Santorini, Greece

We enjoyed four days in beautiful Santorini. A ferry ride across smooth seas brought us to the island, and a bus took us up a steep mountain road from the harbor to Thira.

Our first morning we hiked along the caldera edge to Oia and enjoyed the superbloom of colorful flowers. We planned to take a bus back, but the hike was so beautiful and we were feeling energetic, so we hiked back the same way and logged 15 miles.

The next morning we wanted a beach day on the black sand beach of Perissa. The powerful waves impressed us, but it was cold and windy and not ideal beach weather. It felt good to rest though.

The next day had similar weather so we read by the pool in the morning and repeated the hike to Oia in the evening to catch the sunset. We made good time, but we could tell we would not be getting much of a sunset that night. The sky was a blanket of clouds and the diffuse sunlight was likely to only have a dimmer switch applied until darkness fell. We were, once again, feeling energetic so we decided to hike back and race the sunset. We lost, but we were at least back to city streets when complete darkness fell. Once again we hiked 15 miles in a day, but we shaved an hour off this journey. This resulted in complete exhaustion surpassing the first hike.

We flew out the next morning with a final destination of Skopje, Macedonia. Flight to Thessaloniki (which I had heard was gritty and I wanted to limit our time there) then a train that same day to Skopje. I had the times written down, a healthy time cushion and a hostel in Skopje. We got a rude reminder that Greece is a Balkans state and the Balkans are known for dysfunctional transit.

I asked for tickets at the train station and the attendant replied, “There is no train.” I thought there was a misunderstanding as the train website showed an evening train, so I asked someone else. This time I was told, “Maybe in summer.” Am I in Eurotrip? I pressed the matter and he pointed at a bus ticket counter. I walked over and learned that the bus runs once a day and today’s had already left. There would be one Saturday, and the next would be Tuesday. I certainly don’t want to spend four nights in Thessaloniki so I bought tickets for Saturday, canceled my Skopje hostel and booked a local one for the night. We met a few similarly stranded travelers at the hostel. Apparently the train hasn’t run IN FOUR YEARS but they haven’t updated their website because they might reinstate the route someday. Infuriating.

We had one last day to practice our Greek alphabet. I learned it in high school and I feel childish slowly sounding out words as I match symbol to sound. I do like the sense of accomplishment when I can translate from Greek symbols all the way to English.

The reviews were right. Don’t go to Thessaloniki.