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We have already established that Santorini is a beautiful island but all places that have their good parts have things you would not expect to find. We arrived in Santorini with rose colored glasses on awaiting the beauty that was there and we found lots of beauty but we were also surprised by a lot of things.
1. Santorini is dusty and I mean dusty. Like I felt like I needed a shower most of the time. All of the cars are covered in dust, it’s like people don’t even bother to wash them. They also write on each other’s cars in the dust. Now I’m not sure if those were the tourists but that’s what it is. I can’t imagine living here and not dusting every day. Ok, let me clarify it’s not really dust is volcanic ash or dust. The island is more like a desert island. There is very little green. I believe one of the tour guys said most of the trees were imported. I would end the day in the shower (especially if it had been a windy day) just feeling refreshed once the water went over my body and the dust went down the drain. Our tour guide at Santo Wines said that they only get 3 cm of rain a year. This explains why people don’t bother to clean their cars.
2. Speaking of water and onto pipes. The Santorianians (is that a word) use septic tanks I believe. One of the things we noticed (It took a day or so before I realized it) was that you are not supposed to throw the toilet paper in the toilet. Now I am guilty because I did for the first day or so not reading the sign that was above the toilet in the hotel (Sorry Kalimera Hotel). The thing is, this is everywhere on the island. The paper can mess with the septic system if everyone tosses the paper in the toilet. At first, I thought it was just our hotel but it’s in almost all of the towns and restaurants we went to. Now I must admit sometimes it did slip my mind and I would be like oh crap. Sorry, but down it goes. Oh and if you are wondering, all toilet paper for number 1 and number 2 has to go in the trash. So remember trash not toilet in Santorini.
3. Speaking of poop in the main towns of Fira, Ia (Oia) and Theresea there are donkeys that can take you up the steps. If you plan on walking plan on dodging lots of donkey poop. It’s like a minefield, move to the left oh crap and yes I mean it, move to the right more crap. Even when you are sitting in the restaurants up at the top of the town if a good gust of wind comes you can smell the donkey poop. Ughhh. I won’t miss that smell at all.
4. Moving on to the top of the town. There are so many steps, Everywhere!!! After the first day my pedometer said that I walked 22,349 steps, 9.6 miles and 156 flights of stairs, that’s 81 ascending and 75 descending. That’s a lot of steps and my calves felt it. We walked down to the water because Fira (though all of the towns) is up on a hill but the docks are at the bottom of the hill. It was 533 steps from the bottom to the top, passing lots of poop and gagging. All of the towns are this way up the steps down the steps. It’s been really weird walking on flat land.
5. The thing about these towns is they are beautiful. The houses are perched on a hill there are ledges everywhere. Beautiful dangerous ledges. People (ok Tourist) will climb on these ledges and stand on them, sit on them, lean back on them. People, there is a cliff below you if you fall you are screwed. I’m more of a feet on the ground type of person but we would see people just sitting their feet dangling over the side with lots of other tourist walking by. What if one of them accidentally knocks into you. Sometimes these walkways are super crowded. One of the waiters said tourist fall every day. The last thing I want to do is get injured or die on vacation. Please people some common sense here. It’s a cliff’s edge there could be severe consequences.
6. Speaking of tourist they are everywhere and some of them will rent an ATV or a Scooter to get around town. These can be great and fun but also dangerous. They (and the locals) weave in and out of traffic not really following the rules of the road and let me tell you they are everywhere. It’s not just the tourist and ATV’s and Scooters to be honest, it’s the drivers most of the drivers. There is one main road from one end of the caldera to the other and it is two lanes one in each direction and if you aren’t going fast enough they will pass you, sometimes too closely. Then you have the big tourist buses on the same road. When they turn watch out!
7. Next is the french fries. Okay, I like french fries, normally with ketchup, my husband likes his with mayonnaise (it’s a Dutch thing). The problem is it felt like every meal is served with french fries and no ketchup. I really don’t want to eat french fries for a while. I think part of the problem was we were in a lot of touristy destinations so that’s what they served.
8. The beaches in Santorini are beautiful the water is amazing but make sure you bring your shoes. The sand (well the pebbles) there is very little sand. It’s rocks and more rocks and pebbles and more rocks. Plus on the black “sand” beaches it is very hot. Most people walk to the water with their sandals and then take them off at the water’s edge.
9. Sometimes in the evening, it gets pretty cool and sometimes during the day the wind whips of so much you have medusa hair. The photo above is with rocks on the towels is because the wind was kicking around so much we had to hold them down some way. In speaking with the owner of an Art Gallery he said that there is more wind during the winter months.
10. Finally, the last thing. The towns on the cliff’s edge are absolutely beautiful and amazing and I’m sure they are really cute to stay in. Just remember that some of these towns do not have car access. This means that when you get to your hotel you have to park the car in paid parking more than likely (though there is plenty of parking) and then you have to take your luggage up or down the stairs to these beautiful locations. So pack light or make sure you are strong. This reminded me of Venice watching people walking around with their luggage.
That is the end of the things you should know about Santorini. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments.