Winter connections in the Greek Islands are a problem. Ferry service is severely limited or stopped altogether. You can rarely fly direct from one island to another.
To get to where we wanted to go next, we were obliged to fly Crete to Athens, then book a separate round trip Athens-Santorini-Athens. I did so online with the infamous Ryan Air.
Agean Air from Crete to Athens was pleasant enough. Cabin crew were efficient, snacks and beverage included in the price.
Ryan Air, on the other hand, was nearly as awful as I have often heard it is. First, we were encouraged to check in online or face a €50 fee each for the privilege of checking in with a real person at the airport. However, because we are non-EU citizens, we had to present ourselves in person anyway.
At the counter, we were told we could not check our bags without a boarding pass. I thought we would be given boarding passes after presenting passports, which is the usual practice. Not for Ryan: we were supposed to print them ourselves. After much confusion, I managed to find images of our boarding passes on the Ryan Air website. Good enough to allow me to be told my bag could be checked at the cabin door, and for Mo to be told her bag was oversize and that it would not be accepted until she paid, in cash, a €49 fee. Pay across the way, not at the ticket counter.
Mo paid across the way, came back, and her bag was taken.
Stressed, we had lunch. I then had the bright idea of asking the first line of security folks if the boarding pass images on my phone were acceptable.
They were not. The images were too small to scan.
Our flight was leaving in about 30 minutes, and we could not get processed.
Stressed again, I had the next bright idea to run back to the Ryan counter for help. I had Mo wait at security.
The young ladies of Ryan were kind enough to try to get my phone to enlarge the screen images or download a pdf. No luck. They then generously decided to print my boarding pass no charge.
But not Mo's. She had to personally present her passport.
I ran back to security, and Mo went back to Ryan with me. Again, the ladies generously printed a boarding pass for us.
Now we could be processed and board.
In flight, Ryan crew offered everything for a small extra fee. It was only a 30 minute flight, so I declined the €3 coffee.
Arriving Santorini, a cab delivered us quickly to our hotel. The only problem was the hotel was closed. A note was posted next to the door but we couldn't get to the door because the perimeter gate was locked. I had another bright idea and climbed over the perimeter barrier to read the notice. Check in at the Blue Sky, it said.
I tried Google maps only to find no Blue Sky hotel. Luckily, Mo asked a passerby who happened to speak English about Blue Sky and we were pointed to the actual place, 50 meters down the street.
Walking in, there was no staff. But a manager suddenly appeared from somewhere else. Saved. €60 for two nights. I pulled out a credit card. Oops, cash only. And an additional €1 tax, cash only. We had already experienced the €1 cash tax, so we paid with no objection.
We moved in. Other than a few tiny, sluggish ants on the floor, the place was decent. Hot water practically on demand.
After all this, we had time to see about the famous Santorini sunset, so we set off in all our warm clothes against a ferocious wind and biting cold.
We passed our original hotel. There, another couple was cold and confused about the place being closed and the gate locked. We stopped and gave them instructions. Good Karma earned, we went on to see the sunset.
More on Santorini sunsets later.