Monday, June 8, 2015

Fira, Santorini & Donkey Lovin'

We left off with us ferrying over to the capital of Santorini, Fira. This was the Greece I had been expecting all along.


When we hopped off the boat we were handed a ticket to some sort of lift up the side of the mountain. Already hot but excited for the view, we loaded on without any complaints.



We weren't disappointed.


We popped off after a few minutes, at the top of the cliffs and in the center of the city action.



^ Look at my rockin' bun



We were a bit surprised by all the donkey business, but a shop owner warned us we would soon find out what the fuss was all about.


We snapped some nice photos and strolled around the shops. They were certainly touristy, but I had no complaints about the gauzy white dresses and floppy hats.





We had been directed that the easy way back down was to use the lift, but the line to return down had hundreds of sweaty, tired souls. We decided to put on our hiking shoes and tromp down on our own. We were told there was a paved path.

Then we heard it was 600 steps down an 800 foot cliff. And we saw something like this.

6.) Santorini's Donkey Path (Greece): This zigzag walkway was built so that donkeys could more easily make the climb up the side of the island. The distance from one end to the other is 4,265 feet. There are 657 tall steps on the walkway.

Full disclosure - no one I knew took this photo, I just had to find one that showed how daunting it was.

We started down and it was chaos. The steps were slippery in the wrong shoes, and tired donkeys lined every step. Men would charge by, using sticks to edge people out of the way as they blew by with a trail of small donkeys ridden by large tourists.





Frankly, it was abusive and I'm appalled it is even allowed. Many say it should stay because it was in place long before the alternative of the lift existed, but I don't care.

Screw tradition. These animals deserve proper living conditions, and not to be lifting tourists who weigh as much as they do.


All that aside, I've grown up with horses my whole life, so I wanted to pet and coo at every hooved critter we passed.

I got the attention of most.




Although a few kept to themselves.

 

Perhaps it was more than a few.


^ Look at those badonka-donk(ey)s

When it came to stopping at every donkey and mule, I pretty much did.




^ This guy was a favorite.


^ As was this one. He came up without anyone on his back or anyone leading him, and he just charged on his path, weaving around tourists as he went.

We finally made it back down, and happily set off on the water once more, ready for a cold shower and delicious dinner (both of which we got).



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