Up and Down

by Jane Moneypenny

There are two things my mom asked me to do on this trip, despite the fact I’m 25 and clearly been on my own for a long time:

1) Don’t sleep on the floor or even sit (she’s been telling me this since I was a kid).

2) DO NOT rent a car in Europe (even though I learned to drive manual in case there was an emergency).

I broke rule #1 by day two and rule #2 by day three. And I had a pleasure doing them. The ferry ride to the islands were so crowded on Sunday that we had to sleep on the ground. Good thing I stole that Delta blanket off that flight…

The car rental in Naxos was a last minute idea and something I never thought we would do, but since it’s the biggest island in the Cyclades (and no public transport), it’s the only way to get around to the beaches and sites. I guess I’m the responsible one or something because next thing I knew, I was handing over my credit card for the car (automatic, thank God). And it was one of the most insane adventures of my life. Driving around Naxos isn’t like driving around a regular city; it’s an island with numerous massive mountains with only ONE road through the entire place. It meant going up and down tiny winding roads with no guard rails with other cars possibly around the corner with no concept of slowing down to not hit you. The view was worth every euro. It was breathtaking. I can’t even explain… I swear I’ll post pics soon.

The beaches in Naxos were equally incredibly. We swam in the Mediterranean in between giant cliffs. Beautiful sand, perfectly clear water and amazing weather. Blue sky and sunny and 77 every day.

We’re in Santorini now and each time I think I’ve done the most insane thing I could do, we top it. Today, we rented dune buggies and drove around the island. I’ve never driven one before but I gotta say, I’m addicted now. We drove to Kamari where there are black-sand beaches and the ancient city of Thira. Too bad Thira is on top of a mountain with another winding road (it’s literally a zig zag on the map). But this time, it was even scarier with a dune buggy and a chance to be blown off with the strong winds. When we finally got up there, we had to hike another mile up a ridiculous wind (we had to hug the rocks) to reach Thira. Going back down the mountain was even scarier! But we made it and ended our day climbing the cliffs to the Red Beach and watching the famous sunset at the Caldera.

I never in my dreams thought this trip would be like this! I still miss St. Louis a little, mostly the people and wish they would be here with me to share this incredible adventure. Tomorrow, off to the volcano and hot springs! I’m officially in love with Greece.