Santorini (Thira), Greece
Ahhh, lovely Santorini (its official name is Thira) of the Cyclades Islands. Born of a violent volcanic eruption 4,000 years ago, this island is now less than half its original size. It's one of the most visited islands in Greece because of its long black sand and pebble beaches, its volcano, and its quintessential whitewashed Greek architecture in the hilltop towns.
Doug and I spent a couple of glorious days lounging around on this island. It's definitely one of the prettiest and most relaxing places to be. The nightlife is very active here, as millions of young tourists flock here every year; some never go back to their homelands. We stayed in Perissa, a beach town on the east coast of the island. Our hotel was only a few steps away from the beach.
After getting into town late and checking into the hotel. There's nothing left to do but hit the beach. There was a raging party going on at one of the bars on the beach. They had a live band, a bonfire, and we spent some time talking to a couple of really weird British girls on vacation there. Well, after a long day of travel and a few beers, here we are passed out on the black pebble beach at 1:08 in the morning.
Imagine waking up to a view like this. We came in during the night, so we couldn't see the beach until morning. Very impressive. The water was crystal clear and a nice temperature.
To see the sights of the island, we signed up for a packaged tour. The first stop is the ruins of Akrotiri, a town buried under volcanic ash when the island blew up 4,000 years ago, which is a full 2,000 years before Pompeii's demise. They had two-story buildings, indoor plumbing, and pretty impressive pottery. Amazing technology for 4,000 years ago.
Next it's off to hop a tour boat to cruise the Caldera, which is what they called the cauldron-shaped bay created by the volcano.
Looking from the boat toward the town of Fira, the capitol and largest town of Santorini. Notice the stairs from the dock up to the town. We got to know stairs quite well since at every place we docked in the Caldera, we had to climb up about 300 steps.
After about a 1/2-hour hike, we got to the cone of the still active volcano. Its last eruption was in the 50's, and we can still see places where the steam comes out of the rocks. This is a shot looking into the cone of the volcano.
Gorgeous contrast between the black volcanic rocks and the blue water.
A friendly cat sitting on a fence in Oia (pronounced EEah), which is the most famous town on the island. Doesn't he blend well with the scene?
A pretty church in Oia.
Oia is known for its quaint whitewashed homes and its sunsets. Most people watch the sunset from the windmill. Here we see some people lining up for the sunset already.
They were right. The sunset in Oia is gorgeous. I have to brag; this is one of the best photos I've ever taken.
A ferryboat sails off at sunset. This ironically would be the exact boat we take the following day to leave the island.
I didn't know until I saw this town, but the movie "Summer Lovers" (Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher, 1982) was filmed almost entirely on Santorini. It was a cheap skin flick known for its gratuitous nudity and that Chicago song "Hard to Say I'm Sorry". Nevertheless, it did showcase the best of the Greek Isles. Here is the actual apartment they used in the movie. The plaque on the wall reads "Summer Lovers" and it's now a shop selling antique knick-knacks.
The next day, Doug went off diving while I spent the day on the beach. This is a shot of Kamari beach where I spent most of the day.
Coming back from Kamari by boat taxi, here's a picture of Perissa Beach where we stayed.
It's sad to leave, but if we're gonna leave, might as well do it in style. Here I am sailing into the sunset having a cold one on our way to Athens.
One more look back at the town of Oia after the sunset.