One wonderful thing we learned about Santorini is how everyone has a laid back attitude towards money. Our introduction to the economics of Santorini began in when we were booking our sailing tour. The EFTPOS machine was not connecting to the bank – a suspected side effect of the massive power failure they had had on the island the week before (more about that later). The tour desk operator was more than happy to continue to book us in and told us to come back at our leisure to pay.
Again we experienced this fiscal trust when we hired a quad bike to cruise the island. We hired the bike at a rate of 25 euros – we did not have exact money, nor did the shop owner have any change. “It’s ok” he said, “Just pay me tomorrow.” We were racking up accounts payable all over the island – but the locals didn’t seem to mind. It was very apparent in Santorini that everyone wants you to have a nice time and experience the best of their island and hospitality – the money? It will come when it comes.
After strapping on our helmets and securing our backpack in the container on the back of our quad-bike, we headed onto the open roads. I couldn’t tell you how fast we were going because the speedometer constantly read 0km but I suspect given the number of cars, bikes and quads overtaking us, we were not breaking any land speed records. We were headed for a place on the island called Megalchori. Our hotel had a sister hotel with a pool there and we planned to spend the morning sunning ourselves and swimming. We had been advised it was only a short drive straight down. Santorini is such a tiny island but it wasn’t long until we found ourselves driving in circles – unsure where we headed. There are notoriously few signposts around the island so we were running on our bare instincts.
Worse, there are a lot of one-way roads, so a single wrong turn could set you on a detour for some time. Eventually, after stopping for directions a few times we found our destination. Megalachori is not a very built up area, unlike Fira where we are staying near. Our pool was perched on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous sea. We spent a few hours absorbing the sun (with sunscreen of course) and swimming.
As we were relaxing, I checked my emails and discovered an email from DFAT. “Ohhh” I thought, “what could this be?” The email was brief but it made my heart leap with joy. The email was giving me directions for where to vote while I am overseas. A lovely reminder that my country has not forgotten me, and that my vote is important. Thanks Australia!
After our relaxing morning, we hit the open road again, not sure where we were headed but out to explore. There were a lot of wineries in this area so we occasionally stopped for a tasting of the local wines (Assyrtiko and Vinsanto) as we zoomed from place to place. Finally, we stopped in Perissa. Perissa is known for it’s nice beach. While it stretches for some length and is lined with lovely umbrellas and lounge chairs – it had black, stony sand – which for me, unless there is soft white sand – it can never really be regarded as a nice beach. Having said that, we found a nice shady umbrella and reclined onto a lounge to relax. I went for a dip in the temperate water, which was refreshing, and we enjoyed some lunch.
It was getting late in the day and we had another date with the sunset. Given we had the bike, we decided we would like to see the sunset in Oia which was all the way at the other end of the island from where we were. So we packed our things and headed to the quad bike. My partner turned the accelerator, and nothing happened, not even a small revving sound. Again he tried… nothing. We thought we better seek help, as our ongoing attempts to start the motor were not yielding any results.
My partner walked around the corner to the café in search of some roadside assistance. “I have help!” he said as he returned, behind him a boy aged about 11 was walking up with a big smile on his face. “Hello my friend” he said cheerfully. He was charming, but I was sceptical of his abilities. He jumped on the bike and began to try and start it. He tried a few times without success. “You need oil, my friend” he said, and then “The battery is dead, I’m sorry my friends” – “Is there anyone else who can help?” I asked. He thought about it for a moment and then quickly ran off to get his brother. “Hello my friends” said his brother – and after a couple of tries was able to kick-start the motor – we were off again.
We cruised into Oia and found a lovely roof top restaurant from which to view the sunset. We nibbled on saganaki and bruschetta with lovely fresh tomatoes and as we watched the gorgeous sunset. There was a cat slinking around the restaurant, enjoying the rooftop view along with us. A couple left a little after sunrise at a table nearby and left some of their creamy dessert. The quick witted cat, jumped onto the table to enjoy their leftovers, literally becoming the cat the got the cream. It was quickly shooed away and we watched it leap, unafraid, off the roof to an awning below.
We had heard from a few people around the island that there was a great fish restaurant in Imorvigli, not far from where we were, called Skaros. We were keen to try it. We got on the quad bike and began our mission to find it. The address on the card simply said Imorvigli with no further detail. We drove around in circles in the town looking for any clues. Eventually we decided to park and explore on-foot. We meandered through a narrow street and eventually we found it. I enjoyed a delicious prawn pasta, but sadly the meal was not as nice for my partner who had an undercooked fish. That aside, I spotted a Dicko (as in Ian Dicko Dickson from Australian idol) lookalike dining at the table next to us. I got some grainy paparazzi shots so you can decide for yourself.