The Abandoned Party Island: Santorini

Santorini Travel Blog

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Santorini's Troubled Past  What better place for a party place than an island created by one of the world's most powerful volcanic eruptions?

Santorini was formed into its present crescent shape during the Minoan era (approximately 1450 BC) when the volcano on which it sits erupted.  The center of the island sunk into the sea (the crater or caldera), changing Santorini from a circular volcano into a cluster of islands with Santorini as the main island.  The eruption was so powerful that it exterminated all of the life on the island and produced a tidal wave approximately 820 feet (250 m) high, which traveled at a spead of 217 miles per hour (350 kph), and claimed the lives of the entire Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

  Crete lies less than 75 miles south of Santorini.

The last major earthquake in Santorini was in 1956.  That earthquake devastated Fira, the island's capital with about 2,000 residents located 890 feet (270 m) above the ocean in the middle of the island.  The residents rebuilt Fira, however, creating the beautiful white-washed homes and blue-domed churches which now cover the volcanic cliffs.

Abandoned?  Okay, well the island wasn't "abandoned" when I was there, it just looked like I had arrived at the morning after the big blowout.  Hillside bars and cafes had chairs on their sides with empty glasses and bottles on the ground, and the island was so quiet.  I felt like I had arrived off my party boat only to find that the party island was closed for the season.

  How sad.  I'll have to head back earlier in the year when the sun is hot, the clubs are packed, and the Absinthe Bar is calling my name.

First Impressions As a side note, I have to admit that when the ship first pulled into the caldera and started tendering passengers, I looked up the cliffs at Fira and thought -- this place looks like that crazy alien bar located on Tatooine in the Star Wars movie is roosted somewhere on the top of that hill...  And then I rememberd that Santorini is party-til-ya-drop paradise with beautiful sunsets and I pushed the alien-infested bar in the desert out of my mind.

Getting from Skala to Fira  There are essentially two ways to get to Fira from Skala -- either by cable car or by trail.

  The cable car costs about 4 euro per person and can be fairly quick, assuming there isn't a line.  The walk can be beautiful, but messy.  The walk, or climb, is up more than 600 steps nearly 900 feet up the hill.  The trail or path is made mostly of cobblestone, with some portions that are a mix of concrete and stone aggregate.  This path also is used by the donkeys.  The donkeys carry goods and people up and down the mountainside.  I chose to take the cable car up the hill and to walk down the hill.  The walk would have been fine except for the fact that the cobblestones get very slippery in the rain because (i) they're smooth rock after years of wear, and (ii) the donkeys do their "business" all over the paths.  I had the unfortunate experience of walking down the hill in the rain after an entire day of donkey "business" accumulating on the paths.  Fortunately I never slipped and exposed my rear end to that delightful mess, but there were several close calls.

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photo by: wanderingluster