“Greece 🇬🇷 ~Horseback Riding at Vlychada Beach”

As our relaxing months on the island wind down for us, it is feeling a little too real, that we will soon have to leave our friends, and the beautiful Santorini! 😢

BUT, we had such a wonderful time, and we will cherish today’s memories, forever!
We had many activities planned, while Island-hopping in the Cyclades, but due to the COVID19 lockdown, we did not get to do everything we had hoped. But, lucky for us, we were happy we could go riding.

I don’t always where a dress when I ride, but the clothes I packed for “four days” on Santorini Island, turned into a two and a half month visit, due to lockdowns! No complaints, as we have loved our time on the island.

Our horses were all high-end Thoroughbreds with pedigrees. Such beautiful creatures, indeed! We highly recommend riding at Efippos Horse Farm. Very professional and classy! They can be found about five miles from the Fira.

The weather was beautiful, and we got to enjoy the ride with our good friend, Valentini. After our ride, we continued on to Valentines home and enjoyed great conversation and ate a delicious Greek meal with her family. We have enjoyed getting to know these great new friends, and we shall stay in touch for life!

I fell in love with the family dog, “Blanko,” too

“Greece 🇬🇷 ~Where Do We Go From Here?”

That is a loaded question, with no easy answer.

Traveling full-time as we have, since 2017, I know how to put a trip together. It’s time consuming and challenging to line everything up, just right, but now, putting a plan in place, is far more challenging, in these now, troubling times, of World travel.

For the last 2 and 1/2 weeks, I worked diligently, applying for a 90-day EU extension, which would allow us to remain in Greece, to wait for borders to open. Heck, we would take 30 days if we could get it! While the application process sounded pretty straight forward, it was anything but! After countless hours and scanned documents, lengthy letters of requests, proof of this and proof of that..and the difficulty in speaking by phone, with the only authority I kept being directed to, no matter what avenue I tried to manage; including the Alien Bureau, but not limited to the US Embassy in Athens. No matter who I spoke with, while sympathetic to our situation, the Syros police, on Syros Island (centrally located in the middle of all the Cyclades Islands), have the final say. Their lack of interest to even consider our application was troubling and a huge let down.

When I spoke to the police, just yesterday, (another dreaded conversation to endure with very little English understanding or words used to speak to me), I was not told we were denied, but I was told we had no reason to ask for an extension in the first place. Then, no matter what question I asked, to get clarity on what is a good reason to ask such permission; I was told (rudely) “You are obligated to get on a plane to return to America.”

My application was not even considered, or looked at! Yes, it’s aggravating. Apparently, the world being upside down with closed borders is not a good reason. If I was in a hospital, in an emergency situation, I would be given permission to stay, and thats what I got for an answer. How other European states handle this same request, may be different than Greece, but this is my only experience, to date.

1. We are being kicked out of Greece, but we can’t get a ferry ticket without the port authority giving us permission to leave Santorini.. these two police authorities should be working together, but don’t.

2. We can’t leave the island until we show the same port authority that we have a plan to exit Greece, after we arrive in Athens. They are expecting to see a plane itinerary for a flight back to the USA, but our Embassy said if we can find another country outside the EU we can enter, we can show that plan, regardless of their instruction.

3. This will be fun…. hotels in Greece are closed until July, and we can’t do a ferry to Athens and and a departure out of Greece; all in one day (limited ferries) so I asked the police on Syros where we are suppose to stay in Athens, since we have to leave and can’t get an extension, till at least hotels open back up. Not to mention, we have luggage to pick up in Athens, at a hotel, which we stored there, when we anticipated only an eight day visit in the Greek Islands. I’ve tried contacting the hotel, but no response. We really don’t want to leave Greece without our belongings. Answer: “Not my concern.” 

4. Sooo I say, no problem, we can sleep in bus station or airport, right? Answer: “No.” 

5. Again, I say, where are we suppose to stay in Athens for our transition out of Athens? Answer: “Not my concern.”

6. I contacted our Embassy and they assured me if needed, we will be allowed to enter the airport, and will be allowed to stay till the plane, as long as its not two days.  It needs to be reasonable timeframe. “What’s a reasonable timeframe?” Answer: “as soon as possible.”

Here’s the rub.. Daryl and I, not being like everybody else, by a mile, want to exit Greece on our terms. We do not want to go back to America, where we have no place to live, or even a car, anymore… since we haven’t been “home” since 2017. 

While it’s true we have to leave Greece, and we will, we are trying to leaving with approximately 11 days out of our 90 days, so we will be able to re-enter the EU one more time (Netherlands) in our allotted 90 days; by the 22nd of August, to do our Rhine River Castle Cruise on the 23rd, which has been rebooked from May to August. No guarantee we will actually sail, because it might be cancelled, again (who knows), but in case we get to sail, and we did not get our extension, we must save those precious days and hope for the best!

So, where are we going next? Answer; “we have no idea!” 🤔🙄…we just know where we don’t want to go. Originally, before the closed borders, we were scheduled to go to Albania after Greece. We even bought bus tickets to do so, before we left Athens to come to the Islands. Unable to use them on the original date, our Greek friend called the bus station and we were told we could reschedule, or get a refund on 50%. We hope to reschedule. Or, we might have to take an expensive car hire, if bus lines aren’t running.

Currently, we can enter Albania, with a 14 day quarantine, but a friend I met on an online traveling group, has been on lockdown there, and she told me the isolation has begun lifting, but who knows if there will be a surge in cases, and closing borders again, and not allowing travelers in.

So, we are in for some uncomfortable and uncertain times coming our way, soon. We do not know if we will be allowed to go to Athens, with ferry tickets we purchased and did not get to use, but have been issued credit. How do we get reissued, now that port authority police have intervened?…Get out of Greece, is the order, but they won’t let us on a ferry? Come on, people!

We will find out, when it gets closer to May 26th, so stay tuned. This is the date we have to leave the creature comforts of our beautiful stay on Santorini, and jump into the fray!

“Greece 🇬🇷 ~Fira, Thira and Oia on Santorini”

The view from our Villa in Fira, as we left. We were excited to see the marine layer stick around for awhile

Oia, is the perfect Greek village. A Traditional Village, that transported us back in time

I set out to get our rental car that is across from our original hotel stay, up in Thira. On the way, I passed the most photographed church; Agios Spiridonas, perched above a sea of fog, clinging to the ocean below. 

Agios Spiridonas Church

Our rental car takes us up and around the serpent-shaped roads to the village. Oia is one of the oldest areas with cave-style villas and quaint restaurants, waiting for tourist to come, so they can open. In Looking out over the Aegean Sea, today, the fog envelopes the waters with the Caldera edges peaking out. The fog looks like mountains rising above the clouds. Soon, the foggy veil lifts, revealing the sea and islands floating on a cobalt blue sea.

We walk through the Village of Oia, with its narrow marble-clad walkway. The stairs rise and descend, to new levels of exploration. Windmills and churches offer the ambiance of true Greek flair, which can only be found with in Cyclades islands. of Greece. At the end of one walkway, we find an old fort in disrepair from centuries of weather. We look down and see a place we had visited on the first time we rented a car to explore the island. The old port is revealed below. We knew we missed something on our first trip out, but there is so much take in on this Santorini, so further trips along unfamiliar roads were in order, to find more true gem, like the old village of Oia. What a find, and such an enjoyable day, with perfect pathways and quaint shops (not opened), and scenes for our cameras to frame.

The fog lifts and reveals the islands around the caldera