It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I’ll have to be honest: ever since I’ve settled down to a 9-5 job, I’ve struggled with writer’s block. I’m still struggling but this is an attempt to get back into writing.
On my last day in Fira, while taking a walk alone through the streets early in the morning, I decided to write down everything I was experiencing and my thoughts in the moment. Here is what came of it (with a bit of tweaking later).
Greek islands are known for their idyllic landscapes: crisp white houses and deep blue water. But they are also known for their slow and worry-free lifestyle so it’s not surprising to find everyone (and everything) waking up later than you.
The first thing I heard at 6.30AM while walking through the narrow alleys are the random footsteps of a few store owners in the morning, getting everything ready for the day, receiving new stocks or getting some logistics done. I couldn’t really see them but the heavy things they were dropping on the ground and their voices were echoing through the maze that is Fira. I could tell that only a handful of stores would be participating in this morning routine because there were so few voices that I could distinguish each one.
At this time in the morning, it will be a challenge to find food. I remember our first day in Santorini, my friend and I landed at 7AM and were wandering around Fira, trying to look for a place to grab breakfast. We found a place for crepe but I was desperate for some gyros in pita wrap so we continued our search which ended at Bloom Greek Design & Deli Room where I settled for a sandwich (luck wasn’t on my side). If you’re an early riser or just jet-lagged like me and fall in the same situation, I would say just keep exploring Fira until 9AM and head down to 25is Martiou street (25th March street – the pedestrian part of it) to grab some food. If you’re really hungry or crave that early morning coffee, Bloom is one of the rare places that open early. Their fresh and fragrant coffee (and good looking staff) will definitely help your brain wake up.
Aside from the shop owners, I also heard tourists arriving early and trying to navigate the maze-like streets of Fira to find their hotels. I couldn’t see them either but I could tell by their laughter, their American accent and the wheels of their luggage rattling on the cobblestone streets.
The loudest thing disturbing the sleep of Fira was the trucks and motorbikes delivering their stock to restaurants and shops. The closer I was to the main street, the more traffic I could hear. Since this is the only time they are allowed to enter these pedestrian streets, they would do their best to get as close as possible to their destination. The closer I got to the cliff, the more trolley cart noises replaced loud motor sounds, each step down to a store or restaurant was a loud thud with bottles clinking.
The later it gets, the more sounds you can distinguish: more footsteps of tourists waking up to get breakfast, metal doors of stores rolling up, people talking/chatting, etc. But the most distinguishable sounds would start at 8AM: the rhythmic ringing of donkey bells and the herd going down the stairs to Fira Old Port. To me, that sound is the confirmation that the city is officially awake: when you know its public transportation is operational.
During my entire time in Greece, I felt like I was only paying attention to the things I saw but not so much to my other senses. Especially in a place as beautiful as Santorini, sometimes, you forget your other senses and only pay attention to the view. The silence of early morning Fira really allowed me to listen to the small little details that would be drowned out and go unnoticed only an hour or two later in the day.