Coming into Santorini by boat is quite an experience. First you see a long line of black cliffs with what looks like snow on top. Then you find your self entering into a space between cliffs, and soon you're surrounded by islands, all rising up high. What we thought was snow turns out to be the white houses of the towns and villages,perched along the cliff edges. We could see the zig zag path from the harbour of Fira, the capital, (goes up 580 steps!) but the big ferries go to a new harbour a bit further on. There we were met by Petros, who was commended to us by Iannis at Naxos, who took us by minibus up to the family pension. Nothing could have been as good as our Naxos pension, but Petros was spartan, and located in a dull part of town. That evening we wandered up the town agog with the stupendous views over the caldera, and found another pension perched at the highest point, with views over the sea on both sides of the island, and went there the following morning. It cost 10E a night more, but how often do you come to Santorini?
Santorini is a magnet for tourists from around the world, and there were already plenty of us. The attractions are obvious -its history, the amazing scenery and the style of the towns and villages. Unlike other Cyclades islands, where the little streets are all turned in upon themselves, Santorini's streets and houses are flung open to the sea. They cling to the sides of steep cliffs; many of them burrowing into the rocks, and often there is nothing bwteeen you and a long drop but low parapets. Santorini was the site of the biggest volcanic exposion in human history round about 1500BC, It blew apart the island, leaving the ring of islands, which surround a central active caldera. You can take a boat trip over and bathe in the hot lake in the caldera, but we didn't. Instead, we bathed in the sea from sand the colour of black ash, feeling the water temperature go warm and cold as we moved about. Nothing much grows on the islands except vines, looking oddly as if they are planted in grey ash. Occasionally you get a whiff like burning. But what the island lacks in the way of buccolic beauty is made up for in the architecture of its buildings - rather hobbit like; everything small, rounded and a delight to the eye. Many of them now of course shops,cafes, and tiny hotels
Santorini has a town like Pompeii, only very partially excavated out of the lava that covers it. The site has been closed for three years, and perhaps they are doing lots more excavation work. (perhaps not; we have seen museums closed for 2 years in Greece for minor improvements)
However, there are two great museums where the wall frescos and various other items from this and other lava-covered sites are on display. Many of them very beautiful.
But this is an expensive place, and only so long you can spend admiring the view, so time to move on to Crete, where we'll meet our good friends Rachel and Jim. (They lent us their kagools just before we left Santorini. It is now very warm, and they're probably packed away for good, and just as well. ..We must have been a comical sight; Andreas wearing one much too small, and Sabrina in one much too large!
Unfortunately John we've not seen even a bust of Homer, let alone anything more substantial. And we like the idea that he may have been female but it seems unlikely given the status of women at that time. Can you tell us more about him? We do enjoy reading you writings in the comments bit..so please do write more!
We just learnt how to upload pictures from our mobile, which you will find on the last posting.