Sunday, August 02, 2009

Letter from Greece, Part 7 of 10

Day Five: Santorini
After filling ourselves with the hotel’s breakfast, we walk up to the old capital city of Thira, through all the tiny alleyways and staircases. We look through every store, selling every kind of plastic, ceramic and glass crap they were selling back in Athens, plus millions of Euros in very nice jewelry—Gold Street is the main drag. Something about seeing the same trinkets over and over makes you want to buy them; you start to think you’re missing out. For hours we walk, sipping fizzy drinks with labels we can’t read, eating sticky bricks of baklava, and, as Kip says, “other shapes of baklava.”

We amble down the long, donkey shit-covered walkway to the base of the caldera, and the ocean’s edge. Donkeys are a popular, if sort of novel, way to get to the city from the base of the island, which is a very steep climb of about 220 meters—and their dry, stinky droppings are everywhere along the stairway. A Carnival Cruise boat is anchored in the distance, and there is a skirted table where two men are handing out hot towels and tiny cups of water to the fat ladies waiting to get back on the boat. This strikes me as such a fake way of traveling.

The cable car whizzes us back up to Thira, and we continue walking. The view is exactly what we imagined when we had planned this vacation weeks prior. We stop at a small café and order glasses of local wine, which is served, according to the menu, with “an assortment of Greek delicacies.” The delicacies are: two cherry tomatoes cut in half to make four pieces, four olives, and four slices of Persian cucumber—a feast! The wine is fabulous, and we order more, becoming rather drunk, and making confessions about our past—freed by distance, perhaps. The waiter has a question mark tattooed behind his ear, using a small brown mole as the dot.

Finally, we walk back to the hotel to bathe and change clothes. Then we end up somewhere in Thira at the Volcano Restaurant, where the waiter demands that we eat their signature dish “Lamb Volcano,” which is pungent with garlic, onions, and dill, served with some kind of shredded cheese in a clay pot—delicious. Then we eat more tomatoes stuffed with rice, raisins and pine nuts. Then I eat a huge plate of squid. Later, we walk back through town sucking down scoops of chocolate gelato.

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