Thursday, August 13, 2009

day 67, Santorini, Cyclades, Greece

Approaching the next island by boat we get the immediate impression that this is a Greek island unlike any other. The island of Santorini was formed out of the lava from the volcanic eruption in 1660 BC. The central part of the volcano sank into the sea leading to the emergence of Santorini itself.
Today, Santorini is the only inhabited Caldera (vol
cano cauldron) in the world. Unlike other islands in Greece, the towns and villages sit densely on top of the massive cliffs of the Caldera and from a distance appear like snow capping the towering mountain tops.
The coloured strata of the volcanic rock of these
cliffs are spectacular in themselves: chocolate brown, rust red, yellow ochre, white and cream.....a geological uniqueness, don't you think?

Santorini is definitely one of the great natural wonders of the world, and its main attraction is the landscape and seascape of the island itself.

There is Fira, the fiery capital, a marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, whose white cobblestone streets bustle with shops, tavernas
, hotels and cafes, while clinging to the rim of the caldera nine hundred f eet above the its port.

We have arrived at the port and now have 3 choices.....
-take a cable car up from the port,
-walk or
-take a trip on one of the hundreds of mules up the 588 zigzagging step

Nopi said that we could attempt to walk up the steps but be warned, they are winding, narrow in parts with only low walls, they are covered in donkey excrement and the donkeys themselves will make no attempt to avoid you!!
So we decided to take the donkeys instead of the cable car.....

just for the experience....and fun of it....thank goodness my mule wasn't stubborn or a biter.....I hope that I wasn't too heavy for him.

Wow, the town of Fira is stunning.

The Cycladic Islands are world-famous for their picturesque towns of cubic white-washed homes and blue-domed churches.

Santoríni is especially famous for the towns of Firá and Oía, whose white and pastel-colored homes and churches-- seemingly stacked on top of each other-- are perched on the cliffs of the caldera.

Since many of these traditional homes are built on cliff-side caves, they have a much larger interior than their exterior would suggest.

The architecture of Santoríni's picturesque towns is typically Cycladic, but with strong neoclassical and baroque influences visible in many of the island's churches and public buildings.

The landscape here --the blue sky, the little white houses perched on gigantic rocks on hills that plummet to the sea, the lemon and orange groves, the pink and white churches that look like pastry cakes, the faces and warmth and expressiveness of the Greek people -- little wonder this may be the most photographed scenery in the world.

Where are the guys?? We didn't notice that th
ey had disappeared!
Oh, Nopi says that Amit and Feroz have gone diving.....there are dive sites that include a wreck near the volcano!!
Oh, wow, that sounds exciting.....

Hmmm, did you notice that Santorini's beaches have black sand?

The island has no natural source of fresh water. Prior to the early 1990's, it was necessary for water to be delivered to the island via tanker from Crete. However, most hotels and homes now have access to non-potable running water for washing and cleaning that is provided by a local desalination plant. So Nopi insisted that all of us drink bottled water at all times while visiting Santorini....yes Mam!

Nopi is hungry.....and the Santorini specials include: the white aubergine; fava; caper; a variety of ntomatokeftedes, with whole slices of tomatoes fried in bat
ter...etc, etc

I love cherry tomatoes.... and want them in my salad.....Nopi loves the fava beans and squid...and the ones here in Santorini are supposed to be the best in Greece
Kali orexi!

Nopi recommended fresh fish grilled in a taverna, overlooking the caldera.....but the prices are exorbitant...not because the food portions are big....but it is because you are paying for the view....but what a view it is!!

We settled for a picnic basket of local specialities...from a family run fish tavern and made our way to the quintessentially Santorininian town of Ia, (just above Fira at the highest point of the island) also sometimes spelled Oia, with its whitewashed walls sunk into the volcanic rock and its blue domes rising above the sterling beauty of the stunning, russet Ammoudi Bay.

Dusk is approaching we are going to make our way to the best possible have our picnic...and to watch the legendary sunset in Oia, reputed to be among the world's most beautiful.
Oh my gosh, wow....this sunset .... viewed from the Caldera, really is breathtakingly beautiful when seen as a backdrop to the volcano. The colours that streak the sky change from lilac to deep purple, from yellow to orange to red, as the golden sun sinks and becomes blood red reflecting its light on to the sea and the surrounding little islands.

What an amazing this experience this has been......a donkey ride.....the healthiest, freshest Mediterranean meal...and the perfect sunset.....aaaah, isn't Santorini simply wonderful?

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