Saturday, May 24, 2008

Santorini Island

After trekking all over Athens, we were ready to get to Santorini Island and relax.  The ferry we took there was great--it was gigantic--almost as big as a cruise ship.  We were a little surprised by the difference in weather, though.  Santorini was really cold, and we were supposed to be going to the beach everyday!  We were a little disappointed about the temperature, but we enjoyed the scenery of the island nonetheless.  On our first night on the island, we went to the city of Fira.  We climbed up to the top, passing shop after shop and restaurant after restaurant.  Surprisingly, even though this was supposed to be the beginning of the high season, there was hardly anyone on the island.  The restaurant and shop owners were practically begging us to come in just so they could have a customer for the night.  The views from the top of the city were absolutely gorgeous--just like you see in the movies.
The views from on the water were also stunning.  I loved seeing the different layers of rock and the formations of the island mixed with the little white and pastel-colored buildings lining the top.
The next day, we went on a guided tour of the island.  In the morning, we hopped on a boat that took us to our first destination: the active volcano right next to Santorini.  We hiked to the top of the volcano where there were yet more amazing views.  Here I am feeling the heat coming from the active part of the volcano.  They told us we were safe on the volcano because they could predict an eruption six months to a year before it would actually happen.  Near the hot spot, there were also a few other spots that were smoking--really the only visible evidence that this volcano could possibly erupt again someday.  Otherwise the little island looked pretty barren--just a bunch of lava rock.   After the volcano we visited some hot springs at a nearby island, and then moved on to another city on the main island for lunch.  Here, we rode some donkeys to the top of the city!  This was probably the most fun part of the day.  The ride was hilarious--they donkeys wanted to race each other to the top of the hill, but they stubbornly obeyed the trainer who was following us up the hill.  At the top of the city, we enjoyed kebabs for lunch at the only restaurant in the city.  They were delicious, but we had to hurry back to the boat for our final destination of the evening--they city of Oia.
The city of Oia (or Ia) is famous for its views of the sunset.  We arrived at the port and hiked the 274 steps up the (very steep) hill to find ourselves once again in a maze of shops and restaurants.  We explored the city for a while and finally found a place to view the sunset.  It was pretty, but I think it would have been even more spectacular on a less cloudy day.   At the end of the evening, we were happy to get back on the warm bus that would take us back to our hostel in Perissa.  
We spent our last morning in the city of Perissa on the beach.  It had finally warmed up just enough that it was comfortable to lie on the beach without having to wear layers of clothing.  The ocean, however, was still freezing.  It was just enough time to read a little and relax before having to catch the ferry back to Athens for our flight that night.  We got on our 4:20 am flight just in time to be back in Prague by 6:00 am, and we were exhausted, but our trip to Greece had made it worth it.

To see all my pictures from Santorini Island, click here.

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