at my back, we could see Ancient Thera high up on the top of the hill; we recognized it after visiting the site yesterday.


We walked down the promenade. Perissa definitely has a much more laid back feel to it than Kamari.  I think it's that kind of place that's more suited to budget travelers - the hotels, restaurants and shops are much more modest here. Personally, I feel more relaxed here; my kind of beach village.


What else to do with an old scooter but to turn it into a planter? :-)

Plenty of places to grab a bite and a drink.  We even came across and Indian restaurant here!

As we walked, we took plenty of breaks to just take in the view of the water and to munch on our picnic lunch.  We made our way all the way down to the far end of the beachside promenade and back.  A few commercial establishments were open for business but we were neither interested in the food being served or the souvenirs displayed for sale.  It was nice to just stroll along and chat with Bro.  In all, we were only in Perissa for a little over an hour but in that time, I could feel whatever anxiety I had about our change in travel plans wash away.  By the time I got back to the car, I was completely relaxed.

Our next stop was on the way back to Kamari. For days, we've seen signs pointing to the village of Megalochori - advertised as a traditional Greek village.  We had already been to a traditional Greek village with Pyrgos but with nothing else on our agenda for the day, we decided to detour off the main road head to Megalochori.

Ms. Google Maps had a bit of a challenge getting us to Megalochori or perhaps, I had a hard time interpreting her turn instructions.  We ended up having to do a couple of u-turns before we got on a street where we could see the village church.  We've long learned to use the church as the "center of town" marker.

We parked nearby and walked towards the church.

Pass through the archway, beneath the bell tower, and we were welcomed into a small square filled with a few small restaurants and cafes. 


Tall trees provided shade and there were a couple of benches for sitting and relaxing. This was the heart of the small village.  The place was dead quiet.  Including Bro and I, you could count the number of visitors on two hands and still have a few unused fingers.



Sprawling out from the main square is a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with traditional Greek homes.   Very pretty, very quaint, very charming but eerily quiet, like it was in Pyrgos.  Where is everyone?

Where are the people??

One of the unique features of the homes in Megalochori are the high walls and solid wood doors that were built not only for privacy but to also provide protection against marauding pirates.  Didn't know that pirates were a problem way back in the day but I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise considering we are on an island.


The cool colors of the Aegean Sea.....on a door.  Love it!


I love how they painted the steps to divide them.  Is it because it matters which side you walk on?

We didn't have a specific destination in mind as we had neither any idea of what there was to see in Megalochori nor a map to navigate by.  So, when I spotted the dome of a church, we used that as a destination marker.

High up on the hill, we could catch a glimpse of the water.

Surprisingly, the front entrance of the church was more difficult to find than you would think.  Unfortunately, when we did finally find it, it was closed.  Gate locked.


We did a short circuit of a few streets through the 'hood before heading back to the village square.  Literally, there was nothing open to see.....not even a single store.  I didn't even hear a sound of anything....like a child playing or a dog barking.  I really wondered if anyone lived in Megalochori.


Back at the town square, Bro spotted a flower, a datura, that had seed pods ready for the picking.  And, yes, he picked.  Then, he took a photo so he could remember what he picked.  His Greek souvenir. :-)



It's amazing how time flies.  It didn't feel like we had done all that much today but by the time we got back to our car, it was past 4:30pm.    Our ferry doesn't leave until 8:30p so we still had plenty of time to relax, have dinner, check out of Acropole Sunrise and make our way to Athinios port.


Our visit to Santorini and to Greece is winding down.  As excited as I am to begin our trip through Turkey, I'm already beginning to get sad about leaving Greece.