I- Santorini, the Island.
Santorini, between Chrete and the Greek Peninsula, is the
most beautiful and suggestive of the Cyclades Islands, full of images and interesting
spots, the blue of the sky and the sea, and the colourfull, landscape. Pure romanticism in
a lost place from the Mediterranean sea where the powerful Nature rest,...and waits?
Any word is short for
Santorini. Nowadays the Isle has an appearance completely different from its ancient one.
The volcano exploted and the crater was covered by water so now, the place is know by
"the ring", Strongyle, due to its shape. Those facts, witch took place in 1550
b.C., destroyed a place unknown for us, where Phoenicians lived first, and later Dorians,
and also with the most important occidental culture until those days. It was the Minoan
culture, centred in Chrete, witch besides, is not a very safe place, because recently, in
1956 an earthquake shaked the Isle.
If anywhen was it true that the legendary Atlantis existed,
today, its descendants still live dazzled by such an special inheritance, trying to keep
this little paradise for which tourists feel a strong attraction. Nice, kind, sometimes
even a pain, the islanders are as interested in the other "worlds" as it is
usual. All this builds an special place, poetic, irresistible.
Anyone who somewhen goes to Santorini, will go back.
Santorini is very easy and comfortable from the port of Pireo-Athens, or from the
neighbour Islands. Consider, for instance, that the journey from Pireo takes 7 hours, or
from Heraklio-Chrete, 4 hours. Also by air, witch the regional Greek lines, from 40
minutes to 1 hour, depending on the distance and the plane you travel on... From island to
island, the flight on Turbo.propeller is still common and really enjoyable if you are fond
of remembering late times of the gliders with lateral wind.
Once in the Island you can choose your own mean of
transport, motorbike, car, bus, or even on foot. The buses travel arround the whole
island, with centre in Thira, and multiple routes every 15 or 30 minutes, generally in
comfortable vehicles (except the nigth timetable). If youd rather hire a motorbike
or a car, you will find hundred of places to get them, and also motorbikes for the road or
trial; remember that Greece is a country where every driver dreams with a Formule 1, which
makes riding a bike not very advisable.
Aproximately lets say that crossing the Island by
car, without traffic jams, and without stopping, takes a bit more than 1 hour, bat
dont be anxious, you can stay in Santorini for a whole month and you will still find
Thira is the capital
of the Island. Placed in the centre of the west coast and looking at the antique crater,
it is a services and enjoyable city. Its civil architecture is fully Mediterranean and the
religions one is a mixture with the usual images of the orthodox religion, something which
could be attractive but not especial, if it wasnt for the place, the Island, the
light and the sea. Narrow streets, stairs, corners, white laberints, occupied by hundreds
of shops placed around the jeweleries (the myth of the Greek silver and gold an a good
price), the leader or the handcrafts, and the antique reproductions. Restaurants, bars,
pubs, hotels in the front of the Mediterranean sea. By the day or the night you can choose
thousands of environments to enjoy the landscape in silence, chatting, with back music
from rock to traditional Greek music, classical...
Underneeth, down the zigzag stoneway, the port of the city,
point of leaving of the ships that go to the near Islands; the ferries of longer distances
have their arriving point in the Port of Athinios, more the South, and with access by
road. The Port of Thira does not have more interest than the way, going down to touch the
sea or the ascent by mule or donkey, or cable car.
the sunset it is essential going to Ia, in the North top of the Island, with enough time
to arrive on time to take part on the ritual to say goodbye to the Sun God. It is the
magic hour of the Island, and the moment to go to the second attractive city. Almost
completely destroyed in the earthquake in 1956, covered by volcanic dust and stone, later
removed. In Ia we will find some of the best comerces, and a rising number of artists,
coming from everywhere. With the sunset the terraces will fill with tourist and poets,
staring at the horizon. After this, it is a good moment to go down to the port, Ammoudi,
and have fresh fish for dinner in any of its restaurants, or to wander between the rocks,
looking at the darker and darker waters of the Egeo sea.
Back to Thira at nigth,
and doesnt matter the time, the city has become a torch over the waters, thousands
of ligths, with the domes of the Churchs, the stars in the sky and the shadows of the
rocky-Islands of Nea, Kameni, Aspronisi, Palea Kameni and Thirasia. Enjoy it.
The volcanic past
of the Island marks the coast dramatically an its west side. All the beaches can be
visited from the Port of Thira. At the North they are shorter, savages and deserted; as we
go down the east coast they are longer. The most visited are in Kamari and Perissa, but
without a doubt the most especial in the Island is the Red Beach, with its red sand, under
a cut in the volcanic rock. Between these zones there are small botes which take us from
one place to the other, and you can arrive at them by bus from Thira, too.
general, in every
beach there are small stalls where you can eat magnific fresh fish, lobster, Greek salad
with luxurious cheese and vegetables, and locals wines (advisables the white and rosé
ones from Santorini). The fish comes daily in the small boats, the vegetables come from
other islands and the wine from the multiple vineyards which get the landscape green. I
wish this traditions were kept, which permit us enjoy our meal looking at the sea from the
beach-port of Akrotiri (by Red-Beach) or from Monolitos B, beach, too. Simple, delicious,
and very, very cheap. We have talked about Ammoudi as another advisable place to eat, and,
in general, you will find several locals everywhere in the island.
When you have
visited all this, you will still be able to go to Pyrgos, a town with an old castle and
the near Monastery of the Prophet Elías, Akrotiri and its excavated village, removed
under the dust and the lava, the Antique Thira on the rock clift that presides the South
of the Island, or the Islands of the volcanic ring and the clonic Thirasia (the little
One last thing: In
Santorini nowadays live together the islanders (over 10.000 habitants), many people from
the neigbour islands and the continent for temporary jobs and nearly 1 million tourists.
Lets take care of this small paradise, before Nature revolutionizes.
Its beauty attracts
people from every generation, from the tourist who goes to luxurious hotels, to the one
who only needs his rucksack. For the ones who once met that lost Ibiza (Spain, The Balears
Islands), Santorini is a chance to see that things can be made in other ways.
We have set foot on Santorini, and we will be back.
Text and photos: J.M.