Santorini Travel Blog› entry 15 of 44 › view all entries
We left Agios Nikolaos and set sail for the island I was most excited about. The little island of Santorini was some six hours ahead of us when we set sail. We only had three hours there, which I was very bummed about, but I wanted to make sure that I made the most of my time. It was then that I found out we would be dropping off all those people that had paid for the optional island tour first, and that we would be waiting at least a half an hour for our chance to leave. We were also told that the line for the cable car (the quickest way to get to/from the dock) gets very long in the evening so we were advised to head back to the boat early so that we didn't get left behind.
Santorini is a small, crescent shaped island. Some 4500 years ago, this volcanic island erupted. Instead of the typical lava flow out of the volcano, and island cracked and split. Volcanic center of the island broke away from the eastern edge and literally sank down into the water, vanishing completely from sight. The force of the island sinking caused a massive tidal wave which some believe destroyed (or at least damaged) the ancient Minoan civilization at Knossos. When the dust had settled, all that was left of the island is the small crescent we see today. Fast forwarding to today, the crescent remains, but one can see the volcano slowly rebuilding itself where the center of the island used to be.
The villages of Thira and Oia are perched precariously on the western edge of the crescent island which is entirely a steep cliff face. As we approached the island and the volcano came into view, we began to wonder what the snow was doing on top of the island. When we got even closer, we all realized that the snow was actually the beautiful town of Thira, with it's white-washed buildings. It was simply amazing to see.
Since there's no way for a cruise ship to dock at the island, they were giving out tender tickets to reach the island. These tickets had the number of tender boat you would be taking to reach the shore.
As we walked down to where the tender boats were picking us up, we were surprised by the number of people there.
Once we were finally on the tender boat and on our way to the island, we had one more decision to make. Do we take the donkey trail up the cliff face (dodging donkeys and debris on the trail), a 45 minute climb, or take the cable car, which would get us to the top in under 5 minutes.
The four of us took a quick stroll through the city, until we reached a "main" road and found a cab driver. He gave us a price of 40 euro to drive to Oia, wait for us, and drive back, which I thought was high - I tried to talk him down but he wouldn't budge. I decided in my mind to take the bus, but some of the others felt safer in the taxi - so by taxi we went.
We arrived in Oia and split up, to see what we could see. Cathy and I just walked along the houses and admired the view of Thira and the volcano in the distance, as well as our cruise ship circling since it had nowhere to dock. Now this was nice...the area was just so beautiful and although there were lots of tourists there, it seemed peaceful.
Once our time in Oia had run out, we were driven back to Thira where we paid the cab driver. He thanked us and sped off. We were then left to walk around Thira at our own pace. It was already past the time that we were told to take the cable cars back to the dock, and that the lines would be really long now. Oh well, we weren't going to worry about that. Cathy and I walked through the streets and ended up watching a wedding reception in a little restaurant just below us. We both smiled as we watched the newly married couple dance and sing. Before we knew it, the sun was setting over the volcano off in the distance.
When the sun had gone down on another day, we make the decision to take the donkey trail back down to the dock. Although it seemed intimidating at first, from the height that we were at, we found that the only challenge was getting past all the donkeys at the starting point. After all, you never know when one of those things is going to go off! We carefully watched our steps to avoid the messes everywhere, and before we knew it we were at the bottom. Boarding the tender boat, we said our goodbyes to Santorini and headed back to the cruise ship. There, we ate dinner and thought about the remainder of the trip - the cruise was all but over, and tomorrow we would see the capital of Greece - Athens!