The next leg of our trip was Greece, specifically Santorini. I was really excited for this trip. I’ve always wanted to go to Santorini. It seemed like such a beautiful place. The Santorini Airport was tiny, as was expected for a small island. When we arrived, our hotel had sent a driver to pick us up. He was standing holding a sign with my name on it. This was the first time that ever happened, so I was pretty excited. We stayed at the Aperanto Suites, which were absolutely beautiful! Every morning there was breakfast that we selected the day before. It was included in the hotel's nightly price and it was great. Here is a little break down of the hotel and of our suite.
The hotel lobby was located down these beautiful steps, over-looking the pool. When we were walking over to our suite, the first thing we saw when we walked through the door of our own patio with an outdoor hot tub. And what a great view it had!
We woke up and within 5 minutes our breakfast was waiting outside on our patio. I had some Greek coffee that was fantastic with fruit and toast. Cassidy had the tea and other great greek traditional breakfast plates. When we were done getting ready, we went to the front desk to pick up the ATV we had ordered the previous day. We jumped on our quad and headed to a place recommended by the front desk which was an old castle turned into a beautiful village. The drive took about 15-20 minutes to get there. It would have been sooner, but we took a couple wrong turns. When we arrived to Pyrgos where the castle is located, we parked and started to explore. Walking up the pathway that leads to the very top of the ruins was amazing. Seeing all the little shops and restaurants all together like a beautiful lego master-piece was awesome to experience. We stopped and took pictures along the way and popped into shops as well. All the alley ways were small, even the path up was small. But it was gorgeous once you reached the top. I really enjoyed this location, make sure you check out Pyrgos if you visit Santorini.
After exploring this little village we wanted to swim at the beach so our next stop was Perissa black sand beach. We went all the way to the end which was a great spot. You pay $15 euro but you have your own lounge chairs and someone who brings you food and drinks if you choose to order. It's also nice because there is someone there to watch your belongings when your swimming, which we did a lot of. My tip to you guys is bring goggles because the water is extremely salty and will burn your eyes. Plus it's really cool to see the fish that follow you as you swim through the water. When you kick up the sand/rocks underneath, they feed on whatever comes up. It is so neat to see! I spent some time just kicking up sand and watching them feast.
After wrapping up swimming, we went back to our lounge chairs to relax and have some grub and drinks. That's when we noticed something. A pack of 4 dogs roaming together. It caught my attention because they were right down the beach and they were scared away by one of the attendants. So when they came to our area, us being dog lovers, I was excited to see them. There was one little black dog was especially friendly and came right up to us. When the rest of the pack saw that we were petting him they came and laid by us. I was intrigued because some had collars, so started researching and what I discovered broke my heart. We found out that even the dogs with collars are homeless too. They were just abandoned. When it's tourist season, shop and restaurant owners will take advantage of this and be nice to them because they know tourists like it and it will give them business. But for the majority though, the dogs are treated very poorly by the locals. They rely mostly on the kindness of tourists to get food during peak season but after that, they're pretty much on their own. It breaks our hearts because they're all so calm and friendly! I wanted to take all of them home with me. They were coming up and hanging out with us on the beach everyday. I asked our beach attendant to allow the dogs to stay by us and he said it was fine with it, so we than began to order food just for the dogs.
The next day our plan was to visit an animal sanctuary that cares for homeless dogs and rescues donkeys. Its called SAWA: Santorini Animal Welfare Association. It was here where my wife and I fell in love with three homeless dogs. My wife's back was bruised from the ATV the day before so we rented this buggie for the day.
We headed to SAWA. It's located near a beach and it's a little oasis for homeless dogs and rescued donkeys. When we were pulling in, it had no road so it was a bit of an off roading adventure. As we pulled up, we were super excited to see that what SAWA is doing to save lives. They help stray animals by neutering and spaying but also insuring they have food, water and shelter outside to come to as well. The animals that are in more need can live at the shelter. They also take in donkeys that are exploited on the island which people ride up and down the steps. Even though it's popular and seemingly convenient, when you visit Santorini, please don't ride the donkeys. There are many ways to get up up and down the steps without causing pain to an animal.
They came running through a fence and were so excited to see us. The two lighter ones were very friendly and playful from the beginning but it was the black dog that touched our hearts. At first, he was scared to come close but after some time he became comfortable with us. They were spayed and neutered as well as knew to come to the sanctuary for food. There were several dog houses outside so many dogs could come there for shelter, food and water. We played with them and fed them by hand but it wasn't until we were getting ready to leave when the tears came running down our faces. As we started to drive away these three began to follow us. Running after us down the dusty dirt road. I stopped the buggie and walked them back, making sure they stayed. Once we reached the end of the street, we waited to see if they would come but they didn't. We drove to the top of the hill were we could see them laying together in front of the shelter. We immediately drove back to our hotel and messaged the owner of the sanctuary. We are in contact help support them, as well as sponsor these pups. It was so difficult saying goodbye but we know for at least these pups they are in good hands. We want to sponsor them and help SAWA even more!
After that we went to Oia one last time to walk down to the Amoudi bay, a famous spot down many steps where you can cliff dive and swim in the ocean. The steps down were hard and it was even harder on the way up but it was well worth it. We ate at Lotza, a great restaurant at great price. The owners son is a softy for animals, he took in a stray named Bella as a baby and she hung out with us while we ate. Unlike the other dogs that hang out around the restaurants, she actually belonged to him. He was genuine when speaking about how people need to be more loving towards animals. We had a great conversation with him and really enjoyed the food and service.
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I loved reading all of the wonderful details of your trip. Parker and I will be going to Oalkland on Thursday to see about adopting a couple of kitties I’ve been jumping through hoops and interviews to adopt. I’ve been on a search to fill the void in my heart due to having had put both my long-time, family kitties to sleep with in 3 months of each other due to complications from old age. I ‘m particularly looking for a Maine Coon Mix, as I was especially fond of Maharaja. I’ll keep you posted.Hope to see you soon!