A Travellerspoint blog

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Italy

We left our hotel in Santorini at 5:30 am, flew to Athens where we had a 5-hour layover, then took a 2-1/2 hour flight to Naples. We arrived in Naples around 2:30 and found our driver holding a sign with our name on it. He was very pleasant and spoke English so we had a nice conversation on the 1-1/2 hour drive down the Amalfi coast. I had a little trouble understanding his accent and ended up hurting his feelings. He mentioned a 1-year-old so I started asking questions about his baby, only to have him tell me he meant a 1-year-old car. :) He got quiet for a while and then said "Does my face look so old that you think I would already have a child?" :)

After we got out of Naples, the drive along the coast was beautiful. The roads are very twisty and the driver didn't slow down at all on the curves, so we arrived in Praiano feeling a bit nauseous.

I had been exchanging emails for months with the owners of Onda Verde, so it was nice to finally meet them. They explained the dinner schedule and showed us to our room.

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We were exhausted from all the traveling, so we decided to take a short nap before going out. We both fell asleep immediately and woke up after the kitchen was closed. The hotel was on the side of a cliff in an isolated place, so there we were on our first night in Italy - hungry and disoriented with no place to go. :( We shared some crackers that I had in my purse and eventually fell back asleep.

We took our time getting ready the next morning and it ended up being almost lunchtime when we approached the front desk to ask directions. The owner said "we missed you at dinner last night." We explained that we slept right through it so he told us to have a seat in the restaurant and he would have the chef make something for us for lunch. The kitchen is only open for breakfast and dinner, but they felt sorry for us, I guess. :) The chef himself came out to our table and showed us some pasta and asked if that was okay with us. After 24 hours with nothing but a few saltines, he could have shown us pickled pigs feet and we would have been happy! :)

A few minutes later, he brought out large plates of pasta, chicken, vegetables and two types of dessert.

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Yummmmm. Welcome to Italy. :)

Getting around from point to point on the Amalfi Coast was not as easy as we had hoped. The bus system was not good, so it required taking private cars and boats most of the time. $$$$

After our delicious lunch at the hotel, Francesco arranged a water taxi for us. The pickup point was beneath the hotel in a little swimming cove. We paid 35 Euros (about $50) and were driven by boat to the town of Amalfi.

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The driver, Alfredo, was so friendly. He took us out of the way to show us a few things and he also let Kenzie drive the boat.

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We looked around the town of Amalfi

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and then decided to take a bus up the mountain to Ravello. We had visited these places six years ago on a daytrip from Rome and had remembered Ravello being breathtakingly beautiful, so we wanted to take another look.

We stopped at an outdoor cafe to have a drink and the waiter became smitten with Kenzie. He was falling all over himself flirting with her. :) He asked where we were headed after that and we told him we didn't have plans, so he told us we HAD to go see Villa Cimbrone. He said he would make a quick call to his friend there, then he scribbled a note for us to take to someone there. He had arranged free entry tickets for us. How nice. It had started to rain a little, so we waited for it to stop and then headed up the hill to check out this place.

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It was absolutely gorgeous there. These photos do not do justice to the place. It was amazing.

Marco was waiting for us when we got back into the square. He ran at Kenzie with open arms and told her he wanted her as his wife and there were a couple of conditions for the marriage: (1) the wedding would be at Villa Cimbrone; and (2) she would have to produce three kids. LOL! He was a hoot. He invited us back for a nighttime festival a couple of days later.

We caught the bus back to Amalfi and had to find another way back to our hotel in Praiano. There were no more buses that night, so we asked a taxi driver how much it would be to take us back to the hotel (about 8 or 9 miles). He said he couldn't say - that it would be whatever the meter said. How much could 9 miles be? We got in and when we arrived, it was FIFTY EUROS ($75)!! Wow. That was not fun to fork over.

Positano

The next day we had a cooking class scheduled for late afternoon, so we took a water taxi to the town of Positano and looked around for a few hours.

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Kenzie fell in love with a pair of shoes in the window of a shop.

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They were outrageously expensive, but she became emotionally attached to them. This is how she looked when I told her we shouldn't pay that much for the shoes:

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I would hear about those shoes at least 25 times a day for the rest of the trip. :)

We had lunch by the water and then did some more shopping.

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We had gelato while waiting on our water taxi to pick us up. Yummm.

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Cooking class

Chef Nik was waiting for us when we arrived and we spent 3 hours with him as he patiently taught us how to make pasta dishes from scratch. He gave us the instructions in grams and other useless metric measurements, so we will have to sort that all out before trying for ourselves.

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We tasted the dishes along the way, so at dinner an hour or so later, we were already stuffed. We had the same waiter, Rafaello, each night we ate at the hotel, and he always commented if things weren't eaten..... "did you not like it", etc. We knew Chef Nik saw the dishes being brought back into the kitchen each time too, so we were nervous about hurting feelings that night. We asked Rafaello to only bring us very small portions. Well, he didn't listen. He brought huge servings of pasta that we felt obligated to eat. We thought we were done when the second plates came out -- filet mignon AND stuffed chicken breast. We just started laughing after he walked away. The food was so beautiful and delicious, but we just could not eat any more!

The Lucy & Ethel personalities in us kicked in and we started to think of ways to hide the food. We considered pitching it over the side of the railing, but then after looking over, saw that there were people down there who may not have liked being on the receiving end of a meat torpedo. There was a path leading down to the water nearby that had lots of flowering plants so Kenzie directed me to go over and see if we could ditch a piece or two there. Feeling like a 5-year-old, I sheepishly walked over to check out the area, and turned to see Chef Nik waving to me from the kitchen window. :) We realized that the only thing worse than childishly hiding the food would be getting caught in the act, so we gave up and just moved the food around the plate and gave our apologies to Rafaello.

Capri

The next day we visited the island of Capri. A van picked us up from the hotel and dropped us off in Amalfi where we met up with others on the tour. We then took a ferry to Capri with our guide, Giuseppe.

We were loaded into a van and taken to the top of the island - Anacapri. After walking in a group listening to history lessons, we were given free time to roam about. We had a nice lunch and did some window shopping. The prices on that island were outrageous. We were thinking that once we got down to the main part of Capri, prices would be better.

The view from the top was amazing and the hotel gardens were beautifully groomed.

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This is lava cake that originated on the island:

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After a couple of hours, we were again herded back into vans and driven down to Capri. Giuseppe spoke to the group but Kenzie and I were too hot to stand and listen and found ourselves walking away to escape the heat. We stayed with the group long enough to photograph the 3-rock symbol of the island, then we left to go shopping. We looked in shop after shop - hoping to find something to remember the island by, but everything was extremely expensive. I was in search of a long brown necklace to go with a new blouse. We looked in every shop for brown beads and everything was $600 and up. We were walking back to catch the van and spotted what looked to be a long wooden necklace on display. I rushed in and picked it up. It was made in the shape of chain links. It was a bit large for my taste, but I thought I would "settle" for it. How much could plain wooden beads be? $50?? It was 400 Euros ($575) because it was actually carved animal bones. Gross. I gave up.

We were dropped off at our hotel just in time for dinner, then went into town (Praiano) to see what it was like. It was a very long walk on scary streets with no shoulder, so we basically ran the whole way -- 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. It wasn't worth the trip, actually, but at least we burned off our dinner. We stayed in the rest of the night since we had a very early pickup time in the morning for the Pompeii tour.

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This was our last full day in Italy and we were exhausted. We really weren't in the mood for another tour, but the hotel owner had booked it for us, and made a last-minute change the night before at our request (shortening the tour to 1/2 day instead of full day by removing the Mt. Vesuvius part of the tour), so we felt obligated to go. Plus, we would have never lived down the fact that we passed up an opportunity to see Pompeii for the second time (first time in 2005).

A van picked us up and took us to Amalfi where we met another group and boarded a large tour bus bound for Pompeii. Very common knowledge and I've already mentioned it enough here, but the roads are VERY twisty and it's very easy to get nauseous because the professional drivers do not slow down for the curves. I was feeling a little green but trying to look out the window and focus on a still object to keep myself from an embarrassing moment. I heard a loud cough just across the aisle from where Kenzie and I were sitting and then the familiar, disgusting sounds of someone getting sick. Blech. It was a young girl sitting with her mom.

The tour guide, Lucia, must have been very accustomed to this happening because she jumped up from her seat and ran back to where we were asking if a sack was needed. She handed the mom a clear plastic bag which was put to use for the next few minutes. Gross!!!! The mom tied the top of the sack and held it - you know, the way you hold a sack containing a goldfish you buy from the pet store? Ugh. For some reason, I kept catching sight of that damn pink bag and almost needing a bag myself.

A few minutes later, another mom ran to the front and asked the bus driver to stop immediately. Her teenage son exited the bus and heaved for 5 minutes as we blocked traffic on the mountainous road. Kenzie's face said it all ..... WHY did we have to come on this bleeping tour?!?!? :)

We arrived at Pompeii and were given earphones and battery packs to carry around so we could hear our guide. There were a kajillion people visiting Pompeii that day. It was hot and crowded and miserable. If the guide got too far in front of us, the voice in our ear was replaced with static, so we really had to watch out and keep up so as not to get separated from our group. The roads were all cobblestone and keeping our balance was a challenge. Did I mention it was hot? Like Iraq hot.

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Here is our guide, Lucia, carrying an umbrella so the group can easily spot her. Notice the lines on the road in front of her -- made by chariots.

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Kenzie offered to hold the travel bag during the tour so I could take pictures. This is how she looked most of the day: :)

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She perked up a little when she learned there were brothels and dead bodies yet to be seen. :)

So here's the story we were told about the brothels.... Apparently to make it easier on everyone who spoke different languages, they used drawings on the wall so that instead of verbally requesting a service, the customer could just point to the photo depicting their desired activity.

Hide the children..............

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Then came the gruesome part. These are castings of two of the bodies found at Pompeii. Their positions and facial expressions were haunting. What an awful way to die.

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After we finished the tour, we had a nice lunch at a restaurant in Naples and then boarded the bus for the trip back to Amalfi. Although we felt extremely nauseous, we were happy that we made it back with no incidents.

We decided to hang out in Amalfi for the rest of the evening to do some shopping, and then took another $75 taxi drive back to the hotel. :(

Back to Greece

The next morning, we left early for Naples and then returned to Greece for one last night. The taxi drivers were on strike, but it didn't matter because our hotel was at the airport. Very convenient! We checked in and then went back across to collect the luggage we had left behind, and then Kostas met us at the hotel and took us shopping.

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We had a great time and then sadly said goodbye to him for what we hope is just one year. He is such a good friend. Love him!!

The beds at the Sofitel were the most comfortable on the whole trip, but we would only get to sleep for 45 minutes. We were thinking the airport would be dead for our 5:55 am flight, so we arrived around 4:00 and ended up almost missing our flight. It was very chaotic and congested. We understood that we would be able to check 2 bags each on the way home so we didn't worry about the weight limits. Wrong. We had to pay 120 Euros ($165) for the extra bags. Ouch.

Frankfurt, Germany

The flight to Frankfurt, Germany was easy and when we arrived for our long layover, the temperature was in the 50s. We had arranged a walking tour, and found Jo holding a sign with our name on it. We took a train into the city center and walked around for a few hours. It was a nice way to get through a long layover.

Scenes around Frankfurt:

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We found a pharmacy and bought some medicine to help us sleep on the eleven hour flight back. We would be in coach this time and definitely needed the help from the drugs. :)

What a fun trip. I hated to see it all end. Being with my daughter for three whole weeks, seeing old friends and experiencing new places, was truly a blessing.

Posted by bcash 11:40 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Crete

Chania

After paying a 30 Euro fee for overweight luggage, we took the short flight to Crete on Aegean Airlines. The weather seemed much cooler in Chania than it had been in Athens, and we were very thankful for that! The taxi ride took about 20 minutes and we were dropped off in a shop-filled alley with the driver motioning which direction to walk (no cars allowed). The path was cobblestone and the wheels on the luggage were not very happy about all the bumps in the road. One of my four wheels had been damaged and I would pay for it for the rest of the trip. After walking up and down the various alleys and not finding our hotel (Casa Leone), Kenzie told me to stay with the luggage and that she would go off in search of the hotel. I positioned myself and all the bags against a wall and waited. Kenzie returned about 10 minutes later laughing. She said she finally found a shop owner and asked for the hotel. The lady said she didn't know where it was, but since the open windows made eavesdropping quite easy, someone yelled from an upstairs shop where to find it, then someone else from the opposite direction also chimed in with directions. :)

We found Casa Leone a few minutes later, and a hotel employee rushed out to help us with the bags. Once inside, we were invited to sit on the balcony overlooking the harbor until our room was ready.

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We were given fresh peach juice and an enormous plate of cherries, peaches and watermelon while we waited for our room. It was a lovely suite, with room for 4-6 people. I reserved this room when I wasn't sure if Jason and Laura were coming, and then at one point, we thought Kostas might join us. There were double-doors leading out to a balcony overlooking the harbor, and we enjoyed the view for the next 3 days.

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For dinner, the hotel owner had suggested a place right underneath the hotel. I had remembered all the threads on the travel forums advising us to avoid the harbor restaurants and to find places to eat away from the tourist area. We walked around a few minutes but we were starving, so we went back to the place the hotel owner recommended.

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The next morning we slept well past the hotel breakfast-serving time, so we had no idea what we had missed until the following morning. We walked all over the town, stopping for a little fish therapy

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and shopping. We bought matching silver rings and enough olive oil soap to bathe all of LSU. :)

We spotted this in the sky from the harbor area. A flying blow-up boat??

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We walked a couple of miles to a beach in Chania.

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After we returned to the hotel, we got dressed and left for dinner at Tamam. This restaurant had great reviews on travel forums, and friends had also suggested it since it was so close to our hotel. We were enjoying an appetizer when a large group of rowdy young men in the back started singing Happy Birthday in French. Then they tried it in English, and once again in another language that we couldn't make out. It was very obvious that the guys were heavily intoxicated. A few minutes later, a young man approached Kenzie. He was struggling so hard with his English, but he said this was for her - because she was so beautiful. It was a jagged piece of blueberry cheesecake --- with fork marks on all sides. :) He said he had saved it for her and to PLEASE eat it. Another man joined him at our table and presented us with a half glass of raki. Blech. The men .... and the "gifts" kept coming. Before long, we had about 15 men gathered around - all flirting with Kenzie - but thankfully they ran out of leftovers to bring her. :) One young man was kind enough to turn his attention to me and I learned that they were in the French military - stationed on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and were just in town for one night before heading back to duty. Bless their little hearts. Our food finally arrived and the waiter shooed the boys away.

The next day was our last full day, so after a delicious breakfast that was bigger than most dinners we had on the trip, we asked the hotel owner to help us decide what to do. She made some calls to see what our options were, and arranged a taxi driver for the whole day. We agreed on a price, and she told us the driver would take us to a beautiful beach, with a few stops along the way to see some other sights. After picking us up from the designated meeting point, he drove about 30 minutes, then pulled over and picked up a young woman on the side of the road. He didn't speak much English, but said to us, "she for me." I guess he wanted someone to keep him company for the day trip.

We stopped first on the side of the road in the mountains. He pointed toward the stairs leading up the side of the mountain and told us to go. We had no idea what was at the top and felt a little foolish about it. There was a small restaurant at the bottom and the employees all pointed toward the stairs, so we figured it must be a legitimate tourist site. The stairs were very steep and there were a thousand of them, so about halfway up, we started questioning this decision. :) After a very long climb, we felt the temperature drop drastically, and then after one more flight of stairs, we found the Cave of the Wisdom of God.

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Next stop was the Chryssoskalitissa Monastery. We didn't do a thorough tour since we were anxious to get to the beach and still had an hour or so to go.

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We finally arrived at Elafonissi Beach. It was GORGEOUS! The photos do not come close to showing how beautiful this place was. The water was so clear and it was shallow enough to wade out to all the surrounding sand bars and beaches. We were at the southwest edge of the island. If you took off boating and headed straight south, you would hit . . . Libya. Yikes!!

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The beach was amazing and Kenzie and I decided we would have to come back in the future and stay near this beach.

Heraklion

The next afternoon, we took a 2-hour bus ride to Heraklion, then checked into the Lato Boutique hotel.

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I had arranged an evening horseback ride through the hills outside Heraklion. The owner of Finikia offered to pick us up from the hotel since we didn't have a rental car. We sat near the door watching for his car. Twenty minutes after the agreed upon pickup time, we heard a very loud vehicle approaching that sounded like it was "bassing". I'm not sure what it's called in other places, but it's the sound you hear when a driver has the music blaring with the bass part turned up to the highest level. We both looked at each other. Surely that would not be our ride. As it pulled up in front of the hotel, we saw the name of the facility clearly written on the door. :( Jeffrey jumped out in a white linen pantsuit screaming that Greeks are always late, and placed us in the back of the van. Once inside, we realized that the music wasn't on and the sound we were hearing was actually the misfiring engine! It was awful. It cycled over and over with this ROOOOOOOOOM BOPPA sound. It was sooooo loud!! Kenzie glared at me with this "where on EARTH did you find this place?!?!?" look as we drove through town picking up other passengers, each of whom had the same shocked "what in hell have we gotten ourselves into" face when boarding the ROOOOOOOM BOPPA buggy. No one spoke. It would have been pointless because no one could hear over the sound of the engine. :)

I felt a little better after we got out of the heap. There were other people who had arrived before us and they were all smiles. Looking back, they were probably laughing at our screaming arrival. :)

Jeffrey gave us all helmets, then proceeded to give us rules for riding the horses. In between instructions, he told very politically incorrect jokes. I'm certainly not uptight about most things, but I could see where some people would have gotten extremely upset over his little standup comedy routine. Anyway, the horses at the facility all had bizarre names -- Viagra, Ooooh Baby Baby, etc.

I was given Barack Obama.


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Kenzie rode Sex on the Beach.

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The handlers were along side us and when the horses would misbehave, they would shout their names and a command, which made for some very funny moments.

We stopped after a couple of hours to give the horses a break. They gave us watermelon wedges and homemade raki. Yick!! If you haven't had it, raki is a synonym for jet fuel!! :) It is nasty, but when I took one sip and almost heaved, one of the handlers took my cup away and drank the rest out of it.

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Barack Obama had a hard time focusing and frequently turned off the path to eat grass. I would have liked to have ridden alongside Kenzie, but Obama was slow and stubborn. I was always dead last in the group. Another man riding directly in front of me most of the time had the letters "FAT" painted in big white letters on the saddle near his butt. Thankfully he was skinny. :) I'm guessing that was the name of the horse and I suppose mine must have said B.O., which is equally unflattering. Lord only knows what Kenzie's saddle butt abbreviation said! :)

After we returned and cleaned up, there was a big dinner for us. It was delicious - grilled shishkebobs, meatballs, potatoes and salad, and yes, lots of ouzo and raki. I had to beg for more water. Petrol just doesn't seem to go well with food, in my opinion. :) After that, a birthday cake was brought out and all the guests sang happy birthday to me. Another cake was brought out for a lovely English couple who had just gotten married. It was a fun and lively dinner and we made some new friends.

Jeffrey encouraged the smearing of cake on faces. Never quite got the meaning behind that. The newlywed got an entire piece of cake squished in her hair. I escaped with only cake to the nose.

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The ranch hand who had been partaking in the alcoholic festivities all evening drove us back to our hotel. We managed to avoid the Rooooom Boppa heap. We took the Jedd Clampett jalopy instead. :) We were thrilled to arrive safely.

The next morning we took a bus for Agios Nikolaos. It was a cute town on the water with tons of shops and restaurants. Kenzie bought a swimsuit and we had lunch by the water.

The taxi drivers were on strike so we found another bus and went to Elounda for a few hours.

Spinalonga island can be accessed from there, but it was very hot and we didn't see many shade trees on the island :) so we decided we would just see it from a distance this time.

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On the bus ride back to Heraklion, we spotted lots of goats in the mountains. It was amazing to see them perched on the rocks. It was hard to imagine how they even got there on those extremely steep surfaces, but they were everywhere. It was like a Where's Waldo book picking them out along the way.

When we arrived back at the hotel, the front desk reminded us that the taxi strike would still be in effect the next day, when we were due to take a ferry to Santorini. The port was walking distance, but it took over 30 minutes. We managed okay, but were still cursing the taxi drivers for inconveniencing us. :) I was very glad we had chosen that particular hotel. I'm not sure what we would have done if our hotel had been 10 miles away from the port.

The ferry was a medium-sized one (Flying Cat 5). I was happy to see that it was not the smaller Flying Dolphin that Kenzie and I traveled on to Skopelos two years ago.

We worried along the way that there wouldn't be a car to pick us up from the port in Santorini due to the taxi strike, but we stepped off the ship and saw a man holding a sign with our names on it.

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Posted by bcash 11:40 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Santorini

A hotel employee met us at the drop-off point and brought us down to our room at Aris Caves in Oia. There were a zillion steps after leaving the main walking path. Our legs would certainly get a nice workout over the next 6 days.

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It was a nice place with a loft, a separate bedroom, a living room and small kitchen. I reserved a larger room months before when there was still a possibility that my son and his wife would go, and I was glad it worked out that the space didn't get wasted. A friend from Athens agreed to join us for 3 nights! He would arrive the next afternoon, so my daughter and I got unpacked and then went out for dinner.

We had reservations at Nectar & Ambrosia, one of the restaurants owned by Tony M. We had stayed at his hotel (1864 Sea Captain's House) on our first trip to Greece in 2005 and we have kept in touch ever since. He has been very successful with his hotels, spa and two restaurants. I haven't eaten at the other one (Ambrosia) but it always gets glowing reviews, and was featured on a travel channel show with Giada de Laurentiis. Our dinner at Nectar & Ambrosia was delicious! We started with one of the dishes from the Giada show - - the feta cheese in filo dough with fig sauce.

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Scrumptious!

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Our friend arrived the next afternoon. We were so excited to see him again! He would be met at the port by his aunt who lives on the island, and would see us later that day. Kenzie and I were on our fourth trip to Santorini, so we knew our way around just fine, but we were thrilled to have our friend with us since he was very familiar with the island.

The first night we watched the sunset at Lioyerma

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and then had dinner at Roka. We would have never found that place if our friend hadn't been there. It was in the back alleys of Oia and we had no idea that little section was even there.

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It was so great having our friend there! What a treat having a friend/tour guide/interpreter/bodyguard along with us. :) We became lazy since we had him there. He took care of everything! :)

The next day, we had breakfast in Oia and then took a bus to Fira. Another friend picked us up from the bus stop and took us to Vlychada beach.

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This boat was following us. Kenzie and I saw it in Elounda, Crete, and then in Oia a couple of days later. Then it appeared again while we were at Vlychada. Wish we could have hitched a ride with them instead of the Hellenic Seaways ferry!

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After a couple of hours at the beach, we all went to Boutari for wine tasting.

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Loved the wine and had some shipped home since we were already over the luggage weight limits! We learned some interesting things about how grapes are grown in Santorini. I wish I had taken a photo of the vines because they looked nothing like American vineyards.

And speaking of things grown in Santorini, here is a photo of white eggplant. We were told Santorini is the only place in the world where it will grow.

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After wine tasting, we went to another winery (Santo Wines) to see the view. I've read a lot about weddings held there so it was nice to finally be able to see the place.

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We then went to Fira and did some shopping at our favorite jewelry shop on the island, Gold In White. Kenzie and I have shopped here on all 4 trips to the island, and the owner recognizes us each time and reminds us of what we said and bought in the previous years. Excellent memory. After spending way too much money, we walked around Fira a while and then stopped at Classico for a drink. From the top floor, we had a perfect view of the volcano and sunset. Beautiful.

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That night, we decided to try Santorini Mou for dinner. It routinely gets excellent reviews on travel forums, so we wanted to check it out. We decided to walk since it was supposedly close to Oia, but it ended up being a looooong way on a very dark street. The walk home at 2:00 am was even scarier, but thankfully, we were traveling with a big, intimidating former Presidential guard, so we were in good hands. :)

The owner, Mihalis, and two men were playing music when we entered the patio restaurant.

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There were thousands of faded photos of past visitors hanging from the walls and overhead rafters. Between sets, Mihalis made the rounds posing with customers and planting kisses on all the ladies' cheeks. We would soon learn that photos evidencing your visit were mandatory. :) Jennifer Aniston complied on her 1986 visit:

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Mihalis could be David Crosby's long-lost brother. :)

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The wait staff stopped serving for a few minutes to lead some sort of line dance.

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The crowd cheered as if they were witnessing something wonderful and authentic, but the Greek with us informed us that was anything but authentic. :)

The walk back to our hotel didn't seem to take as long, probably because we were tipsy and don't remember most of it. :)

We had breakfast the next morning at Floga

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and then walked around and took some pictures.

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It was soooo hot in Greece. We were constantly on the search for icy drinks to cool down. We walked into one drink shop in Oia that had a powerful air conditioning blast aimed at the open doorway. Kenzie positioned herself there for about 5 minutes.

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We decided to rent a car for a day. There were some places on the island we wanted to see that buses didn't go to, so we found a place in Oia and asked for an automatic (the only kind of car I can drive). They located one in Fira and had it brought over for us.

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I had never driven in Greece before, so I was a little nervous about it. The streets weren't bad -- it was just that two cars cannot easily fit side by side in some spots -- and God forbid you have a large truck or a bus coming at you. I had numerous terrifying moments when I had to share a very narrow place in the road with an oncoming tour bus, with stone walls on both sides of the road so no room for error! Thank God for our friend's calming personality. We got through it all with only a banged up side mirror.

I wanted to check out the Baxedes area. It's across the way from Oia at sea level and I was curious what the view would be like from there. We parked the car on the side of the road and walked down a hill to find Columbo beach. After reading so many complaints on travel forums about how there are NO good beaches on Santorini (I disagree because I LOVE Red Beach, and Vlychada was very nice), I was pleasantly surprised at this one. We walked along the water for a while and came upon a little crack in the mountain. We could see a dog lying inside and he looked scared and hungry.

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Our friend got close and poured water from his bottle to see if the dog would get up and drink, and he did. He came out of the cave and kept drinking. We searched around the beach and found a container that would hold water, and then we all gave up our water bottles for the sweet little pup. We gave him lots of attention and he followed us around. We wanted to bring him home with us!

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It was so hard to leave him. As we walked up the steps to the road, he stayed in the same position and kept staring at us. I had to console myself into thinking that he actually belonged to someone on the island and that he was just at the beach taking a break before returning to his loving family.

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After that experience which firmly convinced me (as if I didn't already know) that I was in the presence of two wonderful, caring people (animal lovers are just the best!!), we headed out for Amoudi. We had fried white eggplant and some other appetizers and enjoyed the beautiful sunset view.

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For our last dinner together, we were invited to Marmita. We were walking down a steep part in the road and Kenzie's shoes slipped and she fell. Ouch. When we made it to the restaurant, the owner took us in the back room and helped her, but he didn't have any bandages, so he used this nice satin ribbon.

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Quite a fashion statement! :)

Dinner was delicious and the portions were huge!

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This was an outdoor restaurant and some neighborhood dogs paid visits to our table. I loved this one!

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The next morning we decided to visit another town while we still had the rental car. Kenzie and I had never been to Perissa, so we decided to go there and look around.

Our friend was leaving us that day. It was so sad to see him go. We just love him!! But we knew we would get to see him one last night in Athens after we returned from Italy, so at least we had that to look forward to.

We rushed back to Oia, turned in the rental car, then started getting Kenzie ready for her photoshoot. Vangelis would meet us at our hotel and would start with a few photos there. We don't have Vangelis's professional photos yet, but these are some that I took that day:

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After saying goodbye to Vangelis, we did a little shopping in Oia, packed our bags, then made our way to the bus station around 11:00 pm. I had wanted to eat moussaka at Naoussa before we left the island and I was worried we would be too late. The bus line was long and it took forever on a very packed bus to get there. I was thinking it was pointless to even find Naoussa at that late hour (12:30 a.m.), but we tried anyway, and they were open!! Where we live, if you try to go to a restaurant anywhere near closing time, you are given the stink eye. :) We were so surprised that the people at Naoussa were SO welcoming!

I know moussaka is probably a dish that the Greeks think of as our version of meatloaf :) but I LOVE it. I tried it at various other places (including 3 places in Houston), but Naoussa was my favorite, so I was thrilled to be able to have it there again! It was delicious and made my day! We left around 2:00 a.m. and the staff all came out and said goodbye. I love that place!!

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We left for the airport at 5:30 the next morning. We would have several hours in Athens and then on to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

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Posted by bcash 11:40 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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