Mediterranean Cruise: Santorini, Greece

Everyone talks about Santorini. It’s the exotic place to go in the summer and you see all kinds of celebrities there. It’s absolutely beautiful. We decided to go on an excursion in Santorini. Our tour took us to a winery and to the towns of Oia and Fira and included a ticket to the cable car down to the port. These islands were formed through volcanic activity and the ocean in front of the island is the volcano’s caldera. This is why the cliffs of the island are so significant because they are remnants of that eruption. The views from our balcony were amazing.

There are three ways to get up to the top if you took the tender into port. (The ships cannot dock there.) You can take the cable car, you can ride a mule to the top, or you can hike to the top. You are hiking up the same pathway as the mules. I am told that it is not a pleasant experience. There are 588 steps to the top. Although we did not see any mules carrying people up, we did see people hiking up and down the steps. We had enough of hiking steps from Taormina and were happy to be on an excursion. We did see part of the steps though.

Our tender took us to another part of the island in which we could take a bus up to the top. It was a harrowing road, but the bus drivers know what they are doing. As we rode to the top our tour guide gave us so much interesting information about the island. She was a year round resident. They do not water anything on the island because the soil holds enough moisture to take care of the crops. They do not look like the lush green plants you see other places, but they hold their own. They are known for their wine and they took us to a winery to try it out. They also offered us fresh tomatoes, olives, sunflower bread, and cheese. We were able to try a glass of red wine, white wine, and a sweet wine. The sweet wine was my favorite. It reminded me of an ice wine.

The views from the winery were unreal. This last one you can see the capital of the island, Fira, which is where the steps and cable car will take you. We were driven to Oia. This is one of the most photographed towns with the blue domes (my first picture). On our drive, our tour guide told us that they did not have cars until the 1960s. Therefore the towns can only accommodate foot traffic and mules. The bus dropped us off in a parking lot and we walked into the town on streets about the size of an alleyway. They were all stone. It was very picturesque. There were some areas that were harder to navigate than others due to tourists trying to get the perfect picture, but the beauty of the town is undeniable.

After taking these iconic pictures, we wandered down to the “castle” area, which afforded us more amazing views. We discovered a windmill, so we went in search of it.

We didn’t have a lot of time in Oia. After exploring our options for picture taking, we looked in a few stores and bought some more baklava. We met everyone back at the bus and headed to Fira. In Fira we were able to enter a beautiful Orthodox Greek church. The streets are much like those in Oia, they meander all over and are filled with shops and restaurants.

I was really happy that we went on the excursion because we had time to explore Oia and it was fun to try some Greek wine at an actual winery. It was nice to be there when it was not tourist season. Our tour guide told us that the population of the island more than triples during the summer. I can’t imagine navigating the streets with so many people. Although I appreciated the beauty of the island, I don’t foresee us going back there to vacation.

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