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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Santorini or Naxos? Perissa or Oia?

On a whim we decided to forgo time in Turkey and island hop through Greece. Our entire journey across Greece was planned on a late afternoon in Bodrum. We were going to Rhodes, and Nicolette's mom had a flight out of Athens, but those were our only plans for Greece. A few weeks ago we had been looking through a Greek food book and saw a picture of the Greek island Naxos. The picture was a town on a hillside, in the town was a little building with a sign that read Despinas rooms. We thought why not Naxos, looks pretty. We were all ready to book a room until we found out the ferry connection times form Rhodes to Naxos sucked, and there was no direct ferry from Rhodes to Naxos, but there was a direct ferry to Santorini from Rhodes.

So we thought, Santorini, beautiful, white buildings hanging on a cliff side, blue dome churches, beaches, lets do it. We Googled towns in Santorini and found Perissa, which had white buildings, blue domed churches, and black sand beaches. Found a place to stay with white buildings, a pool, a nice garden, next to the sea, perfect. We arrive at the port where we were picked up by John the innkeeper and driven to the inn.

On our arrival to Perissa we found the Greek debt crisis in its entirety, a booming beach town with half finished shells of buildings everywhere and broken half repaired roads. Our place was nice, but the website and reviews make it look and sound tons better than it actually was. In the end we were disappointed with just about everything, the area seemed like a freakin dump. This was not the Santorini we were expecting, this was not the iconic cliff side villages that ended up being Fira and Oia (which we later found were the iconic towns), why didn't we just go to Naxos where we did more research, why did we pick Santorini where we just did not do enough research.

As the days went on, we enjoyed the beautiful beach and all of the sea side restaurants along the beach. Bob Marly playing everywhere, dive guides going out to sea, people kicked back drinking beer and coffee, and frequent casual dips in the sea. We went to Oia and Fira for the day. Absolutely beautiful. Then like a horror film little comical terrors of travel started to arise. First the tourist chazkee shops, the tour groups, the people taking pictures in the Orthodox churches were photography was not allowed, the 10 Euro Greek salads, the guy pushing his stupid moussaka in your face, dodging the Mercedes tour buses trying to run our little Nissan Micra off the road, the classic sunset over Oia ruined by hordes of people, camera tripods, and ugly signs advertising restaurants and hotels, AAAAHHHHHHHH! GIVE ME PERISSA!

Back to Perrisa, peaceful, chill, quiet, hippies, divers, german beach grandmas, our little inn.
The fact is, was Perissa perfect? No. Would we go back? Probably not. Did we end up finding the charm and enjoy Perissa? We did. Were we envious of the views and beauty of Oia and really wished we did the research to stay there? Sure. After traveling to small hippy Central American beach town, we are sort of over the Perissa scene, but tons of people dig the town, and if we were in the mood for it Perissa would have been perfect.

So the moral of the story? Sometimes walking in blind to a place is frustrating, but ending up in a place that is on the other side of the island from where EVERYBODY visits can be fun in its own way and allow you to find some unexpected gems.


Ben said...

Hey, I thought you were on Vis? Or is that the name of the island? Or is your report from an earlier time? I can't imagine Croatia to be expensive! Oh well, you'll just have to dream of when you get here and get your bacon and eggs and oatmeal and coffee (strong) served on a tray in bed.

l. and J. said...

So sometimes you have a delightful surprise, like you did yesterday. Hope the next few days will be as pleasant as ever!! Love you!