Picture Perfect

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. The heart beats in the background while the clock tells you time is almost up. No, I’m not the next Edgar Allen Poe (thank goodness) nor is this some twisted trap from any one of the 30 Saw movies. Spoiler alert: literally every single one of those movies is the same. No… the clock and heartbeat can only mean one thing in my mind—24. Bauer Hour. It’s one of the most innovative shows of the generation. After all, there is nothing quite like being against the clock.

 

Backstory Part 1

The following took place between 6 PM and 2 AM. Events occurred in real time.

 

           After months of planning, we had finally arrived at the place we all wanted to see—Santorini. It was number one on Courtny’s bucket list, so that means it had to be flawless. With only 40 hours on the island, there was no time for mistakes. It was go time. Instead of heading out to dinner somewhere, we decided to take a taxi to the Akrotiri Lighthouse. I had found this lighthouse after weeks of researching the island during my military history class at school. Based on the pictures and descriptions, it had all of the beauty of the famous Oia sunset without all of the crowds. We got to the lighthouse and hiked up the mountain just in time to watch the sun begin its trip down over the sea. The view was nothing short of amazing. It was just the three of us on the peak of the mountain, with a few more people on the cliffs below. Of course, a picture can’t do this place justice, but it’s the best I can do for you. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

photo

 (Commercial break that we’ll skip)

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. When we had finished staring into the distance in awe of what we had just witnessed, we began to realize how hungry we were. Akrotiri is a small town without many places to go—it is not the type of place you’d see on a post card of Santorini. But it is cheap. We went to the first restaurant we could and paid a total of 40 euros. With that money, we had salads, huge entrees, and a lot of wine. At one euro per glass, Santorini wine becomes a lot like potato chips—you can’t just have one.

 

           After dinner, we grabbed a taxi back into town to get ready for the next day. We had a lot to accomplish and a short time to do it. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

Backstory Part 2

 The following took place between 2 AM and 9 AM. Events occurred in real time.

              We slept. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

The Big Day

 The following took place between 9 AM and 1 PM. Events occurred in real time.

 

            We departed our hotel determined to have the best day ever. We started off in the capital of the island, Fira. It is one of the many famous towns built right on the caldera and it is loaded with plenty of shops and cafes to spend your time. We found a great little wine store that was willing to ship to the United States, so we had to take advantage. Here’s the thing with those places, though. Even if you are guaranteed to purchase something, they still drag you around the rest of the store to try to milk you for all you’re worth. Of course, this type of thing could happen in worse places than a wine store—by the time we were finished there, we had probably sampled 15 different drinks for free. Still, the whole process took way too long and now we were looking at a much shorter period of time exploring the island. We got on a bus to Oia knowing that we likely would not be able to hit any of the other places we had planned on before getting ready for dinner. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

Tears of Joy

 The following took place between 1 PM and 7 PM. Events occurred in real time.

 

            As we unloaded from the bus into Oia, it was clear that this was going to be a special experience. We have all seen the pictures—the blue-domed buildings, the terrifying cliffs, the little shops in the narrow streets—but no pictures can compare to the actual experience of see Oia for the first time. We winded our way through the shops and streets with no real sense of direction. No one really talked to each other because of how amazed we were that we were finally here. Walking down those cliffs next to all of the hotels and houses was one of the best experiences of my life and something I’ll never forget. At one point I turned to Courtny and saw a few tears coming down her cheek. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Not the best picture, but I'm in a rush at the airport!

Not the best picture, but I’m in a rush at the airport!

 

(More commercials. One of them is Viagra and everyone has that same conversation about the awkwardness of the separate bathtubs on the mountaintop)

 

            We explored town for a couple of hours, stopping every once in a while to take pictures for all of you to see. You’re welcome. But as time ticked away, we knew we had to get back to the hotel if we wanted to make it to our dinner on time. We had been planning this super romantic date for months, so the last thing we wanted was to miss our reservation. Unfortunately, due to time shortages, we wouldn’t be able to do the hike from Fira to Oia at all, but at least Ryan could. I had found this hike a few months ago and from everything Ryan has said, it wasn’t a letdown. We began hiking to the bus stop and kept passing signs pointing to Amoudi Bay. The Bay was one of the areas I had wanted to see the most on the island but I knew we would really be pushing for time if we went. But as we got closer to the bus stop, that oh-so-familiar YOISO (you’re only in Santorini once) feeling took over Courtny. She told me we should try to get to the Bay and do the Amoudi cliff jump before heading back, so that’s exactly what we did. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

(And now we see the Geico commercial as everyone quotes it word for word. You know the one. Hump Dayyyyyyyyy)

 

            The walk down was a few kilometers, but it’s easy to walk around when you are overlooking the sea from a cliff top. When we finally rounded the corner to see the Bay, we knew we had made the right choice. Red cliffs towered above us and Oia sat on top of them. Amoudi was filled with beautiful little cafes and restaurants that I would have loved to visit if we had the time. But we had a mission to accomplish. After strolling through the restaurant area, we climbed across a rocky path and reached the drop off point. From there, we had to swim to the cliff. Fortunately, the waters around these islands is so calm and clear that swimming isn’t even tiring. We climbed up to the jumping spot—it is rather well marked and there were others doing it so we knew exactly where to climb. The jump itself was roughly 25 feet of pure adrenaline. The water was great to land in as well—with plenty of depth, there was no risk of hitting rocks below. After doing it once, Courtny and I couldn’t get enough of it. I did it 4 times and she did it 3, but we would have kept going if we had the time to. Unfortunately, the clock wasn’t stopping for us. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Here I am landing in the water after the first cliff jump of the trip! Possibly my favorite activity of the islands.

Here I am landing in the water after the first cliff jump of the trip! Possibly my favorite activity of the islands.

 

(Stupid fast food commercial that makes you crave food you know you shouldn’t be eating this late)

 

            We hustled back up the road and got on a bus back to Fira, about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. After arriving in Fira, we realized that Courtny would need to get ready in record time if we were going to make this dinner. As we speed-walked back to the hotel, a young man on a skate board lost his hat. We didn’t want to see a truck tear up his hat, so we grabbed it for him and gave it back. Our kindness didn’t go unpaid—soon after the same guy gave us a ride back to the hotel, getting us back 10 minutes earlier than we thought we would. When it comes to Courtny being on time, 10 minutes can make a huge difference. She hurried and got ready while I waited. Forty minutes before the reservation, both of us were looking snazzy and set to go. We went to the front desk to call a taxi… And none were available. Time to try the bus. With all of the stops on the way to Oia, there was no time to lose. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

Dinner and a Ring for Courtny

 

The following took place between 7 PM and 12 AM. Events occurred in real time.

 

            Relax, people. It’s not an engagement ring. Being a part-time manager at King Kone doesn’t pay for that (even though I get a healthy amount of tips). Ok now that we have that out of the way… The time quickly disappeared as we sat in traffic on the way from Fira to Oia. By the time we got there, we were already 15 minutes late for the reservation. The tiny streets no longer looked beautiful and romantic. It was like we were mice in a colorful maze; yes, it was cool to look at, but we just wanted the cheese. We got to Feredini Restaurant at 7:20. Fortunately, no one else had a reservation until 8:00 so they were still holding our balcony table. You have all seen the picture of us at our table (I felt like a pregnant woman with how many social media likes I was getting). It’s safe to say it was the best date Courtny and I ever went on. After dinner we walked around the area at our own pace, looking in the stores for something that I could buy Courtny. Fortunately, we both liked the same item more than all the others, so we left Oia that night with a little bit more jewelry than we had come with. Eventually, we made our way back to the hotel after some post-dinner gelato. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 

The famous picture...

The famous picture…

The Road People Take Less Often Than The Main Road

 

The following took place between 12 AM and 9 AM. Events occurred in real time.

 

            Yep, this section has a totally original title. It was not inspired by a famous poem whatsoever. We arrived back to the hotel exhausted from a long day on the island. As we got ready for bed, though, we knew what we had to do—head back to Oia at 4:45 in the morning to watch the sun come up over the town. So at 2:00 we went to bed for a quick nap. We woke up at 4, got ready, called a cab and got to Oia by 5. We waited on the cliffs for the sunrise, basically by ourselves. Compared to the masses of people that head into town for the sunset, the sunrise was beautifully calm. The actual town was completely empty, so Courtny and I got to see all of its beauty by ourselves. The actual sunrise made the whole process worth it. Words can’t describe the beauty of the golden sun slowly ascending over the cliffs, eventually touching its rays to the blue and white-domed buildings of the most picturesque town in the world. Ok so words can’t describe the experience but I feel like I gave it a good effort. After the sunrise, we grabbed the first bus of the day back into Fira. We stopped in a couple of stores before going back to the hotel. We got back at 9:00 and had just enough time to take a power nap before we departed for the island of Ios. Mission accomplished. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

One of many shots I took from the sunrise

One of many shots I took from the sunrise

 

            Ok so Jack Bauer’s escapades are a bit more risky than my own. But he’s also trained for saving the world. Me? I just trained to travel to the best spots on Santorini. And even though most of the time your travels won’t go the way you planned (like getting fooled into thinking you lost a wallet when it’s in your camera bag), there are times that exceed every expectation you had. Our day and a half on Santorini was one of those times.

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