Day 4 – Santorini
We woke up on day 4 sailing into the Santorini Caldera. We had ordered a Champagne balcony breakfast and we watched from our balcony as we joined another smaller cruise ship and a Greek Navy vessel in the Santorini harbour. Santorini Island being the caldera of a large volcano the harbour is very deep, so the ships don’t anchor – they just hold a position with their engines while small tenders take people on an off the ships.
I had booked a private tour, so we had to be off the ship to meet the tour guide by 9:30. We headed to the deck 4 gang way and were helped off onto a small tender alongside that probably held about 40 people for the short 3 minute trip to the docks. Once we were on the docks we had the choice of walking up 700 steps to the top of the cliff and the town of Fira (not my first choice), taking donkeys up or the cable car ride. We were warned off the donkeys, and definitely the smart move was the 5 Euro each cable car ride to the top. Considering there were 2 ships and lots of people to move, we seemed to time it well, hardly waiting at all for either the tender or the cable car.
Dimitris our guide was right where he said he would be at the exit from the cable car and we joined 4 others from the other ship on our island tour. The weather was picture postcard perfect – and Santorini really shone with beautiful blue seas, whitewashed buildings and blue domed churches just like all the paintings and pictures you see of the Greek Islands. Only being there really allowed us to take in spectacular full 360 degree beauty of the place – no pictures can really do it justice.
Our tour took from the top of the Island – the town of Oia down to the bottom, so we really got to see it at its best. We had a short walk through Oia looking at all the hotels and restaurants along the cliff top and the views back to the ships in the Fira Harbour and got to take plenty of photographs. The hotels looked fantastic, all with spectacular views built down the side of the cliffs most coming with pools (also stuck to the side of the cliff). Then Dimitris took us along the back roads of the island to the cliff top Santo Winery to sample some of the local wines, and take in the views of Fira from the opposite end of the island.
Everything on Santorini is built along the top of the cliffs, which form the semi circular caldera of the ancient volcano. We learnt from the guide that, there had been an eruption in the 1950’s the last major one, which created the two central islands from lava.
We finished up the tour with a look at the Akatori prehistoric village excavations, major excavations of a village from the 3rd century BC that was buried under ash and pumice from the volcanic eruptions and had been excavated and put under cover with walkways around it – quite impressive. After Akatori we had lunch at a great little restaurant right on the beach – traditional Greek Santorini style food mostly from the island, fresh salads and fresh local fish.
Then back to Fira, but before we headed back to the ship, we had time for a quiet drink at one of the cliff-edge bar / restaurants, looking down on the harbour and the ships. Really a beautiful spot!
Back on board, we sat up on the rear deck pool bar with a sun-downer as the ship sailed out of beautiful Santorini harbour heading to Kusadasi Turkey.