Probably the destination we'd all been salivating the most over, Santorini lived up to every expectation. The rocky outcrop of an island has no port so the cruise ship anchored offshore and we took a ferry in. At the base of the cliffs, you had three options: walk the switchback trail to the top, take a cable car for four euro, or take a donkey for five. We obviously chose donkeys. Somewhere deep inside we were all living out Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fantasies riding up the whitewashed cliffs on the backs of our beats of burden. The stubborn donkey adage is true, by the way. One brute purposefully dragged one of our girls legs against the walls and stopped to eat or take off running at will.
Once we reached the top, we set out to find Tony of Tony's Car and Moto rental. As we filed into his office, his bushy eyebrows drew together in a look of "my God, who am I renting these ATVs to?" After signing the "I promise not to wreck your vehicle, Mr. Tony" paperwork, he strapped Kazoo helmets on our heads and made us each test drive a 4-Wheeler until he was satisfied that we wouldn't kill it or ourselves. With Tony's hesitant approval, we left his shop and merged into traffic on a busy Santorini road. Dressed in any combination of tanks, tees shorts and pants, we soon realized that standing still and taking in the Grecian sun was much warmer than zipping along bare-armed on an ATV. Teeth chattering, we realized all of our bikes were flashing E! E! E! and out of gas. Pulling out the map Tony sent us with, we found two abandoned gas station while the E! screamed at us for mercy. The third station was open, thank gyro. Tanks full, we set off to explore.
Our first stop was a local winery perched atop a cliff. Frozen from riding inadequately dressed, we hurried inside more for relief from the wind than for wine. Once inside, we were quickly convinced to do a 12 euro wine tasting, though. Palate satisfied, we ventured back into the elements and onto other parts of the island. It didn't take us long to get lost. We found ourselves at the southern tip of the island at the black beach, sand like charcoal meeting water bluer than blue. Our final destination in mind, I stopped to ask a local boy nearly our age for directions. Trying to communicate through our language barrier, I pulled out my map and motioned "where are we?" He took the map, labeled in both English and Greek, and stared. He didn't know how to read it or where his town was upon it in comparison to the rest of the 25 km island. I then realized he'd probably never left it and had never seen such a map.
We finally found our way to our main destination, Oia, the Greece/Santorini you see in pictures. The city seemed to be carved out of one chunk of marble, as if some master architect or sculptor took a giant chisel and formed the houses and staircases with a touch of Gaudi or Dali inspiration. The city shines brilliantly white in the sun, and I'm sure even more stunningly at sunset. Unfortunately we had to be "home" to the ship in order to make our next port so we missed the dusk in Oia. Tony, though, was visibly relieved when we returned his vehicles to him on time and harmed. The best gyro of my life and a hike down the cliffs later, we were back on board and setting sail for Croatia.