Santorini: Mama Mia, what a place!!

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May 14th 2012
Published: May 15th 2012
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Everything I have ever heard about Santorini was great, so I don't know why I was so surprised by it's incredible beauty. I guess describing it to someone who has never seen it is like describing the Grand Canyon: it's just too big for words but I'll try my best.

We tendered into a remote dock on the south end of the island early this morning. And I guess I can sum up the Santorini philosophy by telling you that the first place we went was a winery. Imagine doing wine tasting at 9am in the morning! It turns out that 70% of the island is covered in vineyards and they only export 40% of the wine produced there. So apparently wine is an appropriate drink for anyone at any time here. And of course it would be rude to turn down an offer of local hospitality, so there we were sipping away!

Next we went to the far north end of the island to a town called Oia (pronounced "e-ah"). The drive took us across the highest elevations of island and our tour guide explain how Santorini became a crescent shaped island wrapping around the "caldera", which is a beautiful body of water surrounded by Santorini and other uninhabited islands. It turns out that there between volcanos and earthquakes over many centuries, what started out as a round island ended up with the body of water in the center surrounded by the islands. You can see the rock formations caused by volcanic ash all over the place.

There are only 14,000 full time residents of the island, with thousands of tourists during the summer season. May turns out to be an ideal time to visit, because the season really doesn't start until June. So, we had the beautiful towns of Oia and Fira pretty much to our selves. That was a very good thing since the towns are built on the sides of mountains with VERY narrow alleys and walkways. It was fascinating walking through those alleys to find lots of shops, cafes and several beautiful Greek Orthodox churches. Many of the cafes have open balconeys were you look out over the caldera while eating and drinking. The views were simply spectacular everywhere we went.

I doubt we'll return to Santorini because of the long travel time, but I am sure I could enjoy spending more time there and I can highly recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful, peaceful place to spend a week.

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