Santorini is perhaps known as the Greek island with the most amazing and beautiful scenery which is a big call! Being the location of a still active volcano, expected to erupt within the next decade, the landscape provides a contrast while providing cliff top views of the surrounding waters, white walled and blue domed buildings and famed sunsets.
Our accommodation for this island was what we referred to as the penthouse suite at Fira backpackers. Featuring a balcony overlooking the courtyard the location was also close to the most popular kebab shop in town for a lunchtime allocation of our daily gyros ration.
Wyatty was pleased to see his alter ego’s name featured in Franco’s cliff top restaurant and we stopped at another restaurant nearby. Dinner conversation with Rick, Ashleigh and the UK girls Michelle & Emily revolved around some of the philosophical questions that have puzzled humankind for centuries such as would you rather have your ears replaced with vaginas or fingers replaced with penises (both fully functioning of course) and what is the colour of a donkey. The bar of choice in Santorini for visitors is the Highlander which we attended after dinner and operates with a Scottish theme. It was here we became introduced to the shot challenges we would later become far more accustomed to on the island of Ios. Wyatty & I’s plan to do 5 shots each of the 10 required to win a singlet was thrown out the window when the bartender demanded I do all 10 and they were polished off in short succession. Dancing, etc ensued and the night was finished off as per usual with night time gyros.
As well as the volcano that dominates the landscape, a couple of other iconic Santorini sights are the black and red beaches that interestingly feature sand the colour of their respective names. We had a morning swim at the black beach which featured a sharp drop off to a big depth and crystal clear waters. A planned volleyball match following the swim was abandoned due to the incredible heat absorbed and reflected off the black sand.
Next stop for the day was an undercover complex constructed to protect the ancient Akrotiri ruins from which date back to 1500BC.
This was nearby the red beach which was reached after a short trek down a rock bed path that was dangerously slippery and unsecure under foot.
An Asian couple at the red beach with a year’s salary worth of camera equipment in tow dared to challenge our fellow Busabouter Brian as the premier photographers on the island but I’m pretty sure he had them covered.
Following our beach trips we ventured to the perilously located Santo Winery for a wine tasting. Tasty wines and the views over the volcano and the rest of the island were simply amazing.
After driving by Brangelina’s holiday house, we joined the masses of tourists at Oia at the most popular lookout on the island to view what some have described as the most beautiful sunset in the world. The pictures here can do all the talking.
Our next and final island for this trip was the party island of Ios. Despite it being on the other side of the world the predominant accent heard on the island is Australian and our national flag flown proudly in many locations.
Following our check in to the FarOut Beach club for us was Meltemi Water sports to be dragged by speed boat across the water atop ski biscuits.
An all female ensemble of Carly, Claire, Gracie, Kirra & Caitlin took to the biscuits first where Gracie pulled off a high risk manoeuvre to jump from one biscuit to the other. Carly managed to pull off something else when she lost her bikini in the excitement.
The boys Luke, Tom, Wyatty & I were joined by Christie for the next biscuit runs with the main agenda being to avoid Wyatty’s attempts to dislodge everyone from on board. Christie was of course easily able to overpower him and we all successfully remained on board until returning to shore.
The team at Meltemi offered a boat tour to the group and the sales spiel was accompanied by an apology for the extremely early start time of 12 midday the next day. We were later to find that this apology was due to a different time zone operating on Ios whereby shops generally don’t open until around 5pm and people don’t get out of bed until the afternoon after most likely being at the bars until daylight. We cut short our afternoon naps to join Kirra & Caitlin in their exclusive suite at FarOut to teach them some card games including Golf or Polish Poker. Claire who also joined in the game took out this night’s title despite her lack of strategy or checking out of the other cards with a fortunate run of luck.
Dinner with the rest of the group featured all you could eat pizza to provide a solid base for the drinking to continue later that night. With time to kill before catching the bus to the main bar district for a pub crawl the 15 of us started up a massive game of “thumpers”. The game involves everybody selecting a signal and tapping the table and clapping in time. Two table taps are followed by two claps unless you are the nominated player in which case you perform your signal followed by the signal of the next player you decide to nominate instead of the claps. The intital rules required anyone that made an error to drink and some hilarious scenes followed with Wyatty and some other members of the group being punished for their inability to follow them. Mercifully we converted to a knock out tournament with Wyatty the first eliminated player of 15 for both of the first two rounds. His excitement at surviving until third to be knocked out in round three could not be contained and he declared “In your face!” to those he briefly outlasted.
Although it features the awesome scenery and beaches similar to the other Greek islands the star of Ios is without a doubt the bars. The first one of the crawl was the Fun Pub with games and karaoke on offer. We assembled a dream team for some epic matches of Jenga with an impossibly gravity defyingly tall tower and had Tom perform on the Karaoke stage. Each of the bars on Ios provide a shot challenge where you get a free singlet, shorts or t-shirt for completing 7 shots. With 7 bars on the agenda for the night and 4 nights on the island we took a conservative approach by not completing the Fun Pub shots that night. The conservative approach went out the window from here and by the end of the night Wyatty & I would have 6 singlets each after consuming well over 40 shots apiece.
Bar two was called Flames and upon arriving the security told me that in order to enter the bar Carly and I would have to swap clothes. The short, floral, size small dress she was wearing was pushed to the limit but I managed to squeeze into it. Carly spent our time here monitoring my dance moves to prevent any damage occurring to her best dress. The crowd approved of the outfit and I was subjected to a paparazzi like onslaught of photos being taken. I was later told that I had also been subjected to many photos I was unaware of being taken while being sexually objectified in the skimpy outfit by Tom and some of the girls. Apparently the squats and workouts over the summer months had paid off.
Milena challenged me to a race through the next 7 shots and claimed due to her European heritage she would out drink me. When it comes to drinking I’m an endurance athlete, not a sprinter and I wasn’t confident but accepted the challenge anyway. Milena won for the first 7 shots at the Orange Bar, which makes the best shots in the World, while I won the next 7 when we raised the stakes with Jager at the Jager bar. At our last stop for the night Rehab, she beat me in a dominant performance through the final 7 for a 2-1 win. Claire also joined in the race and successfully finished in a distant 3rd.
Our boat tour guide Junior the following day was an Aussie who had come to the island and decided to stay. The previous year he had spent working in the Circus bar where the staff would take on any Bacardi breezer strawpedo sculling challengers that would get their drink for free if they won. With the bar also employing the world record holder for sculling beer steins at Oktoberfest winning challengers had been few and far between but he let us know that the staff this year were far more beatable. Our jet boat made it’s way to a cave system we could swim through and unlike a previous tour Junior had taken there were no pot smoking locals hanging out in the cave. With a fresh group of tourists each day to visit the caves and other demands of the job being playing ball games on the beach and snorkelling this guy was really living the dream.
Our guide throughout the islands up to this point had been the amazing Tom who had done an amazing job on his first official Busabout tour. As a thank you from the group Caitlin & Kirra had organised a t-shirt with a photo of our group on the front alongside our group catchphrase “Crushin’ It!” Tom was presented with and wore it out for our final night with many of the group members we had spent the last week getting close to. Tom also went along to a tattoo studio in the bar area where he received his first ever tatt to his foot with the support and encouragement of the group.
During this night’s pub crawl we visited what turned out to be my favourite bar on Ios, the Circus bar we had been told about earlier in the day. They had a couple of guys perched up on the wall singing covers and playing accoustic guitar and a drum box creating a really awesome atmosphere in the intimately sized bar. In between enjoying some well performed tunes the bar staff also performed a fire breathing and juggling show. To prove his versatility after the fire show he asked for strawpedo challengers and Milena was nominated as our Bacardi champion. She went down in a narrow loss.
There were a couple more new bars to visit that night one of which was the Slammer bar. The special of this Mexican themed establishment was donning a motorcycle type helmet before slamming down a tequila drink and being smashed in the head with whatever the bartender had to hand. I was punished for my slowness getting the drink down by getting blasted to the head with a fire extinguisher. Other weapons of choice included bar stools, rubber mallets, kicks to the head or on one occasion the bartender put on a helmet himself to dish out a head butt.
At the next stop Blue Note we brought the previous night’s game of thumpers back into play by using our symbols to nominate the next person to dance in the middle of our group circle. Kirra was repeatedly targeted here by Wyatty & I and after some time we realised that all the other bar patrons had left to escape the lunatics performing weird moves on the dance floor.
The thumpers dance moves continued on to the Jager bar where a couple of girls paid to dance with patrons and promote the bar tried to join in. One in particular didn’t understand that you only got to dance in the middle if you was nominated by the previous dancer and was so drunk the only other move she knew was Caitlin’s who was then repeatedly nominated to her disgust.
The next day we sadly had to say goodbye to Tom and many of the girls who were returning to Athens and continuing on their respective adventures. Fortunately for us we didn’t join them on their ferry which suffered a rough 7 hour crossing that caused many on the boat to fear for their lives and vomit all over the place.
With two more days to go on Ios those of us left were rejoined by some group members who had stayed longer on the other islands and a new Busabout tour leader in Dimitri. Dim was a party animal who could put away Jager bombs like nobodies business and was not afraid to put in an all nighter to ensure the group had a great time. The punishment of the previous nights and travel had taken it’s toll on Wyatty by this stage and he started to suffer from a bad cold. After making a valiant attempt to push through by challenging Dim to a Jager bomb race for a heavy defeat he left me to carry the team for the last couple of nights.
A highlight was Sydney pals Brian & Charbel putting in a commanding performance on their first Ios night by collecting the singlets from all 7 bars. To earn one of the singlets Brian joined Matt, Mitch & I for 7 shots at the Orange bar which has a legitimate claim for making the best shots in the world. Rather than race we took the time to appreciate each of the 7 I selected. The final in the series was the unforgetable tabasco laced “Highway to Hell” which was lit on fire for dramatic effect and left a lingering burning sensation for several days.
The final night had in store a return to the bars of night 2. Feeling confident after beating Terry convincingly in a race through 3 skittle bombs (glass with Cointreau & Redbull) at the Circus Bar I stupidly agreed to take on Dim. He had finished his 3rd drink before I began choking nearing the finish of my 2nd while trying to keep up with his extreme pace. It was also at Circus that Ashleigh tried to earn bragging rights over her fiance Rick taking him on for their shot challenge. This was a battle for the ages and Rick took out a narrow victory when Ashleigh made a technical error by leaving some liquid in the bottom of one of the shots. Later in the night at Blue Note she challenged me for a race through 7 more and despite me bringing my A game she absolutely destroyed me.
As per previous nights later on we ended up at the Jager bar for some bar top dancing. Some members of the group may have also indulged in body shots from each others bodies and having got familiar with the bar staff after 4 nights in a row there they were happy to pour alcohol directly down my throat rather than washing up shot glasses. Michelle, Emily & I were the most prominent atop the bar. Do you remember that time we did Jager bombs on top of the bar Michelle?
Feeling under the weather the next day and with a ferry ride back to mainland Greece to endure having more drinks was the last thing on my mind. Having had early finishes for the last two nights Wyatty was keen to earn himself a t-shirt from the bar adjoining our accommodation at the FarOut Beach Club. I agreed to join him against my better judgement, which had been suppressed for the entirety of our stay on Ios. Signing off from the Greek islands we made our way through the 7 shots before our ferry back to Athens and beginning our journey back home to Australia.