Like Turkey, dogs are a frequent sight in Santorini. What is obvious is that the Greek dogs either have been taking meditation classes or are heavily sedated. Lying as if semi conscious in the sun, the canines here could care less if you are moving by them whether on foot, scooter or in motor vehicle. Perhaps some of Turkey’s top dogs could attend a Greek four-legged-tail-wagging symposium titled something like ‘ Being a Happy Dog-Life is too Short for all that Barking, Chasing and Trying to Chew Legs off of Foreign Cyclists’. Here in Santorini you would need to tie a pork chop around your neck to get any attention from one of these pups.
There is great pride taken in the fresh seafood available to the local restaurants in Santorini. At dinner at Sunset Fish Taverna, one is encouraged to look at the daily catches from the local fishermen to assist in deciding what to order. For those of you who know me well, you can appreciate that looking at the suction cup like attachments on the legs of a whole octopus, the gaping mouths of assorted fish caught in last gasps and crawling lobsters waving their tentacles usually inspires me to order salad. You will also know that in balance with that I am one to seize the moment so the four of us ordered the highly prized biggest catch of the day to share….the 2 kg Red Snapper. There was much congratulating of our wise choice, likely because we were paying the equivalent of the gross national product of a small nation to eat it. The fish arrived beautifully filleted on a platter the size of a dishpan. I will add it was absolutely scrumptious. I was not so sure about the look on the face of our seafood dinner companion…what a set of teeth! This fish had a serious overbite and obviously was a bit of a terror in the water. Once dinner was complete and all that remained was the head and tail, I thought my acting as though the fish head were my friend for photo opportunities was hilarious. Dave did his best impression of ‘ I don’t really know her, I am just a good Samaritan taking her out of the facility on a day pass.’ At another table restaurant patrons ordered the calamari which in Calgary comes as something breaded and fried having a close resemblance to onion rings. Here the entire squid with tentacles waving (okay the waving is an exaggeration) arrives on ones plate. I suggested to Dave that I could ask to borrow our fellow diner’s meal as a hand puppet. At that point I was cut off from further local red wine consumption.
We were accompanied by hundreds if not thousands of hikers on our cliff walk to Fira. No they weren’t fellow tourists (apparently our group of four is a bit different than the usual tourist to Santorini.) Upon arrival at the promised Mythos beer drinking goal, locals raised their eyebrows at where we had just walked from. To anyone who spoke English I shared it was a rest day for us. We actually did rest and took the bus back home. At any rate iguanas are built for just such an adventure and so an army of them shared our lava pebbled walkway. Their footwear seemed far more suited to scaling steep climbs than mine. Perhaps you recall my desperate purchase of shoes in the trendy district of Istanbul. Suffice it to say my sandals are well broken in. Likely word got out in the Iguana community that everyone should come out to see the latest lunatic visitors and this created the constant scurrying and rustle of scrub brush and cacti on the endless white and yellow daisy covered slopes. The backdrop alternated between red and black lava creating a stunning contrast to the dark blue sea below and the cloudless blue sky. Some things are worth getting your feet so dirty they may be permanently stained black. Besides we gave the local iguanas something to sit around and guffaw about for years to come.
Our night finished back at the taverna across the street. As the happy Greek music beckoned us in we were warmly greeted by the friendly owners. We were also met by the resident cats. It is a complete oversight on my part that nowhere in these past weeks have the cats of Turkey or Greece been mentioned. Perhaps they became such a part of the backdrop of the story I failed to even notice them. The dogs could care less about them, even in Turkey. So they are free to roam….everywhere. From the most remote rural Turkish path ( I confess to missing one on my bike while coasting downhill by millimeters ) to the bustling streets of Istanbul, the cats are as unfazed by their surroundings as if they had just been smoking something extra special in the commonly seen Turkish shisha pipe. The most favorite feline destination is a restaurant. Seems to make good sense from a cat perspective particularly given the large amount of seafood eaten here. ( I can’t help but smile thinking of the environmental bylaw officers of major Canadian cities looking about at our local restaurants….” 4 cats in dining area, 2 in kitchen…yes all looks good here”) On more than one occasion there would be a squeal from one of our cycling group as a cat wove it’s way around legs under the dinner table. Not to mention any names but Deb did instinctively try to jump on my lap on more than one occasion when surprised by the under table feline activity. The evening I wrote to you from the small seaside village of Gocek in Turkey, a kitten jumped on my chest and as I wrote to you with my IPAD on my lap, she happily cuddled in and pretended she was editor in chief.
We bid you goodnight (‘kalinihta’-thanks Helen for the translation)
Sue and Dave