the blair honeymoon adventures – chapter 4: santorini, greece
It has been a little while since my last post, so I believe it is time to move on to Day 4 of our honeymoon – Santorini, Greece! We woke up to sunshine and the view of the infamous volcano. We decided, once again, to discover all that the island had to offer on our own. After our trip to Capri, we realized that the ship excursions were very overpriced… if we went out to do things on our own we could go at our own pace AND save money! So to plan our day we studied the excursion lists provided by Princess and picked the most popular sites to see! We then grabbed breakfast and heading down into the depths of the ship to catch our tender boat to shore.
The town of Fira towered above us. As we came closer and closer to shore, the long haul to the top seemed more and more daunting, however the Greeks have long since catered to the cruisers. No walking up hill required. There were two “assisted” ways to climb to the top… 1. The steep gondola or 2. donkeys! Can you guess which one we chose?
Yes, we opted for the classic donkey ride! You know how the saying goes – When in Santorini… The ride up was anything but relaxing; however I enjoyed it more than my husband! Scott’s donkey had decided to give him the whole experience, including hugging the cliff side the whole way up! Mine on the other hand liked trying to bonk my knees on the masonry walls on the inside. We quickly found out that riding donkeys are not like riding horses. You can try to tell them what to do, however they will not listen. They will zig-zag on the path, they will take rests whenever they want, or they will take off running when they find a burst of energy. One thing I do know is that they definitely do not get a lot of credit for the work they do. All day long they walk up and down that twisty steep path carrying cruisers who over eat at every meal.
When we finally made it to the top, I gave my donkey and little nose rub as a thank you for the good work – but the thank you didn’t last long because I had to dive to the cliff edge to avoid being tramped by the stampeding herd of donkeys on their way back down the hill. We had decided to explore Fira at the end of the day, so our first stop was to find a mode of transportation to take us to Oia. We were thinking ATV’s, however seeing as we were the last cruise through Santorini for the season, most ATV rental places were closed. Instead, we opted for a car which they rented to us for a mere 20 Euros for the day! There was one main road in and out of Fira, so we hopped in our car and winded through the streets of white washed houses until we were out of town. The drive to Oia was quiet, but beautiful. We turned on a greek radio station, lowered the windows, and enjoyed the views. My camera was permanently mounted out the window. I immediately fell in love with the culture on this island. Everything was so calm and laid back. Along the olive tree and grapevine lined roads we saw new houses under construction, which made my workaholic husband want to stop and lend a hand. I reminded him more than onces that we are on our honeymoon.
As we approached Oia (11 km away from Fira), we immediately saw the famous blue domes that are seen in pictures around the world. Oia is situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers spectacular views over the volcano of Pilia and Nea Kameni. We quickly found a parking spot on the “outskirts” of the town and started our walking tour through the meandering streets. The view was absolutely spectacular. We quickly noticed that Oia was missing the stench of donkey poop which was an added bonus for our morning excursion. One of my favourite parts of Oia were the flower covered walls and courtyards that made make-shift shelters above our heads. These flowers were unbelievable gorgeous. I immediately envisioned them back at our house in Canada, however I am sure our climate would not be very nice to them.
We did not come to Oia with any plans other than to get lost in the streets. We wondered around the town until our tummies started to grumble. It was time to search for our first greek restaurant! We stumbled upon a lovely one overlooking the bay and our ship. We sat on the terrace and sipped our wine and beer as we overlooked the buildings below us. It didn’t take us long to pick our meals – Scott opted for a REAL greek salad, while I chose a seafood risotto. As we waited for the yummy-ness to arrive we planned out our next location to visit on the island. I must say, however, I loved Oia so much that I didn’t want to leave! Our food finally came and we were both in heaven! I have never tasted risotto so good in my life, and Scott decided that this greek salad thing was pretty darn good! Little did we know that this would start our “food comparison” as we island hopped around the Greek isles!
When our tummies were as full as we could make them, we slowly walked back to our car and said “so-long!” to Oia. We headed back towards Fira, however it was just a pass through as we continued on to Kamari, one of the most popular black sand beaches on the island. When we arrived, we found an empty beach and we could see why. It was CHILLLLLY, but I couldn’t be on a Mediterranean cruise without actually dipping my feet into the water!
When we started to head back to the car, Scott spotted a crazy, turny road heading up the cliff side above us. We looked at the map which seemed to indicate that we could take that road back to Fira. So Scott, being the boy that he is, was all excited to tackle the hill in our little car. It took us a good 15 minutes to wind our way to the top, only to find out that the road stopped there. We weren’t at a complete loss though because we stumbled upon the Ancient City of Thera.
Ancient Thera is an antique city on a ridge of the steep, 360 metre high Messavouno mountain. It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD. We paid 4 euros each to walk around the ruins of Thera. It was a unique experience as I tried to imagine what life was like walking these narrow “streets” on this high cliff so many years ago!
After a good hour and a half of investigating the foundations of the buildings and reading up on the use of each building we headed back down the mountain to make the trip to Fira. We still had some time left before we needed to be back on the ship so Scott took it upon himself to wheel into Volcan Wines, a local winery on the island. We decided to take the time to tour their underground museum dedicated to producing wine on the island, followed by a wine tasting. We left with 2 delicious bottles of wine that I am hoping to be able to find at home!
Finally back to Fira we headed, returned the car, did some browsing along the streets and decided it was time to head back down to the ship – only this time we took the gondola!