(This is a continuation from England.) My friends drove me to Gatwick Airport where I spent the night inside the South Terminal at the Yotel (www.yotel.com/Hotels/London-Gatwick). The rooms are small compartments and rent by the hour (no snickering, please) and are perfect for a long layover. I reserved a standard cabin for eight hours (62.50 GBP), arriving four hours early. They checked me in immediately and did not charge for the additional time. It was just like the website shows: a bed and a bathroom. Some people share this space. I don’t care how well I know someone, I’m not sharing a room where the wall between the bedroom and bathroom is all clear glass…call me overly shy, but I’m just not doing it. For one person it was great. I stopped into Marks & Spencer’s inside the terminal and picked up some take-away food (including the largest raspberries I’ve ever seen!). I ate my yummy purchases in my “compartment” and then bused to the North Terminal to check out where my flight would depart at 6:20 a.m.
Easyjet appears to be Europe’s version of Southwest Airlines with long lines, no first class or reserved seats. I paid a bit extra for “speedy boarding” that included speedy check-in. I was glad I did because the regular line to check-in was very, very long and the line for speedy check-in had only a few people. I printed out my boarding pass the day before but still needed to check my bag. TIP: if you don’t pay for speedy check-in/boarding, be sure to print out your boarding pass the day before as Easyjet has a third line for people who have boarding passes but need to check bags; this line was also short. The cost for the RT ticket between England and Greece, speedy boarding and one checked bag in each direction was 144 GBP. This was my fifth trip to Greece, and a big plus for me was skipping Athens as Easyjet travels non-stop to Santorini and Mykonos. The flight to Santorini was 3-1/2 hours.
Due to the volcanic eruption I canceled my splurge cave apartment in Oia due to their strict cancellation policy. Instead I pre-booked the Eugenia Hotel in Fira, http://www.villaevgenia.gr, at 40 euros a night for five nights, not including breakfast, for single occupancy in a double room. If I didn’t make it to Santorini, at least my obligation would be small. The currency exchange was $1.25 to the euro.
The Eugenia is a very nice budget hotel. I had a decent-sized room and sufficient space for me to unpack my belongings. The bathroom was tiny…at least the shower stall included a shower curtain. I mention this because in my visits to Greece years earlier a shower curtain was a rarity; instead there would be a drain in the middle of the floor and everything would get wet.
My room (below) included central air, a safe, refrigerator, mosquito netting and reading lights over the bed. There was a TV with all stations in Greek. George, the hotel’s owner, arranged for me to be picked up at the airport and returned to the port at no charge. The hotel is not on the caldera side of Fira, but my balcony offered a sea view (again, not the caldera side) and the beautiful pool belonging to the hotel next door. The room was quiet with the exception of a noisy air-conditioner.
I could walk to the bus stop in less than ten minutes as well as major areas of Fira. I did not like walking on the busy street into central Fira, but eventually found a path that leads from near the hotel through a residential section where I encountered few people and lots of cats. The hotel offered free computer/internet access in a small room. Around 8 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. I could hear the tinkling of bells letting me know the donkeys were passing by to/from the crater. TIP: No matter where you are, when you hear the tinkling of bells watch your step, literally. Overall, I was quite pleased with my hotel choice, and after five nights would have welcomed a few more.