Greek Trek 2017: Santorini Part 1 – Fira

My chariot departs Crete at noon for an afternoon cruise to Santorini.  To my amazement, the sea was a little rough.  Until now, the sea had been quiet and placid.  We arrive at the town of Fira on the island of Santorini at 4:30p.m.  Because of the rough seas, the ship cannot dock and everyone must take a tender to shore.  There is nothing quite like boarding a tender in rough seas.  You need to time you step from the ship to the tender just right.  Fortunately for me, as I can’t swim, the crewmembers helping all of us disembark from the ship are very skilled at reading the waves.  The ride in the tender was rough and, once docked; disembarking from the tender wasn’t any easier.  However, everyone made it to shore without incident.  For those of us leaving the ship, to stay on the island, were taken to one dock area where we could get our ground transportation to the hotels.  Those going on a tour were dropped off at a different area.  I will explain the reason for this later.

Santorini, or Thira, and her sister islands of Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palia Kament, and Nea Kameni, were once the volcanic island of Thira, also known as Strongili or the Round One.  A catastrophic eruption ending with the collapse of the volcano destroyed the island and gave birth to the five smaller islands and the caldera we see today.  Santorini itself has towering cliffs on the caldera side, covered with white buildings, and looks majestic. Now comes the Crete connection.  It is thought that the eruption of the volcano on Thira caused a giant tidal wave and destroyed the Minoan people and culture.  However, geologists working in the caldera say they may have discovered evidence that this volcano had its catastrophic eruption several hundred years earlier than first thought.

Santorini is not a party island like Mykonos.  The rich and famous come here to “get away from it all.”  At a hotel in Oia I was told I just missed Chris Jenner.  Looking out over the caldera you can see why the rich and famous come here.

Santorini has two main towns: Oia and Fira.  Because they are so different in structure and what you see, I have split this into two parts.  As the title says, we will be looking at Fira first.

Okay, let’s get the culture shock over first.  The bus from the hotel dropped me off next to that bane of American culture: McDonald’s.  No, I did not go in.  (And NO, the thought never crossed my mind!)

Across the street in a little shopping area stands the symbol of Fira in particular and of Santorini in general.  Yes, none other than the donkey.  You will see why later.

On the same street is Nick the Grill.  No, that is not Nick.  That is none other than Jack Daniels.  I saw his face in other bars in Fira.

At last an entrance to the rabbit warren of shops.  Many from Britain come here to vacation and enjoy the warmth.  Obelix is a popular comic magazine in Britain.

 Fine leather goods are a hallmark of the area.

Some of the pedestrian areas have flowers as a nice, cooling canopy over the walkways.

Santorini may not be a party island like Mykonos but it has its fair share of bars.  Here we have “The 2 Brothers.”  Judging from the waitress at the door, business must be slow during the day.  I don’t know why because it was hot!

There are many little alleys and walkways lined with shops in Fira.  This is on the island side of Santorini.  This eventually leads you to the top of the town and the view into the caldera.

The truly picturesque part of Fira is looking down into the caldera.  Much of Fira, and Oia as well, is attached to the cliff side of the caldera.

Looking back towards one end of Fira and you can see Oia in the distance to the left.

There are several doorways at the top of Fira that look like they lead nowhere.   Actually, this leads to a restaurant clinging to the side of the caldera.

Another of the “doorways to nowhere” but at least you see people sitting there.

There are a ton of stairs to climb in Fira. 

Entrance to the Greek Orthodox Church on the crest of the cliff overlooking the caldera adorned with a mosaic of the baby Jesus.

The interior of most Orthodox churches are more ornately decorated than Roman Catholic churches.

Outside on the street is the double headed eagle of the Orthodox faith.

You never know what you will find down any flight of stairs or alleyway.  At the bottom here is an Adidas shop.

I said there were two dock areas in Fira.  The one I was dropped at had a way for busses and cars to come down and pick people up.  The other dock you have three different ways to get to Fira proper.  You can always do the old bag-drag and walk up the path. There is a cable car that will deliver you to the top of the cliff.  You just have to go up these stairs to get to the cable car going down.  Or, there is another way.  You can usually smell the mode of transportation before you see it.

You look over a low wall down to where the smell is originating.

Yes it is that symbol of Fira and Santorini.  You can ride your ass to and from the port.

There are many different places where you can wet your whistle.  This one is Scottish themed.

This is a jazz club.

I have been to many countries and the one thing I always find is an Irish Pub.  Welcome to Murphy’s.

The middle of the day and the pub is exactly like the sign says: Dead.  And there is a picture of Jack Daniels on the wall to the right.

But it does offer the opportunity for stress relief.  Looks like it has gotten a whole lot of use!

There are even hookah bars if you want a drink and an alternative to cigarettes.

In one store I saw these words of wisdom from Socrates. 

But now it is time for a nice repast and prepare for the next day going to Oia.

 

Copyright © 2018  John J Campo

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