The sun slipped into the clouds like it was entering a pocket, neatly fitting into the sky. We were sitting on the edge of the island, sipping drinks and picking at popcorn. Tables here cost 10 euro just to reserve in the summer, but for right now the island is empty, just like the tables.
Winter in Santorini is quiet. The locals make less money but seem to feel happier that it's off-season. That's at least what they've implied.
Yesterday we woke up in our new home, a small Airbnb nestled behind the town's main square. The exterior is your typical Santorini architecture (white building, blue top). The inside has a modest kitchen, two small bedrooms, and an awkwardly long and thin hallway that leads to an echo-y bathroom.
For breakfast, we made coffee and cut up an orange. We dipped a loaf of raisin bread in the oil of an olive tin, and took solace when the sun would move outside the clouds to warm us. After an hour of eating and reading outside, we began walking towards Oia, a town about 10 km from where we're staying in Thira. There's a path that winds along the cliff's edge with a few signs to let you know you're headed in the right direction. We made it there in a little under three hours, and a sweet dog named Bella traveled the whole way with us. Our tour guide.
I was sad to say goodbye to Bella once we finally found an open restaurant. She seemed sad to say goodbye as well, but was gone by the time we finished our food. This restaurant overlooked the coast, where we could see workers re-painting the houses and hotels a crystal white, preparing for the tourist season. We learned they re-paint and re-cobble every year.
We found our way back to the bus station so we wouldn't have to walk home. (I've realized I'm particularly good at waiting for long periods of time for public busses that may or may not ever arrive.) It did, and we were home within the hour, tired but still eager to see more of Santorini. We walked a few blocks to a tiny cafe, where I finished my beloved book while sipping a cappuccino and unwrapping a chocolate bar filled with strawberry. Nicole was painting the coastline with her watercolors. Our feet were barely being warmed by the sunny, yet weak air.
The following day we took a bus to Red Beach, which is made out of red lava, and then wandered to the Akrotiri archaeological site, an ancient city that was covered in a heap of volcanic ash in the late 17th century B.C. We caught the bus back to Thira for falafel lunch, then got on another bus to the Wine Museum, where we took a tour inside a cavern and ended the thing sipping sweet wines.
We're back in bed, ready for sleep, then ready for another half day here before another eight hour ferry to Athens.