Thursday, April 4, 2013

Study Abroad Part 3: A Weekend on the Most Famous Island

After a whirlwind Spring Break in Crete and Rome, Morgan and I headed back to Athens to rest up for a night before the final leg of our break, on the beautiful island of Santorini!!!  After what seemed like a million-hour ferry ride, we arrived on a gloomy, rainy island covered in pure white buildings.  This is what it looked like: 

We then went to our hostel, which was pretty standard, and then set out to explore the port! We stayed in Fira, which was a great choice because we were within walking distance with the main bus stop and tons of amazing little shops, as well as the big church. This came in handy later, as we arrived on the eve of Greek Easter and we decided to participate in the celebrations! Anyway, that afternoon we explored Fira, shopping and observing, even walking on one of the famous donkey trails (sidenote: the smell detracts from the romanticism just a bit) It was worth the view, though. 


Even without sun it was breathtaking! 
While we were out exploring, we were lured into a shop that offered free samples of candied nuts and ouzo, obviously we couldn't refuse. It turned out the owner also had a taverna right next to the big church, and he informed us that he was going to be open after the midnight service to serve magiritsa, traditional soup made with lamb intestine! An offer we couldn't refuse, we made a reservation at his taverna and went home to take a nap, setting our alarms for 11pm. We woke up and headed towards the church, where people of all ages were streaming in, but not before buying a candle outside. Cautiously we filed into the packed church, and absorbed all of the sights, sounds, and smells around us.  Eventually, after hundreds of people had come in and moved to the front to kiss the main icon, the lights went out in the church, and the head priest appeared and started a beautiful chant (it was pretty hard to see, but luckily my Finnish height was no match for the Greeks around me so I could catch the excitement up at the front of the church).  At exactly midnight, a flame starting with the priest began to pass through the entire church, while he proclaimed Christos Anesti (Christ has risen!). People began lighting each other's flames saying Christos Anesti, and then Alithos Anesti (He has risen indeed). And slowly the church was filled with light.  It was so unreal being there! After everyone's candles were lit there was a mad rush for the door and I basically crowd surfed out of the church. We headed next door to our friend's taverna and had the famous soup! It wasn't too bad, had a solid lemony flavor, and I was so hungry at that point the texture didn't even bother me (yeah, 4th meal!). :)  We had tons of fun in the taverna, as the proprietor kept filling up our wine glasses and brought us hard boiled eggs died red so we could play the traditional game that's basically "my egg is stronger than yours is".  After a long day of travel and one of a kind experiences, we fell into bed around 2am, while the Greeks in Fira were just getting the party started.  

The next day we decided to find the beach, the sun shone down and we headed to Parissa, one of the famous black sand beaches....can't believe I never published this post! Just came across it...guess I'll publish it as is and finish up the Spring break stories another time. I am so bad at keeping up with this thing!

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