Friday, August 3, 2012

Santorini, Greece

Waking up to the early morning alarm in our cool island apartment I was wondering why we even thought to leave Paros to see another island; we had explored very little of the island we were on and there were still dozens of beaches and towns we could visit. But our local guide and friend Evdoxia had recommended a day cruise to Santorini and described it as incredible, so it was with our boys still half-asleep, daypacks and stroller that we headed for the harbor before the sun had warmed the cool white walls.

The heat just meant this guy got to go naked half the time

We had bought tickets on the Naxos Star the previous day and arranged to board a minibus in Parikia to take us across-island to catch the ferry. Piso Livadi is the port closest to Marpissa, a town on the east coast of Paros. No sooner had the ferry appeared than passengers streamed from all sides to board, and not long after the last person had climbed aboard the boat gunned its engines and headed south to Santorini. Smaller than the ferry that broughtus to Paros, the rocking of the boat was more pronounced and the time to reach our destination a little longer. We relaxed the best we could taking frequent walks around the boat to see what could be seen and to get some fresh air, and 2 hours later we entered the Santorini archipelago.

Lauris has got the
Pūliņš sea-legs

The southernmost Cyclades island as well as the most active volcano in the Agean, it is actually composed of several islands that are the remnants of a volcanic caldera. Originally a single island, there was an enormous volcanic explosion 3600 years ago which formed the caldera surrounded by cliffs and open to the sea in the northwest and southwest. On the outside of the islands the land sloped down to beaches, but the area is most famous for the towns and villages lining the clifftops. It is sometimes thought that the Thera (or Minoan) eruption was the source of the legend of Atlantis as the eruption and following ash cloud may have been the cause of the collapse of the Minoan civilization on Crete merely 68 miles south.

Source: Wikipedia

We docked in the port of Santorini where a coach bus was waiting to take us to Oia, the northwest-most town on the cliffside of the largest of the islands, Thíra. The whole drive was spent entranced by not just the views, but also the lore, history and facts told to us by our tour guide. As the giant coach couldn’t navigate the tiny paths trhough town, it parked, and our guide then led us by foot to the center of town before leaving us to our own devices. We spent our two hours in Oia taking photos of the grand view and sampling the Santorini salad, named after the cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor, grown right there on the island. Due to the heat and the stroller, exploring the dozens of winding stairways down the side of the cliff was impossible, but there were plenty of views to be had along the main drag.

Oia is famous for its sunsets, but also known for the traditional architecture. Only parts of the houses are visible, the rest reach into the volcanic rock on the sides of the cliff. The mix of churches, Venetian houses and small “incave” village homes can be attributed to the large Catholic population, the Venetian rule over the island, the history of the island as a home to rich, sea-faring captains and the original medieval fortifications that protected the population from pirates. Our two hours were up much too quickly.

Back on the air-conditioned coach to our next destination, Fira, actually just a different pronunciation of the ancient name of the island, Thíra. Also built on the edge of the cliff, the town is famous for the quintessentially “Greek island” white-washed houses. Our guide led us to the White Orthodox Cathedral and then we were once again free to explore. Ice cream, snacks, postcards, photographs and attempts to find shade sum up this part of the day well. Both Oia and Fira were filled to the brim with tourists, but by exploring the passageways just off the main drag one can leave the hordes behind. We immediately understood why the town is so popular with tourists; the view was breathtaking. It spans the entire caldera, Cape Akrotiri to the south all the way north to Cape Ag. Nikolaos, plus the central volcanic island Nea Kameni.

The benefit to taking a day cruise was that we were able to see quite a bit without having to coordinate any of the transportation ourselves. The downside was that we were on someone else’s schedule and itinerary. We spent the hottest hours of the day trying to enjoy this picturesque island, all the while worrying about the well-being of the two children. I longed to check out the famous  black beach or enjoy the sunset while dining cliffside in Oia, but as I decided on the ferry ride back, we’ll just have to return someday. In the meantime we should better explore Paros and surrounding area, beginning with a visit to the closest island, Antiparos.



  1. What a lovely holiday you are having! I've just been reading your earlier posts too. I visited the island of Rhodes a few years ago and loved it but I am always mesmerized when I see gorgeous images like these of Santorini and I know that I would like to go there some time.

  2. Wow - could any place be more beautiful? Someday.....

  3. This is such a divine post, Liene. Just breathtaking. I will get there one day! Thanks so much for linking up with the POTMC. J x


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