Thursday, May 6

Fira


Santorini is an amazing location. It’s essentially a string of islands circling the sudden caldera of a dormant volcano. Since recorded history began, it has erupted more than five times. The most stunning of these events in 1650BC literally blew the top the volcano off, creating the caldera you see today. This cataclysmic eruption is believed to have brought about the collapse of the advanced Minoan civilization that dominated the Cycladian region. The island’s last eruption in 1707 created the grey, rocky island of Nea Kameni that sits in the centre of the caldera.


Today, a string of white-washed villages delicately balance along the rim of the caldera’s steep mulit-coloured cliffs. The island’s largest town is Fira, perched 220 metres above sea level. We’ve based ourselves here for 2.5 days after catching a high-speed ferry from Mykonos. The ferry ride proved to be a smooth and easy 2.5 hour journey across the Aegean.


However, reaching Fira was an adventure in itself. The ferry docked at a narrow wharf clinging to the base of Santorini's towering cliffs. From here our taxi took us to the caldera rim via a winding road consisting of hairpin after hairpin corner. You can see just two of these hair-raising turns in bottom-right hand corner of the image above. This being Greece and all means the locals insist on passing each other despite the blind corners ahead. Although, it seems that even the locals have their limits. At one point our grizzled taxi driver let out amost bood-curdling gasp as the driver ahead narrowly missed a head-on collision.


Our first day in town saw us wandering along a cobbled path that follows the rim for more than a kilometre. The caldera views kept unfolding in greater and greater breathtaking splendor, while every turn offered us yet another quintessential Greek scene of white-washed angles, clay pots and blue church domes. Hopefully some of the images posted below do it all justice.


We stopped for lunch at Mylos Cafe. It’s an old converted windmill offering stunning views from a shaded outdoor terrace, or from the comfort of white leather sofas where the view is framed by large picture windows. The cafe proved to be a real gem. Rarely do you discover such astonishing quality at such a modest price. Mylos Cafe offered superb food, served using funky modern glassware. We both had local variations of a classic Greek salad; Garry with large chunks of smoked pork and mine with capers and baby tomatoes. Needless to say, we lingered here for several hours.


We later retraced our steps along the caldera rim, detouring to glance inside several of Fira’s many churches. This evening we plan to relax again on our private hotel terrace, enjoyed a chilled bottle of wine and some snacks we’ve collected along the way. We may never want to leave!

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