Vacations are always a blast, even when they don’t go quite as smooth as expected, as this short story from our 2019 trip to Santorini tells our tale. This was our second time visiting Santorini and our second time in Greece. After having been very obvious tourists the year before, I spent more time trying to learn a bit of Greek, learn more of the customs and culture and build on our experiences from the year before. I still had a lot to learn but definitely felt more experienced and knowledgeable than the year before.
This year our goal was to explore more of Santorini. After much thought and discussion we rented a dune buggy with Steve driving and me navigating. Perfect setup to assure an argument or mishap! Bright and early we took off in the dune buggy and had a blast. With the wind blowing through the buggy we drove through the narrow streets of Imerovigli and then Fira. What a sight we had to be. Two middle age Americans cruising by in a dune buggy giggling uncontrollably.
After stopping to roam in Pyrgos we headed for Kamari. Still feeling like a couple of kids having a great get away we were loving the day.
Once reaching Kamari my navigational skills had to do some serious upgrading as we drove through the town. We were hungry and planned on eating at a taverna along the beach someone had told us about. I plugged it in my GPS and surprisingly GPS was working. Through the streets Steve drove, with me following my crazy GPS directions instructing him to turn here and turn there. He nervously obeyed although questioned all the seemingly random turns. Finally we were by the beach and hit the end of a road. He sighed a big sigh of relief as this road, paralleling the beach, had no traffic on it and few people.
Smiling broadly we commented how lovely this was as we putted along on the cobblestone road. Restaurants lined both sides of the street and the beach stretched out invitingly.
It was early afternoon and many shop and restaurant owners were outside beckoning folks to come in. Even though there were not many people around, we marveled at how friendly many were, hollering and waving at us. I waved back shouting a gleeful “kalimera”. Steve’s good mood turned a little concerned when he voiced, “I think they’re yelling at us”, as he started to notice people weren’t waving hello but were waving frantically. Not quite sure what they were yelling about but we certainly understood Amerikanos and it definitely wasn’t good morning and didn’t sound friendly.
An older gentleman stepped onto the road saying “stop, stop.” Steve obediently stopped. Much to our pure humiliation, this kindly man told us in broken English, “this not a road, this is how you say, a promenade. People walk on it, not drive”. Of course I immediately entered panic mode. I was picturing us in a Santorini jail and wondered which one of our five adult kids we would call for bail money. The kind man continued to tell us to take the first left we see and get off of the promenade. In my defense, I did follow my GPS!
We did exactly that. Even though it was just a couple of blocks further I swear that it felt like a couple of miles. People continued shouting at us and waving. In embarrassment I tried to hide my face with my hand and hat brim.
Finally, with much relief, we were off of the promenade. It was time to look for a place to eat, not on the beach though, because I was worried about being identified. I just knew, I would not fare well in a foreign jail or any jail for that matter. Steve had a chuckle over how mortified I was.
We found a perfect taverna in a pretty garden setting where we could smell the fragrant flowers intermingling with the smokey aroma of meat on the grill and Greek spices. A perfect place to relax.
After getting to know our friendly waiter we told him about our ride of shame and my hope no one notified the police. He tipped his head back and let out a roaring laugh. He told us no worries, we were not the first ones to do this.
After lunch we headed back to the beach. This time I insisted we park the dune buggy a few blocks away so no one would see us exit before we walked down the promenade. I was still worried about getting in trouble.
Kamari Beach is a beautifulI black pebbly beach. As we strolled along we could feel the heat of the sun radiating from the pebbles. After a hot walk on the beach we savored the sweetness of some cold gelato and walked the promenade.
All in all we enjoyed our time in Kamari. As for driving on the promenade, we left with a great Santorini short story, a fun memory and a need to understand more Greek. Also a lingering question, how can people always guess we are Americans?