On August 29, Dustin and I were married in Cork, Ireland. The day after our ceremony we ate a late breakfast with our families, grabbed a few pieces of left over wedding cake, and said our goodbyes. We set out for the airport and suddenly realized that we had very little planned for our trip to Greece. We had been thinking about our wedding so much that we didn’t really know what to expect on our honeymoon.
We arrived in Athens at midnight, short a couple of suitcases that were lost somewhere between Ireland and Greece. Unfortunately the bags we were missing contained all of Dustin’s belongings. The next morning we woke up to the noises of a busy city below us. We started our day at the Acropolis Museum and then explored the Parthenon. Dustin was still wearing the same clothing from the day before, but was in good spirits.
As designers, we were intrigued by the Parthenon and all the tricks its original architects played to correct some optical illusions and create others. Back in design school, Dustin had a professor who seemed obsessed with the Parthenon, so he enjoyed seeing all of he little details he had heard about years ago. The building was very dramatic, especially as we walked up to it from the main steps, when all of those little details worked at the same time to make the building seem impossibly large. Most amazing was that the whole thing was built thousands of years ago but is said to contain very few straight lines. Everything was made to curve slightly for optical reasons.
There was so much history in one location. We had a very knowledgeable guide for the day, who freely discussed art, Greek history, politics, the economy and immigration. Although I couldn’t absorb everything she was saying, I think the key points were: everything originates from Greece & politicians are sketchy no matter where you live. We only spent one day in Athens, but that turned out to be perfect, because we saw what we wanted to see and Santorini was next on our list.
The next morning we flew out to Santorini. I caught Dustin playing with his newly placed shackle while we were on the plane. I think it was starting to settle in for the both of us that we were truly married. The first few times he introduced me as “his wife”, I reacted with a very crazy giggle followed by a overzealous grin.
Before we knew it, we were flying over Santorini. White homes were built on the sides of what were essentially left over pieces of an island split by an ancient volcanic explosion and surrounded by bright blue water.
Our travel agency was able to upgrade us to the Andronis hotel in Oia. We would never have been able to afford the hotel otherwise, so we were beyond happy. Hopefully we can afford it when we go back for our 25th anniversary. It surely must have been the most perfect spot on the island. New, in the center of the most picturesque village, and far enough down the cliff to be totally private.
Almost all of the buildings in Oia are white, which makes them especially beautiful, but also especially efficient at reflecting sunlight back at you. What sunlight doesn’t get you from above has another chance as it bounces up from below. Thankfully, we brought a large amount of sunscreen. A lot of visitors are unprepared and end up paying 40 Euros for one little tube of sunscreen on the island.
I hung my battered bouquet outside to dry before we set out to explore Oia. Much of the walkways were like a maze. Some lead to a cool restaurant or building, while others lead to someone’s personal backyard.
We have hundreds of shots of beautiful structures, but I will spare you and only show my favorite. Crazy enough, most of my pictures were taken with my iPhone
The next day we rented a little diesel fueled two door and bought all the insurance we could possibly get. Driving was a bit stressful with dramatic inclined hills, tons of tourists on mopeds, and tiny diesel cars zipping around roads with maps but no street signs. Luckily, there were a lot of beaches so if we drove for a while we eventually found one of them.
The red beach is one of the most popular beaches in Santorini, most likely for the striking red colored cliffs and Santorini’s trademark bright blue water. There is also a tops optional rule that may add to it’s popularity. Seemed like only the very mature ladies got the topless memo though. Sorry, Dustin.
On our last day in Santorini, we decided to take a yacht around the island. One of our stops was near the center of the island’s volcano, at a hot spring from which hot sulfur-smelling water flowed into the sea. The sensation of swimming in cold water and then suddenly hot was was a bit unsettling at first, but after a while it just felt like a warm bath. We also went swimming (floating in my case) at the white beach, a black beach, and again at the red beach. Volcanic activity appears to produce a wide variety of rock colors!
Off topic…one of the benefits to being married to a red head is that I will always look tan.
Eating was another one of our favorite pastimes in Greece. We either found restaurants by accident or followed signs spray painted to the sides of buildings. Feta, olives, and bread were staples at most restaurants, along with either complimentary Ouzo for starters or a potent wine with dessert. The restaurant above was called Metaxi Mas and is highly recommended for the food and also the view. Even though it was off the beaten path in the center of the island, word gets around and it is very popular.
My favorite restaurant after 7pm was Kandouni, for their grilled mushrooms and their enchanting atmosphere. As a vegetarian, the grilled mushrooms were amazingly hearty and flavorful. I unfortunately don’t have pictures because we always went there at night and my iPhone wasn’t quite up to the task of food photography in the dark. During the day, we went to Roka, which was reasonably priced and used fresh ingredients. We found both places by going down little winding alleys away from the main foot traffic in Oia. Some recommendations from our hotel gave us the courage to try them out.
Sunset is a big deal in Santorini, so one evening we braved the crowds and sat with many onlookers to see what all the fuss was about. The sky was bright pink and the sun descended so close to the horizon that it seemed like it and Earth would surely collide. That part was a little unsettling, but beautiful nonetheless. At night, Dustin was fascinated with all the stars he usually is unable to see in Chicago. With our good camera pointed upward, he experimented with long exposure times and managed to catch a bit of the Milky Way.
We had a fantastic time on our destination wedding and honeymoon. I’m a little sad that it’s over, but I’m glad I got to spend it with my family and my new h u s b a n d. Yep, that will still take some getting used to.