Ah, Santorini! It’s a lot like the Gold Coast or Bali or Disneyland for that matter. You either love it or you hate it. The environment, the culture, the scenery is beyond spectacular. But the tourists bring their money and the prices are higher than the cliffs of the island. Greed, for want of a better word, has taken over and tacky money spinners have taken over a glorious paradise.
The Price of Paradise
Worst of all are the taxi drivers. We lost count of the number of cabs that refused to take us back to our unit because we refused to agree to their ripoff prices. When we did find an honest driver the prices were not only 50 – 60% below the bandits but they were friendlier and more helpful. This should have been our warning sign. But enough of the negative.
The funny side is that we had rented a cave house. Our house (like all properties in Greece) has no address. So when we called for a cab we had to tell the dispatcher we were in a hotel on a street with no name, with no house number in a suburb we didn’t know. If we had to describe the place best we could say was “it’s white!” If further questioned we’d add “there’s lots of cats around!” We found out on the last day our road was actually an old river bed converted to a street. To get anywhere we had to negotiate a maze of stairways/lanes between houses to the top of the hill.
Santorini, as I said is gorgeous. It is an extinct volcano that has collapsed back into itself forming a ring of islands. We arrived by way of Seajets II, another of the powerful jet powered ferries in the Med and landed in the ‘new’ port. Once you hit the wharf the touts bombard you with offers of a taxi. Before you know it someone has your bag in their hand and they’re leading you off to their car company.
We only had a few days in Santorini so on day one (don’t ask me what day of the week – its all a blur) we climbed the hill to the main road, grabbed a local bus and went to Fira, the capital and old port. From the top of a monsterous cliff we travelled by chair lift down to the wharf to where we picked up an old timber boat for a cruise.
On a 3 Hour Cruise
The tour first sailed to Palea Kameni, where you swam to a cove where waters warmed by the volcano settled. From there the boat moved on to Nea Kameni so the energetic could hike up to the crater of the active volcano (at extra expense). Shane and I chose not to walk to the crater edge as her legs just wouldn’t handle the downhill stress. I however did take the swim to the warm cove which after several hundred yards of swimming reminded me of my age.
Back on Top
On return I tried to convince Shane to take the donkey ride back to the top but she chickened out. I even (jokingly) suggested climbing the 600 or so steps but she wasn’t into that either so back onto the chairlift we went. At the top we found a lovely restaurant where we had tea and watched a most glorious sunset over the islands we had just visited.
We returned to Fira the next day and wandered the myriad of laneways almost identical to those of our Mykonos exploration. Not surprisingly the prices were way above the other islands for the same goods. As usual we had a peek into another wonderfully ornate church and settled for a final meal before leaving Santorini the following day for Athens.
So its Athens next and some of the greatest icons to civilisation. Keep watching for another post as I try to catch up on our travels.
Bye for now
Garry & Shane.