Prior to arriving in Santorini, I had developed some expectations, much to my better judgement. We had heard lots of information about it because on every island before this, people kept saying “Are you going to Santorini?” or “Santorini, ahh there’s nothing like it”. Santorini is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Aegean Sea and a major vacation spot for Europeans. We left the previous port (Ios) early in the morning so we would still be able to have a full day on the island.
Santorini is unique in that it is nestled on the rim of a caldera, or exploded volcano. Back over 2000 years ago, one of the active volcanoes exploded in a massive eruption strongly than the strongest atomic bomb. The force of the explosion blew off the side of the mountain, and it was flooded by the sea. One of the largest calderas in the world, it is a sight to be seen, especially when approaching from water. We entered from the northern rim on a bright sun-shining day. Wow, it was breath-taking. The cities on the island are perched up on the rim of the caldera in bright white over 1000 feet above the sea. The cliffs are sheer and steep, but layered with years of rock and soot sediment, so they have a beautiful variety of color. The whole group was sitting on the bow of the boat enjoying the views and sipping on morning cocktails. Quite a way to arrive in style!
We ported in the “new port” beneath the slopes of the capital city, Fira. Accessible by foot, cable car or donkey (NOT recommended in 90 degree heat with festering donkey turds), the city is 547 steps up from sea level. When we looked up from the boat, we couldn’t even see the city! But once you are up to the top, you are greeted by a white washed wonder of a town. Fira has a small permanent population, but with all the cruise ships stopped and tourists, it feels busy and crowded. There is a large pedestrian mall at the top packed with jewelry shops, souvenir stores and restaurants. I recommend going either early or later, once the cruise ship crowds have died down, because it really is a lovely little town to explore without the crowds. And the donkey poop smell will fade, I promise.
The true splendor of Fira though, is the views. Over looking the center of the caldera, you can see other parts of the rims, nearby islands and of course the city dropping off down the cliff. We spent the entire afternoon in the town, exploring little shops taking in the views, and catching some reprieve from the hot sun with shadey restaurants and gelaterias. We ate some tasty (and loaded!) gyros for lunch. A local favorite street food, gyros are shaved meat wrapped in (usually) a pita with onions, tomatoes and tsaiki sauce. But here, they also throw in fresh herbs, french fries and lettuce!
We also made a pit stop at the Kissing Fish. A unique version of a spa, the Kissing Fish has pedicure like chairs with small tanks at the bottom featuring a small fish. The toothless fish feeds on dead skin cells, so you dunk your feet in and they nibble off those calluses and blisters. We have been seeing these types of spas all around Greece and me and my sisters and Sam finally decided to try it out (although I had done it in Vietnam once before). Kissing Fish was a great spot, and very hygenic. We sat in the chairs and slowly dipped our feet in. It was soooo ticklish at first and we all burst out laughing! But after you get used to the sensation, it’s kinda nice. Our feet were very soft and smooth by the end of it. Definitely a fun experience!
This is truly a place of beauty, and even though the town doesn’t have the authentic feel of Astapalea, the views and architecture make up for it. For touring today, I needed something light-weight because it is a scorcher. I’m wearing a coral colored maxi dress from Splendid, which I got three compliments on! According to my grandma, it makes me look tan! Over the top (and to cover the back sweat…), I’m wearing a lace vest from Pitaya and a chunky asymmetrical necklace from Accessorize. For comfort, I’m wearing my Merrel walking shoes and carrying my camera bag/purse.