Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Santorini, Greece

Santorini was probably the most picturesque place we visited.  It was beautiful.  The water the prettiest deep blue.
Mark and I did a shore excursion organized by the boat at this port, which was hiking on a volcano and swimming in hot springs.  It was like 104 degrees that day so the hike up the volcano was brutal.  I was sweating in places I didn’t even know I had.  It was disgusting.  I don’t really like being hot anyway, but this was bad.  It was kinda neat being on the volcano, but I really don’t enjoy dripping with sweat.
See the nice layer of sweat all over me?  Gross.  And for the record, I’m not an “easy sweater”, it was just really, really hot.  And then being on the rocks made it even hotter.
The views were pretty neat though, especially from the top, and it was neat to see that we’ve climbed on a volcano.  Santorini was once a much larger island, until a huge volcanic explosion that happened over 3600 year ago collapsed much of the island, creating the world’s biggest caldera.
There were a couple little “vents” at the top of the volcano.  If you put your hand down by it, you could feel VERY hot steam coming out, so you could only leave your hand there for a second.  It was proof that it still is an “active” volcano.
These thingies have a specific name that I can’t remember, but apparently the Canadians that visit make them??  They are apparently called Inukshuks.  (I just looked it up.)
After hiking up the volcano, we took the pirate ship looking boat we were riding on to the hot springs.  This was probably my favorite part of the trip.  It was so fun jumping off that boat and swimming to the spring.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a habit of swimming with my dSLR, so this is the only picture I got.  You can kind of see everyone heading toward the spring, which is to the left of the white church, back where the water starts to look red.  The water by the spring was MUCH warmer than it was out by the boat.  So swimming in to it was pretty easy, but swimming out of it was kind cold.  Oh, and there is apparently a guy that lives on this island.  His house was right by the spring and his goats and chickens were running all over the place on the cliffs.  Apparently Greece has a law that says if you live someplace for 50 years, that it becomes yours.  So technically this island is his, but the government said that when he dies, he cannot pass it on to any children.  I think he’s been divorced twice…
After we had our refreshing swim, they dropped us off below Fira, which is the capitol of Santorini.  You could walk up the cliff, ride donkeys up, or take the cable car.  We choose to ride the cable car, even though there was a bit of a wait.
Santorini was GORGEOUS.  It was so relaxing and serene and I can 100% see what it was voted the world’s best island in 2011.  If we ever go back to Greece, I would love to go spend more time in Santorini.
We stopped at a little restaurant that had a gorgeous view (above right) and free wifi.  (The boat doesn’t have wifi, which stunk because it made it a bit hard to keep in touch with Donna, Shelly and the kids.)  But we had a milk shake and a Greek salad, and it was probably the best milk shake I’ve ever had.  It was the best Greek salad I’ve ever had either, but that doesn’t surprise me too much since we were in Greece and all..
We wandered around Fira for a bit.  It’s made up of lots of narrow pedestrian streets lined with kitschy little shops.  I got a kick out of the fish pedicure shops. 
We stopped by a little church that was high on the hill.  It was pretty and quaint.
So you have the same three options of going down the cliff, that you did coming up.  We were going to take the cable car down, but there was a HUGE line.  So we decided to walk instead.  As we started to walk down, about 30 donkeys and a few dogs came traipsing through the town.
The donkeys were everywhere on the way down the hill.  The lined the first 2-3 switch-backs and we passed 2-3 groups of them coming up as we were going down, and there was another group or 2 at the bottom.  I felt bad for them, which is why there is no way I would have ridden them.  As I said, I was HOT and these poor things were covered in sweat, their nostril were flaring, they were breathing heavily and I didn’t see ANY water anywhere, so I can imagine they hadn’t gotten a drink all day, which makes me mad.  And to top it off, the little, old dudes “herding” them, which riding on one of them, was kicking the crap out of the one he was on, and had a wooden stick in his hand with a tack type thing sticking off the end of it that he was poking them all with.  I wanted to rip it out of his hand and beat him over the head with it.  Poor animals.
The other big town on Santorini is Oia (pronounced EE-ah).  I’ve heard it’s even better than Fira, but we didn’t have time to get over there.  Hopefully some day we will make it back to Santorini, and we’ll visit it then.
If you’re ever in Greece, I highly recommend checking out Santorini.  I don’t think you’d regret it!
Our next stop was Ephesus, Turkey!

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