Saturday, 21 June 2014

Donkeys, squids and lava stones

Today is the last full day of my Greek Island Hopping tour; after breakfast tomorrow, I’m done with all my tours and will be making my own way for the next few months.

I’ve been to Greece before – it captured my imagination and for seven years I wasn’t able to still the rattle in my heart – the piece of Greece I’d brought home with me last time. So I returned to Athens – gave the city way too much of my time – then escaped to the islands.

Mykonos was brilliant, and I loved it all over again. I got lost in the back streets of town, watched a bride walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams, and unwound. Being an early bird, I got one of the famous beaches to myself one morning, which was a highlight. I also stimulated the local economy with some enthusiastic shopping.

Paros, an island I knew nothing about prior to arriving, surprised me with its creativity and intimacy. The jewellery makers on Paros are so gifted, I defy anyone to leave the island without a new trinket. Paros had the same narrow, white-walled cobblestone streets of Mykonos, and yet it had a fraction of the tourists and an abundance of charm. I went to a fishing village where squid were drying in the sun, trawlers were lurching against the sea walls, and nets were unrolled on footpaths, and I loved it.

Highly recommended.

The third and final island on my hopping tour was Santorini.

Oh, Santorini.

It’s as good as people say. It’s better than they describe. It’s something else entirely.

White buildings cling to kilometres of cliffs. The roof of one building is the floor of another. Streets of glamorous clothes, glittering jewellery and all manner of souvenirs make for a dazzling walk about town. Thousands gather for the sunset each night, as we did, and a short boat ride away, a volcano waits.

This, we climbed. I dragged my bung foot up to the crater, toes be damned, and later swam through thermal spring water to a mud bath. The group isn’t entirely sure we weren’t duped, and that the mud had no beneficial properties at all, but either way, excellent photos were born. Following this, we conquered the cliffs on donkeys, and had a brilliant night out in town.

In all, the tour has been fantastic. Brilliant people, awesome locations, and more rattles in my heart. 

Now I’m bound for Athens, looking back on photos and making big decisions about what comes next. 

In the immediate future, London. 

Beyond that, stay tuned.