By the time we arrived in Turkey, Allison and Angela both had come down with nasty colds and were feeling pretty miserable. I was personally excited about Turkey, having been there before during a military adventure, and I loved it. Turns out, it was my least favorite stop on the cruise. We all got off the ship that morning, excited because the weather was finally beautiful, sunny and mild. We were immediately hit up by someone asking us to tour a place that had something to do with the Virgin Mary. (She died there, or was buried there, or something.) Three of our girls, being good Catholics, decided to take the tour guide up on his offer. Our sick pals didn’t last very long before heading back to the ship. That left Katie, Gibson and I to explore on our own. There really wasn’t much to see, sadly enough. We strolled through the market place, bought some cheap trinkets and postcards, and stopped for a beer at a place by the water. After that, we decided we had had enough, and didn’t want to waste a sunny day. So we did what most normal girls on vacation would do; we headed back to ship’s pool to catch some rays.
The next day was one we had all been looking forward to; we were stopping in Santorini, Greece. Here is a little history for you: Santorini is a village on the edge of a mountain that overlooks the sea. The reason for this is a volcano that erupted a billion years ago. Since it’s on top of a mountain, it’s not easy to get to. There are two ways: ride a donkey or ride a skyride. Now, I’m terrified of heights. I don’t even like ladders, so I immediately rejected the skyride idea. That left a donkey ride. Okay, I figured, I can ride a horse, so surely I can handle a donkey. We waited in an endless line, approaching the group of donkeys slowly. All that slowness stopped once we got close. The donkey handlers grab a donkey, grab you, throw you on the donkey’s back, and let it loose. These donkeys obviously know what they’re doing, but I sure didn’t feel comfortable trusting my life to a pack animal. Mine had a fondness for walking close to the edge, where I felt certain he would pitch me to my death in the ocean far below. He also had a great time walking me under the tree limbs that hovered over the path. (I lost my sunglasses within the first two minutes, forcing me to buy a ridiculous pair of designer knock-offs once I reached the top. ) And not only do these damn donkeys race along at a speed which should be illegal, they have no consideration for the donkeys that are coming down in the opposite direction. I pretty much closed my eyes and held on for dear life, cursing the day I had ever decided to get on a cruise ship and go to Greece.
We made it to the top without incident, unless you count my lost, trampled sunglasses. We walked around the town and found a cool kitchen store. There we were invited to try some Ouzo, which is a licorice shot that the Greeks sip after meals to cleanse the palate. Being Oklahoma State grads, we had no idea how to sip a shot, so Gibson and I took them like men. I know I’m a picky eater, but this is easily the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. After that little experience, it was all beer for me!
Lunchtime came, so we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and ordered gyros. Delicious! And more beer. Extra delicious! We hopped on a bus that took us to the neighboring village of Fira, which was a lot like Santorini. More white buildings with blue roofs overlooking the sea. Santorini is supposed to be the home of the world’s most beautiful sunsets, and I could easily tell why. (No, I didn’t see the sunset. But I bought a postcard.)
After a few hours of wandering around the two villages, it was time to make our treacherous way back down the mountain. I still refused to get on the skyride, and there was no way in hell I was riding a donkey down. So I opted for the weenie way; I walked. I walked all the way down the side of a freaking mountain, all the while dodging murderous donkeys and giant piles of donkey poo. It took me a good 30 minutes. But I made it down in one piece.
We made it back to the ship safely and set sail once again…for another city in Greece. Luckily, there would be no more donkeys!