Sunday, May 31, 2015

MENU's Aegean Odyssey. Day 8: Santorini. The Caldera and the Volcano

We had to be at the old port to board our boat for the tour of the volcanic Hot Springs and the Volcano. It was a treat to see the morning ferry coming in from Athens. The volcano is in the background
A view of bay, with the volcano in the centre, from the top of the caldera. It is just more than 300 metres high at this point
You used to have to climb the hill or take a donkey. Now there is a modern cable car
We arrived at the port to find it was quite a windy day. It reminded us very much of our local South Easter, but we were told it’s the Westerly wind which they have through the summer. Here a lighter is heading towards the cruise liner to pick up passengers
A panoramic shot of the bay
These two-masters are some of the tourist boats that take one to the volcano
One of them setting off
Here comes another boat, ready to dock. We bought packed lunches at one of the small cafes on the dockside to take with us, as we asked and were told that only drinks were available on the boat and we were out from 11 to 3. Lynne bought us the usual cheese, ham and tomato sandwiches with an apple and a bottle of water for €5 each. If you plan well, you can take beers too! Beers cost about €1 in the shops and up to €5 on the boats
The boats head out towards the island past one of the huge liners
Time to take a leap onto the boat - there is strong arm assistance
Ours had a glass bottom, but the water was murky, so you couldn't see much
The skipper, telling the crew on shore what to do
Gulls riding on the wind
A view back to Fira, the main town, on top of the cliffs
Looking back at the old port you can see the cable car in the centre and, on the right, the zig zag road up to the top
It is a town perched gingerly on the top of a huge drop
One of the Thompsons Cruise liners. We saw this one all through the week, once here, then at Naxos and it was in Piraeus when we returned there. And we think we saw it in Istanbul when we were there
A boat dwarfed by the gigantic wall of lava thrown out by the volcano
Two magnificent palaces of the sea
A safe anchorage
Despite the wind, most passengers preferred to sit on the deck
The captain at the helm
Looking back at a view of the road from the new port, superb engineering
We head to the hot springs which are on an adjacent smaller island
You can see them bubbling in brown patches under the water on the edges of the volcano
One man and his boat. We think he is the island’s single occupant, who prefers his own company. Apparently he had a disastrous love affair about 30 years ago and went to the volcano island to live as a hermit, with some chickens and goats
We arrived, as another boat is leaving, at the island called Palea Kameni where there are hot springs on the beach. This small church is the only building on this relatively new island, which has been pushed up from under the sea
Hmmm. If you want to experience them, you have to jump off the boat into 15 degree water and swim to them. Only strong swimmers can make it. It was about 300 meters away
Off go the doggy paddlers. The crew do watch carefully and throw life belts to those who don’t think they can make it. We did wonder why they don't give everyone life jackets to wear, as they do in Hawaii, it might be a lot safer
Here goes an experienced swimmer
And off they set
A goat on the extraordinary landscape
Playing in the muddy hot springs. We watched from the boat. John used his long lens
A soaring gull
Sheltering from the wind
Off to catch something
A view of Santorini, looking back
The changing room in the glass bottom area
A view across to Akrotiri at the end of Santorini as we sail towards Nea Kamini island, the home of the volcano
We had to cross other boats to get ashore. John went but, as the climb was rather steep and long (about 2 Km) Lynne stayed on the boat to nurse her still sore sprained foot
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon on a boat out of the wind. Pity John had my book in his backpack!
The long and dusty road
Higher and higher and better views
This is the dormant crater of the volcano. Not much to look at, but then, who wants to see it bubbling? Seriously?
They blew a ship’s horn when it was time to head back
Boat ready to sail back to Santorini. it was a good day out, we recommend it. Take a hat and sunscreen and a costume if you can swim well
We discovered a wine shop in one of the tourist areas back in Fira ...
...and tasted an indifferent Vinsanto. The ones we tasted did not have the depth and flavour of our local SA muscadels
We did a little exploring of the lanes
This looks like a ritzy villa with a view
Time for a refreshing draft beer
We were considering it
And for dinner tonight...?
We ordered two lamb souvlaki. And received two pork kebabs. Damn. Why is it so hard to get lamb in Greece? 
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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