Santorini

Santorini Travel Blog

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The volcano and Thira

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.

Thira and the donkey trail leading up to it
  So, what did that leave me with, 20 minutes?

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.

Thira town
  What will happen here over time?  No one knows.

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.

The volcano at Santorini
  (At least they didn't charge this time).  I went up early and waited in line to make sure we were on boat number one.  I was the fifth person there, so I was certain that we would be on the first boat.  As time passed, more and more people showed up, pushing and squeezing their way into the crowd in an attempt to be as close to the front as possible.  The line dissolved into chaos, and by the time the lady got there with the tickets, people were yelling and shouting and holding out their hands for tickets - even if they were in the back of the line.  I vouched for the 4 people in front of me, got my tickets, and then got out of there as quickly as I could.  At least we were on the first boat.

As we walked down to where the tender boats were picking  us up, we were surprised by the number of people there.

Santorini
  Even though we had tickets that said #1 on them, people were hesitant to let us pass, and many were trying to get on the first boat even though they did not have a ticket.  This complicated things and caused the process to take much longer than it should.  Some guy even had the audacity in the narrow hallway to push people aside, one after another, in an attempt to get to the front.  When he pushed me, I checked him back into the wall and, after yelling at him for a second, he slinked back into the line and I didn't see him again.

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.

Oia
  Although I really wanted to walk, I had to factor in time and so we took the cable car.  Mary and Aziz were on our tender boat, so we resolved to hire a taxi when we reached the top and head over to Oia, which is said to have great views.  There were almost no lines, and the cable car was actually really neat - before we knew it we were at the top, in the heart of the village of Thira.

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.

Oia
  Our first stop was a little lookout over Thira that we would have missed otherwise, this lookout is used for many photographs and postcards.  The roads to Oia were very winding, sometimes taking us to the edge of the cliff.  Although on a map it was a short distance between the two towns, we found it to take a lot longer because of the construction of the roads.  I guess that was the way it had to be.

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.

Oia
  Anyone visiting Santorini needs to check out the views here.  I could write about them, but I would prefer you to see them in my gallery.

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.

Sunset on Santorini
  The site was mesmerizing and we just stood there, watching the sun slowly climb down as the world continued on around us.  People were frantically trying to get back to the cruise ship before it got dark, but we just took in the moment.  What a great time to be alive!

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!

aiohdmg says:
I like this entry!
It would be a happy and nice smile when you saw a new couple wedding dancing and singing at the restuarant.
I guess both of u were thinking that u were do likes them a few months ago.
Santorino, it is my dream destination.(^_^)
Posted on: Mar 27, 2009
mbarnes says:
Haha, you checked the guy into the wall!! That's what I'm talking about. Sometimes you just have to go into the marketplace and throw over a table or two. Sounds like you took the good with the bad elements of the cruise, but what is your overall opinion or cruises? What kind of people do you think would enjoy cruising over backpacking? Obviously hungry people wouldn't mind it lol.
Posted on: Dec 16, 2008
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The volcano and Thira
The volcano and Thira
Thira and the donkey trail leading…
Thira and the donkey trail leadin…
Thira town
Thira town
The volcano at Santorini
The volcano at Santorini
Santorini
Santorini
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Sunset on Santorini
Sunset on Santorini
The reception area of the cruise s…
The reception area of the cruise …
A restaurant on the cruise ship
A restaurant on the cruise ship
A lounge on the cruise ship
A lounge on the cruise ship
The sun deck on the cruise ship
The sun deck on the cruise ship
A buffet restaurant on the cruise …
A buffet restaurant on the cruise…
The floor our room was on
The floor our room was on
Our room!
Our room!
Sailing the Aegean
Sailing the Aegean
The cable car on Santorini
The cable car on Santorini
From the cable car to the donkey t…
From the cable car to the donkey …
Santorini
Santorini
Oia in the distance
Oia in the distance
Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view
Beautiful church
Beautiful church
Sailing the Aegean
Sailing the Aegean
Santorini
Santorini
Approaching Santorini
Approaching Santorini
Santorini
Santorini
Santorini
Santorini
Thira looking like fresh snow in t…
Thira looking like fresh snow in …
The cliffs of Santorini
The cliffs of Santorini
The volcano and Thira
The volcano and Thira
The cliffs of Santorini - hopefull…
The cliffs of Santorini - hopeful…
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
Thira
Thira
Sunset on Santorini
Sunset on Santorini
Sunset on Santorini
Sunset on Santorini
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
View of Thira from Oia
View of Thira from Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia - that little old guy was play…
Oia - that little old guy was pla…
Oia
Oia
Oia
Oia
A tender boat
A tender boat
Boats in the harbor
Boats in the harbor
Oia
Oia
Thira
Thira
The donkey trail to the dock from …
The donkey trail to the dock from…
Thira town
Thira town
Sunset on Santorini
Sunset on Santorini
Santorini
photo by: wanderingluster