September 8 – 11
Our ferry ride to Santorini (140 euros for the two of us) would be different from the others we had taken, and would take in the future, in that we would be on a large jet boat (catamaran or hydrofoil) with reserved seats, which would make for guaranteed comfort during a four-hour long journey.
We settled in and had a pleasant time as we cruised along, the quiet sea making for smooth sailing conditions as we drank a coffee or two. Towards the end of the journey, a noticeable change in the energy level on board occurred as folks began to sense our approach to the harbor. Of all the Greek islands, Santorini is perhaps the most strikingly beautiful, the result of a natural cataclysm that, similar to the one that occurred at Crater Lake, created a caldera when a volcanic mountain erupted and subsequently collapsed into itself.
Unlike Crater Lake where the sides of the mountain have remained intact, here two sections collapsed creating a giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 7.5 by 4.3 miles and is surrounded by 980-foot high, steep cliffs on three sides. On the fourth side the lagoon is separated from the sea by the much smaller island called Therasia and the depth of the caldera, at 1,200 feet, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay.
The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 68 miles to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.
We pulled into the harbor and located a shuttle to take us to the Caldera View Resort, our hotel for the stay. As we were driving up the steep incline to ascend from the harbor, I was checking out the schedule for the next week or so, confirming reservations we’d made at the next two islands, Naxos and Paros when I discovered to my dismay that I’m set our stay on Naxos for the wrong days. Essentially, we needed to move up our stay by one full week.
I had committed the crucial error of making a reservation late in the evening after a long day and having consumed a healthy amount of wine, failing to heed my own dictate to not reserve while drinking. Furthermore, the Naxos commitment had been through Booking.Com and was not changeable, that is I’d forfeit the deposit if I changed or cancelled, which equaled the cost of the lodging.
I called the proprietor on Naxos and explained the situation; she advised she couldn’t accommodate us the first night but could for the second two of what would have been three nights. I let her know I’d get back to her once we’d decided on a course of action. We’d originally planned on staying on Santorini three nights but cut it back to two as the rate for the third night was significantly more expensive than for the first two (90 euros vs 79).
When we arrived at the Caldera View, I explained our situation to the gentleman manning the reception desk, who spoke excellent English and whom with we would have many interesting exchanges throughout our stay and he advised I could get the third night after all, this time for 68 euros, cheaper than for the first two nights. I called our Naxos stay and confirmed the change, then booked our third night on Santorini. Honestly, we were lucky it worked out as well as it did.
One of our pricier stays, it was well worth the extra money as Santorini is an expensive place to visit to begin with. We had our own little bungalow room in a triplex, a short walk from the beautiful swimming pool. Located seven miles or so outside of the main town of Fira, its relative isolation was a bonus and the restaurant across the street offered a spectacular view of the daily sunset over the Caldera.
After unpacking we walked a half mile to the best bus stop (the one in front of the Caldera View ran infrequently) and there discovered our Santorini go-to for the next three days, the Bakery Gregory. Featuring an array of baked goods, sandwiches and other goodies, we focused that first visit on their extensive selection baklava.
Full of sugar, we took the bus into town to the central bus station and began to explore. We walked up and down crowded narrow streets and feeling hungry after what had been an stressful morning, stopped in at Obelix, a souvlaki stand on a side street and there consumed a great plate of falafel, salad and fries with two beers for 13.50 euros.
We walked out to the Caldera side of town and then up the steep steps towards the upper section.
We made a quick stop at the Catholic Church, an anomaly in a country so committed to Greek Orthodoxy,
then started back downhill towards the bus terminal, stopping in at a bar that served Yellow Donkey beer, a brewery based on the island. We promised ourselves we endeavor to find the brewery later in our stay and make a visit.
Making our way back to the bus terminal, we returned to the Caldera View to relax. Just before sunset we walked across the street to the Caldera View Restaurant where we settled into a couple of comfortable chairs, ordering a drink apiece and a small nosh, nothing too extravagant as it was a bit pricey and we were still satiated from the lunch we’d enjoyed earlier in the day.
Before too long, and without much fanfare, the sun started sinking in spectacular fashion. Snapping pictures along with everyone else who was gathered there, we watched the various stages of the descent; unfortunately, we were a week or two late in the season to witness it sinking straight into the Caldera, but that was fine with us. It was a treat none the less.
With a big hike planned the for the next day we were content to repair to our room for a good night’s sleep after a full and eventful day. The joys of travel remind us to expect the unexpected, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And to always keep an eye out for Jenny Manetta as she appeared to be dogging our trail again.
Caldera View Resort: https://calderaview-santorini.com/
Caldera View Restaurant: https://www.facebook.com/calderaviewcafe/