Tuesday 20 January 2015

Life is Better Cruisin' | Part 3: Santorini

Santorini may have conquered my heart before I even set eyes on it. I have been enamoured with Santorini for as long as I can remember. I would daydream about the traditional blue topped domes, and the stunning views of the village alongside the clear blue ocean. I made it my mission to visit Santorini ever since we started cruising, and when we finally decided we were going to Europe, the only port I had on my list was Santorini. Santorini is an island in the Aegean Sea, it is the result of a volcanic eruption. The island is too small for cruise ships to dock, so passengers arrive on the island by tender. Our ship docked by Santorini just after the sunrise. We had booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean for about $80 per person to see the island. We boarded our bus, and drove around the beautiful island. Our tour guide made a mistake, and thought we would be visiting the winery first (I know its 5 o'clock somewhere but really, at 7 AM?). It was closed, of course, so we had to circle back. It took us a little longer to get to our destination and we lost a little time in the process. Our starting point was the scenic village of Oia. We strolled through the town, exploring their shops and art. We stopped at an old medieval castle to take photos of the picturesque town, and to enjoy the breathtaking view.

Afterwards, we boarded our bus, and headed back to the winery for a brief tasting. Nothing too exciting there, but another break taking view of the ocean (top right). Then our bus dropped us off in Fira, where we parted ways with tour guide. Was it worth our $80? Not at all, but it would have been too difficult to do it any other way (renting a car seemed like too much work). We walked around Fira, and explored the shops and churches in the area. My boyfriend enjoyed a visit to a fish spa, where fish remove dead skin from your feet. He said the experience was pleasant, and ticklish, but his feet felt very smooth after the treatment. I, on the other hand, was too scared to try it out. We ate lunch at Zafora, a restaurant recommended by Royal Caribbean. I ordered a chicken souvlaki, and the boyfriend ordered a grilled octopus. Delicious!

Our view at lunch time were the three ships stopping in Santorini for the day. Gorgeous. Our crew told us there were three ways to get back to the bottom to reach the tender boats: (a) take the cable car, (b) get a ride from a donkey or (c) walk. As we ate our lunch, we watched the line for the cable car get longer and longer. We contemplated on walking but it seemed like a very tricky walk down. After grabbing a few more souvenirs, we eventually lined up for the cable car. The cable car at Santorini was not very high-tech. With three ships at the island, there were a lot of people waiting for it and the cable car could only transport 24 people down at a time. Each trip took exactly 6 minutes, and an extra few minutes to load and unload the passengers. We had been told it would be quite a wait but we thought the crew was just being cautious. Well, they were not kidding! We started lining up for the cable car at 3 PM, right under the hot Grecian sun.

We finally got on the cable car after a long, and hot wait. The short ride to the bottom was nothing special, but we saw this little guy at the bottom of the station. A real-life moustache cat! He was just the perfect model. We were sweaty and frustrated with the cable car, but all that went away when we saw him. We waited some more for the tender, and we eventually made it back onto the ship at 4:15 PM. Oh Santorini, I love you but you need to figure out how to manage a large crowd of tourists!

We had a brief, but amazing time in Santorini. The village of Oia is a dream. Being able to visit the island, and cross it off my bucket list was a dream come true. One day, we'll meet again.

Our cruise was now almost over. We had one more port before we return to Venice, and fly home to Vancouver. I'm sad that my review is ending soon, I've had such an awesome time reliving my memories. Up next is Katakolon, Greece.

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