Woke 08.00 breakfast, a quick tidy up then off for bike hire. Made lunch to take with us just to keep spending to a minimum.
Bike €17, fuel €7 we took the road to Chora the town above and well hidden from Katapola the main port. Lovely quaint town lots of little tucked away cafes and restaurants. Plenty of white buildings joined with arched narrow pathways and steps to entice you onwards and upwards.
Pretty shops, little markets and churches everywhere you look.
Then north to Aigiali the large bay that we visited a few weeks ago which had loud speakers and we couldn't set anchor.
A busy little town very welcoming and more commercial than some towns but really nice. The long narrow sandy beach was packed with suncream covered bodies, towels and happy bouncing children.
Turkish families gather in huge quantities, food seems to appear from nowhere, cooking pots and utensils produced from their many baskets and bags. An amazing community / family atmosphere flows from these groups. Older covered ladies work alongside the younger bikini clad family members producing copious amounts of deliciousness from their pots and pans. No one is idle, the infants are entertained by their older siblings where giggles and shrieks fill the air as they splash and play around the frothing waves and aqua green sea. The male's from the group set up seating and tables for each individual while laughing and playing with the children. What a solid bond these families seem to have, and a caring loving image they promote to everyone around.
Drove to Tholera above this beach, very sweet traditional town. Small shops and bars fit snugly into the rocky mountain side. Churches tucked into crevices between the rocks and trees glowing in their brilliant white coats of paint, flowers climb around each building almost holding the less preserved stonework together. Goats wander freely clinging to the most ludicrous stones and rocks, teetering on edges and balancing on overhangs we almost wait for these sure-footed beasts to topple.
The map guides us towards Chora for the Monastery of Hozoviotissa. We have seen pictures and been told of the stunning build, however nothing could prepare us for this creation. The location is on the east of the Island overlooking an aqua green bay with an almost vertical rockface towards the ocean. The Monastery is clinging to this rockface, yes literally clinging. I look upwards from the road as we arrive and suggest perhaps we find a hard hat and ropes each! It looks awsome pure white walls, grated windows and steps perched high above us.
Kevin says "looks like quite a climb" really !! There are steps and then more steps. Just when you think you have come to the top this weaving stone narrow pathway climbs around yet another tight bend. Someone had to build this!! Who thought that this would be a great idea all those years ago in 1088 😶😶 It has been built 300 meters from both the sea and the top of the rockface and constructed began from an indentation in the dark stone surroundings.
sAs we catch our breath at each new tier of steps we are entranced by the most perfect views. Wild waves batter relentlessly onto the dark rocky beach below us, frothy white foam produced from its force is sprayed against the aqua green sea each colour is glorious and just waiting for our camera to capture that unique scene......I try!
We eventually come to the last step to view this entire spectacle from our vantage point is stunning. The building behind us is beautiful pure white covering eight floors with the church balancing at the very pinnacle, this masterpiece of architecture takes the last of our exhausted breath away.
Unfortunately and typical of our luck it is closed for another two hours! Even the Monk sitting on the stone steps must await the opening times! Two ladies sit under the shade of a nearby tree with cats, around twenty cats all just lounging around. Perhaps when the doors open everyone is fed. We would wait here however in 36 degrees we know it would be too painful and Kevin needs food !!
Back to 'Kejstral' for lunch and siesta. May even go back to Chora this evening for a drink.
Decided against that by the time we organised for sail tomorrow.
We ate tea on board then wandered out for drink before settling for evening on 'Kejstral'
The taverna opposite is always pretty busy, food smelling delicious as each plate wafts it's amazing aroma in our direction. Locals enjoy the social chattering, exchanging banter and laughs while the holiday makers smile and chat looking so relaxed (probably the most relaxed they have felt all year) over their glasses of wine and gastronomic delights. The atmosphere is superb with gentle Greek music lingering in the air, soft melodic sounds playing beautifully in the background. Chinking of glasses and cutlery chiming against china tableware. If I close my eyes I could just drift into the most idyllic sleep, that is, until a group of musicians arrive in the restaurant.
Just outside our boat with guitars fiddles and flutes, they fill the air with a lively Greek style of musical entertainment. Wide awake we are now head bobbing to this new vibrant sound in which they are very skilled and passionate in their delivery. Within minutes the locals are dancing , visitors are clapping and toe tapping to the rhythm and notes with a complete change to the once sedate relaxing evening. In awe of the musicians ability to captivate their lazy overfed audience, we gaze smiling and nod in agreement with our boatee neighbours, Greece has a magical feel for many different reasons, and this is just one of them 😁
Cleaning, inside and out today. The harbour is free with a small charge for electric and water. Therefore a perfect opportunity to scrub ourselves, 'Kejstral' and get some washing done. We had found a launderette on our evening walk so thought an ideal chance to wash bedding, towels etc. However, we had not banked on the €35 charge. Kevin spent some time cleaning and attempted to start our tender engine. Having been completely submerged a few days ago, we didn't hold out much hope. No spark, no joy not a flutter so will probably need stripping down. Kevin was tempted, however as the engine was on the stern overhanging the sea, he could easily have lost parts overboard. Therefore he decided to wait until an appropriate time on dry land to service it.
We do seem to drop things overboard regularly not on purpose of course, usually pegs from the washing, swimwear and fenders. Well have you ever tied a fender onto the lifelines (protective rails) when travelling through 35 knot winds with wet hands from the sea spray, it can be somewhat tricky to hold the ropes whilst attaching them. We usually have to do the 'man overboard' routine, ok fender overboard routine!
Whilst on our sailing course in March, Cumhur ( Jim) would shout randomly like a mad mad, in Turkish accent ......."man overboard", we had to follow the routine which is slow and methodical with sails up. The boat must be positioned and turned using the sails before you can head towards the 'casualty'.
Only problem was his English was brilliant however his accent was hard to understand therefore, it took us a good few moments to realise he was actually shouting 'man overboard', by that time the 'man' (a fender) was a little white bobbing speck in the choppy distance, hmm not quite the ideal scenario! Cumhur had us practice over and over again, we were exhausted but we picked up the 'man' each time (albeit in a near drowned state) Following a full days sailing and 30 attempts at this procedure Cumhur said and I quote" Dee you will never be able to manoeuvre a boat this quickly on your own once Kevin has fallen overboard, let me show you the simple method" ....what!! There is a simple method?? And yes there is, so much easier to handle. He clearly had to train us using the correct long winded, knackering arm aching way first!! Thank you Cumhur :)
We caught up on our video and blog, as the internet could be used in the bar directly opposite our boat, very handy, so messaged everyone too.
Lunch and tea were taken on board. In the evening when the heat had subsided, we took a long walk to the other side of the bay for an evening drink. Chilly evenings are not what we are used to in July but it is so refreshing after a long hot day!
Wind picked up around 3am, waking us abruptly we drifted back to sleep thinking we may have to stay put again!
Woke at 05.30 am to calm sea so we made a break for it.
Swell was enormous but wind was good, 30 knot gusts but 20 knots generally. Sailed the whole 27.3 n.ms journey, but the swell was tipping us from side to side. 2-3 meters swell.
Trip was a little rough however we enjoyed the sailing. What a fabulous feeling to be travelling pretty quickly and at no cost!! We arrived 5 and a half hours later and dropped the anchor, reversed back towards harbour wall of Katapola, but needed a second attempt as the anchor was just not holding.
Once in and settled with kettle on, we felt so relieved!!
A few other boatees joined us. Hilda and Jacques from Canada to our right side and a Dutch family who spoke perfect English to our left. All very chatty and friendly which makes sailing so much fun. We are meeting some really lovely people each with their own stories and experiences.
More boats arrived and the harbour was running out of space ! Having to anchor in bay is not great, as for next three days the wind set to increase again.
We planned to have a cleaning and catching up with video and blog day tomorrow, followed by a bike hire day ready for leaving on the Sunday.
Had a chilled evening, walked around harbour which is a small area but very traditionally Greek. A row of restaurants and bars lined the harbour wall, all very charming and friendly. A couple of markets are situated along this stretch and they are so busy, a constant stream of grateful customers leave the stores with hundreds of water bottles and provisions. I don't think I have ever seen such a well attended market! stopped for drink having had tea on board. Lovely to be away from that damned wind for a while.
Planned to leave today, but winds too strong, we woke at 05.00 hrs to 40 knots! Disappointed, we opted for a beach day.
Zoe was bobbing about behind boat while we ate breakfast with the engine left attached from last evening. In front of our eyes, the wind flipped Zoe upside down (with engine ) into sea. A submerged engine, cannot be good!!
Quickly we fished the engine out, rinsed off and put in sun to dry ...... she might be ok !
Deciding to row to the beach for sunbathing and swimming we packed a bag and headed off. A cafe nearby provided drinks and Internet just to catch up with everyone. The beach was beautiful, those lines of coloured sunbeds with bamboo covered umbrellas perfectly positioned and all free to use. Golden sand trickled between our toes as we made our way along this gorgeous stretch of beach. Families slowly filtering out from their holiday apartments happily waking from their nights rest ready for another day in the warm sun.
We had a lovely Greek salad for lunch with fresh bread in Venus bar. Enjoyed a bit more beach then back to 'Kejstral' for a rest. Well that was the plan!
We thought we would get back while the wind was settled.
Once on zoe the wind decided to rear its ugly head again, just as we got going within seconds it leapt to 30 knots and took us towards 'Kejstral' really quickly. A little too quickly, as we approached Kevin grabbed 'Kejstral' by a fender but was pulled away, so much so he ended up in the sea, just to complicate matters he took an oar with him! So me on zoe alone, one oar and drifting quickly past 'Kejstral'and out to the bay mouth. I threw a rope to Kevin, who hung on whilst I paddled as fast as possible ( with one oar) Kevin managed to climb back into zoe just as a little engine powered rib arrived to tow us to our boat feeling very traumatised we clambered on board to rest.
The ordeal was enough to keep us on board, by the time evening came we felt more chilled, enjoying the antics of other boatees. We stayed on board for the rest of the evening and readied ourselves for tomorrow's passage to Amorgos.
Woke to calm seas and slight breeze!!
Breakfasted then took Zoe to shore, just then the wind reappeared!
At least it was bearable, we had a swim, walked along the beach for a mile or so. It was a fabulous place, sandy glorious beaches stretched along a pretty tree clad coastline. A few pensions interrupted the greenery with terracotta coloured roofs. In the foreground sunbeds in bright colours line the beach with umbrella's made from bamboo and palm tree fronds. These are all free to everyone, no need to even buy drinks. Three bars sat on the beachfront strategically spaced for the bathers and boatees. It always amazes us that in these pretty remote villages and beaches, they still manage to receive internet. We make use of their facilities, cold drinks and catching up with internet.
Back out into the hot sun, we cool down with yet another swim. We find we are always wet! Either from perspiration or from swimming, once you dry from the swim or perhaps the shower within seconds the perspiration begins again.
On board for lunch where Kevin sorted ropes and did some jobs, and I sorted through photos and videos. We take so much video and pictures that at some point we have to discard the pointless and store the quality items.
Kevin caught three white and blue fish not sure what they were, then a huge bass. A couple of flat fish too.
We ate our evening meal, showered then took Zoe our tender out in the wind for an evening drink ( we had the drink, not zoe!) Then planned our route for the following morning. Amorgos Island
We decided to move on as this swell was just too much for sleeping and comfort. It also meant we couldn't read write or sit comfortably on the boat at any time. The journey to Ios will be 22.9 miles. As we set off the wind progressed, the swell was too high so we opted to motor all the way. Seems silly not to sail but it was so miserable bouncing up and down with the wind whipping around. The wind was cool and with such a spray from the swell we ended up soaked and pretty cold.
Wind gusts up to 35 knots
Probably worst passage so far. Got soaked a few times with waves over the boat possibly 3 meters in height.
Very few boats around we saw the odd ferry possibly heading to Santorini.
Arrived in Ios feeling battered and a bit fed up.
As we approached the southern tip of Ios the wind settled and calmed the sea nicely for us. The bay was a beautiful aqua green sea, very tempting after our rough morning. A few yacht's sat in the first bay near us. The bay more easterly had one yacht bobbing around.
This weather was so much calmer in this beautiful bay, we swam then snoozed a little, catching up from the few hours we managed overnight.
Kevin caught a couple of little fish that made us feel a little better.
Had tea then showered ready to get in rib and go ashore, however the wind picked up just as we stepped into our rib and did not ease until 03.00 hours. It was around 30 knots!! So didn't actually get ashore at all.
Fortunately we slept really well despite the howling gales outside!
Woke early, lots of swell overnight, uncomfortable really didn't imagine it would be this bad.
Caught the local bus to Chora!!! €1.80 each, each way. Not a long journey but unmanageable on foot, quite a climb! Pretty island but quiet, only a couple of towns here.
What a sweet village, a central square with large tree surrounded by paving and little eateries, soothing music drifted from the shaded little cafes, lovely little village with an amazingly relaxed atmosphere. Everyone seems to know everyone, greetings of kalemera could be heard from doorways and windows. A few little market shops perfectly stocked for the needs of all, mingled with a few gift and craft shops. We walked around seeing those beautiful white painted buildings alongside the more rustic stone built cottages. The road led us beyond the village to some amazing views of a beautiful coast below. We enjoyed a drink back in the square, absorbing the atmosphere and shade, then took a bus back to port Karavostasi where 'Kejstral' was moored.
Lunch was enjoyed on board then off to the beach for few hours swimming to cool down from that ever baking sun, the water was chilly probably due to the excessive winds!
Internet can be found in any of the busy little bars, therefore our beer was ordered in a very beachy feeling bar with bamboo covered shelters, here we relaxed watching the antics of each boat arriving. We have only been sailing four months and are by no means experienced. However, we enjoy watching and trying to fathom the intentions and choices of fellow boatees. They in turn we have equally hilarious moments watching us ! When the entertainment draws to a close, we head back to 'Kejstral' for tea. The wind was picking up again, rather than rocking about all evening on board we chose to return to shore and the bar for a drink. The wind was so powerful glasses and plates were taking off, flying past their owners before any had been consumed or enjoyed. To add to the issue, a power failure prevented anyone seeing their lovely meal or drink, candles were hastily lit and relit in that troublesome wind.
Our evening was a challenge to enjoy, the wind yet again spoiling the lovely surroundings. We watched food part company with the plates just not in the normal manner, plates blown from tables and glasses swept to the ground. Guests were being being decorated with food and drinks, what a real shame for these very attentive and lovely staff. No lights or candles lasting long enough for anyone to see anything. By 11 pm we were tired of the powerful force of nature and needed to get away from the gusty annoying wind. 'Kejstral' was taking a battering, ropes pulling with great tension and causing strain on each cleat. The swell making it all a little worse. Trying to board and step onto a rapidly moving swinging gangplank was a bit tricky. Once safely on board though, we had fun watching the entertainment, everyone who came back to their respective boats a little later, had an even harder job boarding and staying dry!
Slept really poorly as you can probably imagine.
We left at 09.00 after the jet ferry managed to churn the sea beautifully causing a fabulous swell! 8- 10 knots of wind met us gently carrrying us to the headland. Within minutes we were using the mainsail, gliding easily in a westerly direction.
Wind seems to swirl around the Islands yet settle as soon as you reach open water.
Our genoa was unfurled with a great increase in speed to 6.6 knots. Wind thheen picked up quickly to 15 knots, powering us along at 7.3 knots of speed so Genoa taken in for a more comfortable journey. Throughout the four hours we had 27 knots then 5 knots, then 26 knots and that is how our morning transpired. Sails in, reef then sails out! What an annoying wind. Each island seems to push the wind around or over it, so between islands we have calm, then chaos. It isn't easy to get a steady sail at all.
We arrived at the entrance to Folegandros having followed a tourist boat, they give you a good idea of what is to come, so we diligently followed and found the best spot to moor. If the wind had been a bit less ferocious we would have easily anchored. Just as well we didn't, the swell grew continuously making 'Kejstral' bob up and down terribly therefore, anchoring would have been a nightmare. We worry about the anchor in calm weather, this was anything but!
So good choice to moor against the harbour wall, €6 for one night. Once secure we fished and wrote and relaxed, very pleasant apart from the swell.
The main town here is called .........you guessed it, Chora! It cannot be seen from our spot in the bay it is apparently really pretty . Tomorrow we will catch the local bus to Chora then cool down with a dip in this beautiful aqua green sea and hope the wind disappears completely.
For now we walk around the coastline watching boats approach and find anchorage, a few are happy to pursue the challenge, a few tie up next to us. The wind does not settle, usually sunset brings a calming soothing evening as the land temperature drops the winds generally lessen, really .... well no one told these wind gusts!
Having arrived back on the late night ferry from Santorini to 'Kejstral', (On the Island of Ios), we woke late but slept really well. Crammed in breakfast we then headed to the bike hire man €25. As ever the bike had no fuel when picked it up, therefore garage first €7 unleaded fuel.
The rental guy explains our nice new map it's massive! Unfortunately it had very little on it and, being this huge is quite a handful when on the back of a scooter doing 40 kilometres an hour with a further 35 kilometres of wind ( the map was a shredded mess within an hour) he suggested a few beaches and not much else. So, down to the bottom of the island first. The landscape was quite different from other Islands in that it was rather rocky, barren, no farms or animals. In fact the roads are brilliant but the only thing this 20 minutes of tarmac leads to is a beautiful beach and not a lot else. All that road to a beach, no wonder Greece ran out of finance! A few pretty rental pensions and apartments can be seen from the rocky hills above the beach, with three taverna's all slightly different and no shop at all, not sure how holiday makers get food and shopping!
The beach is amazing, crystal clear aqua waters perfect sandy beaches and a little greenery for shade. Umbrellas made from palm leaves with bamboo line the waters edge, blue, green and orange sunbeds are placed seductively awaiting their bathers. The beach is split into two sections one more rock pools and calm sea, the other open sand and clear waters. Both are gorgeous in quite different ways. We stop for refreshments in the slightly more upmarket looking taverna. Locally quarried stone floors lead you through the open fronted garden, palm trees add a certain beauty to the views of golden sand and inviting waters. Very nice place, one downside was the awful rock music at 11.00 am. We persevered, taking in our fill of perfection while we sipped cold drinks with a little bit of head banging on the side!
Following the rocky mountain road back until our road splits off to the right, we find one or two small villages, a couple of farms and two cows, so pretty quiet really. Brightly painted bee hives cover the tiered hillsides on the west side of this Island, as really strong winds seem to overwhelm the east. The gusts are so forceful they take your breath away, not to mention your wheels and map! The winds have been the downfall of these last few Islands, the cyclades are renowned for it, it is becoming a battle trying to do anything with 30 knots of wind blowing constantly.
On most Islands we have noticed a very strong smell of herbs, mainly out in the more open pieces of land, we have sniffed lots of greenery in our travels but just not sure about this aroma. When we returned to the seafront later that evening we found out it is probably oregano or thyme.
One landmark we travelled what seemed like miles for, was Homers Tomb, the great blind poet iin ancient Greek history who wrote, The Iliad and The Odyssey ......... a rocky footpath with a rather grand shaded area alongside led us to the top of an equally rocky hillside, the views were magnificent despite the gale blowing in our ears. Deep cliffs slid down into a deep blue ocean where they came together, white waves crashed forcefully onto the dark wet rocks, it sounded powerful but looked stunning. We dragged ourselves away to see Homers monument. The stone wall edging the pathway was crumbling, stones lay scattered where a sound construction had once been, Kevin decided to carry out a little reconstruction on our way to the top, always the builder!
The tomb was surrounded by the continuing stone wall, rather well presented. Hundreds of little piles of this same stone were standing neatly arranged all around us, perhaps as sort of shrines or monuments. It seemed a very simple yet appropriate gesture in this very isolated location. If felt fitting that we too should add our little pile using a few of the discarded rocks creating our own memorial to Homer.
Back down this winding, windy road we passed very little else to capture our attention so we headed back for lunch and siesta.
Water and electricity keys can be purchased from €5 upwards on the shoreline, we took advantage of the opportunity to fill water tanks wash 'Kejstral' and charge up cameras and devices. Although our solar is working perfectly, it is good to top up batteries and charge everything we can possibly :)
A charter yacht arrived next to us, we climbed out of our comfy bean bags ( ideal for that afternoon doze) to assist the new arrival just as well we did as he managed to smack into the ferry boat on his port side, therefore we were able to prevent him bouncing back into us. Only two near misses !!
The supermarket in Ios was brilliant, a good all round selection and we managed to find a few goodies. Cream crackers, not found in Turkey, bacon and corned beef all a bit tricky to get hold of where we live so we stocked up ready for our next passage west to Folegandros.
On our way back, we called in for beer in the bar opposite 'Kejstral', just to use the Internet and toilet facilities, very handy and a nice place.
Amazing how tiring it is being in the scorching heat with a forceful wind, after tea we settle down to a people watching evening.
What a lovely nights sleep, well, for 110 euro..... you would expect a decent night wouldn't you!
Breakfast was simple but very nice, taken leisurely around the pool area of or lovely hotel.
We enjoyed our few hours of home comforts before packing our bag and heading off in the car. At least we didn't have to carry luggage everywhere.
We topped up with fuel then took the road south to Akrotiri, only a 10 minute drive.
Akrotiri is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the volcanic Greek island of Santorini. The settlement was destroyed in the Theran eruption about 1627 BC, (perhaps one of the largest in history) and buried in volcanic ash, which preserved the remains of some amazing artwork and Frescos. The story 'Atlantis' is thought to have originated here.
The original village began life as a small fishing and farming community and can be traced back to the 5th millennium BC. The village expanded and developed good trade relations with Cyprus and Crete, which has been discovered through the extensive excavations over the last 50 years. The discovery of molds and crucibles, indicate an important centre for processing copper in the growing town. The fact that Santorini mainly Akrotiri, lies strategically positioned between Crete and Cyprus allowed this unique trade to flourish.
The town prospered over the next 500 years, the installation of extensive drainage systems, multi storey buildings, paved streets, and high quality pottery indicate levels of sophistication in their abilities as a large settlement.
However, this all came to an abrupt end in the late 17th century BC with the volcanic eruption of Thera.
The inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. The eruption followed. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, just like in Pompei.
The most recent eruption, one of the most studied, took place around 1613 BC. The ash can still be seen meters deep in areas around the island, more significantly, the eruption changed the shape of the island dramatically.
In 1967 excavations began, an archeologist from Athens Professor Marinatos, had a hunch that Theras eruption was responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Excavations are still, 50 years later, ongoing.
The site is fabulously protected from the elements by an enormous construction. Cost of admission 12 euro each.
As we stepped inside this building we were transported back in time to a major historical event which was being gently uncovered before our wide eyes. The settlement unfolded beyond our imagination into a town square (actually a triangle) with buildings of at least two storeys on three sides, a walkway of slate led us into the lives of perhaps hundreds of Minoan people. Each wall, step and stone brushed carefully out of the ash take their place in this settlement with pride. These people having over hundreds of years, become accustomed to tremors, earthquakes and eruptions, which brought monumental changes to their lives. On the brink of yet another devastating experience they abandoned their homes with enough time to salvage personal treasures and belongings, before this village was completely engulfed in ash.
We could almost feel and hear the panic and chaos as we drifted past each doorway and window, no gold or valuables have been located in these homes, reminding us that time was on their side. Equally no skeletons matching the eruption dates have been uncovered, with this in mind, each visitor and picture captured is relieved somewhat of a sense of intrusion from such an historical and yet devastating event.
We took time to read each of the elaborate displays pointing out the nature and significance of buildings, some of which housed weaving looms, pottery and frescos of exquisite taste.
The village became alive with each little detail and nugget of information. Items uncovered provide a visual display of their lives and community spirit. From communal ourside tables to pestle and morters these pieces were handled and used on a daily basis over 4000 years ago and we are walking through in awe.
To see tourists weaving through these buildings seemed wrong and destructive, however, guides and staff mingled with us taking care to remind us of the fragile state and precious history we had the honour of witnessing. No one took advantage, everyone here seemed to aknowledge the significance of this masterpiece in the making. What I found fascinating was that some of these buildings had been constructed from volcanic rocks salvaged from even earlier eruptions. Nothing is wasted or discarded, even the ash which is so carefully brushed aside revealing these homes is put into sandbags, then placed strategically to support the newly uncovered buildings. The consideration and thoughtfullness of the archeological teams is outstanding, real passion can be felt for this elaborate and painstaking work.
A few hours later we stepped back into the searing heat. The beach nearby is named black beach for one good reason...... it is ! Again a reminder of the impact of Thera and the eruption.
We bathed our feet whilst gazing over this incredible black sand, volcanic rocks scattered across the scenery. Boats ferrying tourists from here to both the red beach and the white beach, I wonder how many of these visitors take a moment to recognize the significance of what is actually underfoot. These incredibly coloured beaches are the result of solidified lava deposits. The waters around the black and red beaches are significantly warmer due to the lava's ability to absorb heat.
(Where did the inhabitants go when they left Akrotiri, were they able to leave this ever changing island completely. Were they just relocated to a higher more northerly town, only to be in the same devastating ash cloud? )
Later in the day we took the road to Pyrgos, a quaint town of the same white stone and steps. Very well hidden, this tranquil piece of beautiful Santorini was quiet yet typically adorning the same qualities of the more tourist loving areas. We strolled through the narrow streets meeting the cats and locals at every doorway. Everyone smiled, thriving from our inquisitive nature, these locals provide amazingly well run cafes and restaurants and seem to be buzzing no matter what time of the day we visit.
Little churches appear everywhere, on hillsides so remote and in these pretty little village squares, religion plays a huge role in the lives of the Greek people.
,That evening we took a trip back into Fira, yesterdays visit seemed to be a little uninteresting, perhaps we needed to relook. I am relieved we did as our impression was somewhat tainted by the road leading into this ancient town. As we are not inclined to make hasty judgements, we made a point of wandering beyond the obvious areas and were delighted to experience Fira in a different light. The busy streets leading to the cliff edge are packed with shops, eateries and the most fabulous architecture. Donkeys trundle past led by their rather exhausted looking owners. Then we realise why, the cliff falls away on the north edge into a rocky path descending 400 meters to the small fishing port below. The donkeys are used to transport goods and tourists from the port up to Fira, hmm not sure how I should document my thoughts on this, so I will move on!
We ate in a small cafe, those delicious pork filled wraps, they are so good :) keeping our budget in mind, we chose water to rehydrate us.
Each little street we entered provided us with charm and beauty, many of the shops were expensively filled awaiting those cash filled wallets and purses. Artwork colourfully displayed in decadent archways, flowers and pristinely dressed vendors line every doorway smiling 'kalispera' good evening to each possible client or consumer. At no time giving the impression that there was an expectation in their greeting, to lure us towards an unlikely purchase. These professionals know if you are a genuine customer before you even reach the doorway, which sounds a little harsh yet it relieves us of the need to decline invitation. Therefore in a relaxed manner we can gaze longingly at wonderful, far too valuable jewellery and gifts without fear or guilt which makes the experience so perfect.
We could not possibly finish this final day without a last visit to the spectacular views over the caldera. Each glimpse between buildings each glance over walls provides a breathtaking scene to be treasured and one of the highlights of our two days in beautiful Santorini.