|Santorini is named from Santa Irini.|
But it is also known as Thira, which is also the name of the main town and port.
Truth be told, I don't really know which name is used by whom. I'm assuming that Thira is used by the locals, and Fira is somehow easier for the tourists to understand. But I could be completely wrong. The th and the f sounds are really similar. But to keep it simple, I'll just use Thira.
|The white on the cliff is Thira.|
You want to be careful about where you park, as they will tow you away without hesitation. But there are large lots of free parking around the main area of the town. From the lot we parked in, we could see the other side of the island.
|Santorini is actually quite small. But there's so much to do!|
|A beautiful church.|
|Hilly and stoney.|
|"Well, hello, ladies. Would you like to ride my donkey?"|
|Thira on a Cliff.|
|View of the Caldera from the restaurant where we ate.|
Thira is definitely a great town, though it's very tourist-focused. Every guidebook and person we spoke with suggested, however, to see the sunset at Oia (the O is silent, apparently, so it's Ia). In the end, we didn't make it to Oia, but only because the sunset was spectacular in Thira.
|Worshiping the sun.|
|Sunset over Santorini.|
Volcano and Hot Springs
On July 12th, Jenny and I booked a tour to see Nea Kameni, the volcano, and the hot springs that have come from it. We were told to meet in front of the Ankor Travel Agency at 10:30am, which was perfect because we had to return our beloved Fiat Panda at 11am.
We woke up a bit later than we wanted to, so we decided on a Greek yogurt breakfast (I know, they probably just call it yogurt...). About 7 of us were waiting for a big tour bus to pick us up. But instead, a minivan showed up and asked us all to pile into the car. I sat in the front passengers seat where I got to view a couple of messages from the van's automated system that read, "Safety Belt Fail. Airbag Fail. Antipollution Fail."
As the driver zoomed as fast as he could through the relatively narrow streets of Santorini, Jenny and I were a bit nervous about his driving. I tried to focus on how delicious my yogurt with butter cookies was, but it was hard to not feel like my life was in jeopardy. Then we got to the windy road on a cliff that would lead us to the Athinios Port, the main port of Santorini for ferries.
The driver seemed to whisper to me, "Your boat Odysseas." I'm sure glad that I really wanted to pay attention to what was happening, because I really was apparently the only one to hear that. Then he made his way to a main waiting area, stopped the van, and said, "Okay. Your boat will be there (pointing to a specific dock). You wait. Goodbye."
We all piled out of the car, scratching our heads thinking, "Now, what?" Considering that we had just experienced the wonder of the Red Beach/White Beach boat, Jenny and I were starting to realize that perhaps that is just how it is. "Okay. Now you jump."
I shared with the group the name of the boat, and soon we found ourselves at a dock next to where we were dropped off but on the Odysseas.
Well, we finally set sail for Nea Kameni, the location of the volcano. From a distance, the island looked like it was dotted with occasional trees and bushes. But from a closer point of view, we could see that the trees and bushes were actually volcanic rock. Our tour guide, Lucas, translated in Greek, English, and Italian that we were going to make several stops on the volcano, but we would need to make sure to be back on the boat by a specific time so the boat could make it to the next stop on the tour.
|View of Thira from the Volcano|
|I'm very glad we thought to bring our good walking shoes!|
It would have been difficult to hike up the rocky slopes with flip flops!
|Hot volcanic dirt!|
In the last picture above, Lucas proceeded to start digging into the ground. Under the dried top soil, there was a darker soil. He then asked us to cup our palms, and he dropped a generous helping of the dirt into our hands. We were all surprised by how hot the soil was! It was then that my interest and sudden fear of volcanic activity mixed together.
It was amazing to know that we were standing on a volcano! I didn't even see a volcano when I went to Hawaii, since Oahu doesn't have any more volcanic activity. There was definitely a part of me that worried about, "What if there was seismic activity while we're on the volcano??" But in the moment, I was really very happy that we were wearing nice walking shoes. It was a hike up that volcano, and there were some paths that were more rocky than others.
|These shoes were made for walking.|
|Plant life growing on the volcano.|
|Back at the dock|
|Hot spring water.|
|My splash down!|
|Weeee! Jumping off boats is pretty freakin' awesome.|
There's Lucas and his swimming outfit by the opening.
Though, we're pretty sure he didn't even get in the water.
|Swimming towards the hot springs area.|
|The floor under this orangey water was kind of squishy!|
I just told Jenny and myself that it must have been clay or something.
We probably could have covered ourselves in the clay for some
good mud bath action.
|Seems like there was a meditation studio of some sort there.|
|So happy, we didn't want to get back on the boat.|
|View of the Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, and Thira from the restaurant.|
So, I had a lot of reservations about riding a donkey. I'm not much of a horse-rider. I like being relatively close to the ground. The combination of donkeys and cliffs was what freaked me out the most. But I just tried not to be too freaked out.
|On the donkey.|
|On the donkey...on a cliff!|
View of the port.
|On the donkey...trying not to freak out!|
I just didn't want my big booty to hurt the guy...
When we made it to the top, the donkeys then walked back down the hill. Jenny and I wondered, "But now what?" We wanted to make sure we weren't late for the boat's departure, so after taking a couple of pictures and catching our breath, we proceeded to walk back down the poop-lined path.
Walking down that path made us feel exhausted after! We had to walk carefully so as not to step on poop, but also because some of the stones were slippery and some of the steps were a bit more steep than others. We were so glad to be on the boat again after that trip.
The Odysseas then set sail towards Oia. We had the option of getting off, riding another donkey, and sticking around to see the sunset. But we were pretty exhausted. Like, falling asleep with my mouth open exhausted! So, we opted to head back to Perissa and nap on our favorite beach chairs at Waves. But, I got some really great shots of Oia from the boat.
|Boat view of the edge of Oia.|
|Cliff-top vistas and a solitary church.|
Kalispehra means Good Afternoon
Most of the time, our lunches in Santorini were more an extension of our breakfast or an earlier dinner. But I just wanted to list some of the amazing foods we ate and drinks we drank.
Calamari - I mean, how can you go wrong with calamari, right? Then, we learned that calamari was just better in Greece. Firstly, it's fresh. Secondly, the squids are bigger, thus the calamari rings are bigger. Num!As you can see, there's so much to see and do and eat at Santorini. Our days were jam-packed! We had a lot on our to-do list, though our main priority was beach-side lounging. We had wanted to try scuba diving as well as going to the Wine Museum. Alas, these are adventures to save for our next trip back to Santorini.
Greek Salad - I know, this is another thing that seems like a no-brainer. But, I have really come to love Greek Salad after this trip. I don't know what I've been thinking ordering a regular salad with whatever dressing. Greek salad, in it's simplest form, has been perfectly refreshing and satisfying. I am planning on buying me a lot of feta for my salads.
Burgers - I know what you're thinking. Really? Yes, really! At Waves, I had the pleasure of trying their "Greek Burger," which just had feta cheese, as well as the "Waves Burger," which featured the "special sauce" resembling Thousand Island dressing. I kid you not, these were some of the best burgers I've ever had. The meat just tasted better, perhaps due to the lack of too much processing as well as the cow's most-likely grass-fed diet.
Fries - The fries were also delicious, even though their ketchup was less exciting than Canadian ketchup. I figured that all the food was cooked/fried in olive oil, which makes anything exponentially better. But fries were also a staple of a lot of the meals. I couldn't really complain too much about that.
Fried and battered fish - Fresh seafood. Need I say more?
Mythos Beer - A really good Greek lager. It was refreshing and tasty, and a standard part of a lot of our lunches.
Santorini Wine - We were treated to a shot of wine with Vikki, one of the wait staff at Waves, as well as Dimitri, otherwise known as Greek Perry. The wine was smooth and delicious. For a shot of something, I probably could have kept on going. Give me a big glass of it!
Coming up next: Kalineektha, Santorini.