Santorini / by Paige Johnson

As you can see along with the people we also made some other friends along the way!

Not to mention when we came home one night our little cat friend had followed us home one night and hopped through the window. Im pretty sure we named him, but I can't remember. 

Speaking of friends there are a few friends that we made that Jesse will never forget!

You guessed it, ostriches. As you can probably understand this was totally unexpected because we aren't exactly in Africa. Needless to say, we were just driving along one afternoon up one of the many steep windy roads on the more rural side of Santorini and I look to my left and all of a sudden I see it. A tiny little ostrich head peeping over the hill. I should probably tell you that ostriches are Jesse's favorite animal. He is oddly fascinated with the giant chickens and how they can kick a lion's jaw off. Don't ask me. Well of course I had to tell Jesse that I was pretty sure I had just seen an ostrich head. I did expect him to be excited. However, I didn't expect that he would pull the brake right there in the middle of the road and jump out and run up to this man's house. Minutes later he came back and told me to come look. This man let us right in with these five ostriches and proceeded to tell us all about them for forty-five minutes. It was really amazing I have to admit and we learned about all there is to know. Like how one got out one day and they had to run around in a little van on the island and catch it and drag it into the van, how they only lay about 9 eggs a year, how one choked on a nail once and died, or how they have the speed and power to kill any of us in about three seconds. Yes of course I was terrified, but I took one for the team.

Okay, let's talk food! This is pana cotta which is a very popular and delicious treat in Greece. Did I also mention that it is free? At every single restaurant. Yes, here on the island it is customary to get a free dessert most often pana cotta after every meal all served in different unique ways. I vote we take on that tradition here!  

We ate many delicious meals in Greece and none of which were surprisingly gross or shocking to taste. Most likely because it is such a tourist attracting area they don't want to scare the taste buds too much. Gyros were a must and I'm pretty sure we consumed way more than anyone probably should in a ten day period. Also if you ever order a gyro it is pronounced " Year-o" not "J-eye-ro". Jesse learned that one the hard way, haha. One lunchtime date went very different than I would have anticipated. To backtrack, we were probably the only people touring on the island at this time besides the Chinese. It was probably one of the most unpopular months to visit the island, but in my opinion it made the experience very authentic. We got to live amongst the people as if it were our home too. If you notice like nobody at all in all of our photos, that is because there really weren't many tourists at all! So you can imagine we stuck out like sore thumbs. People would stare at us and many people would come up and ask us what we were doing there at that time of year. It was pretty comical actually. It was like a small taste of being famous. You couldn't go anywhere without people coming up to you or staring. Well, there was an incident where I'm quite positive the man thought we were famous. I do not know why. There we were sitting and ordering gyros for lunch and our waiter had quite the fascination with us. His name was Andreas coincidentally and he couldn't believe we were married so young. The average age to get married apparently was after thirty in Greece. However, he was quite excited about it and offered us a free glass of their specialty wine. After lunch, and about an hour of him staring at us in fascination, we went to leave and he stopped us. He called his cook from the back room and handed her his phone and asked her to take a picture with us. I couldn't help but laugh a little. After she took our picture he thanked us with excitement and went in the back where they all looked at us with big smiles. It was interesting to say the least. Maybe they just thought we were insane. 

So we did go back to visit Andreas at the travel shop where he did go next door and buy us homemade chocolates as perviously promised. He also told us how there were ruins of castles all around the island and hand drew us a map of the island and places to go. Yes, apparently people like this exist! So we jetted off on our little castle hunting adventures. Most of the castles were built right into the hillsides, buildings, and homes. They weren't even made into museums, you could just go explore them as you please. We had to climb down cliffs, search throughout towns, and climb through little passageways to find them. They were magnificent though. It was like a period in time just frozen. Back in the day when pirates would invade the island everyone on the island would pile inside the castles to keep safe. They were destroyed when the volcano erupted. Santorini used to be a volcano and is now in the shape it is today because of the eruption. The island legend is that it used to be what was known as the lost city of Atlantis. Also there are still small tremors from the volcano every day keeping big fish away, so if you want to cliff dive or go swimming you don't have to worry about sharks or other large predators. That's a plus in my book!

Let's go to the beach!

Every beach in Santorini is different. Some look like this and have large cliff side. Some are black sand beaches. Some beaches have these tiny beautifully colored river rock like pebbles covering the whole beach. It was not particularly swim season when we went but we braved the ocean one day! I would love to go back in the summer to cliff dive. We made it out to one of the most famous cliff diving spots on our last day there, we just didn't jump in do to the freezing water. 

I honestly could tell you a hundred stories. I have memories I will cherish forever from this place. I will always remember the people. How they didn't just wave or give a simple, " Hello." That's always nice but to know that there are actually people out there that stop and take the time to actually talk to you. To get to know who you are and actually care. To take the time to draw out maps for you and tell you stories. It is so nice to get to know someone even for a brief moment. To know that there are other people out there in the world who are so different than you, so unique from everyone else, and yet we are all the same in so many ways. I will always remember the little donkeys that carried the mail and packages up and down the cliffs. I will remember the kindness and generosity we received by so many. I will remember the taste of the icing textured greek yogurt topped with fresh berries and a pinch of sugar. I will remember how nice it was to have no agenda. To wake up with my husband and haven't one minute be purposed, what a freedom and privilege that is. My advice to you is to for once if you haven't yet, go without an agenda. Go rent a car, find a beautiful suite, and explore another culture and place with your best friend. Not knowing just makes it all the more fun. 

Of all the things I will miss the most I will miss the beauty. It is like no other. There is such a peace and serenity when you look out on that ocean. It gives room for thoughts and dreams. This is one of my favorite moments. The beauty of God is beyond imaginable. How awesome is it that we get to see just a sneak peek at moments like this.