Our visit to Santorini started with a catamaran ferry from Iraklion. Our bus from Chania got us there in lots of time and soon we were on board. It is rather like a very wide airliner. There is no deck to get onto so you only see the passing islands through the windows. Your luggage gets a better view as it is stored on the rear deck in the shelter of the passenger accommodation. On a busy route like Iraklion – Santorini there is an almighty scramble to get your luggage when you dock.
On Santorini we caught the local bus service to our hotel in Imerovigili. We had been told that our hotel was on the Main Road but it was nowhere to be seen on the main road through the village. Enquiries at a shop told us where to go and we found it on a little lane, too narrow for cars. We were later to find that this was not only the Main Road of Imerovigili but also of the island.
The hotel was on the edge of the caldera with wonderful views. It was partially dug into the tuffs of the volcano. Ours was a small suite – bathroom, bedroom, hallway – but next door was one of 150 square metres, complete with 3 double bedrooms, huge lounge, plunge pool bath and several normal bathrooms. But we all got to share the sitting out area.
Breakfast was served up at road level and you could have your fresh orange juice as you look over the caldera.
But enough of the hotel. After settling in we caught the bus into Fira, the island’s capitol. It is a shoppers paradise. Santorini gets many normal tourists, but also a huge number of cruise passengers. Often you will find three or more vast cruise ships anchored in the caldera. And many of these people have lots of money. It is the duty of Santorinians to help them to get rid of it. There is a more than adequate number of jewellery shops and establishments for other things you didn’t know you needed.
We had arrived at the New Port which is some distance from Fira. But the Old Port is just below Fira and is reached by a stairway of 580 steps or by a cable car. You do not need to walk up the steps; you can sit on a donkey. I reckon the bus from the New Port is preferable.
On our wandering in Fira we discovered the Main Road. It is what must be an ancient path along the lip of the Caldera. It winds too and fro and goes up and down steps and for most of its length is lined with shops, hotels, houses and restaurants. We decided to see if it went to Imerovigili – it does! And there are wonderful views to be seen all along it. And it, so I am told, goes all the way to Ia at the far end of the island. You can’t drive along it but you could take a donkey along it.
The next day we joined a tour of the volcano. We travelled by boat to the island of Kea Kameni. 500 years ago this island did not exist. It is the newest land in Europe. The last eruption was in 1950. Our guide was enthusiastic and new a little about geology. But he showed us the various craters and, most effectively, demonstrated high heat flow by scraping up some dirt near a fumarole and dropping it into our hands – it was hot!
Perhaps the best, short, means of describing the geology of the islands is to show the brochure you get when you land on Nea Kameni. Note that the brochure is only describing Nea and Palea Kameni, not Santorini as a whole.
After leaving Nea Kameni we went to Palea Kameni where the adventurous among us went for a swim in the iron bearing hot springs. We could not land but the more adventurous of us could swim to them. Of course this included Chris.
After lunch on Therissia, which is the island on the other side of the caldera from Santorini, and where we collected some pumice, we went to Ia to watch the sunset and to engage in the retail experience. On the way we saw some of that days tally of cruise ships. Below is a photo of them taken from Nea Kameni.
I also took several pictures of the caldera which can be seen below. At the New Port you can see some Tertiary schists, but the rest of the caldera sides are tuffs and volcanic ash of very varied ages in the Tertiary and Quaternary. The white layer at the top is the eruption of 1600BC.
Ia is a village which was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1950’s in the original style. The main road is the original donkey trail and cars are not allowed into the main part of the village. It is determinedly picturesque.
But we, and every soul on Santorini with a camera, was there for the Sunset. I show one below. Googling “Sunset Santorini” will probably get a million more.
And finally I must mention the Archaeological Museum of Thira which has a magnificent collection of pots and lots of other stuff from the age of Minos.
Then after three days on Santorini we set off for Amorgos.