Saturday, March 29, 2014

Santorini, Greece

Santorini is one amongst a group of islands to the south of mainland Greece. The archipelago used to be one big island until a major volcanic eruption around 1500 BC shattered it to pieces and formed a volcanic caldera (a large crater caused by the violent explosion of a volcano that collapses into a depression). The eruption and the ensuing earthquake and tsunami also destroyed the ancient Minoan settlements, and is one of the theories behind the legend of Atlantis.

Santorini is a short 40 minute flight from Athens, or maybe a 6 hour or so boat ride if you can afford the time and can't afford the flight. It is a summer destination and apparently gets crowded like a morning bus during the months of April to September which is why I figured I'd make the trip while I was in the neighbourhood in the end of February. The population at that time consisted of a bunch of really cool animals, a handful of other tourists, and the locals who were busy going about repair-work and renovations in preparation for the peak season. I almost had the island to myself during the three days I spent there, which was probably one day less than the optimal length for a single backpacker and any number of nights less for a honeymooning couple.

It was a visual extravaganza. People probably randomly propose marriage to bystanders and all, some of it is that breathtaking. That also explains why there are an unusually large number of pictures in the remainder of this post. Lest the question arise, none of the images are modified in any way. WYSIWYG, just like all other travel posts.

The Volcano

There are boat trips to the Volcano every day where they set you there for ninety minutes or so during which you can hike on it and back. It isn't quite as thrilling as you'd expect it to be on top of a powerful active volcano, there's no gaping hole, you can't see magma bubbling or streams of lava trickling down, nor are there any lightsaber fights. A couple of vents spewing something and a strong smell of sulphur is all the indication that something is going on below the surface.

Fifty shades of grey and two shades of white.

Fifty shades of grey and two shades of yellow.

It's hard to spot the vent but it is there and spews
out some steam and stuff every now and then.

That is Fira.
The zigzag line is the staircase to the port at the bottom.

I was never very good at chemistry but I suspect the different
shade of blue  has something to do with the sulphur?

This is the edge of the hot springs. Bathing in this water
is supposed to be good for the health. My lack of knowledge
of things that are useful prevented me from swimming
but I did dip a foot on which I'd injured a ligament.
Nothing happened.


Akrotiri was an ancient settlement towards the south of the island. It was buried under the volcanic ash and debris and is therefore very well preserved. However, no human remains have ever been found here suggesting the ancient Greek were very fast runners as is deserving of a people who invented the Olympics. Amongst the intact pottery and even some furniture there was also a three-storey structure of some sorts which I thought was a remarkable achievement for something built 3000 years before anyone came up with concrete and hard hats.

The whole site is sheltered inside a really large hall which you can traverse on the walkways they've built around and through it. Excavation is still underway. Most of the artifacts are now housed in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera so there isn't much to see for the average tourist but if you enjoy that feeling of being around ancient things then this is still pretty cool.

The layout of Akrotiri.

The actual thing.

It is mandatory for all ancient civilisations
to have their own alien conspiracy theory.

This adorned what is called The Room of the Ladies.
I imagine a few centuries later the world became black
and white before reverting to colour again.

Cuckoo Cola


Pronounced 'eeya', this village lies is almost the northern and the eastern tip of the island. It's a 10-15 kilometre hike from Fira and is well worth it. Depending on how much of an admirer of sights you are and your fitness levels, it could take you anywhere from three to five hours.

Some of the roads are as wide as Bangalore's.

The water's that blue anywhere on the island.

You can make out a veteran when you see one.

This is either some ridiculous superstition or the
fence is desperately in need of replacement.

Sunrises and Sunsets

Santorini lies to the east of the caldera. The sunset as seen from the village of Oia is supposed to be one of the chief attractions of the island with fridge magnets made after it and whatnot, but in the summer there are cruise liners ruining the view and in the winter there are clouds. The sunset from Fira was quite a sight as well leading me to conclude that any sunset over water is probably quite a sight. Ditto for sunrises too maybe.

The susnet from Oia. In the summer, the sun probably moves
clear of the landmass making it a better sight in some way?

The sunset from Fira.
Summer, sun moving north, still behind land.

Anybody need a renewable energy poster?

In February only about 2-3 lights on on this side were on.
The whole thing lit up in the night would be something.

The sunrise. My good deed of the trip was saving
some people some sleep who were planning to
catch the caldera view of the sunrise.

The Animals of the Island

For some reason, I thought these were the coolest animals I've ever come across.


The horse stopped grazing and walked up to
the side of the road at the sight of the
three of us walking down. Unfortunately it did
not speak English, Greek, Spanish, or Mandarin.
I didn't try Hindi.

Cats in the caldera with a silver spoon.

Everywhere around the world, the traffic is going to the dogs..

These guys plod up and down that zig-zag staircase.
Their masters encourage them to shit everywhere
to make it unpleasant for the brave souls who
choose to leg it so that they buy a ride too.

The Views

 Everything Else

This looks like public defacation along with the
never-ending argument of which way the seat should be .

I had to step over this as I walked along.

"That must be the smuggler's hideout." said George.
Dick nodded in agreement.

That was one piece of fan fiction I always wanted to write.

DIY guide to find out who farted.

Tony needs to work harder.

The 30 minute delivery guarantee is void there.

It's a little creepy if you catch them from the corner of your eye.

It's much more creepy in the night.

Obelix ate boars. Tap tap.

This is the colour scheme for the whole island almost.

Extreme bubble bath.

That church is probably the secret business
class to heaven or something.

Have you ever seen so lonesome a pear?

Imagine getting mugged, and your mugger croaked.

Zen bottled water, trying to be one with everything.

The coffee versus alcohol debate rages on.

Some punctuation could help reduce Nick's security budget.

Ronald has been hit the by the recession too.

Peak season probably looks drastically different.

As I caught my return flight, it even
bade me farewell with a rainbow.

And then off I flew back into the sunrise.

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