Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Hullo all.

Fisher and I are back from a wonderfully relaxing week in Santorini, where the sun did shine (a lot) and we did eat (a lot!), and we generally had the sort of holiday we hardly ever enjoy. Ceegar and Meeper where our loyal companions, and joined us in sampling every dish available in Greece. The result, of course, is that on returning I discover myself to be - wait for it - five pounds heavier than when I left.

Five pounds!!

So our first task was to go to Tesco and buy nothing but fruit, veg and healthy stuff, vowing to have one week of nigh-on starvation, followed by a return to sensible food and loads of exercise. I'd go to the gym today, but unfortunately I'm suffering from a migraine. I had one in Santorini, too, which I attributed to the heat. I hope this one is just from the stress and strain of travel, and that they aren't suddenly going to become regular.

Santorini is a honeymoon island. While it's very similar in terrain to Malta, the houses are different. The whole island is thronged with villas in startling white stone, and the village in which we stayed - Firastefani - was made up of a cluster of these, all set into the cliffside. The view over the Aegean and the ring of the volcanic crater, out of which Santorini is formed, was stunning: sparkling sea, pure blue sky, burning sun, darting yachts and glittering cruise ships - all of which ended the day with the backdrop of a glorious sunset.

Our first villa was lovely, with a little private plunge pool, two double beds, a simple kitchen/living room - but only one bathroom. I was slightly disappointed to see all the terrace rooftops of other villas all around, meaning that there was very little privacy. Also, Santorini is more full of beautiful people than any country I've ever seen in my life. They're all the colour of chestnuts, glossy haired and perfect of figure. I felt like a sweating whale in their presence. Seriously, it was like something out of a Jilly Cooper novel - all these unreal thoroughbred couples wandering around looking smoochy. I got the feeling that all they really cared about was making themselves look good in the sun and that they were therefore shallow as puddles. Probably a wildly unfair prejudice on my part, but never have I seen such vanity on show: designer labels, skimpy bikinis, layers of make-up, immaculate tan lines, waxed legs, waxed arms, waxed bikini lines, and that walk. You know the one I mean. The one with the undulating hips and shimmying shoulders that says, with every pace, look at me, look at me, look at beautiful me!

God, I longed for the ability to teleport them all to a Pitlochry Youth Hostel smelling of hiking socks and rancid chip fat, where the rain teemed down and the only flesh on show was blistered feet in foot baths. I wonder how much smooching and lovey-doveyness there'd be then. I get the feeling quite a few of the marriages wouldn't have lasted the week.

We were, however, upgraded to a second hotel, which was even better. This time there were two bathrooms, a mini swimming pool (actually not that much bigger than the plunge pool, but very lovely), a much bigger living area - and a vast increase in privacy. The pool area was, in fact, only visible to those standing directly above us looking down, so I could flobble my flab about in comfort.

I won't go through the holiday day by day, but some of the highlights are as follows:

* The accommodation. It really was divine - especially the breakfast, brought on an enormous tray by Justin the hotel orra man ('do everything chap') and consisting of fresh fruit (watermelon, grapes, nectarines, peaches etc), Greek yoghurt, honey, pastries, cereal, and a mixed sort of omelette with bacon, sausage and peppers through it. Also coffee. Unfortunately, no fresh milk so it was vile UHT stuff throughout - but who cares?
* The weather. Blisteringly hot every day.
* Ancient Thira. I expected very little as Meeper had been on a previous visit and been underwhelmed. Fisher and I went just before returning the hire car, on a bit of a whim because we were on our own and we knew neither Ceegar or Meeper were very interested. Alas, because it was a whim, I hadn't got my camera. It began with an incredible drive up a windy, narrow cliff road without walls or any sort of security at all - which gave me the slight heebie jeebies. You then arrived at the top and had to walk a quarter of a mile or so - almost vertically - to reach Thira itself. Fisher couldn't make it, owing to her fear of heights, so I was on my own - and it was totally worth it! At the top there lay an ancient city, dating to the 9th century BC or so, complete with private houses, temples, basilica, a Roman Bath, and a beautiful theatre with the capacity of 1500 or so.
* The food. Almost all the restaurants were delicious, but not least Oia's 1800, where we splashed out on an 'Anniversarie's Eve' dinner and revelled in some extremely fine cooking.
* Exploring in our hire car, seeing sights - some of which were slightly disappointing (all beaches, the red cliffs) and some of which were surprisingly delightful, mostly because we stumbled across them (the windmill road, the traditional settlement of Megalochori and therefore the Gavalas vineyard).
* Ouzo. An acquired taste. I've acquired it.
* Our last day, when we hired a motor boat and enjoyed a 4 hour cruise around the islands, snorkelling off the stern, and being cooked fresh Mezze by our pilot, washed down with a crisp glass of cold white wine. Idyllic.

That's that then. Now, I'm off to nurse my head. It's feckin' sair.