Oct 19 2007

Kamari Beach + Liars, Jerks, and Thieves

Published by at 6:19 am under Greece,Santorini

I’m glad I’m able to write this entry while I’m still heated. Right now I’ve got bones to pick with: 1. Lonely Planet, 2. Santorini’s Volcan Wine Museum, 3. Santorini’s KTEL Bus Lines operators. However, the day started off on a good enough note, so I’ll back up and begin there.

Brittany on the black sand of Kamari BeachOn Wednesday, we caught a bus to the eastern shore of the island, to check out Kamari Beach. And I’m happy to say that all the legendary reports from Kamari Beach are true: its sand is actually black. Presumably, this is because it is made up volcanic rock from one of the island’s many explosions. Bad news for those on the island thousands of years ago, but good news for us! Not only is the black sand beautiful, we quickly appreciated the fact that its sand grains are more like tiny rocks than what I’d normally call “sand.” This bestows it with the under-rated benefit of not sticking to your body/towel/possessions. We laid our white towels out on the black sand all afternoon, and watching every grain fall right off when we picked the towels back up hours later was a novel experience.

Of course, laying out on Kamari Beach wasn’t all we had on tap for the afternoon. We knew from our Lonely Planet guidebook that there is a wine museum located about midway between Kamari and Fira, on the KTEL Bus line. This particular museum is advertised as illustrating the history of wine-making through the use of animatronics, which was really all I needed to hear. Brittany kept talking about some other things we could see or do at the museum, but all I could really think about all day was getting to watch aging robots in traditional Greek dress creakily demonstrate the grape stomping dance. With any luck, to the accompaniment of accordion music. But much like Icarus, my vision must have soared too close to the sun, because it was all about to come crashing down in flames.

Problem 1: Lonely Planet is a liar
I’ve refrained from blasting Lonely Planet for similar grievances so far on this trip, but consider the camel’s back broken. Lonely Planet advertises its overpriced Greek Islands guide as providing definitive insider’s information on the different sights you’ll encounter. Among other things, this includes the prices you will expect to pay for admission to any of its recommended attractions. The problem here is that Lonely Planet has either chosen to publish 1994 prices in its 2006 edition, or their “expert guides” are simply making up numbers.

We didn’t bring a lot of cash with us on our daytrip, since Lonely Planet promised that the Volcan Wine Museum’s “highest” admission price is 1.70 euros per person. Imagine our surprise when, after being dropped off by the bus at the wine museum in the middle of nowhere, we found the admission price to actually be 5 euros per person. Now don’t get me wrong: 5 euros per person is an entirely reasonable admission fee, which I would be happy to pay in exchange for animatronics. But since we were counting on a price of 1.30 per person, we barely had 5 euros in cash between us.

Stranded at Volcan Wine Museum
Stranded in the middle of nowhere

Let me reiterate that this museum is in the middle of nowhere. The nearest ATM would entail a 2km walk. And the bus that only passes this stop once an hour had just dropped us off. Thanks to Lonely Planet’s decision to distribute grossly inaccurate data as “reliable advice,” we were effectively stranded. We had no other choice but to leave the museum, and sit at the bus stop for the next hour, waiting to be rescued from our ill-judged decision to trust Lonely Planet guides.

Problem 2: The Volcan Wine Museum curator is a jerk
When we first met the curator, he was all smiles as he quoted his price of 5 euros per head, which he told us would include a tasting of 3 different wines, as well as an audio tourguide device. Since Lonely Planet’s quoted price was off by 500%, we didn’t have the 10 euros in cash. So I explained our situation, and posed a reasonable request: could we pass on the wine tasting and audio guide, and simply view the museum at a reduced rate? His response: “One price” and he immediately turned his back to us. I tried to follow up, “Well, is there a cash machine anywhere nearby?” Curator: “Nope,” as he immediately turned again and quickly walked away. He left us standing right there knowing full well how far off the beaten path any visitor must come to find his isolated museum.

Arriving at Volcan Wine Museum: a happier timeTHANKS VOLCAN WINE MUSEUM. You may have won the battle, but I’ll yet win this war. And that war is called The War of Me Lambasting Your Establishment on my Website, then Search-Engine Optimizing This Page So That Everyone Searching For Your Museum on Google Will See The Truth About the Sort of Business You Run.

Problem 3: Santorini’s KTEL Bus Lines Operators are thieves
Well, maybe not all of them. But the one we dealt with on Wednesday sure was. When we caught the bus from Kamari Beach to the Wine Museum, the operator charged us the full price for a ride from the beachall the way to Fira, rather than the reduced rate ticket for a half-trip. We even asked about the cheaper ticket (which we’ve used before) since we were only taking half the trip to Fira, and he denied any such ticket existed. Fine. We kept our full-price tickets after disembarking at the Wine Museum, and when we got back on his bus an hour later, we showed him the same ticket for a ride from Kamari Beach to Fira that he’d sold us that very afternoon. Now we would simply like to complete that ride. He wasn’t having this, nor would he even let us pay the reduced price ticket THIS time. If we wanted a ride back to Fira, we once again had to pay the FULL price for a ticket from Kamari to Fira. This sat about as well as you can imagine, and it didn’t get any better when we later saw him slyly slipping money from his KTEL change belt into his personal backpack. Well done.

P.S. And just for the record, Lonely Planet misquotes the price for a KTEL bus ticket on Santorini by 1300%.

NEXT: Last day on Santorini: Red Beach, fish heads and Nutella »



9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Kamari Beach + Liars, Jerks, and Thieves”

  1. Jodieon 19 Oct 2007 at 11:06 am

    Time to move on to Italy!!

  2. Dad (Abby's)on 19 Oct 2007 at 9:35 pm

    I saw TonTon’s brother (BongBong) today outside of Costco. He was walking a kri kri and smoking an oddly shaped cigarette that he may have rolled himself. He said he was there to talk with TonTon through one of the wide screen plasma TVs. His parting words were, “Tell Ben that you’re never too young to get ripped off on this lonely planet.” How did he know?

  3. Haraldon 08 Mar 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Wow did you have difficult problems during your vacation… Who the f.ck even ventures outdoors with less than ten euros on his person? Your “difficulties” are all because of your own stupidity, get over it, clown…

  4. Edwardon 02 Aug 2009 at 7:30 am

    You weren’t really stranded in the middle of nowhere. Your lonely planet guide must have mentioned the village of Messaria about ten minutes walk from the Wine Museum on the way to Fira. It is a great place to visit with lots of cafes and shops. So you could have passed the time away there waiting for your next bus instead of sitting at some bus stop.

  5. alphaon 07 Oct 2011 at 8:25 am

    ive been to kamari and OIA 4 times in 6 years – this year 2011 is my last .

    it was brutal, they attempted to suck us dry of cash at every turn.
    Kamari has gone seriously downhill, it used to be classy and reasonable.
    now its a shabby looking rip off centre.
    OIA was even worse – even down to adjusting credit card bills to add extrs without you looking .

    even the hotel was robbed while we were there.

    the resturaunts and most places have lost all interest in providing good service
    the place looks run down and needs polishing up

    very sad to see such a cool spot turn to crap- it used to be great.

    the greeks depend on tourism as thier number one income
    pity they have decided to treat people like crap

    particularly with the air strikes – hey greece – when did you decide to become morons ?

    I wont be back , i will spend my hard earned cash somewhere is appreciated.

    up yours greece.

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