Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Not all the domes on Santorini are the famous blue or the plain white.
  As always, click on any image for larger view.

Best way to start a holiday
On pedestrian path/Santorini
Once the wind finally died down we left BeBe docked in Naxos Town marina and splurged for a ferry trip down to Santorini.  The Blue Star Ferries newest ferry named Delos is nice!  Very comfortable.  It felt like no movement at all even though we were motoring along at 25 knots.  Seats like oversized recliners with dozens of televisions hanging overhead in the section where we chose to sit.  We skipped the on-board cafe and shops and bars, but those looked nice also.  Greece has this ferry thing down to an art!

Santorini, a/k/a Thira.  The name of Santorini comes
from earlier name of Santa Irene.  It is known as
Thira today, sometimes spelled Thera.
The ferry leaves Naxos Town at 12:50 and arrives in Santorini 2 hours later after briefly stopping in Ios.  We had visited Santorini in 2011 and anchored in the caldera next to the new dome that has formed.  It was not possible for us to go ashore.  Here is what I wrote about that visit:

And here is what grandson Zachary wrote about that visit:

This time we would see Santorini from the top view.  A very different perspective.

The gray gate door is the entrance to our patio and room.

We had arranged a 'romantic room' at the Blue Dolphins and transportation from the port was also pre-arranged.    A 'romantic room' at this hotel cost ~50 Euro more than a regular double room; the difference supposedly being that one gets a private balcony with a 'romantic room.'  Found the driver holding a sign as instructed and soon we were winding up...up...up...and...yet farther up to the top of the ridge, then north to our hotel.  

Down many steps to get to our room.
 Down many more steps to
 reception or breakfast.
That is Bill way down there walking
back up from reception 

The town of Fira is the capital of of Santorini; our hotel was located in Firostefano which is just north of Fira.  There were many steps D-O-W-N and then a few steps U-P to find the reception office.  So that we could then retrace those few steps D-O-W-N and many steps U-P to get to our room.  And what a room.  It was like a tiny apartment sans kitchen.  A bedroom with curtained off closet area, television and docking speakers for our iPhone for music.  A small room with breakfast table and 2 chairs and mini-fridge.  And bathroom with the most unusual shower built into an angled recessed area.  And the best part, a very large patio.  A really very large patio that wrapped the corner, with chaise loungers and built-in seating and another breakfast table and chairs.  Overlooking the volcano caldera.  The entrance to our room was secured by a locking gate and not too far off the pedestrian path that winds along the top of Santorini.  We wondered if they had put us in the Honeymoon Suite.  We certainly had the best view of any room at this hotel.  And the largest accommodations.
Inside our patio gate/door 

Side part of our patio
Bill sitting on front patio.  That little 'house' was our room.

Bill enjoying the view on our patio

Bill spent a lot of time enjoying view

View from our bed.

We did not understand this.  That 'hole' at the foot of the
bed was filled with rocks.  Decorative touch?  Place to
put heated rocks in winter to warm room?

View from our patio the next morning.  Fogged in!

City in the Clouds!  Actually, fog.  It was a neat experience to see
the fog dissipate and the islands and cities become visible.
City lights behind me after a long walk back (uphill!!) after dinner.

Three of those famous blue domes
Oh, BTW, the driver had explained to us that the island of Santorini is the caldera.  I told him that I thought the caldera was the depression where the water and the new dome are, but he was insistent that the caldera is the land ridge which comprises the island of Santorini.  (I think he is wrong.)

We walked to the nearest market to buy snacks, then returned to the patio to enjoy the bottle of Moet and Chandon that Maria and Wily on S/V Pitu had gifted to us back in Gocek last month.  Wonderful!  A real treat.  

Restaurant we enjoyed.  Tiny!
Excellent authentic Italian cuisine
Later that evening we strolled down the pedestrian path toward Fira and chose a restaurant for dinner.  I was in the mood for Italian and ilCantuccio did not disappoint!  
The restaurant is comprised only of that tiny patio and
the space behind that door.  Very tiny.  That stairway
leads to another larger restaurant.
I loved the way that the restaurant had made the most of the very limited space available on this steep mountainside.  We each enjoyed different pastas and shared a delicious smoked salmon appetizer.  

This restaurant had an old
windmill.  It was above the
Italian restaurant that we
liked so much.

The trees that produce the flower buds that are known as capers grown wild all over Santorini.  No surprise that capers are integral ingredients to so many of the culinary delights.  Our one night in Santorini was complete enjoyment.  This meal was so good that the following day we returned for a pizza lunch.  It also was great.

Pretty window on pedestrian path -- at yet another eatery

I liked this window display at the Crazy Donkey.

Weather was dreary, drizzly and cold on Saturday evening.  Sunday dawned beautiful.  The entire caldera was invisible and most of the island covered in fog.  It was like we were in our own little world.  Within an hour the fog had cleared and sun was out.  What a difference a day makes!  This day was sunny and warm.  Almost too warm.

Pedestrian path to north
Stopped to admire the view -- while I rested to breathe
We walked north on the pedestrian path until I was too winded to continue any farther uphill.  Which did not take far!  We then turned around and walked the path down to Fira.  Interesting tiny shops and restaurants and bars every step of the way.  The clubs here do not open until 23:00 and supposedly go on loudly all night.  Glad our hotel was well away from the thumping of nightclub music.  We picked the perfect hotel for us.  We no longer fit in with the youthful party crowd.

Going south on pedestrian path.  Path was much nicer
in this direction.  Also more commercial.

As we walked we took dozens of photos, mostly of the blue domes for which Santorini is so famous.  There are more than 300 domed structures on this island and dozens are painted blue.  It is just a gorgeous and magical place.  No wonder it is so popular with tourists from all over this world.
Down the path to Fira

Through Fira and then I declared this the end of our pathway
walking.  The pedestrian path continued.  We did not.

Bill noted that we are so fortunate that the common language is English.  We noticed groups of people speaking every language imaginable, and when they wanted to communicate with anyone who was not of their heritage they would switch to English.  That is good for us.  Cannot imagine how we would manage in our travels if people switched to French when needing a common language.  Or Italian, or German, or whatever.  Americans just lucked out that the rest of the world adopted English as the common language.

Turned around and headed back north

I won't go into a lot of historical detail about Santorini, anyone can research that on their own.  Suffice it to say that the volcanic eruption in the 1600s BC affected the climate of the entire world.  The eruption created a tsunami that is estimated to have been 300 to 400 meters high (985 to 1310 feet) that traveled over 210 mph.  This tsunami obliterated the northern side of the island of Crete 65 miles south of here and destroyed civilization there.  Archaeologists tell us that there was a sophisticated civilization living on Santorini that flourished 3,500 years ago.  There was dense infrastructure, extensive sewage systems, multi-story buildings, animal stables housed out of towns, etc. 

Continuing on back toward our hotel.  We did a lot of
walking this day.  Stone paths are tough on arthritic hips.

The greatest archaeological find is the city of Akrotiri on the outside southern tip of the island.  This city was buried under tons of ash and remained buried for nearly 3,500 years.  The first signs of this civilization were discovered by French engineers who dug for pumice in the 1800s.  Professor Spyridon Marinatos began systematic excavation of Akrotiri in 1967 and worked on it until his death in 1974.  The frescoes which were unearthed are supposed to be amazing; their brilliant colors preserved by the ash that covered and protected them for eons.

Imagine the view from this restaurant.  It was well out
of our price range.

That is the one thing that I regret that we did not see during our visit.  A tour was offered for a cost of 50 Euro per person.  But we declined.  That was just too expensive just to see ancient Akrotiri and we were not interested in any other destination listed on the tour.  We have seen many ancient ruins and never paid $70 each.  Santorini is expensive.  On one cafe menu posted along the pedestrian path were listed milkshakes at cost of 8.50 Euro.  That is $11.85 for a simple milkshake!  Oh no, I think not!

The transport back to the port came all too quickly.  We sat at a bar for an hour awaiting the ferry -- with Bill enjoying his $8.50 beer and me sipping a bottle of mineral water.  Would have enjoyed a cup of coffee but I don't pay $7 for a cup of coffee.  Or $5.60 for a single can of Coke.

Ferry seating area.  Nice!

On the ferry ride back I noticed that there now are about 5 moorings in place where private yachts can tie up near the northern tip of Santorini beneath the town of Oia.  It appeared that one could land a dinghy at a low wharf there.  This should be very good news to cruisers who want to visit on their own boats.

We thoroughly enjoyed our one day/night trip to Santorini.  Here are a few photos of some of those famous blue domes.

This one was north of our hotel.
A darker shade of blue

Not every church had a blue dome.  This
one also had a new angular bell tower.
Different shades of blue in distance.  I think that is the
old monastery on top of that mountain.
Needs some paint touch-up
Caldera side of the pedestrian path
One just south of our hotel

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