It is difficult to get much nearer to perfection than Santorini. I remember blue seas, dazzling white buildings, blue skies, and large white cruise ships loitering in the harbour. And every night we would sit on our balcony and watch in silent wonder as the sun made its way below the horizon.
Fira (or Thera) is the main town in Santorini. It has unique architecture – lots of domed whitewashed buildings. The small town is charming and we spent many a pleasant hour wandering around perusing gift shops and eating ice cream.
A pretty church overlooks the sea, and you can follow the coastal path north which gives good views over Fira and the cliffs. We had breakfast further up this path, overlooking the caldera. The caldera is basically a crater of a volcano, but is now filled with water, so we might also call it “the sea” 😉 But looking out to a perfectly calm sea on another sunny morning while enjoying a greek yoghurt with museli and orange juice it was bliss. My BF summed it up by saying “no matter how many billion pounds you have, you will never get anything better than this”.
Fira has the added bonus of being the port for many ships exploring the caldera. Fira is on a cliff and winding steps lead down to the port below, but you have 3 options to get down there; walk, donkey, or gondola.
- Walk – it took ages for us to walk the 576 steps down the path, so I dread to think how long I would have taken to climb up it! On the plus side, it’s free! 🙂
- Donkey – I was in two minds about this, mainly as I felt it was cruel to the donkey to have to carry my bulk up the path. I went to see the donkey men to ask if they had a large donkey to carry me on, but they just grabbed the donkey at the front of the queue and gave me that one. Poor little mite – he’s probably dead now. Just kidding – he seemed fine carrying me up, and my BF is heavier than me anyway. It was certainly entertaining riding on a donkey – they kept stopping, and then walking right next to the wall so I was worried I would scrape my knee. This was quite expensive at 5 Euros each.
- Gondola – by far the quickest and easiest way, but also expensive at 5 Euros each for a v short journey.
More on the actual boat trip in another blog. But it was nice to spend time in Fira, and I have happy memories of eating in small tavernas under olive trees, watching donkeys trotting past after their day’s shift lugging tourists up the cliff, and enjoying a greek salad (me, not the donkey). Could I be any more of a cliche? 😉
We were also lucky enough to be visiting Fira when some big marshall arts competition (I think it was the World Championships) was on at the local sports centre. This was free so we wandered along one day when it was raining, and had some free entertainment.
It is difficult to post about Greece without mentioning the economic crisis. We visited before the current situation had evolved, so we did not have any issues with accessing euros etc. It is terrible to see what is happening there now, but I think Greece probably needs tourists now more than ever.
- Take shoes with good soles. I had ballet-pumps with thin soles and the stoney path was a bit painful on the soles of my feet. I wished I’d had trainers or similar with me.
- Make sure you are fit and have water with you if you attempt the climb up the 576 steps from the port to Fira. You are essentially climbing up a cliff, albeit in a winding way. It took us ages to walk DOWN so I would be hesitant to climb up!
- On the same path, Donkeys may not be suitable if you have vertigo as the path has a sharp drop to one side, and you feel a tad unstable on top of a donkey!
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