Today (May 19) was full of learning, and transportation. After a lovely Greek breakfast (which included homemade grape jam supplied by the hotel owner), we began our journey to learn about Santorini’s volcanic past. The first order of the day was to make our way down the cliffs to the water.
Feelings are mixed on whether to approve of this donkey transport. While I arrived feeling some concern about their welfare, and while I’m sure they would enjoy life in a pasture more than on the trail, I must say that the donkeys seemed healthy and comfortable. They were well-fed, bright-eyed and well-groomed, and those without riders would sometimes walk companionably with the group as it traveled up or down the path. So, why didn’t I ride a donkey? Because I was worried that my butt would hurt later.
At the bottom of the trail, we boarded a boat that would take us to the island of Nea Kameni.
Santorini is actually a group of five islands — that used to be one big island. Twice over the past 360,000 years, the island has suffered a catastrophic volcanic explosion that destroyed its center, creating a caldera.
See? Just fill in the arc of the circle, and you get a nice round island. The pic shows the way it looks today, post-eruption, with the caldera in the middle filled with the sea.
The island we visited, Nea Kameni, is the larger of the two volcanic islands in the center of the caldera. As you can see, it is made up of recently created volcanic rock.
The path was covered with pumice, and the boulders around us had sharp edges.
Our guide provided a gently scientific explanation of the caldera’s history, describing how pressure builds up and then bursts forth with great force — enough to destroy an island, if you can imagine.
Afterwards, we visited two more islands: first Palia Kameni, the smaller of the two central islands, for a dip in the hot springs …
… and then Thirasia, where we had lunch at the tiny port.
Then we headed back to Thera, Santorini’s main island.
Oh, and in case you noticed everyone’s dress, I should mention: it rained. It rained! Every Greek we met told us that this was very unlikely. Oh well; at least we had calm seas!
Then came the cable car. For a few euros, we traveled from the port to the top of the cliffs in three minutes (too quick even to take pics). Better than walking after a long day!
After a quick break back at the hotel (no sunbathing by the pool – the sun was hiding!) we headed back into Fira for dinner. We tried something different tonight: crepes. Superb! Mine was cheese, bacon and mushrooms.
And then we had gelato. Hey, we’re on vacation!