15.05.2017 - 19.05.2017 22 °C
Well, it has been a trip. The group has been able to see close up some of what goes into the job of a Contiki trip manager. We have has some challenges for sure. As I write we are now on a chartered Aegean Airlines flight from Santorini to Athens. We are sharing the flight with another Contiki group and a Trafalgar group. So let's back up and see how this happened.
Our last post was some photos from Ios, which was a nice little island, quiet and with wonderful sandy beaches, a stunning hotel (with great food), and an authentic Greek town. The free day on Ios found the students on a pirate ship for a day on the water, exploring coves and deserted beaches. In spite of safe sunscreen application many returned 'kissed by the sun'. The Mini Market did a great business is Solarcane and Aloe.
That evening saw us heading to the town to dine in an old restored villa at Sally's. Delicious food and live Greek entertainment made for an enjoyable night.
What was supposed to be an early departure for the Ios to Santorini ferry suddenly became a 'hang around the pool day because we don't know when we are leaving day'. It seems the port strike in Pireaus (Athens) has caused all sorts of chaos. No worries, in true Greek fashion we arrived in the picturesque island of Santorini made for Saint Ireni. The Greeks love their Gods and their Saints.
Off to the northern tip of Santorini, we headed to Oia to see the world famous sunset. Alas, Helios, the god of the sun, was not smiling down on us and we had a blustery visit. Thankfully one of the students had been there four years before and still had the photo so, in true SAIT style, we improvised and created our own sunset!
Our trip manager had told us that we were close to the airport. He wasn't kidding! When the first plane went overhead it was a bit of a shock. We were able to watch the planes overhead, somewhat like landing in St. Marten in the Caribbean.
Our final full day in Santorini included a visit to the Bronze Age excavations of Akrotiri. This 4000 year old excavation iis an excellent example of this long lost age.
We travelled on some perilous roads to get to the highest point of the island which affored lots of selfie opportunities as well as scenic views of the other islands that make up Santorini.
After a bit of time to freshen up at the hotel we were off to the main town of Fira for the evening. The sunset was stunning, the cruise ships were in port and we made sure that we got our last shopping and eating done before our early morning departure.
Now, on to our chartered flight! The previous port strike in Pireaus had grown to a general strike, something that happens frequently in Greece. Contiki and Trafalgar groups were scattered around the islands so the easiest solution was to charter an airlplne. No Big Deal! Hats off to the companies for getting us on the plane and back to Athens. The check in at the very small airport was interesting - it took almost as long to check in three groups took as long as the ferry would have taken. the views of the Greek islands from the air were a bonus!
The early departure gave us some free time in Athens for last minute souvenirs and then we were off for our final folklore dinner in the suburbs of the city. Thanks to the SAIT 100 Club the students were treated to 'The Zafiro Experience" an amazing night; olive oil production, cooking lessons, delicious food, traditional dance lessons, platebreaking and lots of 'Opa'. Thank you SAIT 100 Club! for a night we will always remember.
Our trip has come to an end. A number of our students are off for extended trips in Europe, some will complete their internships and some of us headed back to Canada. The trip has been an eye opening experience and the students have a new appreciation for the job of a trip manager. Our thanks go out to Tom Colwell, of Contiki, who worked so very hard to ensure that our trip went as promised. We look forward to some karaoke in Calgary when Tom comes back to Banff to work for the winter. Have a great summer in Greeece Tom! We hope your trips are uneventful!
Mary Anne Radmacher says, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” I am sure many of our students feel the same after this study tour to Greece. Thanks for reading about our adventure.