Santorini welcomes us with temperatures in the 80s and warm sunshine.
Our “meet-and-greet” car rental with Enterprise is indeed just that–in the parking lot. No bus to the counter, just cell phones and a paper contract. I can’t wait to tell Enterprise’s travel trade sales manager about the efficiency of the transaction.
And then, map in hand, we hit the road.
We can’t tell if we’re on the back route to our destination, the village of Oia, or the main route. In fact during our entire stay on Santorini, we have the sneaking suspicion that every night, the roads shift slightly. As a result, we always get to where we want to go, but are really never exactly sure how we got there.
When we arrive in Oia, our yposkafa (cave house) isn’t quite ready, but Dimitrios, our enterprising and hardworking host, recommends a restaurant and it is lunch time, so off we go. The restaurant he recommends isn’t open yet–we are really here pre season, but a neighboring one is, right on the waterfront.
Its ebullient proprietor has set up an attractively set table in the gravel parking lot next to the sparkling sea, more are set under a trellis overlooking the water. The proprietor rushes to greet us, arms spread wide in welcome.
“Your time here is now!” he cries. “I am for you here now.”
He offers us the “fish the fishermen brought,” and sets up more tables for us in the sunshine in the parking lot and there we sit, dining on tzatiki, calimari and all sorts of seafood, all accompanied by the white Greek wine that we will drink for the rest of the trip.
When we visit the restaurant itself to use the bathroom, we discover that it’s really cute. But there is something Felliniesque about our parking lot lunch, with our enthusiastic proprietor in his black shirt and dark shades, a few girls in swimsuits tentatively sticking their toes in the beach below us and a photographer with what looks like a huge Leica, scrambling over the rocks. We keep seeing him, no matter where we go on the island.