Thursday, April 10, 2008

Santorini Blue

So from Athens, we hopped a teeny plane to the island of Santorini, Greece and landed on a teeny airstrip with more than a teeny bit of wind. (The island's weather forcast usually includes "wind")

We took a cab from the miniscule airport to the center of the capital town of Fira, where the Pelican Hotel, where we were staying, was located. When I say "center of town", understand that there's not much "town" to be the "center" of. The hotel was on a main road (there are possibly two of these), so while it was quaint and small with good service, there may be a noise issue for some on weekends. The beds were also hard as a rock (both hotels in Greece had hard beds) but when you walk yourself to death, sleep comes anyway.

A short block away from the hotel is the pedestrian-only walkways in Fira, lined with shop after shop after shop, with a few restaurants thrown in here and there. It lines the caldera (Santorini is built into the caldera of a volcano, which is now filled with water) and offers some of the most awesome views of the white buildings with blue accents against a blue sky. In fact, you can't spit in Santorini without hitting a view. There are domed churches everywhere.

If you start walking down any steps, be aware that you might be walking a while. The more than 550 steps lead down to the port. Back in tha' day, the only way to get goods from the port to the town was to haul them on the backs of donkeys up these steps. So if you want to relive the olden days, and smell like donkey, you can ride a donkey either up or down the stairs. I'm all for experiencing "traditional" things at a destination, but these are steep stairs, and the donkeys don't mind how close to the edge they get. So we decided to walk the stairs. Down. We took the available cable car ($5 Euro for a one-way trip) back up.

At the top of that cable car, there's a restaurant called Zaphora, which is probably the best we found on Santorini. The BF had souvlaki (meat on a stick) and I had chicken with those lovely roasted Greek potatoes that I had come to crave. There are great views from here, but often muted through the plastic window covers that stop the wind from creating a vortex of food and customers.

The Santorini sunset is one of legend. Every night around 6 p.m. everything stops, people line the walkways on the caldera, and they just watch. And wonder. And in my case, snap enough photos to fill a coffee table book.

Tomorrow, we'll venture outside Fira to the black-sand beach of Kamari and the clap-worthy sunsets of Oia.

Now, some photos of Fira.


SwordMama said...

I wanna go! It's so gorgeous!

Cheysuli and gemini said...

What a gorgeous place.

Renee said...

oh that's so pretty! just take out the smelly donkeys and you have a perfect trip. LOL!

I went on a horseback riding trip in the Smokey Mountains once and the horses didn't care about the edge of the mountain either...YIKES! They never fell and are always sure footed, but it still scares the bejeebers out of you. And then one of the silly horses decided it was mating time...during the trail ride!

Mar said...

Those views are amazing!! love your shots.
Nice to know those people don't take everything for granted and that they do stop all activities to watch the beautiful!