Make it Santorini Times

Trip Start May 29, 2005
Trip End Jul 28, 2005

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The 15 hour mega ferry excursion is complete and I arrived in Santorini late sunday night. The ferry itself was fast but stopped at 3 places along the north coast of Crete before turning north for Santorini. Beautiful volcanic island with towns perched hundreds of feet above the sea. This is the greek island you see pictures of in travel mags. And really folks, that's santorini. Only pictures do it justice and I still an unable to upload those. I met a group of 5 british college grads on the ferry as well as a Kid from mississpi named Theo. This is theo's first time out of the south, let alone out of the country. We got a shuttle bus to a Hostel near Perissa, a beach town on the far side of the island and it's quite nice. In true british fashion these guys have come up with team uniforms for their vacation. Soccer is everything to europeans...everything. The team is Greek Symposium 2005. Each has his last name and a team number on the back of the jersey. And bill was right: one of them has a mullet and ALL of them wear their collars up. Very unfortunate. Fun guys though.
I spent monday wandering Thira, Oia(the two coolest towns), and walking down to the old port about 300 steps beneath Oia. Met up with the brits and some other hostel folks that evening and went to a pub on the beach. It's now tuesday and I just finished a pair of dives in the Santorini Calderra. The first was in the mouth of the newest volcano(1903 or thereabouts I *think*) and the second was a close to the shore on a cliff wall. It's fun to say I dove into a volcano and lets just stick with that story instead of me telling you how little plant or wildlife there was to see. Volcanic rocks look the same underwater as above water. Weird thing about the dive was heat plumes. THe water was cold but periodically you'd get hit with a blast of 100 degree water for 30 seconds or so as it rose to the surface. I sure hope that's what it was at any rate.
All and all I'm enjoying this island. Frankly I think Rhodes has more to see but this island is prooving that the people you meet are really what makes things fun. Granted Oia is a sight not to be missed but there's only so many hours a person can wander around that town and there are only so many ice cream stands and tourist stalls you can pass by. It's amazing that no one can think of anything other than gellatto, pottery, jewelry, or bad watercolor paintings to sell on ANY island in greece.
Tonight I'm planning on hitting up a few wineriess along the way to Oia with some elementary school teachers from Georgia staying at our hostel. Oia is supposed to have the best sunset in the world on account of it's high altitude above the ocean. Like everyone else, I heard this explanation and nodded. Then I thought about it: surely there are places higher above the ocean than this? Big island comes to mind. As do a million other places. Yes, the town is on a cliff but it's not a 2000 foot tall cliff or anything. I think they made up the bit about best sunset and I'd be curious what committee of judges awarded santorini this honor. If it's so good, perhaps there will be a 'green flash'?
I'd like to wrap up this log with a discussion of this greek ferry I was on. This thing could double as a gator freighter(military transport). 600 feet long, roll-on roll-off, flat bottom, the whole works. They drive these things like sports cars; I've never seen better use of anchors before. If I may delve into a brief discussion of ships for a moment, you can use your anchors to slow you down and pivot around the bow by dropping them while you are moving. We never did this in the navy because we had sonar domes that the anchor chain would rip off(so I'm told). Too bad, because these guys aim straight for the pier at 5-10 knot, throw the engine in reverse, and drop both anchors, The boat whips around 180 and they back into the pier med-moor style, all in like 5 minutes. Very impressive stuff and it reminded me just how awful the US navy is at driving ships compared to everyone else driving ships. More interesting is ferry culture. Greek families buy economy tickets but then set up camp on 10-20 couches like a small fiefdom. As a result you can't sit anywhere in economy. Funnier, some families bring inflatable beds aboard and set them up in the ship, on the ship(like on the outside), anywhere. Then they let their kids run loose throughout the ferry bothering tourists for 15 hours. I coughed up 20 euros for a cabin to avoid this madness and get a good night's sleep.
That's all folks. I'm taking an afternoon ferry to Athens tomorrow and will visit the acropolis before flying out of greece on thursday evening.
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