The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Now we head for Thira ( Santorini)

Oia at dinner

Santorini is an island rich in history. First, in the 2nd century BC it was a single island with a volcano that erupted so violently that the area directly outside the core collapsed into the Aegean Sea and 5 separate islands were formed. It is thought to be one of the possible “Atlantis” city locations. The main island now is in the shape of a crescent and it is stunning.
You first arrive at a ferry port some 1000 vertical feet below the modern day living space of Santorini and snake up a brutal little hairpin turn road to reach just outside the town of Fira (Thira).  The villages, all white, look like snow on the tops of the cliffs. From there to the northwest is the village of Oia out on the far northwestern point of the island, and to the south west the ancient site of Akrotira, where there is an archaeological dig and site to visit in place. They refer to it as the Pompeii of Greece. It is a very worthwhile site to spend time at. Also, adjacent to Akrotira is “red Beach”
Red Beach
a small cliff type beach that has red stone backdrop to it.
Halfway up the crescent on the east side is Perissa , where the famous ‘Black Beach’ is. The sand here is a black giving it its name. Apparently it is the party area of Santorini. We watched two overweight girls stroll down to the shore, and enter the water only to float around on their backs drinking Mythos ½ litre beers, and it was noon! I guess they have to draw attention to themselves one way or another. It worked.
We had chosen to stay in the Oia area, since there was a B&B that had a good review and it was the terminus point for a
Black Beach sans beach bunnies
hike that we considered doing. The B&B was full, but they recommended Maria’s Place, which is run by Anna. This is a very nice B&B run by a very hardworking lady who will do anything for you. Ask her anything about Greece and she knows about it. We’d highly recommend this place, wonderful pool and location as well.
Oia, as we found out is also the most photogenic location on the island with its steep-to stacked accommodations, a street walk done in marble, and great restaurants as well as the home of Hong Kong wedding pictures. We noticed one after another Asian couples getting photos taken  there while we visited. Anna explains that about 6 mths before the actual wedding, a group of  7 Asian couples will fly as a charter with a photographer, make-up artist, and two wedding dresses, suits and party dresses there and get their photos taken, then at the actual wedding these photos will be shown in a slideshow to everyone in attendance.

Quite windy that day
Sandra’s brother Robin commented that Santorini is very touristy, and we certainly agree, but the setting is breathtaking, a one of a kind place, and the weather save for the high winds that developed, was wonderful.
If you plan to go, plan an overnight excursion from Crete. 





Another danger that exists on Santorini is the 2 class driver system, the Greeks on one hand who are assassins behind the wheel and those who come and rent the tiny under-powered quads or micro cars and who stop and block traffic any time they perceive a possible threat. Word to the wise, know your driving capability, and if you can’t drive like them, then use their excellent public transportation system, which many do. I think I just confessed to being an assassin?? No I am not like them, but I’m not timid either.
Bells in Oia
One thing we have come to learn after making the crossing to Crete now, you cannot count on the ferries. Our 5:50 pm ferry actually began loading at 9:30 pm due to wind delays. It was a large Cat ferry (Sea-jets) and we watched earlier as another Cat ferry (Golden Blaze)
Golden Blaze fixing chafed lines see white buildings
at top of cliffs look like snow
had such a fiasco loading and leaving the port that was swamped in waves breaking all around. It broke gear, chafed through lines etc. etc.
On ours, they were a bit more organized, but as it arrived there were people who got off the ferry and kneeled down and kissed the ground. I thought OK, this is going to be a rough ride. Then the crew had to drag some passengers luggage off so they would follow since they were fearful (rightfully so), of the bouncing down ramp. Then I was instructed to be the first up the ramp and told to go fast since it would be wet. Just moments before I was readied to go up the deck it would not drop to the level of the quay, about 6-8” above then they released the hydraulics more, and I was told to go. I accelerated up to some applause only to nearly run over an Asian man who was struggling with a crew hand that came right in front of me on the top of the ramp because he did not want to get off. Fortunately I still have excellent reaction times.
The sailing to Crete was very rough with a large number of people taking and using Barf bags. Sandra sat in amusement, I read my latest Michael Connelly novel (The Poet) then napped and we arrived in Heraklion at 12:30 am. We were supposed to arrive at 8:10 pm. fortunately I had made a last minute booking and we drove to our hotel and got in bed. There is certainly benefit in being tried and true sailors. Sandra asked if we had any Rum later, her favorite drink after a hard sail.
Just ask Anna Anything
Our apartment in Blue
Stunning in the Sun
Windmills were commonplace

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