Monday, August 10, 2009


I am intensely annoyed. I am particularly annoyed because it is largely my own stupid fault, and I should have known better. So I’m annoyed with myself. Which is really counter-productive as I don’t have anyone on whom to vent my annoyance. Which just makes me doubly annoyed, because being annoyed in itself is a waste of my precious vacation time -- and since I AM annoyed (and thereby wasting my precious vacation time), I’m, y’know, annoyed.

Here’s the thing: We went to Santorini today. Now, I originally booked a tour in Santorini which involved being driven around the island and taken to a wine-tasting. Before the cruise left, I received an email saying they regret to inform me they’ve cancelled that tour. So I have to sign up for a different shore excursion. And I’m not a huge fan of any of the three remaining choices. One is a short bus tour and a couple hours in the village of Oia, followed by making your way back to the boat yourself (either down 880 stairs, a cable car, or on a donkey). Another is a “highlights of Santorini” bus tour, which, I believe, ends with the same stair/cable car/donkey trilemma. The third is hiking a volcano, which actually sounds cool, but is listed as extremely strenuous, and I haven’t figured out if they define “extremely strenuous” the way I do, and I think sticking with “moderate” or even “easy” activities is the way to go. Just to be safe. So I sign up for the short tour with the time in Oia.

Once we get on the ship, we are informed that they have a brand new tour on offer in Santorini -- offered for the first time ever on this sailing -- snorkeling over a shipwreck. This sounds totally 100% up my alley. Fate, even. It’s active, but it’s insanely easy. I can’t do it WITH the tour I’ve already booked, but I can do it in the morning and, if the mood strikes, then go wander about Santorini myself (having to do cable car both ways or, in the words of our cruise director type, “smell like donkey all day”). So, I go to the cruise director type and tell him I’d like to cancel my tour in Santorini so’s I can do this snorkeling over the shipwreck instead.

He highly recommends against. In fact, he looks at me like I’m nuts. Why would anyone want to give up the awesome beauty of Santorini in order to snorkel over a shipwreck? He tells me he used to be dive master on this boat and the wreck is OK to dive, but it’s 50 feet down and you can’t even see it when you’re snorkeling on the surface. And that’s if visibility is good, which can’t be guaranteed. AND there’s a chance that there will be another ship parked right over it, which means you can’t see the shipwreck at all. And did he mention how beautiful Oia is? That it’s his favorite place anywhere? Everyone loves Oia. He agrees that if I snorkel in the morning, I’d still have about 3 hours left to see Santorini on my own, but he doubts that is enough time. He told me to sleep on it, and I could come back and cancel the Santorini tour the next morning (before 10:00) if that’s what I really wanted to do.

Now, rather than tell him, “No, cancel the tour,” I stupidly went along with him. Then proceeded to oversleep the next morning, until after the cancellation deadline had passed. So, I was pretty much stuck with the Santorini tour.

This was the Santorini tour: tender over to shore. Get on bus. Bus drives up to one photo stop at the top of the island. Pretty. I take a photo or two. It’s very windy and I nearly lose my hat. We get back on the bus, for the drive to Oia. I can’t tell you exactly how long it took (nor the Santorini history our guide Nikos was spouting) because Nikos had a really soporific voice and I kept dozing off. We finally end up in Oia -- no, we end up near Oia. It’s not legal for the bus driver to drop us in the center of town, but he can get us fairly close and we should all jump out really quick so the police don’t see. So we jump off the bus, and Nikos walks us up the hill to Oia’s little main street. We have about an hour twenty here. Nikos recommends we all walk down the street to the right -- it’s about a 15 minute walk; there’s a picturesque Church at the end (public toilets on the way); and cute little shops. OK, I start walking (with some woman from the cruise whose son was off hiking the volcano). We take photos and visit the little shops. She buys some things. I buy some things. I get badly ripped off. (Badly. In retrospect, I suspect the guy mis-added, because I ended up paying about $18 for two postcards, two stamps, and a souvenir trinket which should have been about five bucks.) In any event, we stroll to the end of the street and back and take pictures. (I’m grumpy now, but I will not lie: Oia IS beautiful, and I got a couple of breathtaking shots.)

Bus then picks us up (again, jumping on real fast in the middle of the street) and takes us to Fira. Fira doesn’t have the picturesque sights of Oia, but it has the same shops -- only crappier and cheaper. My first thought was, “Greek Tijuana.” As with Oia, the bus driver wasn’t able to take us into town, so we were dropped off nearby, and Nikos walked us up to town. As with Oia, the walk was uphill, only here it was substantially longer.

Nikos tells us how to get to the cable car (or the stairs and donkeys), and tells us we have about two hours to spend in Fira at our leisure -- just be sure to be on the 3:20 cable car (at the latest) and get the 3:50 tender back to the ship. It is at this point that I get annoyed. One look at Fira tells me I have nothing to do here -- I’ve already bought what I needed (and been ripped off) in Oia; I’ve no need to cool my heels for two hours in Fira. Now, maybe if they’d dumped us all in Oia and given us an opportunity for later transport back from there, I would’ve stayed on Santorini. But as it was, I planned to haul ass to the cable car and make it back to the ship before they closed for lunch. And I commenced being annoyed about having chosen to take this tour rather than go snorkeling over the shipwreck. And not really annoyed at Cruise Director Guy for trying to talk me into the tour -- he was only being honest; annoyed at myself for not sticking with what I knew I wanted.

As you can see, my annoyance carried straight through lunch right up to … well, in all honesty, right up to about the middle of that last paragraph. Water Sports Director just walked through the lounge (where I’m typing this) and I asked her how the snorkeling went. She said they had to cancel due to high winds. And they didn’t cancel it until 8:30 this morning -- which is when we were boarding the tender to go over to the tour. So if I HAD chosen the snorkeling, I would’ve ended up cooling my heels on the ship all day long, rather than (at least) getting about 20 lovely pictures, two postcards sent, and an overpriced souvenir for a friend. Hmmm. Fate.

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