Saturday, July 18, 2015

mountains and sea

If there's anything I learned from island hopping, it's that you never get tired of gazing at rocks and water.  More majestically known as the mountains and sea.

So drive to Fira - and I can officially say I used that International Driving Permit I purchased at no hassle.  Cable car down to Skala Port.  Ferry to Nea Kameni.  And hike all the way to the top of the volcanic crater where you can still smell the sulfur.  Apparently, an eruption during the Bronze Age wiped out the Minoan civilization and carved out the caldera that outlines the West of present-day Santorini.  And some theorize that buried Akrotiri is the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis.
[This is me actually interested in a history lesson.]

Anyways, the most beautiful views kept getting better with each ascent to the next peak.  I kept imagining how amazing this would be covered in snow... or with finer sand (ahh, I miss White Sands).  Basically any situation that would allow me to sled and climb and roll through the peaks and valleys... and then launch right into the ocean.
If there's anything else I learned, it's that Rainbows can withstand anything.  And that you really shouldn't hike a gravelly volcano in Rainbows.  It made the descent much harder.

New life goal, though, is to make enough money to casually buy a yacht... docked in Greece... so I can spend my afternoons reading in the sun while looking beach flawless.
Now ferry on over to Palea Kameni, where magma just below the surface gives rise to this hot spring by the shore.  When they said "hot springs," I kinda imagined we'd dock, hike into the center of the little island where we'd come upon a steaming reservoir being fed water from somewhere higher in the mountains, surrounded by smooth boulders.  Not unlike the one we found in the dark in New Zealand.  Nope.
I can now check "jump off boat into ocean" off my bucket list.
Swim through the temperature gradient to the shallower, copper-colored waters, being extra careful of jagged rocks that pop out of no where and scratch up your toes and shins.  Squish through the mud.  Play with the mud.  Write your name on an unclaimed surface with the mud.  (Rinse the mud out of your hair before boarding the boat again).
And if you're lucky, point obviously overhead at the family of mountain goats parading down the mountain, so everyone will momentarily think you are a crazy person until they see what you see.
The Aussies were my fave group - one for their elation at seeing mountain goats and two for being impressed there is nothing dangerous lurking in the waters.
Finally, clench absolutely everything for a donkey ride back up.  Which definitely gave me many mixed feelings, including but not limited to curiosity, guilt, fear, giddiness, and annoyance.  It was definitely... an experience.  I guess I also learned I don't feel the most comfortable with equine animals carrying me up a winding, uneven, cliffside path while dozen others are doing the same thing.  It was chaos.  And who let the humans come down the other direction on feet?  I was almost certain my donkey (whom I named Caramel Brownie) would trample one of them.

Lunch at one of the many restaurants with a great view of the volcano and hot springs you just conquered.  Ampelow Wine Bar to be exact.

Still couldn't/can't get enough of bread and things.  At this point, I might as well have been taking shots of straight olive oil, but it's nice to have the carb there.  Especially if the carb comes with olive paste.  Olives on olives on tang on sour on bread.  Here, we added eggplant dip to the mix.  And there's definitely nothing more refreshing than smooth and cold eggplant puree.  I could eat it like a soup, but again, carbs.
We were big fans of the seafood platter for two.  Pretty much every restaurant offers one with varying items, cooked in varying ways.  This time, mussels with their barnacle friends still attached, (mediocre) shrimp, battered and fried filets (I just assumed cod), and a pretty little grilled squid with it's fins still intact.

My last impressions of Santorini were the pebbly beaches of Perissa and Perivolos.  I've never seen clearer waters.  I'm trying to think of something to equate it to... but I've never seen clearer waters.
After treading water and slipping around on the smooth stone ocean floor, we semi-randomly selected one of the beach side restaurants after the one that was recommended to us turned out to be too swanky and overpriced.
Fish Tavern's pre fixe menu for two was too good a deal to resist.
The bread came with more olive paste and a delightfully sweet and tangy tomato paste I just devoured.
Tomato balls, which were fritters similar to the zucchini ones I had in Crete.  Apparently a Santorini specialty made from their native cherry tomato.  There was even an Industrial Museum we didn't have time to peruse.
Eggplant dip with a shock of sweet balsamic.  Creamy fava bean dip.  Santorini salad with capers, anchovies, and a thick yogurt dressing.
Two grilled dorados (with the spines graciously removed) when we were 80% full on appetizers.  Oh, and ice cream and wine.
And Dad ordered a dish of crab meat for good measure.
Not bad.

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