Sunday, May 26, 2013

The last full day of our SeaDream cruise... Santorini!

Santorini, Greece is one of those places you hear about whenever someone brings up Greece as a potential vacation destination.  I had seen it profiled on Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe and figured it would be a really interesting place.  And it was... but not for the reasons I expected it to be.


We've got company...  The Spanish ship is in the distance, while Costa Magica is closeby.

Mikee, one of SeaDream's finest waiters, waited on Bill and me at breakfast.  Bill and I had noticed two other ships in port with us; a Spanish cruise ship that appeared to be a bit of a budget line based on its size and lack of balconies, and Costa Magica, a huge mainstream cruise ship.  Mikee shook his head and said, "Boy, those cable cars are gonna be working extra hard this morning."  We later found out that the Spanish ship was carrying about 1700 people, while Costa Magica had about 2200.

It didn't really register with Bill or me what Mikee was really saying, nor did we even think that maybe we should wait awhile before venturing ashore.  After breakfast, we got dressed and headed for the tender, provided by a local service.  The boat was very large and I was still coughing a lot.  I hoped I wouldn't hurl on our way to the port.  The tender seemed to take forever to get us to dry land and once we were there, it was wall to wall people.  The line to get up the mountainside to visit Santorini stretched long.  Thankfully, there was a public WC available.  Much to my surprise, the WC was technically free, though there was a tip box prominently displayed.


Headed for the line...


Donkey rides


Standing in line...

Quite a few people opted to ride one of the hard working donkeys up the mountain, though I didn't see anyone from SeaDream doing that.  I spent most of my childhood showing horses and was once quite the equestrienne, but I am now at a point in my life at which I feel sorry for any beast of burden that has to carry me, especially uphill.  We also could have walked, but the stout hike to Anacapri squelched any desire I might have had to walk uphill.  In the interest of being humane, Bill and I got in line for the cable cars.  It took about 45 minutes until we were in a car with four other people from Spain.  One of the women was obviously very nervous and buried her face in her hands.  Some Spanish folks in a car ahead of us had turned their ride into a party and were rocking back and forth, which made our car rock.  They sang and cheered, turning the ride into a little fiesta.  The Spanish lady expressed disbelief that they were singing when she was clearly scared shitless.

This ass was prominently displayed in the cable car station at the top of the mountain...


Crowded streets!

A few minutes later, we got off the cable car and were suddenly thrust into a tourist madhouse.  Santorini's narrow streets were packed with people!  It was very unpleasant to try to walk around, so we ducked into a "fish spa".  Santorini has quite a few fish spas, actually, and I had been wanting to try one.  At ten euros each for ten minutes, Bill and I could sit in chairs with our feet in fish tanks full of toothless doctor fish, which would exfoliate our rough feet by eating off the dead skin.  It sounds kind of like a gross thing to do and, in fact, I did later read that there are some minor health risks associated with this treatment.  But I was dying of curiosity anyway, so we did it.  A lady who spoke Italian washed our feet and put plastic booties on them, then led us to side by side tanks.  We dipped our feet in the water and the fish went to town.  Ten minutes later, our feet were surprisingly soft.  I noticed a sign that said all over body treatments were also available.  Yikes!





Feeding the fishies!  This was actually kind of fun and tickled a bit.  So far, I've seen no evidence of ill effect after having let these fish exfoliate my feet.





















































We found a side alley that led to "Main Street", where we could see evidence of life outside the tourist hordes.  Bill found an ATM, but wasn't able to get any cash from it.  After a little while, I got sick of fighting the crowds.  Just as we were about to make our way back to the cable cars, we were lured into a restaurant with promises of cold beer.  We were the only people in there when we sat down, so we decided to have lunch, which turned out to be delicious.  When Bill and I lived in Germany, we used to love going out for Greek food.  We hadn't found anything similar to the experience since moving back to the States.  That lunch in Santorini kicked off several days of yummy Greek eating.

We had a nice, leisurely meal and were very well taken care of by the restaurant's proprietor, who brought out a complimentary round of local wine for us as we paid the check.  As we walked out of the restaurant, I noticed that the streets were a lot quieter.  It seemed all the folks from the big cruise ships had left, since their ships were departing in the early afternoon.  The difference was amazing!


I stopped by a jewelry store and bought myself a beautiful blue opal and silver necklace as if in celebration.
New bling.

Bye fellow cruisers!


The view on the way down.

Before dinner that evening, we gathered in the dining salon to hear Captain Smorawski's closing speech.  He told us about how many nautical miles we traveled, how much fuel we'd burned, and most importantly, how much booze we consumed.  Then he presented our favorite sommelier Pablo an award for being employee of the month.  Like most of the rest of us, Pablo would be disembarking in Athens and going home for his scheduled two month break.

Pablo wins cash!
Dinner that night was very interesting, since three of my courses came from the raw menu.  I don't usually go for healthy food, as evidenced by my zaftig figure.  But something about the menu made me decide I wanted to try some of the raw stuff that night.  I was glad I did, since all three courses were delicious.  Jose was our waiter, which always makes me happy.


The Ginger Spritzer was very refreshing and delicious!


I followed it with The Glow, a slightly spicy raw cocktail...


I went with something cooked for the main course...  Duck!

Raw panna cotta... This one didn't look like a boob!

Pablo had an easy time convincing my husband to purchase this reasonably priced and very delicious wine...  He had been wanting to try this particular variety for some time.  It was worth the purchase!

The last night is always bittersweet and we spent ours in the piano bar, of course.  Our last song was "Bohemian Rhapsody".  I didn't end up pre-booking another cruise this time, mainly because Bill and I don't know what the future holds as he finishes his Army career and we are interested in trying barging in France or Ireland.  But I feel very certain we'll be back to SeaDream as soon as possible.  

Stay tuned for my disembarkation post and travels in Athens.
  


It's always sad to see the luggage mats again...


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