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Europe 2011: Day 06 (Greece 04): May 18

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Day trip!! The excursion included islands, hot spring, volcano, Thirasia, Ia (Oia), and the sunset.

Waking up at around 930, we headed to the bus stop where the tour bus would pick us up and drop us off at the Fira port. At the port we got on a boat, duh, and left for our first destination: the volcanic island, Nea Kameni.

Mike goes off jumping and scaling the cliffs while the rest of us walk up the path. The island looked like it was built on rocks. Pointy, large, cracked rocks. A nice brisk hike up the paths to the top, which wasn’t much of a peak. The craters were so old that plants have grown everywhere already except for the main, where there are still steam and sulfur pockets. We also learnt that any natural plants on Santorini do not need a lot of water at all, they all use the humidity in the steam to extract moisture and grow. Since they only get 60 days of rain a year. (How’s the weather in toronto?) They say that because of this, tomatoes grow smaller and the taste is more concentrated. Hmm. The whole of Santorini was created by volcanoes, connecting all of the islands around the volcano creating a circle, a caldera. The volcano is still a bit active but last erupted in 1956(ish) which pushed Santorini into a new era where the military came in and built roads, and introduced new technologies into the infrastructure.

Next up, a pit stop at Palia Kameni Island w the Hot Springs. At this stop we had the chance to jump off and swim to the hot springs but none of us did that… This island didn’t have a dock by the springs so they have anchor areas where they hook onto to anchor the boat to. The people would have to jump off the side and swim over to the springs, about 30-50m away. White swimsuits have the chance of being stained by the coloured water at the springs.

Thirasia. A dock that was basically filled with some small souvenirs shops and a bunch of restaurants, as if run on tourism alone. There were more buildings at the top of a bunch of hairpin stairs (probably around 300 crazy steps, usually donkey ridden) but we decided not to go up as we had another stop afterwards. Lots of shops with ice cream and stuff. Not much at the bottom anyways.

Off to Ia (or Oia)… Where we would spend the rest of the evening and watch the sunset. Here they also had the hairpin staircase with donkeys and here we opted to ride them! Whooot. Its pretty sad to watch these donkeys just go up and down the stairs, over and over, pooping everywhere. But the ride was fun :P. Once we got up we started exploring souvenirs shops and taking soooo many pictures of the architecture, colours, and ocean view. After getting separated from everyone else and finding them again, we started exploring the streets and mike, the roofs. Crazy spiderman jumping across rooftop to rooftop, scaring other tourists who suddenly notice him jumping above them. Crazy. There was also a small rounded roof each of us stood on that had a good view of the buildings. Mike, aka Spiderman, jumped onto another building before it and took shots for two couples, pleasing them with entertainment and photos! Looked really nice though!

Following one of Mike’s researched recommendations, we found a restaurant a bit hidden away and ate there. We had a nice view of the sunset, although a bit obstructed by roofs, the reflection on the water was nice. Mike, sitting beside a large window, couldn’t resist, and leaped out of it. With perfect timing, as the owner came out. And over he came, “No, no, no!” Closes and locks the window “We’ll see what he does now”, as Mike runs off to the edge. After taking some shots, Mike returns to the locked window (after the owner left) and goes around, jumping off other rooftops and sides. The owner opened the window again and scolded Mike as he came back, tsktsk. Good food though 😛 but the sunset got really cloudy in the process.

We went out to find a good spot to watch the sunset, there were a lot of people already setup in their spots all along the buildings. We also saw several rooftops barred off with barbed wire, mike-deterrents. With people actually living in those buildings, it would probably be pretty stressful with random tourists jumping onto their roofs… Anyways, we found a spot on top of a wall of some ruins and met some pro photographers from Denver, in Santorini to shoot a wedding and heading off to Turkey next. Korean, nice people, they were recording the sunset while also taking several panoramic shots. It was unfortunate that there were so many clouds in front 🙁 but it also created a nice effect as it finally set.

After that whole experience we went off to meet our tour leader to find a bus back to Fira, back to the villa. On the bus we learnt that Santorini is on the edges of African and Eurasian tectonic plates. Apparently Africa is moving 2cm closer every year. Quickly back to town and a bit more souvenir shopping and exploring before heading back to the villa to pack up and sleep, our last night in Santorini.


Mike jumping off of rooftops

Sunset at Ia

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