Tales of foodie, sports loving Aussie expat in the Netherlands.

Cave-dwellers in Santorini

December 18, 2017/Greece

When it comes to booking Airbnbs, I had long been content with the fact that I just wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

You know the Lucky Ones. They’re the people who convinced you to start using Airbnb in the first place, despite your valid protests which included quite liking things like elevators, a housekeeping service and fresh towels every day (did she just say that? I think she just said that, despite those little cards in every hotel bathroom in the world telling you to HANG YOUR TOWEL UP otherwise you hate the environment). You might have even pointed out that once you factor in the cleaning fee, there’s no real savings to be had anyway.

“But this is the way you can really live like a local,” the Lucky One persisted.

“Aren’t they all bought up and managed like corporate apartments anyway?” you wondered aloud.

“But you won’t be in some sterile tourist district this way!” You had to admire their dedication.

“Do I have to tell them what time I’m going to be there? I hate that, I never know in advance and maybe my phone won’t work once I’m…”

You trailed off, because The Lucky One proceeded to show you pictures of their recent Airbnb find in Dubrovnik/Honolulu/Barcelona. “The owner was just amazing!” they gushed. “They gave such good advice, plus a bottle of wine. Every day they provided us with a fresh organic breakfast which we ate on the balcony, admiring the incredible view of the Adriatic/Diamond Head/Las Ramblas! And it was so cheap!”

But I’m not an Airbnb Lucky One. I could touch all four walls of our Paris apartment at the same time. We had no hot water in Valencia for three days. We had to climb so many stairs to get up to our flat in Berlin that we declared that our luggage was doomed to stay up there forever. And I’ve never gotten a bottle of wine.

But then our luck changed. Perhaps it was because I didn’t actually make the booking, I’m not sure. I’ll therefore leave all the kudos to my friend, yet another Lucky One. However in this case I benefited from her good fortune by coming along too.

My Airbnb fortunes turned in possibly the most magical place in the world. Santorini. I had been to Santorini in my backpacker days, forking out six euro per night – the lowest price I have ever found for a hostel in Europe – for a dorm bed in Perissa Beach. (For those intrigued, this was at Youth Hostel Anna. I just did a quick Google search and they’re still going strong, with a recent renovation to boot! Taking in to account ten years’ worth of inflation, you’re going to have to hand over a whopping ten euro a night these days.)

My expectations weren’t high this time around. I knew we were staying in Oia, but I figured we’d be on a back street or even a hike into town. I didn’t really mind. I knew my track record when it came to Airbnbs. As long as I was in Santorini, I didn’t really care where I was laying my head at night.

We met our friends at the port after taking a morning fast ferry from Crete and together we caught a shared taxi to the tourist office in Oia, where we were to pick up our keys. Along the way we’d stop at flashy hotels and cute guesthouses seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and was buoyed by the fact that we simply kept going. It was like the reverse of that scene in The Inbetweeners Movie. When we arrived and were told our place wasn’t ready just yet we shrugged our shoulders, got a gyros and soaked up the sunshine.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drop of rain in Greece. My trips have all been blessed with terrific weather, both on the mainland and the islands. I doubt I’ve even witnessed a grey cloud.

I was comtemplating the good life when we were informed that our place was ready. “I think it’s some sort of cave,” the Lucky One mentioned to me on the way. I looked at her with mild but positive alarm. A cave? In perhaps any other place in the world this could hardly be a good thing, but in Santorini this was a very welcome development.

We walked along marbled footpaths, skirting the sides of the cliffs and stopping intermittently to take in the sweeping views of the caldera. My camera was tucked away in the Beast (my longtime, tried-and-true backpack), which was looking quite out of place in our surrounds which boasted blue-domed churches, wedding set-ups, glitteringly fancy shops and some of the most expensive hotels in the country. I blinked at Paul in amazement. Could we…?

The man from the tourist office then turned abruptly and continued downhill. We followed at a slower pace, distracted by the snoozing cats, bright blue doors and basically the most Santorini of all Santorini passageways on the island. He stopped, opened one of those blue doors and led us to this.

This is where you’ll find me for the next three days.

Een bericht gedeeld door Caitlyn O’Dowd (@theviewfromtheoffice) op

At this moment, we kind of forgot to be people and could only emit a strange set of giggles, shrieks and gleeful grunts. I’m pretty sure the non-word “squee!” was uttered by a few.

Looking back at my photos of Santorini (and I’ve somehow deleted all of my iPhone pics from the whole of 2015) I didn’t take a single shot of the cave itself. Instead, I have dozens and dozens of the view we were treated to at different times of the day. I mean, the cave was pretty cool too. Naturally shady and a good twenty degrees cooler than the outside world, it ticked all of the boxes.

One of my favourite photos of the two of us.

Despite that, we hardly spent any time in the cave. We spent a good chunk of our time in Santorini just chilling on our deck. We even cooked for ourselves, as we figured why would we spend a fortune on a restaurant with quite possibly a worse view? Because really, you couldn’t beat what we had.

At random times of the day I would find members of our six-strong party just sitting there quietly, taking in the view. You could never tire of it. I would try and read books but I’d read the same paragraph seventeen times, such was the distraction power of our surrounds.

Our view by day.

Our view by night (or at least early evening).

Often we’d spy a stranger on our roof or craning their neck around our porch, always with a camera or smartphone in hand. A few days of this didn’t bother us too much (let them be jealous, I scoffed) but I could see how this sort of mass invasion of privacy would drive locals bonkers. What makes normal people completely forget their manners when travelling? I see it everywhere – people trampling over tulips in the flower fields, couples climbing up the chains of the Liberty Bridge in Budapest. Have they no shame, says this cranky old lady?

We did venture out – kicking and screaming – a few times. We caught the local bus one day to Fira and Perissa and clamboured down to Ammoudi, dining on fresh seafood and swimming off the rocky shore. We braved the masses and watched sunset from further down in Oia, and basically vowed never to do that again. Why would we, when this was our doorstep?

After three days, it was time to pack up and move on to Kos. Needless to say, nobody to was to pleased with this. I could read everyone’s thoughts; “Why did we choose to visit multiple islands? Why didn’t we just decide to stay here?”

Why indeed. But hey, it wasn’t perfect. I’m still waiting for that free bottle of wine.

Comments (2)

  • Judy Serkes / December 19, 2017 / Reply

    so do share the link to this fabulous Airbnb !

  • Sammi / December 19, 2017 / Reply

    Hear, hear about the link! Looks amazing!!!

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