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                              CYCLADES pt 2 (con't) - SANTORINI, GREECE

Santorini

May/12

The ferry boat to Santorini  (officially known as Thira) was a wise move because the anchorage is too deep and unprotected in the caldron and the marina is too shallow for us to enter. And it was such a nice break to get off the boat and stay in a pension on a real bed, with a real shower!


Fira Harbour


The ferry ride was interesting as we passed islands and make a quick stop at Ios. It took about 2 hours to reach Fira harbor. The sight of the dramatic whitewashed village spilling down the red rock like icing on a cake took my breath away! From the boat we were awed by the spectacular views of the cliffs and their multicolored strata of lava and pumice.

The submerged caldera is a vestige of what was probably the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history. Volcanic eruptions have been so violent throughout the centuries that they have changed the shape of Santorini Islands many times.


We made out way to a tourist information booth where we booked a hotel near the beach of Perissa at the north end of the island. Prices in this area were considerable cheaper and we organized a rental car at the dock as well. Within 1/2 hour we were on our way to find our accommodation.

We arrived at the Paradise Beach Hotel and were pleasantly surprised. The hotel was charming, with a bar next to the swimming pool, breakfast included, and spacious clean rooms, all for $30/night (double). Merissa Beach was a hopping but casual resort area only minutes away where there were bars and restaurants galore.

Partying with the locals

We quickly made friends with the other guests lazing around the pool. Bruce taught the local bartender how to make a proper Margarita (you can only drink one!!).

We all went out for dinner at a fav local restaurant by the beach and ate some sort of meat dish wrapped up in a paper bag!

 

Joining us was a couple from Edmonton!! And another couple from White Rock!!! Bruce was amazed that he had come all the way to Greece to party with people from his home town.

Later we were taken to a local bar where the men danced, complete with the throwing of napkins and the smashing of plates on the floor. We got home at 3am!

May 13

We drove all over Santorini. taking in the strikingly beautiful sights, many blue domes and whitewashed villas on top of the volcano that has become the icon of Greek postcards.

Fira

Although Fira is the commercial district, it retains a dramatic aura. We walked around the pedestrian alleyways on the edge of the caldera  for the spectacular views of the moulded villas clinging to the side of the strata layered rock.

 

There were 3 cruise ships in port, standing off in the deep water below Fira.. We tried to avoid the tours and crowds from the cruise ships  but found it impossibly crowded in the narrow streets so opted to leave the magical area of Fira, to return when the crowds thinned later.

Pyrgros We drove up a steep hill to a monestary that gave us a wondrous vestige of Santorini and the surrounding islands

 

Fabulous views

Good spot for contemplating

 

Gord (left) and Bruce (right) at Pyrgos

Donkey lazes in the shade


Oia

Still recovering from the 1956 earthquake, Oia is dramatic, striking and quieter. Built on the steep slope of the caldera, many of its exquisite villas and dwellings, with their whiter than white walls, nestle in niches hewn into the volcanic rock.

Since Oia is famous for its dramatic sunsets, we went in search of a location to position ourselves for the view.  

We settled ourselves at a little bar, ordered an expensive drink and got ready for the show

Ammoudi

300 Steps below Oia, lies the tiny fishing harbor of Ammoudi. Sheer cliffs of red volcanic rock and layers of white pumice and black lava rock make for a spectacular vista.

 

The old slate roofs of the Monastery and the amazing views below.

Beaches

Santorini had several nice beach areas. In addition to Perissa Beach, which was near our hotel, we found beaches of black sand, red sand and white(ish) sand. Red Beach was breathtaking with high red cliffs and hand size pebbles submerged under the clear water

 

We continued our drive around Santorini, exploring the island thoroughly. We passed through countryside with unusual architecture, rounded and in earthy colors of sienna and umber, unlike the stark whiteness of Oia and Fira.

May 16

Back to Naxos

We left Bruce in Santorini to catch a flight to Athens then home and we hopped on the ferry to return to the boat in Naxos. We were whooped from our extensive sightseeing and were certain we needed at least a few days to recover.

When we returned to the marina our boat was in a different location! Our worst fears were realized only a couple of hours after we left the marina to board the ferry to Santorini. Some idiot picked up our anchor chain, along with another boat's, and drove around, dragging us around the marina with him. Luckily we had asked a fellow cruiser to look after our boat and he rescued Ascension. Our self steering sustained some damage as it was bent.

That night while trying to catch up on much needed sleep, very loud music, hooting and cheering cracked the night air, along with the noisy bass beat that vibrated through our hull! I think the tourists had officially arrived and a Moon Party was in full progress. Up to that point we had been slightly ahead of the tourist season and escaped the tormenting crowds.

The buzz on the dock was for storm Force 8 winds from the north so we decided to stay put. We spent the next week bouncing around with the wind and the waves but happy we were not "out there." The fishing boats were all tucked in, moroed 3 and 4 deep to accommodate everyone. Even some of the ferries stopped running.

So, we wait for the Wind Gods to tire of their shenanigans, our plan is to sail to Serifos next.


Serifos

Finally, it was time to untie the dock lines. We went to pay the Harbor Master at Naxos for our time at the dock, his only request was "Pay what you think it was worth"!! I have to say, sailing in Greece is heaven!

Light winds made our trip from Naxos to Serifos one of a sporadic bit of slow sailing, then motoring and finally, just as we were coming into the Port of Livadi,  the wind teased us with another burst that allowed us to once again roll out the foresail for a few pleasant moments.

We anchored in the quiet bay in front of the stunning scribble of white houses crowding a high rocky peak. For the most part the area around Serifos is barren and rocky with pockets of greenery, typical of many of the Cyclades islands.  Serifos is rich in iron and copper mines, giving the rocks a distinctive color. We joined Argos that evening for drinks.

Hora

The following morning we hopped aboard a bus that took us to the top of the hill at Hora. Clinging to a crag high above Livadi a tranquil white washed village seemed to be all but abandoned. Apparently, all the young people migrate to Athens, leaving a declining population in the sleepy village. The wondrous maze of streets led upward to a town square, where we joined Argos for a cup of cappuccino. 

Then we continued our climb to the ruined 15th century Venetian Kastro for an eagle eye's view of the harbor.

  We picked our way back down the hill by following the ancient stone walkway and stairs. We were fascinated by the many medieval cube shaped houses, many incorporating stone from the castle, having been renovated as holiday homes for the Greeks. The town was lovely with attractive chapels and windmills perched precariously on the hillside.

The next day Aliesha and GWTW pulled into the anchorage. We all got together than evening and had a nice reunion.

Our water pump had all but packed it in and we needed to get to Athens in order to repair or replace the pump. We planned to sail to Poros and take a ferry from there to Athens.

The forecast was for no wind so we were planning to delay our departure until there was enough wind to allow us to sail to Poros, 60 miles NW.  GWTW had offered to tow us, but the distance was just too far to consider. But at 10am when GWTW, who had already left the anchorage, reported fantastic sailing right out of the harbor and for 10 miles beyond, we decided to follow suit and hurriedly picked up our anchor and set off.

We did in fact have a nice breeze until we cleared the island, about 30 minutes. Then everything went still. Ever hopeful for some wind, we ended up motoring all the way to Poros, with baited breath as we filled the engine reservoir with water at the rate of 2 litres every 10 minutes to prevent the engine form overheating. The water spewed out like an atomizer all over the place faster than we could pour it in!


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