“The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s easy to fall off.”
– Anderson Cooper
Arriving in Santorini from the water is magical…as gorgeous as any postcard or picture you’ve ever seen…almost mirage-like…a dream come true for me!
The official name of this stunning island is Fira or Thira, which is also the name of its main city and port if you arrive from the sea. Of course, the popular name is Santorini. Part of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, Santorini was formed by a huge volcanic eruption around 3600 years ago. A sunken volcanic caldera forms its giant and dramatic central lagoon.
In order to get to the main town from the port you can either walk (not advised, it is a very steep path), take the donkey ride or ride the funicular. Originally I wanted to do the donkey ride, but the Human Society advises against it (and we later found out that when they have served their tenure are simply abandoned and put out to pasture) so we opt for the funicular.
Riding the funicular is a thrill and we get our first glimpse of the stunning views you see in travel magazines. We only had a day and decided that it would be manageable to see Fira and Oia (pronounced ee-ya, and also spelled Oea) on our own. So, we went directly to the taxi stands to begin our day in Oia.
Oia, Santorini’s second most important city, is only about 5 miles from Fira and about a 20 minute drive. It is everything you have imagined or seen in pictures…it is picturesque and storybook charming with crisp white walls and that blue…that blue of church domes, that blue that matches sea and sky…breathtaking! We enjoy the winding pathways, inviting galleries, shops and restaurants, am making frequent stops to just soak in the views (and take pictures, of course). Near the top, we time top enjoy a scrumptious lunch (including an amazing classic Greek salad, of course) with a to-die-for view and just bask in being here. Delightful.
The local bus back to Fira runs about every 20 minutes and we hop aboard for a comfortable and scenic ride back. Everything is low to the ground here due to the wind and terrain. Along the route are vineyards and charming little places to stay…next time!
Fira, too, is bustling with tourists. Famous for its views and cave-like residences perched and stacked along the steep terraced cliffs, it is chunk full of galleries, shops, inviting bars and restaurants (there are 300 of them here!) and places to just sit and day dream.
(We didn’t have time to get to the archeological sites of Akrotiri or to walk its beaches, but I would certainly put them on a “must see” list.)