Santorini is all about the views. So when we awoke to a thick fog, we wondered what the day would hold. By the time we had finished our morning coffee, breakfast sandwich, and jam and bread, the fog had blown away and the sun began to warm the white buildings and stone walks of this magnificent island.
The quarter of the island we decided to explore this day was completely on the opposite end from the previous day's adventure. Our destination was the lighthouse on the southwestern end of the island. Driving was not bad except for some of the little towns where roads narrowed and people parked on streets. Of course meeting a full sized tour bus was a challenge but Bob was beginning to drive like a native. I, on the other hand, was still screaming like a tourist.
Along the road to the lighthouse, we stopped several times to enjoy the views. While the Caribbean is deep turquoise in color, the Mediterranean is a deep blue. The dramatic cliffs and coastal details of Santorini with its buildings like stair steps clinging to the sides of the sheer drops to the ocean make you stand in wonder as you take it all in. Refreshed with cool sea breezes and warm rays of sun, we continued on.
The lighthouse is a large structure sitting on the southwest point of the island. At first we thought that was all there was to see there but we noticed a trail, and never ones to turn down a chance to explore, we followed it around to the front side of the lighthouse facing out to the open sea.
As we passed another couple returning, they mentioned to us to be sure to go far enough to see the Indian in the rock. Sure, I thought, another one of those touristy things where you have to squint and use your imagination to see what someone had made up as a point of interest. But no, there it was! It was so distinctive I wondered if it had been handmade. (I have such a suspicious nature).
On our way back, we turned off onto the road that led to the Kokkini Beach, better known as the Red Beach. We found the parking area and followed the others who were making there way along a path we figured led to the beach. Well, it did, in a way. If you truly wanted to get down to the beach, there were lots of boulders to climb over. We could see some sort of a road opposite from our viewpoint but it looked like gravel and if there were cars there, you couldn't see where they parked.
We weren't interested in swimming or sunning anyway so we returned to where we'd parked and decided to check out the restaurants. After all, we were still recovering from our cruise and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. The menu posted outside of one called Captain Antonis, Fresh Fish Tavern looked like we'd find something we wanted to eat so we descended the stairs.
At the bottom, we found ourselves at the door to what looked like the kitchen. An older gentleman with scruffy beard and typical Greek cap perched on his head waved us in. He gave Bob a vigorous hand shake as we passed and we found ourselves outside again under a canopy on a graveled pier of sorts where there were a couple dozen tables set up with chairs.
We chose a spot and a sweet lady who looked like she was probably the Captain's wife handed us menus. She apologized up front for "No English" and then with gestures and a word or two, indicated that the usual waitress was still sleeping. No problem. At least there was an English version of the menu. We chose an appetizer and a dish that said it was meatballs with tomato sauce.
"Is that good?" Bob asked.
The lady nodded and scurried off to put in the order, and I suspect cook it as well. There was no one else in the restaurant but the establishment next to us looked as though there was a small tour group eating there. Had we made a mistake?
When our "meatballs" arrived, they were actually hamburger patties with very crispy and good potatoes on the side with a little salad as well. It was all very delicious. Even without the "tomato sauce." While we were eating, Captain Antonis came out and fired up the grill. I guess he was expecting more customers. He had a little trouble getting the fire started. I hoped his wife had more "meatballs" in the kitchen.
Lunch was a perfect example of why we like to travel on our own rather than with a tour company. You don't have those kind of encounters with a tour guide along. They take care of all of that for you. Some people are more comfortable with that approach and in some areas of the world I am too. But our lunch experience was fun.
In the car once more, we passed signs that indicated we were near the archaeological dig that has recently been reopened with an all new building housing the dig itself. We had planned to visit it on another day but we like the word flexible and applied it. I'm so glad we did.