Published: April 15th 2012April 15th 2012
Santorini to Venice
Beautiful, beautiful Santorini. I don’t think there is anyone who comes here who doesn’t fall in love with the beauty and charm of Santorini. From the first glimpse of the “snowcapped” mountains that are actually the whitewashed houses, to the final sail away as the island fades into the background, Santorini is wonderful. We tendered to the dock at the foot of Fira Town where our options of getting to the top are donkey, walking, or cable car. Given those choices, we picked the cable car. There are six cars attached together with each car holding up to six people. Once at the top, we walked to our tour bus. Twelve of us from Cruise Critics went with an excellent guide who took us all over the island, starting at the famous blue domed church seen on postcards, etc.
First, we drove to Oia (pronounced eee-yah). This village is the most charming of all. It sits on a cliff, once the side of a volcano, and overlooks this gorgeous view of the sea. Houses are built right into the side and the better the view, the more expensive it is. There was a terrible earthquake here in 1956 that destroyed most of the village, and since then, all new construction has arched doorways for strength. The small shops and outdoor cafes are everywhere, and many small hotels are interspersed. It is here that we bought a plaque we now have in our living room. We found the shop where we bought it, but unfortunately didn’t have time to buy anything else there.
On to the other side of the island we stopped at a spectacular outlook point. We continued descending the mountain to the coastal road. We didn’t have time to stop for lunch, but our guide took us to this awesome bakery where we could choose from pastries filled with cheeses, both feta and softer cheeses, a sort of pizza ( we had that and it was wonderful) and all sorts of cookies and dessert pastries including special Easter cookies. We were there on “big Saturday”, the day before the Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday that falls the week after our Easter. On Easter, after church, it is traditional for everyone to barbeque. They put either a goat or lamb on the grill, and sit outside while it cooks all day. If it is rainy, they often have spaces under their houses to do the cooking, and then eat inside. On Saturday evening, they light candles and go to church carrying them, and I guess they light them again and walk home. The village highest on the mountain has the most spectacular display all down the hill and seen for miles around.
Our next stop was a winery. Most of the wines on this island are quite sweet, but a couple of whites are very nice. Bruce bought only one bottle, but I think he wishes he should have bought more. We can bring wine and beer onto the ship, but no liquor. Our final stop was at a black sand beach. Since this is an old volcano, all the beaches have only black sand.
We drove back to the place where we could catch the cable car back to the pier, and the tender to our ship. Once onboard, they announced a sail away party on the aft deck. The weather was getting a bit foggy, but the olives and kebobs were plentiful, and the drinks two for one. It is so nice to watch the island fade away and remember the good time we had that day.
The next day we arrived in Argostoli, Greece, another smaller island called Kefalonia, and one just getting the cruise ship stops. We had a HAL trip today which amounted to a bus ride around the island. Our guide was not very good, but we saw a lot of the island. When we got back, the Captain announced that we were heading into strong, gale force winds, and we might have some rock and roll tonight. We did, but not too bad.
When we awoke, we were in Durres, Albania! The weather was cold and rainy, so I didn’t go out. Bruce went for a short time after walking to the Roman Wall and the plaza. Now, we and our table mates are going to a special TAVERNA Dinner on the Lido deck. I’ve heard from people who went last night that it is quite good.
Tomorrow, on to Croatia!