Santorini 20 to 23 June 2013

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June 24th 2013
Published: June 24th 2013
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Santorini 20 to 23 June 2013

As we sit on the fast ferry back to Rafina, Athens to take us back to our motor home. What a wonderful 8 days we have had. A real holiday. We can see why they label Santorini as the romantic island. We saw several weddings. The people at our hotel Annassa Executive Suits, in the town of Kamari were incredibly helpful with helping us to decide what to do and see during our 3 days on the island.

When I was sorting the photos of Santorini I wondered how I was going to choose a few best photos for this blog out of 480 that I had taken (!!!!!), so I apologise in advance at the number I have actually chosen to include. Just quickly flick through them.

The evening we arrived we went for a walk to the beach which was 200m from our hotel. Nearly all the beaches are black beaches because of the volcanic nature of the island. This island was formed after a volcanic eruption sometime between 1613 and 1615 BC. In fact there are 5 islands that form the caldron group of islands which make up Santorini. We visited all but the smallest island, Aspronisi.

Right along Kamari Beach are lounges and umbrellas to hire as well as ‘wall-to-wall’ restaurants to choose from. On a balmy evening like our 1st night (and we learned that all our nights were going to be like this!!), we settled in for other traditional Greek meal and icy drinks. We went back to our hotel and had a swim in their pool.

The next morning Tom had a swim in the sea which he said was ‘invigorating’ – that meant it was too cold for me!!! Breakfast was served just outside our room as we were on the ground floor close to the pool. After breakfast we caught the local bus into Fira, the capital and near the Old Port. The local buses were like long-distance coaches – a very high standard.

Fira, which is on the western side of the main island, was another town with narrow cobblestone lanes lined with interesting shops. All the buildings are built on top of the cliff with zig-zag steps going down to the port. This is where several 100 donkeys take tourists up and down the steps. We just took photos of them, walking down the steps and catching the cable car up.

In the afternoon we hopped on a boat named ‘Jason with 4 other tourists (Hazel and Richard from the UK – our fellow volcanologists - and 2 Chinese people who have been living in Toronto for the past 10 years. Our guide was Barney from Serbia who was 23 yo and a fantastic guide. We had a great time meeting new friends who have done a lot of travel also.

We visited the active volcanic island, Nea Kameni where we dug below the surface to feel the heat of the volcano. We could smell the sulfur. They have seismic measuring devices positioned to monitor what are daily rumbles of the volcano. There have been no eruptions since 1956 which was accompanied by the earth quake that caused major damage.

We then hopped back on the boat to go to Palea Kameni to have a swim in the hot springs. Due to rocks, the boat anchored 200m off the coast so we had a lovely swim to the thermal springs which was at the edge of the sea water’s edge. We nearly had some worries coming back because the Chinese fellow panicked that he wouldn’t make it back to the boat as he wasn’t a strong swimmer. Barney saved the day.

We were off again on the boat, motoring to the island of Thirassia. This is another island with zig-zag steps up to the township. We saw only 5 donkeys. We walked up and down 200 steps to see the little village. What an amazing view. When we got back to the port we met up again with Hazel & Richard and chose a restaurant to have dinner. We had tasty large shrimps, tender calamari and a Greek salad, accompanied by a cold Mythos beer. It was a lovely atmosphere – view, company, food, weather, all jelled beautifully.

The next phase of our cruise was floating around inside the caldron, waiting for the sunset. We went close to the shore near Oia where we saw a little church in a cave on the water’s edge. They build churches everywhere. The setting sun threw brilliant light on the white and coloured buildings on top of the cliffs – beautiful! Another magnificent sunset.

We motored back to the old port at Fira and was bussed back to our eastern side of the island, incredibly satisfied with our day.

The next morning we hired an 80cc scooter for 15 euro (because we had already hires a car and ATV on the other islands). We visited Pyrgos, the Panagia Episkopi church, ancient Thira, Akrotiri Excavations (a 3 ha covered archeological ‘dig’, a township that was destroyed in the major earth quake in 1600 BC and which was discovered in 1986).

We also visited the Red Beach, which was definitely red from the different minerals from the volcanic eruption. We didn’t go to the White Beach which was around a small bluff as you had to catch a ferry and we wanted to look at other sites on the island.

Next stop – The very old winery of Canava Roussos at Mesa Gonia, established in 1869. They also had a wine museum. What a beautifully established wine tasting set up. The wine industry on Santorini is alive and well. There are many wine museums and the vineyards are sprinkled throughout the island. With the rich volcanic soil, lengthy sunlight and the moisture from the sea (along with the very occasional rain), their specialty is sweet wines. However, their dry whites and rose are also very drinkable. We tasted all 4 dry wine varieties and 4 sweet wine varieties in a very organized fashion, accompanied by herb rusks, incredibly sweet local tomatoes and cucumber and nuts. The setting was serene.

It was now off to the northern point of the island, Oia. What an incredible part of the island. Before we arrived, we drove along the coastal road on our trusty scooter (although it kept on stalling when we were going down hills!!!!), seeing the beautiful beaches along the north-eastern coast and the beautiful views of the other islands surrounded by such brilliant blue water.

We walked around the little marble and cobble-paved streets where we saw several bridal parties. The town had an amazing feel about it with shops for tourists, but more interestingly, many photographic, artistic, library, and pottery outlets – very artisan. Sprinkled between these were blue domed churches with their triangles of bells. We stopped at several cafes for coffee and cool drink, soaking up the views.

We had decided to go to Imerovigli for dinner and the sunset which is less touristy but just as impressive. This is a village that is less well developed but the tourist Mecca them was present. We found a restaurant on the highest point (Blue Noon) and had another beautiful meal. For appetites they served Ouzo shots, herb bread, olives, capers, tomato paste, and tasty yoghurt. Tom then had salmon with orange sauce and a herb parcel and I had a tender lamb and potato dish.

After watching yet another sunset we rushed back to get the scooter back by 9.00pm. The sun continues to set between 8.30-8.45pm. I love these long days.

After getting back to our hotel, booking a taxi for the next morning, our hosts knocked on our door to give us a shot of their local liqueur, Masticha which is from the Chios Island. It was something entirely different to what we have tasted before. We are having trouble describing the taste because it is not like port or any other liqueur.

The next morning we caught the 8.30am ferry back to Rafina. We reflected that we loved out special time on Santorini. I hope you see why, from the photos.

Additional photos below
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