The photo below is the volcano island in the middle of the caldera. The definition of " caldera " -- is a large crater formed by volcanic explosion or by collapse of a volcanic cone.
The unique Greek island of Santorini ( officially called THIRA ) is all about colour and contrast. Everything seems painted white-- buildings, pavements, stones, even the tree trunks. Around midday the sky loses its dazzling blue and joins the whiteness above the hazy islands. Then there’s blue sea, blue paint, black sand and red rock. It was more gorgeous than I ever imagined. None of the pictures I had seen showed just how high up it was! We were told we could ride a donkey up, or climb 600 steps that have been built which will allow you to gradually walk all the way to the top, or take the cable car.
Greek is the main language spoken in Santorini. Although, English is well spoken by the friendly locals within the tourist areas. The form of currency used is in Euros amongst the American dollar in various areas. Just be mindful of the exchange rates. Temperature wise the best months to visit Santorini would be April thru June.
Santorini was the port Lulu and I were excited to explore on this entire cruise. We wanted to visit Santorini which boasts a population of 12,000 inhabitants. Finally our dream was becoming a reality. Santorini, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea. It is the largest island of a small, archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. For many it is the most enchanting of the Greek Islands -- for most travelers who have visited Santorini, it has become a favorite across the entire planet. One of the best places in this island is the village of Oia ( pronounced EE-Yah ).
As soon as we got our tickets for the shore excursion to Santorini, we proceeded to the gangway to ride the skuna ( these are small local boats that are used as tenders ) to take us to the shore. The first ones loaded on the skunas were people who have shore excursions. For those who did not take any shore excursions, they will have to wait until the ship moves to another location which was nearer Fira, drops anchor again, and then take the skuna to the little port of Fira. From there, you can take the cable car ( it costs 4 euros one way ) up the hill to Fira, which is the biggest town on Santorini.
By 9:00am we were in a tender and cruised the 10-minute ride over to the dock at the base of the village.
Our bus ride to Oia was comfortable, passing one slideshow of scenic cliffside panorama after another. The bus route goes through the road on the non-caldera side of the island with farms blanketing the foothills down below. Vacation villas and houses dotted the rolling hills and cliff sides. There are so many nooks and crannies, along with vistas from every turn. The white buildings seem to be electric against the occasional bloom of neon pink flowers.
The bus stop at Oia was lined with stores and kiosks selling tourist trinkets, t-shirts and other resort wear, and various knickknacks. We followed the throng of tourists toward the village square in front of the Church of Panagia which has the classic Greek Isle architecture: white-washed walls, a blue dome, and cast-iron bells.
Oia is situated atop an impressive cliff with more views of the sparkling expanse of sea, and the charming village is made up of traditional white houses and blue domed churches, with the narrow streets between buildings just wide enough for pedestrians and the occasional passing donkey. This is the main attraction on Santorini and the beautiful white houses you see on all the photos are from here. We discovered that many artists have made this picturesque setting their home.
We decided that it was time to start making our way back to the ship. Again, there was a huge queue for the cable car and we were not feeling brave enough to ride one of those crazy donkeys down the path. When we got into the line, we didn't realize exactly how long it was. At least the people in line tried to remain in good spirits. Most of them were from our cruise ship. The cable car ride itself takes only five minutes, but the lines can be quite long. Allow yourself some extra time.
If you’d rather walk, follow the path connecting Thira to the port downhill. It takes approximately 40 minutes, and you will have to share the narrow path with the donkeys. You can ride a donkey back too.
If you are on tour, the guides will give you a cable car ticket that you can also use for the donkey ride, but the donkey owners will expect a tip.
The old port of Fira originally could only be reached by the long winding set of steps down from Thira. The locals came up with an easy way for seafarers to go up to the town of Fira -- using donkeys to carry people up and down. This was where we were going to ride our skuna back to our ship.
Santorini is a magical place! It should definitely be on a travel bucket list......