Santorini is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. Some 3600 years ago the volcano (still active today) caused much of the island and its settlements to sink beneath the cobalt blue Aegean sea, leading, some say, to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. It has some of the most dramatic views in Greece as you look across the caldera (cauldron) to what remains of the top of the volcano. Both the capital Thira, and the town of Oia (pronounced ‘ear’) have the beautiful white houses and blue domed churches perched perilously on the cliff edges, which make Santorini the subject of a million tourist photographs. It is an incredible view, and the intensity of the blue of the sea and the sky are balm to the soul of a Brit hailing from the grey Autumnal skies of home.
Caldera of Thira
We caught the local bus to Thira, it only took fifteen minutes from Kamari where we were staying – it’s a small island and nothing is too far away from anything else. On the bus, I sat next to an oldish man with a strong London accent who proceeded to give me his entire life story effortlessly shoehorned into that very fifteen minutes. Of Greek Cypriot origin he could speak the lingo and had been sent on this holiday by his kids as he’d had a ‘bad year.’ He now lived in a flats in North London, near the Arsenal, (although he wasn’t a football fan) with his son who was a Chef. He gave me chapter and verse about the history of the hard working immigrant in the UK as his parents had been bespoke tailors up the West End. He was what I call a ‘downloader.’ A ‘down loader’ wants to tell you stuff. Not too interested in you, they feel the need to inform you in detail about themselves at super fast broadband speed. I am more an ‘upload’ person, liking to seek information or amusement from other sources.
Uploading or downloading?
Truthfully though, I’m more usually on ‘standby.’ i.e. doing nothing in particular. It takes a few drinks to get me into download mode, but I didn’t mind about my little cockney/Greek chap, I think he was just lonely. Although I was dying to ask him if he knew Peter Andre..
White ship blue sea
Now in Thira the tourists are heading for the cable car to get down to the port, cross the lagoon and walk about on the top of a real Volcano. You can feel the warmth of the sand from the lava beneath. Sometimes visitors get a precarious donkey ride back up the steep incline and the donkeys, which are really mules as they are quite large robust animals, like to have a bit of a race up the hill. The donkey is a familiar symbol of Santorini and now that the microbrewery phenomenon has reached the Greek Islands their beer is called Yellow Donkey, Red Donkey, or Crazy Donkey. I tasted them all and, as you might expect, Crazy Donkey was my preference.
Micro breweries hit Greece
The sheltered moon shaped harbour provides a picturesque stop for cruise ships who decant their wealthy passengers into Thira’s narrow, rather up market, shopping streets. Thira is a very popular destination for weddings and we must have seen a dozen Japanese girls in floaty white dresses and shiny new rings drifting and posing about the place along with their rather less flamboyant counterparts. They leave little padlocks on the railings to show they are locked together forever. Either that or there’s been an awful lot of bike thefts from these parts.
From Santorini with love..
The Japanese take tourism very seriously and I had to take a picture of a couple employing their the long range selfie device, which makes those ‘just us two’ shots so much easier. Apparently everyone has them in Japan, and they are easily available on EBay. I’m getting one.
The advanced art of the selfie
October is the end of the season in Santorini, the weather is cooling down, but still very pleasant, especially for walking and sight seeing and it’s not too crowded. The magic of Greece doesn’t fade for me. It’s in the ice cream coloured wood of the cafés, the azure sea and sapphire sky, the multi-coloured cats and timeless heartbeat of an ancient era. Who cares about the financial crisis of the Eurozone? Look out to sea, and pour yourself a chilled glass of delicious Greek wine.. Yamas!