Challenge Accepted [Travel Theme: Stone]

Rock and stone. What’s the difference? That’s the first thing that came to mind when Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Stone challenge turned up in my inbox. Seeing as I’m a writer, shame on me for not knowing the difference. Anyway, I promptly consulted my trusty free online dictionary and this is what I got…

Rock

1. Relatively hard, naturally formed mineral or petrified matter; stone.
2.
a. A relatively small piece or fragment of such material.
b. A relatively large body of such material, as a cliff or peak.
3. A naturally formed aggregate of mineral matter constituting a significant part of the earth’s crust.

Stone

1.
a. Concreted earthy or mineral matter; rock.
b. Such concreted matter of a particular type. Often used in combination: sandstone; soapstone.
2. A small piece of rock.
3. Rock or a piece of rock shaped or finished for a particular purpose, especially:
a. A piece of rock that is used in construction: a coping stone; a paving stone.
b. A gravestone or tombstone.
c. A grindstone, millstone, or whetstone.
d. A milestone or boundary.
4. A gem or precious stone.
5. Something, such as a hailstone, resembling a stone in shape or hardness.

Uh-huh… I see…

So this is what I came up with. A photograph taken from my trip to Santorini which was going to turn up in the My Week In Santorini – December 2012 series anyway.

IMG_1685

Surrounded by rock and stone

What goes up, must come down. Well, in this case, when you walk down many flights of steps, you must eventually climb back up. My advice to anyone going to explore Santorini, bring comfortable walking shoes, (my UGGs were perfect at keeping out the cold and providing great comfort to my tired feet) and exercise before you embark on this trip.

Why would you need to exercise before a trip? Think holidays should be a breeze? Well, not if you travel by foot. I like to walk, and my dad trained me well because he too was a fan of walking to explore a new city, so I never thought it would be a challenge to explore Santorini by foot. Well, I thought wrong.

My best friend and I explored the cliffs of the island at Oia and made the zig-zag journey down the cliff to see what was down there. See the photo above? That is just one section of the countless flights of stone steps we had to walk to reach the bottom. I realised how unhealthy I was on that trip because after just 4 flights back up, I was ready to throw in the towel. However, the other option of going back down just to try and flag a cab back up was not valid as there was no guarantee there would be a taxi there!

So what did I do? I took MANY rest stops on the way up. My best friend was a very good and patient cheer leader though. He would constantly wait for me at the top of a flight of stairs and urge me on. “A little more to go Mon!”  he would say, and I would keep trying to climb those steps made of rock and stone.

We had passed some men doing construction work when we walked down the cliff. And on the return trip back up the cliff, they were still going at it. These local men were climbing the same steps as I was while working on one of the Cave Houses being built during the off peak season. There I was, carrying just my DSLR camera in my bag, wearing warm winter wear and nice comfy UGGs, panting like I just ran a 10km marathon. And these men didn’t even break a sweat despite the fact that they were carrying heavy buckets of construction materials while climbing up and down a few flights of stairs. And mind you, no donkeys were used to help them with this arduous task!

I was impressed by their stamina and utterly ashamed at my lack of stamina.

Next time I go to Santorini, I aim to be in MUCH better shape than I was then.

But the bigger question is, was the climb down and back up worth all that exercise? Oh yes! The view from that corner of the island wasn’t as breathtaking as the view from other parts of the island, like the ancient walking path between Fira and Oia, but it was still fascinating for me. There was much to see each step of the way up and down the cliff, you just have to slow down and look closely.

What do you think?
Is walking your favourite mode of exploration too? Are you fit enough for your holiday? Do you think it’s necessary to be fit for your holiday?

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2 responses to “Challenge Accepted [Travel Theme: Stone]

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