Saturday, 16 June
Today we took an all-day boat tour from the port of Fira. It brought us to the volcano for a hike to the crater and a swim in the hot sulfur springs; a lunch/swim stop at the port of of the small island of Thirassia, and a quick stop at the port of Oia. Upon returning to Fira, we took a bus to Oia to have dinner and watch the sunset.
The Volcano and Hot Springs
There actually two volcanic islands in the middle of the Santorini Caldera. The larger has the volcanic crater, the smaller next to it is the home of the famous Hot Springs. Our tour boat, a reproduction of a traditional sailing vessel, took us first to the National Geological Park of Nea Kameni–the volcano-for a walking tour (major hike, actually) to the crater. Except for some small yellow wildflowers, there nothing lives on the crater. Just a seemingly endless path of volcanic rock. The views were great from there, though.
Then we “sailed” around to the Great Hot Springs on the smaller islet of Palea Kameni. In order to go for a swim, it was necessary to climb off the boat because it is too shallow and there are no docks. Though admittedly warm, the sulfur springs were nowhere near 100 degrees as we had expected. We were told that the islet has only one inhabitant, who lives in a structure carved into the hill and has a fleet of small, colorful boats. There were also a couple of buildings on the hillside and mountain goats roaming around. And there is a small white church—couldn’t tell if it was in use or not.
The island of Thirassia is a totally traditional island, quiet and undeveloped. We were told they have electricity, but no internet connectivity. The capital, Manolas, is high above the port, and the only access is a long winding road to either walk up or take a donkey ride.
We docked at the port and had a couple of hours of free time there to have lunch, walk, and/or swim. We took a walk along the short toward a traditional windmill. I was thrilled to finally be able to get close to one. And it was spinning! It was part of an outdoor tavern, where we had a great lunch, perhaps the best grilled calamari we have ever had. We chose it from a display case and watched it being cooked!
Then I found out that the windmill served no function and was for show only. Oh well.
Upon leaving Thirassia, we “sailed” to the port at the base of Oia for a quick visit. Actually, it was a drop-off point for folks who wanted to go to Oia rather than return to Fira. We’d been to Oia last year, but not to the port. Approaching there was a very impressive site. Not sure, but I think Oia is at a higher altitude than Fira–at least it appears so from the water. But it does not have a cable car, and transportation up the hill is spotty – a few cabs and an occasional bus. We decided to go on to Fira rather than stop here and and have to take a very expensive cab ride.
Upon our return to the port of Fira and a cable car ride up the cliff, we decided to have a snack then take the local bus to Oia to have dinner and watch the sunset. I also wanted to take pictures of the church photo from last year, in a different light.
We found the church, but couldn’t take an exact picture because the alleyway that Bob took it from last year was blocked off. But we did get a picture with the steeple in full sun, which is what I was looking for. We were also interested to note that the multicolored building that shows slightly in last year’s pic is a Sweet Shoppe.
From there, we found Kyprida Restaurant where we had eaten lunch last year, and which is noted for its location to view the sunset. We chatted with Jean Luc, the owner, and met his lovely wife and stepdaughter. We remembered having a wonderful mushroom dish last year. There were two on the menu and we could remember which we’d had, so we ordered both – and both were superb. One was in a lemon and oil sauce and the other was with in herb-infused oil.
The sunset was colorful, but disappointingly not spectactular (or maybe we were jaded and expected too much). Afterwards, we took the bus back to Fira then a taxi back to our studio Kafieris on the Cliff in Firostefani. Finally we had a typical Greek evening – dinner after 9PM, back home just before midnight. Sadly, it was our last night on Santorini.
P.S. I apologize for the apparent misalignment of pictures and text. Try as I may, I could not get all to line up properly. Another WordPress quirk?