Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Imerovigli to Oia

I had planned on beginning to tell you the highlights of the past three weeks. But, it's too hard to do a retrospective when I'm still journeying.
Santorini, as you saw from yesterday's photo, is postcard perfect. And yesterday I spent all my time finding my way around the little cliffside village, Imerovigli, near my hotel. This hotel has been a welcome shelter, and, perfect.

When Faye, the manager of Iliovasilema greeted me upon my arrival, she walked me down, down, down 60 steep steps, turned left, and there was my deck, table and chairs and umbrella to shield the relentless afternoon sun.

Inside my studio are a pair of rush seated chairs. I walked across the marble
( local ) floor and up a spiral staircase to my loft complete with a 8x8 inch window overlooking the sea and a bed. Faye pointed out the greek white wine on the table, complements of the hotel. Nice touch. Faye is canadian and said she came here twenty years ago from Edmunton. I can see why. The sunsets across the bay from my deck, and since I'm perched near the main port, Fira, I can see the cruise ships arrive and depart which gives me an idea when to skip going to town.

Today, I ventured a bit farther. To the north of Imerovigli is a crunchy-granola village, Oia, that reminds me in terms of its natural beauty and geography a little of Portofino. There is a walking path from my village to Oia, a distance of 10 KM or so. So I set out this morning about 9:30am to check it out and stretch my body a bit. The walk, mostly flat, took about 1.5hours. The view is terrific since you walk mostly on a ridge and can see the caldera, the volcanic outcroppings now full of water, and the Meditteranean on the east side. Totally different vegetation--the east side, that slopes down to black sand beaches, is lush with crops dotting the hills; while the west side is arid and red-brown similar to the color of the Mesabi range in northern Minnesota.

The highlight of the little trek was my return on the local bus. I waited across from the bus stop at a little taverna, and had a glass of wine while the owner kept his eye out for the bus.

"You take on this side or miss bus to Imeriviglio", he announced. I would have missed it completely since I was watching for a bus heading south. Four times I jumped up when I thought I heard the rev of a bus. When it finally arrived, it was unlike any city bus I've ever riden.

This bus was a re-fitted tour bus with blue velour high seats and giant windows. I thanked him and hopped on--through the back door. I went all the way to the front and sat behind the driver. Next to him, blocking the front door to the bus with a flipdown seat, was a small framed man with thick, dirty black hair and reflective sunglasses surrounded in a cloud of smoke from his turkish cigarette.

He and the driver would chat as we rolled along, negotiating hairpin turns on the ridge as we worked out way to Imeroviglia. He came up to me with a leather book of tickets. He went from person to person, taking their fare. Sometime later, the bus driver lit a cigarette, his elbow perched on the window ledge,occasionally flicking the ash along the countryside.
That's as much excitement as I want. Time to begin reading( you'll never guess ) Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather, the famous classic about the American Plains.
More tomorrow... M.C.

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