Friday 12 March
When I wake, it’s 7am and the electricity is still on. My mother calls, and I hear my cheeky dogs barking in the background. She puts the phone up to their ears and makes me talk to them. Geeze, I miss those pieces of fluff. They would love it here.
After hanging last night’s washing out, I head up my wonderful steps to the main street. I take my camera with me – I must have over 3 billion shots of Santorini, and still there never seem to be enough. Photographers, particularly Greek George Meis, capture this sensational place so vividly. I give those standard tourist white and blue, cascading buildings, water, volcano shots as much of a go as anyone (although, like the moron I am, the shots from my last visit were fuzzy as someone – Lord knows who – had set the camera to the lowest possible quality so my plans of blowing up photos to frame them and have my friends oooh and aaahhhh was all over once I saw the shots). However, since the photos of the “beautiful bits” of Santorini are a dime a dozen, the ones that mean the most are those that capture the day to day – so I take a lot of shots of food, and other apparently mundane parts of my visit, as these are what makes the experience.
So, I could dazzle you with artistic shots of views (don’t panic; more are coming, plus I’ve linked you to my Flickr page on the right). If I did, you might be tempted to think this whole place is blinding white buildings, blue doors and dramatic volcanic cliffs. However, Santorini is schitzophrenic: whilst on one side there is one of the most truly spectacular sights on earth, on the other is life on any (usually crazy) Greek island.
Today, as usual, I’m off again to the bakery and the markets – the other side!
Once I’ve reached the top of the stairs, I turn right and head along the main street, past the big church. I turn left, and walk up a pathway to the car park. Most mornings, I meet the workers renovating the shop along the way, and then the men who are building across the way (and one of their dogs) and, of course, the donkeys and their handler. “Kalimera!” I smile, “Kalimera” they smile back.
The team of six donkeys stand peacefully, probably grateful not to be hauling their loads up and down the steps. A small dog, owned by one of the workers, considers me quizzically, its head propped high on its little shoulders. A group of school children assemble, waiting for the bus.
I cross the car park, and the bakery is just across the street; behind it you cans see the “flat” side of the island, still beautiful, but the poor cousin to the outrageous, heart-stopping beauty of the caldera.
I say “Kalimera” each morning to the lady in the bakery (her son works here in the afternoons). After our first confused discussion about the opening time (it’s 7am, thankfully her son speaks great English) we are fast becoming friends.
As you can see, they have plenty of goodies, even for low season. When I ask to take photos, the son apologises that there is not more in the store “It is not busy now; I only make a small amount.” I ask for the seeded bread, and as he heads out back he offers me one straight from the oven.
I pay a princely E4.95 for my purchases, and head over to the Market, its display of fruit sprawling out the front. Check out the gorgeous oranges (when was the last time you saw the leaves still on them, eh?), and the sweet Santorini tomatoes! I head inside, and the electricity has gone off now, casting half of the shop in darkness. The meats and dairy products sit in dormant fridges – there is no plan to deal with these strikes; thankfully it’s still cool. I stock up on ham, olives, oranges, more tomatoes. And two packets of dried fava beans! I wonder if I’ll get these past customs in Sydney – or will these make me a future star of Border Security? My assessment is that it’s worth it – fava is fantastic, and I will invite my friends who love Greece to come try my version! All up, this is just under E10, and I head back up the hill, and home.