As most people on MRI know, I am a cat lover, so I was delighted when I saw that sign. It was more like one of those bookshops or cat cafés where you can spend time with a cat when away from home. Fortunately, at the hotel, a marmalade cat adopted me and came over to my patio most days to sit on me.
I love the blues of Greece -- the combination of sea and air color are like nowhere else I have been!
Were you ever to the island of Hydra, not too far from Athens? There is no car traffic (only mule*), and there were cats everywhere. I didn't know whether to be delighted or saddened since I love cats so much. But I once had a photo of a bunch of cats on Hydra lounging under a sign that said 'hot dogs.'
*One really funny thing I saw from the bus from Imperovigli to Oia (but didn't have time to take a photo) was a large parking lot style place off the side of the road that said: MULE TERMINAL. And sure enough, it was full of mules.
KatieC and I are now obsessively chatting about planning anniversary trips back to Santorini since we both spent our honeymoon there. profchiara your photos are so stunning and unique. The "Rent-A-Cat" is hilarious. And I agree she should see Crete and Mykonos - those are the three islands we visited on our honeymoon. My goal is to go back within the next 3 years! I'm reading a book now called "The Island" which is set on Crete, so the dreaming continues.
Just make sure it turns from dream into reality! It is a very good time still to go anywhere in Greece because things are much cheaper than elsewhere in Europe, including airfares. I'll have to read "The Island." As most MRIs know, before 5 years ago I only ever went regularly to France, Italy and sometimes England for research, but then my bucket list started and I've made the most of it. If I teach till 70 (8 years) I can still get my travel subsidized as long as I write books, but after that neither the money nor the joints in my body are likely to make it possible to continue. More Santorini coming -- the archaeological parts.
Please do visit, gm1! It's only been five years since my first visit (and now over 10), and Greece is my favorite country in the world to visit, while Venice is my favorite city. I think so many people got scared away by ridiculous TV reports. I have never so much as seen any thing close to a riot in Athens and certainly not in the islands or mountains, so what the TV cameras do is hone in one about 15-30 anarchists near Oumonia Square (near Parliament) and make it seem like a big deal. There was one horrible incident with a bank 3 years ago where 3 people were killed, but that so shocked Greeks (who are among the most hospitable people on earth) that there was a severe backlash.
The good news is that Greece is making some great new tourism decisions -- like to stay open all year. Athens always has been, but most of the rest of Greece has been closed, which mostly makes no sense given the climate. Santorini is difficult in winter (as Anna-Selina told me) because of the high winds and seas, but islands closer to the mainland or bigger islands like Crete are fine. I probably wouldn't venture to the mountains of Delphi (an incredible must see, the navel of the ancient world) in winter because the roads are insane and would be wintry, but most of the rest of the mainland would be fine and more temperate than most of Europe.
PS -- I forgot to mention in previous posts, DO NOT rent a car or moped or ATV in Santorini unless you are a masochist, a Formula 24 driver (though they don't need more wannabees of that sort) or crazy. The roads are winding, high to low frequently, meant for less than two lanes of traffic, etc. Plus the buses on Santorini are fabulous -- it costs at most 1,80 euros to go from Oia to Akrotiri and the SW part of the main island and is 1,60 to Fira or Oia. And they are remarkably on schedule!
Thank you for the additional information. I was considering the possibility of visiting Greece in April/May or October to avoid the heat of summer. I am not a hot weather person. Are these months too early or late in the year? I like the idea of public transportation and have attempted to plan previous trips to maximize it. Using buses to travel on Santorini sounds like a winner to me. Its nice to be able to enjoy the scenery and relax.
I also hate the heat (I live in Maine, after all!). May is perfect, as is October. You might find some problems (outside of Athens) in early April, though again Greek tourism is starting to say it's a year round affair, which it should be. This Greek site might be of help:
and I always check Strikes in Greece though I have had far fewer (in fact no) problems in Greece than I have in France.
If you stay in Santorini, I highly recommend Imerovigli. Fira is crowded, blocked off for repairs, and generally chaos -- but the bus station is right across from the museums and cathedral. Oia is beautiful but when the cruise ships come, it's crowded beyond belief, which is why May or October are perfect. But in Imerovigli or below it where I stayed (Santorini's Balcony), you get luxurious accommodations, great pools with views of the caldera, etc. But the buses stop in both Imerovigli center and at Tasos Taverna a couple of minutes from my hotel.
I was in Santorini in early May, gm1. It was perfect for hiking and exploring, though it was a bit windy. We loved it because we aren't big beach people and the locals said we were lucky to be there ahead of the tourist season. Less cruise ships and we got to see everything! Totally agree with profchiara on Imerovigli.
Can you fit me in your suitcase, Pluto? I'd love to do tours, but I rely on subsidies from Colby and most of the rest is business expenses not covered. But all of this is for a really cool book I am writing, based on a senior seminar, on the History of Fear from Antiquity to 1900. The part I am working on now is ancient earthquakes, fires, and volcanoes in Greece and Rome.
But these are must see places!!!
No, you will not fit in my suitcase, but if you ever need a personal porter or assistant (an entourage of - one, ha!), why just say the word. I'm sure there are a number of us MRI's who would love to compete for the position (and honor!)
(Just remember, I offered first! )
The book sounds great!
This article is from a few years back, but I stumbled across it today and thought you'd all like to see it: Finding the right Greek island - Lonely Planet
profchiara: full disclaimer about "The Island" - it's historical fiction set during WWII. You can see the Amazon review here. It sucked me in and I hope to finish it this weekend: The Island: Victoria Hislop: 9780061340321: Amazon.com: Books
Fascinating, jmart -- but their lack of inclusion of Crete and Santorini/Thera in the historical category baffles me, since theirs was the most ancient Greek civilization. I've been to Rhodes briefly on the Louis cruises and liked it, but it's more of a medieval city. (That coming [somewhat disdainfully sounding] from a medieval historian.) Delos definitely counts because of its importance as the treasury of the Delian League during the Peloponnesian Wars -- and it is very impressive, but very small. Patmos, for sure. But not to mention Crete and Santorini is incredible -- but then don't students do most of the contributions for Lonely Planet, like the old Let's Go Harvard guides? They may not have known much about Minoan and Mycenaean civilization. I was also astonished they didn't mention Santorini in any category.
But still, a good article, and all the more reason -- along with the T&L piece today -- for all Insiders to visit the Greek islands .
PS - Actually I got into history (which I hated in high school) as a result of reading historical novels. This one looks good, even though I usually stick mostly with ancient and medieval. But I find that books that evoke the places I have been usually end up as some of my favorites.