Greece/Denmark: Day Five — Exploring Santorini 3

This morning was a leisurely, hang-around-the-room morning to just chill out, nap, write post cards, enjoy the cool breeze from the Aegean Sea and soak in the view of the amazingly beautiful caldera.

This afternoon was busy. We headed down to the old port via the gondolas. Boy, you can sure smell those donkeys as you go down! The old port is a very busy center for all of the massive cruise ship skiffs that shuttle their passengers back and forth from the ships. It is also the departure point for many of the various boats that set sail with passengers on sightseeing cruises in the caldera. The later was why we made the trek down to the water’s edge.

Our boat turned out to be a gorgeous wooden sailing vessel, with about 10 large sails. We began the tour of the caldera with a stop at the larger lava doom, where we hiked around the 9 different lava flows and their craters (dating from 197BC, 46-47AD, 726, 1570-1573, 1707-1711, 1866-1870, 1925-1928, 1939-1941, and the last in 1950). Old Burnt Rock (the translation of this islands’ name) is really other worldly, jagged, barren—nothing but rocks of every shape and size. Hot. A bit intense. No vegetation.

Next we were off to the New Burnt Island, where the hot springs approach boiling. Steve actually went swimming in the hot springs area where they took us, though it was only mildly warm water. I chose not to swim as the smell of the sulfur in the water was really unpleasant. The towering sheer rock face jutting straight up out of the Aegean Sea reminded me of the coastline in Bruny Island, Tasmania. Stunning! Really!!

Next we set sail for a harbor near the second largest island that remains after the volcanic eruption that destroyed this circular island about 3,600 years ago. We had dinner here and watched people swimming around a nearby boat.

Finally, we ended our cruise by setting sail to the tip of Oia and shooting the beautiful sunset before returning to old port in the early evening light. Beautiful.