When we confirmed our Airbnb stay in Santorini, the owner, Stefanos, told us that his assistant, Zachos, would meet us at the bus stop and guide us to the house. I texted back that there was no need for that. All we needed was an address and we’d find our way. We didn’t want to bother anyone.
“Oh, no, Zachos must show you the way and carry your luggage.”
The three Santorini villages that get mentioned the most are Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli. In the high season of summer, the average nightly rental is $300. Our place is normally $230, but it was $105 for us, three weeks into the shoulder season. There is no low season price because Stefanos’ villas are closed for the winter.
Zachos, a young man originally from Albania, was waiting for us at the Imerovigli bus stop and he refused to let Geni carry anything and he tried to grab my stuff too. He was ready and willing (and probably able) to carry both backpacks, our plane carry-ons, and a big bag of groceries. He apologized for the lack of sunshine and led us up to the main walkway that runs along the top of the caldera. A 20 knot wind tried to knock us over and I considered stopping to put my jacket on but I didn’t want to slow Zachos down.
I began to memorize every turn of the route down through the maze of whitewashed cubes and barrel vaults because I knew Zachos would drop us off and leave.
Take a look at a picture of one of the Santorini cliff villages. Pretend you’re staying in one of the villas in the center of the picture. Now tell a visitor, someone new to the island, how to find your place.
You have to meet them somewhere easy, like the Imerovigli bus stop, and then lead them to your home. Otherwise you’d have to draft a long set of instructions that would include something like this:
Go down the steps between Bella Thira restaurant and the white house with the white rocks on the roof. At the seventeenth step, the one that’s slightly wider than the others, turn left and go about fifty feet on the walkway until you see the door with the green handle. Turn right, go down ten steps (these steps are very steep so try to hold on to the edge of the white roof on your right as you descend), turn right again, look for the villa between two villas that are concrete shells and unfinished. Turn left, go down 15 steps (these wind around to the right, then to the left and watch out for the gray kitty because it likes to sleep on the 12th step), and you’re there. Oh, if you find yourself at a red door instead of a blue one, you took the wrong stairs at the door with the green handle.
There aren’t addresses.
The stairs have no railings.
The riser heights on the stairways are rarely the same, and that’s within the same set of stairs.
The stairs are usually only wide enough for one person at a time.
The steps all slope slightly downhill so that water runs off.
When it’s raining the stairs are running with water and are slippery.
Some steps are gray with white edges.
Some steps are white with gray edges.
No riser heights on the steps are the same.
The stairs have no railings.
Other Note: I accidentally lost most of my Santorini photos, so there is no photo of Zachos. Luckily Geni took over 400 photos there.