Saturday, July 30, 2016

Greece Trip. Sun. 7/24/16 PM (Cruise)

What can I say about Santorini other than it was breathtaking? On official maps its name is Thira, although nobody seems to call it that. It was called Calliste, most beautiful, in ancient times. To get there our cruise ship Celestyal Olympia actually sailed over a caldera, meaning a collapsed volcano. It's still active. Santorini is actually part of a series of five islands, and one of only two that are inhabited.

Oia, a scenic village of Santorini, also known as Thira

This island has no potable water and no irrigation. There are wells, cisterns, and bottled water. Farmers manage carefully-selected and -tended crops that live on morning humidity. White grapes, for example, mostly used for wine-making, are grown very low to the ground and in a basket shape to take advantage of the morning moisture and to protect the vines from high winds. The soil itself is highly fertile and multicolored due to the island's geology. It's also prone to earthquakes. The major source of income is tourism and wine.

View from Santorini

While some friends enjoyed an excursion and swim on the surrounding islands, Don and I took a bus tour with some walking and shopping in a pretty town named Oia (pronounced EEE-ya).

A church on Santorini with its typical blue dome. Blue and white are popular colors
 Little chapels dot the island, mostly private ones from seafaring families. Barrel vaults and domes are common in construction here due to the ability to survive earthquakes. The most expensive apartments and houses are constructed from caves. Ironically, the caves were originally built by inhabitants too poor to live anywhere else, but they happen to overlook the most scenic views on the island and now fetch high prices, replete with decks and even private swimming pools.

Cave-dwellings, highly desirable places to live on Santorini

Joanna, our EF tour director, pointed out that housing, which looks similar (white and tightly packed) at a distance on Greek islands, actually varies quite a bit. Samos is "lucky" because it gets enough rain to be fairly self-supporting, producing what it needs. The roofs there have tiles to fend off rain. Other islands have flat roofs lacking tiles. Rains is scarce, and what little the islands get, inhabitants collect and keep. Santorini favors earthquake-resistant designs, as mentioned above. In some areas of Greece, rebar is fashionable, sticking out of many roofs. Taxes are lower on unfinished buildings, so inhabitants leave rebar sticking out of the concrete buildings to convince inspectors of their lack of completion.

After Oia we rode a cable-car down to the harbor to rendezvous with our ship. The ride was fun, like a slow-motion roller-coaster with splendid views for those intrepid enough to keep their eyes open. Tonight we pack for an early-morning flight back to the U.S.

The best part of this trip has been the quality-time spent with my wonderful husband, Don. We would like to come back, perhaps to go diving, definitely to visit the National Archaeological Museum at Athens, which we heard a lot about but never had the chance to visit. The islands, especially Hydra, Samos, and Santorini, beckon us back, and it would be nice to visit Ephesus in Turkey when the political situation improves there.

Don and I, here on Santorini, thoroughly enjoyed our Greek vacation and our time together

The Greeks are a spiritual people with strong ties to the Greek Orthodox Church. They love life, love fun, a party, fireworks, celebrations, and each other (friends and family). Don and I would be very happy to return there should the opportunity arise.

Speaking of opportunities, I am organizing a tour of Italy in July, 2018. Anyone interested in prices or details can click here for more information. Anyone who wants to see more pictures and videos may visit this photostream on Flickr. Opa!

1 comment:

  1. Makes me think of one of my favorite movies, Zorba the Greek.

    Just beautiful and fascinating