Today we merely swapped one boat for another. Hopping from cruise ship to tender, to catamaran to tender, and then back to cruise ship. Too deep to fully anchor, the Sea Princess drifted around under engine just in case she headed too close to anything else. Santorini sent out her tenders to ferry us to and from the island all day.
You have two choices to make your ascent to Fira: the chicken’s way, the relaxed and panoramic ride by cable car; or the take your life in your own hands, donkey way. After my fearless climb in Jordan, I was to take the donkey’s head on. Spooked by our destination lecturer, many passengers chose the first option. This all stemmed from a bad experience she had encountered many years ago. Now I am not sure what was worse, that fact that the donkey slipped and she was thrown, or that she was wearing a mini skirt at the time.
Either way, it doesn’t really worry the donkey owners. After an attempt to blow up the said cable car, the donkey union negotiated a 30% compensation payout on all cable car takings. They might not look it, but they are possibly the richest inhabitants of the island.
Not from the lack of touting from our donkey handler, Garry and I were the only riders in our trek up the mountain. Following the zig zag steps, our donkeys jostled their way to the instructions called from their owner, who followed at a distance behind us. No matter how hard my donkey tried, he could not pass his stable mate. We were victorious in making it to the top without being scathed, or knocking over any those energetic enough to use a method I have not mentioned… foot power
Having previously toured Santorini by land, today it was to be by sea. We boarded our vessel, appropriately named “Dream Catcher” at Vlichada, a marina packed with pleasure craft, fishing boats, and of course, the obligatory seafood restaurant. Not a mobility scooter or wheelie walker in sight, we were sharing our catamaran experience with bikini clad girls and a crew of Greek Adonis’s.
Suddenly we were the oldies. With the free-flowing wine and beer our inhibitions melted away as the day progressed. Taking our cue from Shirley Valentine, we girls draped ourselves like Santorini mermaids across the bow, clad in our figure-hiding one pieces.
With the lure of the sparkling blue waters, we swam at Red Beach, admired the cliffs at white beach, and also swam in the supposed warm waters of the hot springs around the Kameni Islands. We cruised the coast where the white houses of Fira and Oia looked like snow-capped mountains in the distance.
“Hey you aren’t the only ones with sisters” called out one of the boys as he pointed to three ( a little smaller ) rock formations on top of a hill.
Another indulgent pleasure of Greece is of course the food. Olive Tapenades, Sagnaki pasta, BBQ pork and chicken seasoned with rosemary and oregano. A traditional Greek salad with rich red tomatoes, feta cheese, onions and olives all mopped up with delicious fresh bread.
Our cruise ended at the other end of Santorini near the picture-perfect village of Oia, pronounced eeee-ah. Famous for its majestic sunsets, with performances so great that each night the sun disappears to the roar of a standing ovation from the thousands of pilgrims that make the trek and sit on the cliffs edge.
From “eeee-ah” we were shuttled back to Fira. Here we meandered our way around the laneways with a plethora of shops selling clothes, jewellery, arts and crafts, which are definitely priced for the tourist market. Then enjoying the more relaxed method of descent by cable car back to where the tenders were eagerly awaiting to take us back to the ship.
Gaznjo’s Port Tips
Tour Company: www.santorinisailing.com
From where the tender drops you off you can book a ferry that will take you for a 20 min ride over to Oia, then bus you back to Fira at a timeslot of your choice.