29th June 2006
As I arrived in the Calderra of Santorini this afternoon, after my escape from Mykonos, I was torn between the awesome sight out the window and an ad on the TV advertising travel in Egypt, I couldn’t believe how much I wanted to go back. We docked on the volcanic island of Santorini and I wrenched my suitcase off the boat in a mad and chaotic struggle (not unlike Mykonos) to find my transfer. Upon meeting my representative from Meridian I was faced with “You owe me €31.00!” That’s nice I thought no welcome or anything. I got into the waiting van with a few other tourists, and we were all driven up the Calderra, most of the others not looking as it was a long way down.
I was dropped off at my hotel in Fira the main town, Sunrise which seemed pretty dull compared to the beautiful Veinoulas Gardens I had just left on Mykonos. The man behind the counter was large and had a lazy eye and looked like something out of an Italian gangster movie crossed with a greasy chef. He had a surly look about him and he told me that I had a fax from Meridian. I looked at it and sure enough it was a tax invoice for the €31.00, saying it was a cancellation fee because I had not arrived at the hotel on Santorini the night before. I was infuriated. Meridian had almost upset my whole trip and now they wanted to charge me for the privilege. When I was working at that crappy job for the few months before this trip I had been thinking, you’ll look back on this when you’re standing on the black sand of Santorini and laugh, they had also robbed me of that as well.
They even had an authorisation to charge my credit card whose details they already had! No, I thought to myself, it stops here and I faxed them back saying I wasn’t going to pay it. I had already paid out over $3000 for a trip which was proving that I could have booked everything I had received for half that myself. The hotels were supposed to be all inclusive and that was that I didn’t pay it. Although it didn’t stop me from stewing over it.
I decided to go out and shop, so I did still bubbling away like the volcano I was standing on. I went up an incline on which was a beautiful little marketplace, the sun was setting and I realised, this place was supposed to have the most beautiful sunset in the world and because of Meridian I might have missed it. I ran up the incline praying I would come out at a good spot and that I hadn’t missed it and swearing under my breath at the useless tour company. I went up and up and up, twisting and turning until I ran out onto the edge of the cliff…..and let me just say the hostility stops here.
I had come out at the exact perfect place to view the sunset of Santorini and had arrived just in time. I could see the Caldera and the sunset over it. I could see the volcano in the middle and the other bits that were left when the island blew up thousands of years ago. The side of the Caldera was lit up by the little lights of the town, whose buildings were all white and seemed to glow in the failing light. Around the Caldera was the water which the volcano let in, which was a sinister black, as if it were hiding something, with an old pirate looking ship sailing around on it all lit up. The sunset was beautiful, pink and gold with a splash of red, looking as if a dragon was smoldering in the clouds that hung about. I stood and stared losing myself in time and everything else just melted into the background.
After the sunset and I managed to tear myself away from the magnificent sight, after two hours of gawking, I decided to have a look at the delightful little shops that were all around me. I bought myself some frescoes of Akrotiri, The Ibex and my favourite The Blue Monkeys. I also went in another shop and bought heaps of postcards, I wanted everyone to see the beauty of where I was and, in this shop, too, they were selling animals made out of the magma of the volcano which of course I couldn’t pass up. So, in true island style I bought a dolphin, a favourite amongst the ancient Greek Islanders.
On the way back to the hotel I bought myself a quick snack as I had not eaten all day and quickly realised that this had become the case on this trip, either not being able to afford to eat or simply not having the time. I also decided to go and check out this metal club that I had been given a flyer for, it looked quite interesting but seemed pretty empty, so I decided to go back to the hotel. I had an 11am start to go swimming in the hot springs in the volcano and before that I was going to try to get to Akrotiri.