Trip Start Apr 23, 2005
Trip End Mar 31, 2006

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Flag of Greece  ,
Friday, May 13, 2005

Wow - this place is spectacular - even as you sail in on the ferry you are blown away by the massive volcanic cliffs which speak of a very violent past topped with whitewashed Greek villages which from the distance give the appearance of snow-capped mountains.

The island is formed from a dormant volcano which when it last errupted, the entire centre section (caldera) sunk into the see leaving a rim of mountains surrounding a small cone in the middle. The island is fairly big with two main towns - Fira and Ia (sic?). Fira is the capital and Ia is known for it's postcard scenery (whitewashed houses and blue domed churches).

Ia after sunset

We chose to stay on the beach and hired cars to drive to the scenic attractions. Being a volcanic island, the beached were black (or red in the case of the aptly named 'Red Beach') which is something I was not expecting. Geologically, Santorini is very different to the other islands I visited giving it a completely different feel.

We visited the pre-historic city of Aktrotiri which is believed to have been buried by a volcanic erruption in the 17th Century B.C. which by my calculations makes it really really old. The site was quite big and well preserved. There is a big structure built over it to preserve the site while the excavations, which still have a lot to go, are done.

Next stop was the capital Fira which is built on the edge of the cliffs and overlooks the central volcanic dome. It had a bit of a commercial feel but provided some really good views as well (see photos).

As it was fairly warm, we grabbed some lunch then headed for Red beach which is made from Scorio (that red rock we sometimes use as mulch in gardens is australia). The beach itself is sandy with red and black grains back by a huge read cliff. The water was bloody freezing!

Red Beach

We then headed to Ia to watch the sunset (world famous I'm told) along with hundreds of others, so we had to be creative with getting a good seating position - I climbed a fence and sat on some ruins. It was alright, but some cloud rose up toward the end so we missed the best of it. Ia itself was really picturesque.

Sunset at Ia

That night we headed to a local bar where I met a Canadian guy who told me about Ios and how much fun it was - nothing to see but a great party. I made up my mind there and then to get to Ios the next day. That's a real bonus with independant travel - do what you want when you want. You don't have to worry about anyone or convince anyone. You just do what you want to do.
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