Our journey on the Viking Star is drawing to a close. The last stop before Athens and docking in Piraeus is the island of Santorini, It is a member of the Cyclades group of islands, in the southern Aegean Sea roughly midway between Greece and Turkey. The Crete and the Mediterranean Sea lie to the south.
Santorini is famous for its white buildings, and blue domed churches and streetscapes. All the postcards have that great shot of the buildings perched on the cliff lines with a vibrant blue sky. Today though it was to be a vibrant grey skyline! With just the odd patch of blue. In some ways though the grey gives a different perspective to the scene. The light is not as harsh and the scenes are more subdued, other colours are seen amongst the white and blue.
Our guide tells there is to be 4 ships in port today, something of the order of 10,000 people as one of them is a big Norwegian Cruise Line ship that has around 3500 passengers aboard. The Viking star has 930. At the height of the season there can be up to 8 ships in port. 18,000 people live on the island and there are many other tourists that come by means other than cruise liners. So there are a few people wandering around the narrow streets.
Our ship anchors out in the bay which is actually the inundated caldera of the ancient volcano that exploded around 1500 BC. It is considered that the eruption is possibly the largest eruption in recorded history and a resultant gigantic tsunami destroyed the Minoan civilisation on Crete. The eruption may also have been the source of the legend of Atlantis, or so the historian on board considered. We go ashore in a tender boat and bus it 1000ft or so feet up the cliff line to the top. You can also catch a cable car, walk it or ride a donkey. The donkeys go the same way as the walk so it can get a bit sticky underfoot along the way. The guide also tells us that if you ride the donkey you will end up smelling like a donkey.
It is the sort of place that would be nice to have 3 or 4 days on so that you could get around and see all the sights, not just having a quick Greek lunch and battling the other tourists for a photo or two of the buildings clinging to the edge. After lunch one of the boats left and there was a noticeable thinning of the masses. Notwithstanding the shortness of our stay it was a great stop and a place we have been privileged to experience, including the cable car ride back down to the port.
It is now off overnight to Piraeus, Athens’ port, for our final day of the cruise.