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 Mediterranean Cruise 2008 - 10/09 - Santorini

Cruise Pictures
     

10/09 - Santorini
Sorry it took so long to post these...

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Background
Santorini was once a large island but after a volcanic explosion, the island collapsed, leaving a caldera with five islands. The main island on the eastern edge of the caldera is Thera, but many people simply call it Santorini. The second large island, on the western edge of the caldera is Therasia. In the center are two small islands created by magma flows: Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. To the southwest is the smallest island, Aspronisi. BTW, it was this volcanic explosion which generated a tsunami at least 100 meters tall and is attributed for the destruction of Knossos and the Minoan civilization.



Morning
Our day started with a volcanic hiking tour to Nea Kameni, but first we had to get there. The port of Fira in Santorini is quite small so the ship had to simply weigh anchor off shore and use tenders, small transport ships, to ferry passengers to shore. During the morning, people who want to go ashore have to get a ticket for a specific tender, but since we were on a tour, we automatically got our own tender.

Nea Kameni is made primarily of volcanic rock. The island is quite beautiful in it's own special rocky way and there were several beautiful views. The island is still active with fumeroles and steam vents and three lava flows in the 20th century (the last was in 1950). After the hike we returned to the boat and sailed by the hot springs at Palea Kameni.

We returned to the ship to freshen up before hopping on a tender to Fira where we decided to take the donkeys up the switchbacks. The donkeys turned out to be 5 euros when the cable cars were only 4, but oh well, it was an experience. The main problem with the donkeys was the smell. They looked a bit greasy but even worse, there was manure everywhere. The entire way up the switchbacks, it was as if the cobblestone was grouted with dung.

I think that donkeys are probably at the bottom of the intelligence scale for beasts of burden. Unlike camels and horses which generally follow each other and stay relatively ordered, donkeys just sort of go wherever they happen to be pointed. When the guides yell at them, they just speed up and push on whatever happens to be in the way, whether it be other donkeys or an unfortunately pedestrian that decided to walk up or down the switchbacks. The donkeys didn't seem to have any qualms smashing my feet against the walls (luckily the stirrups were metal) or squashing pedestrians.

Afternoon
For lunch we decided to find a nice bakery to buy some snacks and then find a cafe with a view to sit and relax. The walkways of Santorini are very hilly and curvy so we wandered around quite a bit before finding a nice bakery with tons of selection. Unfortunately, I have no idea where it was.

After that we headed back where we came from and chose one of the dozens of restaurants with "the best view." It was a nice cafe but like many of the "nice view" restaurants, it was absurdly priced. My sister ordered a Greek fava spread, but it was not like hummus like I expected. It tasted more like a bean spread with olive oil. Personally, I was not a big fan, though my sister liked it. My cappuccino fredo (iced) was tasty but way too small. My sister's frappe with ice cream was good too, but alas, with a bottle of water, the bill came to over 20 euros, which is about $30.

After wandering around more looking for churches and various shops it was about time to head back to the boat. We had passed a few wonderfully smelling gyro restaurants for reasonable prices so we decided to get a couple to go and bring them to the ship. After walking down the switchbacks and not getting smashed by any donkeys, we arrived back at the port where we found out that the ship is pretty strict about not bringing food on board. My sister found a bench and ate our gyros which we both agreed were the tastiest we had so far.

Evening
We returned to the boat, got cleaned up then had a simple quick dinner at Blue Lagoon (the only 24 hour restaurant with a focus on comfort foods) after which we met up with our parents to play Mah-jong. I won a whopping 5 games in a row while I was dealer, unfortunately I started fading fast as I had developed a fever. I think it was from over-exerting myself with all the hill climbing on Santorini.

10/09 pictures are here.
Posted 11/11/2008 00:03 AM in Food, Greece, Pictures, Restaurants, Reviews, Travel | Total Comments: (0)
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On board the "tender" which is a small boat for ferrying passengers to shore.

     
Antennae Array on the ship   Tender gangway on the ship   Approaching Nea Kameni, the larger of the islands at the center of the Santorini caldera

     
Docking on Nea Kameni

     
Our volcano hiking guide wasn't wearing very appropriate shoes.   The island is made primarily of lava rock that has bubbled out of the ocean.

     
Lots and lots of lava rock...

     
Twin craters at the center of Nea Kameni. Note that a crater is a depression caused by volcanic activity but a caldera is the result of a magma chamber collapse.

     
Some nice views from Nea Kameni. The left two are looking at Therasia, the western island representing the outer edge of the caldera.   An active steam vent.

     
Some active fumeroles

     
Zoom of a fumerole... not very pretty.   Palea Kameni, the other center island, with the white topped Aspronisi, the smallest island, in the background. The right image also shows the southern tip of Thera, the largest island, commonly called Santorini even though that name actually refers to all the islands that form the caldera.   My sis with the ship in the back.

     
Back to the pier on Nea Kameni   The water here is green instead of the normally blue Mediterranean. This is due to the sulfer springs in the area.   Approaching the hot springs on Palea Kameni which feed into the Mediterranean.

     
Goats hanging around palea Kameni. How many can you spot in the left picture?   Church of St. Nickolaos, patron saint of the sailors   The owner of the goats and all this stuff is a hermit that lives on Palea Kameni.

     
Since the hot springs feed the sea, the warm water is a popular swimming spot.   I believe this is the southern point of Therasia, which looks of like a crocodile head.   Manolas, the main town on the island of Therasia   The northern tip of Thera

     
Oia (pronounced like Ia) on the north side of Thera   Fira, the largest town on Thera and all of Santorini, in the north central part of the island

     
Approaching the port at the bottom of Fira   The famous blue dome at the highest point of Fira

     
The switchback path above the Fira port   The alternative to going up the switchbacks is the cable cars

     
Some ancient structure buried in the side of Thera   Arriving at the Fira Port   Donkeys waiting to go up the switchbacks.

     
More donkeys.   My sister.   Me!

     
Here you can see pedestrians getting smushed against the wall.   Great view of these ass's asses.   No, that's not mud smeared all over the walking path.   Shots of the port as we plod up the switchbacks.

       
The cable car cables.   At the top of Santorini    

     
Views from upper Fira

     
More views of the port.   Map of Santorini so you can see what I was talking about. Therasia on the far left, Palea and Nea Kameni in the center and Thera on the right. You can see my sister's shadow pointing at Fira.   There are lots of stairs all over Fira

     

     

     
Lots of yummy food at a bakery.

     
They also have gelato   I have no idea how we got to the bakery, what it's called or what the address is, but here's what it looks like in case you stumble upon it.   We had a few baklava variations and a custard pie.   A large church overlooking the port.

     
Inside the church.   A couple other churches we found.

     
A fava dip, but it's not made with fava beans (which would be hummus) and tastes more like a bean dip with olive oil. My sister liked it but I was not a fan.   A cappuccino fredo. Tasty, but to much ice.   Frappe with ice cream   View from the cafe.

Panorama of the port from the cafe in upper Fira. On the left you can see Thera wrapping around the caldera to the south. In the center is Nea Kameni with Palea Kameni behind (you can't really tell where one ends and the other begins) and Aspronisi behind it. Farthest away, slightly to the right is Therasia. The circle created by the island of Thera and Therasia is the outside of the caldera, the Kameni islands make up the center.

     
On the left, you can see a church clock tower. We decided to find our way there.   We finally found it!

     
Some rock work on the floor, similar to mosaics.   Another church we found. An interesting note, virtually all the churches in Greece have three bells to symbolize the trinity.

     
Some nice pictures we found of shops along the way. The right one is an art gallery for sculptures.   We were full but decided to get some local food and bring it back to the ship. Unfortunately, we found out that you can't bring open food onto the ship so we had to eat it at the port. I got a pork gyro and my sister got a seftalia gyro. Seftalia is a type of Greek sausage.

     
Both of us agreed that these were the best gyros we had on our entire trip. The pita was tender yet chewy, the tzadtziki very tasty and the meat well seasoned.   A simple dinner. Very tasty panini with prosciutto, gruyere cheese and extra tomatoes. Simple and classic.   Buffalo chicken wings that didn't have the tang or spice of Buffalo wings, but were still overall pretty tasty otherwise.   Cheesecake with Blueberry sauce, nothing special.

 

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