Tom and Linda's 2011 Europe Trip

Jump to Index

Scientific American Cruise: Santorini (Thira)

Tuesday 4 October: Santorini (Thira)

We decided to skip the official tours for this stop when I found out getting to shore was easy. We had lots of information and good advice from Rick.

The Greek island of Santorini is the tip of a volcano, the caldera forming a natural harbor. A cone has built again at its center to form a new island. The beaches are famously black sand, from volcanic rock.

We couldn't dock here, but had tender boats that would ferry us to shore from a floating dock deployed by the ship.

One of the tenders was decked out as an old sailing ship.



Our tender stopped at one of the islands to let people on a tour off, then took the rest of us to the port at the town of Fira.


We had three options for getting from the port to the town - foot, donkey or cable car. The town is on top of a very steep cliff.




The line for the cable car was long but moved fairly quickly.



The mule trail wound its way up the cliff. This is also the footpath, so a bit tricky. Glad we wimped out for the cable car.


There were several cruise ships in the natural harbor formed by the volcano crater. The island shown here is a dome in the middle of the crater. Seems fairly stable.

Several nice patio cafes overlook the harbor.



Fira is quite pretty, but the beauty of the island is Oia (pronounced Ee-ya).

So we went looking for the bus to take us there. We found one that was quite crowded.

We got the last two seats available, so didn't get to sit together. Then the bus stopped for more people at bus stops before leaving town, so there were people standing in the aisle the whole way. It's a narrow, winding road with many places where two buses can't pass, but not too long a ride.

Big windows on the bus afforded a good view of the other parts of Thira.


I'm glad we went - Oia is beautiful, the iconic Greek Island town.

We climbed up from the courtyard where the bus dropped us off, up to this church square.


The church square in Oia was the first time we saw these, but they appeared in many other places we visited.

The guy slams one down on the little square where it goes completely flat, like a fried egg. Then it slowly grows and rounds out into its original shape. Cute toy.


A paradise for the simple life.


The postcards on offer were stunning, but could never quite capture the reality we saw all around us.

I was particularly impressed with the one on the lower left. The water really is that clear. The boat looks like it's floating on air.


The streets of Oia are mostly like this, narrow with cobblestones and steps. Never meant for anything but foot traffic.

This is the door to someone's house, outside on both sides. It leads to steps down to a patio


Oia - the town of the white walls and blue domes.




We wandered about, took photos, bought post cards and stamps. Wrote the cards and mailed them, sat down for a drink in a cafe overlooking the sea.









We traded picture-taking with other tourists. Just to prove we were really there.


On the bus ride back we got a better look at the other towns and terraced farmlands along the way.


These are probably vacation mansions for the world's rich.


I'm pointing out that at this post office, as opposed to some others we've seen, there is actually a mail slot and you can mail a letter!


V-Strom: Tom always has an eye for the bikes.
This is one of the widest roads in Fira.


The tender boats are still whizzing around down there.


When we got back to Fira we found it ridiculously crowded, so we decided to head on back to the port.

Good thing we did - the line for the cable car was long. It probably took an hour to actually get onto a car.

Then, of course, it was just a couple minutes down to the port and the tenders.



It was a beautiful day, cool in the shade but warm in the sun. Some people didn't leave for the port soon enough and were in danger of missing the last tenders. I talked to a few folks who opted to walk down, but understand it was a bit like mule bumper cars, so not a lot better even if it was faster.

We did get back on board in plenty of time for the evening lecture. No pictures from the lectures, but they were mostly fascinating.

On to The Dardanelles and Istanbul!


1 Getting There
6 Olympia
11 Ephesus
16 The Cinque Terre
2 Sorrento
7 Santorini (Thira)
12 Athens
17 Pisa & Sienna
3 Pompeii & Herculanium
8 Istanbul
13 Venezia
18 Tuscany
4 The Amalfi Coast
9 Varna & Odessa
14 Padua & Verona
19 Montepulciano
5 Sci-Am Cruise
10 Yalta
15 Firenze
20 Rome & Home

Email Tom:
Email Linda: