Today my mom and I headed back to the port for a boat trip into the caldera of Santorini. If you didn’t already know, Sanotrini was originally a big, round island atop a volcano. Way back when, this volcano erupted and reshaped the island. Today, the island is a crescent shape accompanied by a string of smaller island in the sea-fill caldera. Right in the center is the crater of the still-active volcano.
There are so many travel groups and agencies offering bus and boat tours of the island, and since there is so much to see in Santorini we figured why not relax and let someone else do the planning for us. The tour we chose picked us up from the main town, Fira (or Thira), and dropped us off at the main port, Athinos. The old port is only accessible via donkey, cable car or over 600 steps to climb down!! I’ve wanted to ride a donkey since we started planning this trip!!
From the new port we sailed to Nea Kameni which is a lava island where we hiked to the crater of the still active volcano. You could see steam rising out of the ground and there was a hint of sulphur but no oozing lava (disappointing) or real threat of danger at the moment. From there we sailed to the smaller lava island, Palea Kameni which features hot springs. The sulphur from the springs turns the water this bright green color, according to our guide, but the hot springs actually look orange because of the volcanic mud seeping out of the ground. So when we sailed in you could literally see the water turn from turquoise to green to orange. The color distinctions were so vivid it was crazy to look at!
Our ship docked a ways away from the hot springs, and anyone who wanted to swim had to jump from the side into the freezing water. I guess it should’ve made sense since we were swimming towards the hot springs that’s the water wouldn’t be warm yet but gahhh they could’ve warned us a little more! The volcanic mud was the softest texture, like liquid silk! The only problem was it turned all my blonde peach fuzz this burnt orange color haha. Luckily it washed off for the most part when we swam back out to the boat but we turned the hotel towel we borrowed orange when we dried off. Oops… I thought I’d rinsed off pretty well.
Next we sailed to Thirassia. This was where we had lunch but my mom and I decided not to settle on one of the beach front restaurants. We took donkeys (for 5 euros each) up to the old village of Manolas. The experience was hilarious. My mom was really worried we wouldn’t be able to control our donkeys and I was unsure what we were supposed to do with them at the top. How would we stop them and where would we put them? The man renting out the donkeys spoke little English so he wasn’t able to answer our questions. He tied my donkey to the back of my moms and then tied another donkey in the front. He led them out onto the path and sent them off. Just when we thought we were on our own he came running and jumped onto the front donkey as we were already moving! Haha well thank goodness we had a guide… we thought we were on our own.
My terrified face haha
On the way back down Thirassia we made a friend. He was cute but turned out to be a donkey poop eater.
After lunch we sailed along the caldera cliffs back to port. I was sunburnt (I have a nice watch tanline to show for it) and we needed to shower off all the sulphur. I don’t know what is with me and sunburning in Europe! At home I wear tanning oil, maybe 8 SPF and here I am in Europe wearing 30 SPF sunscreen, burning to a crisp. Lord help me when I go to a tropical destination.
After our shower we headed to the northern town, Oia, which is known for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. That title is well deserved let me tell you. It was gorgeous and if I ever come back to Santorini – no make that when I come back – I will stay in Oia. It is gorgeous. And if the bus weren’t about to make its last run back to Fira we would’ve stayed to eat dinner (it’s still low season here so things still close early). We finished the night with a delicious dinner of spicy cheese dip, fried chickpea balls, and linguine with sundried tomatoes and soft cheese.
All the people watching the sunset!