Sunday, July 08, 2012

Postcard From Santorini

Yes, Santorini really is this beautiful. I took a shot of an old boat on a rooftop, and this yacht was a speck in the background. A few steps along I took another rooftop shot still with this speck in the background. Then I zoomed in a bit to make the yacht the focus of the photo. Think it turned out quite nicely. Check out more Santorini photos here.

Gotta make this quick because it's yet another stunning day out there. Ranty first draft and I'm not checking it so ignore any typos, will fix them later. But. Santorini is gorgeous and I want to stay here longer. Yesterday we took a boat to an active volcano (Nea Kameni). Never been to a volcano before and it was, well, very volcanoey. There was even a weird hole in one part at the walking path where steam was coming out and I couldn't decided whether it was volcano steam or they just rigged up a pipe attached to a tank and they turned it on for the benefit of the tourists.

Kidding. It really is an active volcano. Apparently when it went off 3,600 years ago it was 40 times greater than Krakatoa. And here we were climbing on the bloody thing AND swimming in hot springs at its base. Everyone looked at me kinda weird when I started telling them, "Guys - do you know why the water is hot? Do you know what's happening right under our feet? Don't you think we should be running for our lives?"

Main thing that has stayed with me about that tour was the tour guide, Zoe, or Mama Zoe, as she called herself, and the way she railroaded the whole boatload of us into a taverna that had clearly paid her or was somehow related to the boat company. I know that's what these tours do and it's one of the reasons I don't like them, but they serve a purpose when you're on limited time. Thing is I had read somewhere about the taverna, Captain John on the island of Thirassia, so I thought it probably was the one to go to. In hindsight, we really should have done what we usually do and explored  for ourselves.

You have to walk through the first taverna to get to Captian John, and the little guy there was doing his damndest to get people to stay in his place. But Mama Zoe had drummed it into everyone that the best place was Captain John. She explained time and time again that you have to keep walking through the first one to get to Captain John. She even told us that the first taverna had been serving the same octopus for a week, basically implying that it was a health hazard to eat there.

Is this not slander? His food looked as fresh as the food in Captain John. I felt for the guy but it all happened quickly and was too late. Captain John was twice the size of his place and it filled as tour boat after tour boat arrived, and his stayed empty. Not only that, there were other tavernas further along, as we would later find, that were clearly getting very little business. Two of them were Kamapa and taverna Tonia. Again, they were meticulously clean in front of house with open kitchens that appeared to be spotless, the food looked fresh, but no one made it past Captain John. We stopped in for a glass of wine in one of them and that's when it properly sunk in. Whoever owns Captain John probably paid for a mention in whatever guide I had read about it in and there is clearly something going on with the tour boat company and Captain John - and the thing is, the food there was as nice but ordinary as anywhere else in Greece. Greek food is the same everywhere for Godsake. It's just grilled seafood or meat, Greek salad, tzatziki, moussaka etc (although they do some really nice tomato fritters here that I haven't experienced before).

The reason I got so angry about all of this is that some restaurant down the stretch had already been abandoned. There was a small market stretch from the boat that ended at Captain John, and these other little places are run by locals who are clearly suffering. It's their fucking livelihood and because of shrewd business dealings and greed, Captain Fucking John is choking them. Soon they will go under and there will be nothing there but Captain John. How short-sighted. What the hell is wrong with people. Why can't they see that it's a community that needs to work together. It's a gorgeous part of the world and it could really be something special if all the tavernas did well and the market stretched all the way along the waterfront... but no, Ship's Joint Venture and Captain John are screwing the place.

End rant. This is largely for me to try to follow up and write in detail about after doing some research.

After this (and it was a lovely day otherwise), we went to Ia and rode donkeys up the hundreds of steps to one of the prettiest towns I have ever been in. Had some wine, stared in wonder at that magnificent panorama for ages until we caught the local bus home to Fera Stefani and our gorgeous little hotel Reverie with its own stunning panorama. Totally recommend this hotel. Reasonable rates, very clean and run by really friendly family members. Love it. Check the photos link to see it for yourself.

Right then. That's probably all from here until we get to Corfu tomorrow.

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