Published: September 1st 2007August 24th 2007
I don’t think anyone could ever tire of the Caldera views, particularly as the sun breaks through the clouds on another gorgeous Santorini day. Although we attempted to find a different breakfast café, we were unsuccessful and ended up at Café Skiza once again. We sat at the same table, ordered the homemade cheese pie again, and decided to try the quiche lorraine with mushrooms. After leisurely enjoying our breakfast, we caught the bus into Fira and strolled through the many souvenir shops up and down the main road. A couple of days ago, we booked the Thalassa sunset boat cruise, so we were scheduled to be down at the Old Fira port by 3:30pm.
Since the gyros from last night’s dinner were so tasty, we headed to Lucky’s Souvlaki (as recommended by many people on the Internet as the “best” gyros in Fira). We easily spotted the eatery after getting off the bus, so we knew exactly where we needed to end up after an hour of window-shopping. Like most gyro eateries, Lucky’s had the usual chicken and pork varieties, but also made pitas with falafel (fried ball of chick peas), souvlaki (skewered meat), and other traditional Greek food.
Thao ordered the souvlaki pita and I had the chicken gyro. We agreed that the Internet recommendations were accurate because our gyro lunch was delicious (and cheap) again!
By the time we finished our lunch, we were ready to find the cable car or hike down the 600+ stairs from the top of Fira to the old Fira port. We unknowingly ended up halfway down the stairs and smelled the line of donkeys prior to ever turning the corner to see them with our own eyes. We quickly learned that there are only three main ways people can arrive at the Old Fira port: 1) via cable car, 2) via foot, or 3) via donkey. Since we walked too far past the cable car entrance, our options narrowed to two. I really wanted to ride the donkeys down, but Thao adamantly disagreed with that option, so we continued on foot. It wasn’t until she saw that the entire road up ahead was smeared with piles of donkey dung, that she caved in and agreed to ride one of the donkeys down the remaining 350+ stairs. The ride cost us 5 euros each, but Thao would swear that she paid
a far worse price. From the moment she got on the donkey, everything that could possibly have gone wrong, did. Apparently, the saddle was scorching hot from the sun and her short dress didn’t cover her bare legs from getting “seared” as she terrifyingly was trying to explain (yell) to the donkey owner on our way down. If that weren’t enough, she was awkwardly holding on to the front and back of the saddle with each of her hands, while also vehemently trying not to drop her ridiculously heavy beach bag. During the 20-minute ride down (which I bet if you asked Thao, she would tell you that it seemed like a lifetime), I was on the donkey behind hers, so I could see and hear what I thought was the most comical thing ever. I literally could not stop laughing. I tried, but it was the most hilarious thing ever. If you know Thao, I’m sure you can only imagine! The fact that she’s scared of heights, combined with her belief that her donkey was going to either buck her off or buckle its knees only to tumble all the way down the stairs, Thao was literally shaking after
we finally made it all the way down. I tried to catch what I’m sure will be the most memorable part of our trip on both video and film, but I was laughing uncontrollably. I’m sure the pictures and video won’t accurately reflect how completely hilarious that 20-minute donkey ride really was anyways.
Once at the bottom of the port, we waited for the Brigantine Thalassa boat for our cruise around Santorini. As the boat sailed away from the port, we had a perfect view of Fira and the zigzag road we just traversed via our donkey rides. The first stop on our boat cruise was to the small port of Nea Kameni volcano, located directly in the center of Santorini. Our guide led us up to the rim of the volcanic crater stopping at various points along the way to explain the history of the island formation. The walk took 1.5 hours with the commentary, but Thao and I headed back to the boat a little early after we arrived at the top. Although we didn’t see any actual lava flow, the hardened volcanic lava rock protruding above the crystal blue waters reminded us of Hawaii. Once we
were all back on board, the boat’s next stop was at the mineral springs, where we were able to jump in and enjoy the warm sulfur water. Yes, I did swim and the water was cold up until we got to the warm mineral springs part. I can swim, or I should say, I can keep myself afloat. I’m just lazy when it comes to the water, so I typically prefer staying where I can always touch the ground with my head above water.
As we set sail towards Thirassia, the second largest of the Caldera islands, we enjoyed a vast spread of Greek appetizers including bread, stuffed grape leaves, lamb/meatballs, veggies, bread and wine. As the sun was setting, the boat made its way towards Oia (where we are staying and the part of Santorini that has the most amazing sunset views). The trip was complete with a live saxophonist as the boat sailed around Oia. We met a few Australian girls from Melbourne who had been on their final part of a 17-country, 45-day trip. Sounded exhausting, but amazing at the same time! We also met a family from New York.
After we arrived back at
the Old Fira port, we found Nicolas Taverna on the dock and ate a delicious seafood meal before heading back up to the main center of Fira, via cable car (of course!). We had every intention of returning to Fira that night to check out the main area for nightlife on the island. However, once we got back to our room in Oia and took naps, we didn’t have the energy to get back up and make the trek to Fira yet again. We decided that we would definitely check out Fira’s nightlife tomorrow night, during our last night in Santorini.
There are more photos below