Jun 3, 2013

Santorini Donkey Riding


A little backstory for you. When arriving to the island of Santorini by cruise ship, you either tender into the dock below the town of Fira, or at another location a few miles from Fira. For our ship, we tendered into the dock below Fira. There are 3 ways to get to the top of Fira town from the dock:

A) Take the cable car.
B) Walk the zigzag cobblestone path all the way uphill. Or...
C) Ride a donkey to the top.

Waking up the morning of our day in Santorini, D and I had every intention of going with plan A. We only had 6 hours to explore Santorini, so we figured the cable car was the best (and safest) way to get us from the dock to Fira in a timely manner. Walking up the trail would have also been fine, had it not also been the trail that the donkeys walk up. You can imagine what kinds of lovely donkey presents you'd be walking over the entire way. I'll let that mental picture marinate for a moment. Good? Ok, so we're on the tender boat arriving at the dock, when in the distance we can see the line for the cable car. It wasn't a short line by any means. As we are walking off the boat, a hefty Greek man starts yelling in the street, "Donkey rides to the top...10 minute ride...5 euro...NO LINE!!" We all looked at one another and exchanged mental agreement...ditch the cable car and ride the donkey. And thus began our Santorini donkey riding adventure.

We stepped up, albeit a bit hesitantly, to the donkey stand to wait for our turn. Just as I walk up and start snapping photos, another burly Greek man grabbed me by the arm, snatched the €5 from my hand, and literally chucked me onto a donkey...cutting in front of a handful of people still waiting in line. I had no time to think, just hung on and off my donkey went, leaving my husband and group of friends at the bottom of the hill...donkey-less. Needless to say, I was freaking out a bit. No one was leading my donkey (or anyone's donkey for that matter) and he was hightailing it up the hill with not a care in the world. It was amazing to me that the donkey knew exactly where to go without anyone directing it. A few short minutes later, I turn around and spot D and the rest of our group barreling up the hill own their own donkeys! After a while, the fear subsided and the whole experience became comical. Our donkeys were all clustered together in a pack trying to race each other up the zig zigged hill, like donkey Mario Kart. Even though my donkey took off first, we ended up being the last to the top. I was convinced I got the only donkey with ADD. He was keen on darting from side to side, hovering over the edge of cliffs, and stopping square in the middle of the walking path. Thankfully, a man would walk up behind him and yell "Hallaahhh Halah"...which I'm assuming meant to get his ass moving (pun totally intended)...and he'd snap out of it, jolting me up the hill like a bat out of hell. Did I mention this was my first time ever riding an animal of any sort? I sure do pick the most spectacular times to try new things.

For the rest of the ride up the hill, our donkeys snapped at each other, ran into pedestrians (to which we'd promptly apologize, even though we had ZERO control over what our donkeys were doing), almost tried to commit suicide by walking too close to the edge of the cliffs, and pretty much scared the pee out of all of us. That 10 minute ride felt like an hour. I never thought it was going to end. I have to admit...it was simultaneously the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I've ever experienced. Happily, all of us made it to the top of Fira no worse for the wear, with an epic memory to boot. Was the donkey ride worth it? Definitely. Now I can say I've ridden a donkey in Santorini! But...you will never get me on a donkey ever again. Never. Here's a little video to show you what a donkey cluster it was...just so you can make an educated traveling decision if you ever find yourself at the dock in Fira.

21 comments:

  1. My husband and I (stationed in Aviano) are going to Greece next week for 7 days! 3 in Athens and 4 in Santorini. I AM SO EXCITED TO RIDE THE DONKEYS! haha! And the warm weather. Northern Italy has been a bit chilly lately! Loving your posts!

    www.breeannahope.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was in Santorini I did not do a donkey ride but one night the group I was with gathered for a nice sunset meal with a great view, what we did not realize though is that it was right above a donkey path and half way through our meal we all had our noses pinched while we ate!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ohh this looks absolutely amazing. I love that they're bitless. I just discovered your blog recently and I really enjoy it, great stories and the enthusiasm is sparkling off my screen. I would love to meet you someday!

    May I ask what camera you use? Is it a compact one? I am a photographer so enough big, expensive camera's, but I'm looking for a small one to take with me on trips. But I do want good quality. If the one you use is a compact I'd like to know which one, 'cause I like the quality and feel of your pictures!

    With love,
    Mariët

    www.yourinspirationblog.nl

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hahaha. Definitely a memorable experience.

    We didn't do the donkey ride - there was no point for us to go down to the port - but Joe teased me about it the entire time. Riding animals is not really my thing and I'm sure he would have loved to see the look on my face during the ride ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I cannot even imagine riding a donkey! so crazy and awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love all the photos! They're beautiful. You're a really talented photographer.

    If someone threw me on a donkey that started clamoring up a hill on its own with everyone I knew still at the bottom, I probably would have died. The video made it look like so much fun though. What a cool experience!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like that was such a fun, memorable experience. I love seeing all of your beautiful photos from your cruise!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh my gosh C! I was laughing so hard all the way through this post!!! What an absolute riot! :-D

    ReplyDelete
  9. Adding "Professional Donkey Rider" to your resume? Priceless. Hahaha.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That looks hilarious and awesome! I've ridden a horse quite a few times and it's always been wobbly, so I can imagine how riding a donkey up a hill felt! Glad you survived, though!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have never ridden a donkey and have no idea how I would go at it but high five to you for doing it, all the photos are a bloody beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  12. Filming while riding a donkey? You are definitely multi-talented and coordinated! he, he. I would have fallen right off! :)

    I have to say, the donkey ride looked like fun! And, I love the beads the donkeys were wearing. Beautiful!

    Cheers,
    Kristina

    ReplyDelete
  13. We went to Athens last year but I'd love to visit Santorini. And now I want to ride donkeys. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. So, we booked the cruise wellllllll before I was pregnant, like 6 months before I even got pregnant, and I had every intention of riding a donkey up to the top. It was one of the things I was most excited for. Even the day before we arrived in Santorini I was game for doing it, but my mom and dad freaked out (gotta love cruising with parents!) and then I started to have second thoughts. I just started feeling the baby kick that week and decided it'd be best to take the cable car up instead. Jut looking at the donkeys made me so sad that i wasn't on one, but actually, watching the video makes me kinda happy I listened to my parents and didn't go. I probably would've been freaked out the whole time!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Haaaa that story is SO good. Thank you for making me laugh outloud! Also, only you would look that gorgeous on the back of an ass.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm planning a trip here and I need your advice! Will you email me jen {at} jenfolio dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love this post! I was actually in Santorini last May as well and instantly fell in love. I didn't ride a donkey :( Although, I did slap a donkeys a$$ and it was a bad idea.. Sweaty mess haha
    Roxy
    IntoWanderlust.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post on what it's like to ride the donkeys! We've linked to it in our Santorini post: http://www.sandinmysuitcase.com/santorini-donkeys/

    ReplyDelete
  19. The "Hallah" he was yelling is actually "ela" which means come on :)

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...