A Travellerspoint blog

Santorini

or Thira or Fira

semi-overcast 25 °C

The fast catamaran ferry was due to leave at 10:15am. It came in around 11 and did an amazing 15-minute turn-around. I thought the Istanbul to Bandirma was luxurious but this boat really notched it up another peg or two. By 1:15pm we were raciing around the outside of the Caldera with the towns of Fira and Oia in the distance, straddling the vertical 900 foot cliiffs. Ferries dock at the New Port these days; the Old Port is used by tours and cruise-liners. If you look closely at the New Port cliffs, you might be able to see the road to the top!

20140601_141853.jpgSantorini - arriving at New Port

Santorini - arriving at New Port

The view from the top of the cliffs into the caldera is, of course, still spectacular - Fira is one of those mad cities like Venice that just shouldn't exist. Unfortunately mass tourism has done to Fira what it has done to Ubud. It is now truly horrible

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The Museum of Prehistoric Thira had a good display of artifacts from the Akrotiri archaeological site (3 Euros) including a gold Ibex and a saw-blade, both from the 17C BC

Santorini - 17c BC gold ibex in Museum of Ancient Thira

Santorini - 17c BC gold ibex in Museum of Ancient Thira

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On Tuesday, we caught a local bus to Akrotiri (1.80 Euros) and spent a couple of hours walking around the immense, covered archaeological site. I first visited this site over 30 years ago and there still years of digging to be done. The entrance fee is a reasonable 5 Euros

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Late afternoon, we took another local bus down to the new Athinios Port and boarded the huge jet boat for Heraklion in Crete. The ride was fine even though the captain had to revise the route due to a storm. We arrived 30 minutes late at 8:30pm and after a short walk from the harbour, we found a room at the Lato Hotel

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Posted by kforge 06:54 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Mykonos

If you like shopping, this is the place for you

sunny 26 °C

Don't panic, you can just about escape it. Our early moring quest had three objectives; book the ferry to Santorini (there were so many tourists around, we thought the boats might get full), find a new home and find a new home in an area where the average age was over 17. The ferry was easy if very expensive (57 Euros for a 2 hour trip). We had made a note of two or three hotels that sounded interesting but finding them was almost impossible. Most of the streets have a name but very few actually have street-signs and most of the people only have a vague idea where somewere is (they probably do it to piss off tourists - it works).. It took us an hour to find the first place and in the end it was a 10-miinute walk from our current room. We were lucky, the Andromeda (Andro-meda) Residence was quite outstanding and even had a large pool, all for 60 Euros per night. We immediately booked 2 nights

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And so, back at the student house, we packed up, left 50 Euros for the 1 night and sent the owner an SMS to say we'd left

We spent a couple of hours lounging by the pool and then headed off around the back of the old town and along the coast to come up to the line of 5 old windmills just south of the old port. Unfortnately the rubbish in the sea here is really awful, just 1 minute from one of the big sights on Mykonos

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Saturday was Delos day - Jeni has always wanted to see it and I'm a sucker for archaeology. It's not a cheap side-trip - the ferry ride is 30-minutes and costs 18 Euros and it's another 5 to get onto the island reserve. All I will say is that Delos has taken over the mantle of Worst Tourist Site in the World from the Revolutionary Museum in Havana. The interesting thing is that you can take various ferries over and various ferries back, making your stay on the island from 1 hour to 5 hours - we were on the first ferry over and the first ferry back and look how many other people were so impressed with Delos that they spent a whole hour there

Mykonos -all of these people spent less than 1 hour on Delos

Mykonos -all of these people spent less than 1 hour on Delos

We had come to Myknos to get to Santorini and, as such, 2 days here was just bearable. I can't imagine what it is like in high-season

Posted by kforge 06:13 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Lesvos to Mykonos

Via Athens

sunny 30 °C

We still had half a day left on our car rental, so Wednesday we drove down the coast south of Mytilene - what a pleasant surprise. Kilometres of small pebbly beach running into the clearest water. It was just too cold for us but plenty of Greeks were swimming

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When we dropped the car back, the Greek/Australian manager offered to run us to the airport at 3pm on Thursday, as he had people to pick up - perfect for our 4:15 flight. I did very little Thursday morning as my "air-con" cough had developed into a nasty throat infection and bed-rest was ordered. Our afternoon flight left 20 minutes late for Athens and we started to worry about our connection in 1.5 hours until we realised the flight was only 25 minutes. The landing in Athens was very bumpy and you could see the Aegean really getting whipped up, so it was no real surprise that the flight was put on hold as the conditiions were really bad at Mykonos. We left 1.5 hours late and had another 25-miinute flight. As we came into land through vicious cross-winds, the pilot pulled out just metres from the tarmac and announced he'd try one more time - he did a magnificent job bringing the Aegean 320 down and for once the applause was justified

We were met at Mykonos Airport by Maria, the apartment owner, and were quickly driven into the old port area from where a 5-minute walk brought us to our new home for 3 nights (or so we thought!). Our apartment was actually a room in what you would describe as a student house and the full kitchen didn't even have a hotplate or microwave. We hadn't paid any money up-front but It was too late in the evening to go room-hunting. The place wasn't terrible just grossly mid-descrbed, so we settled in for the rest of the evening

Posted by kforge 06:11 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

A Grand Tour of Lesvos - Skala Eresou back to Mytilene

The rest of the south-west wasn't interesting

sunny 31 °C

A very slow start by us today. Jeni needed to do a big yoga session and I needed to walk along a beach. Fortunately, 10 metres front the hotel's front door was the Aegean (Rob, it's just a touch too cold to swim). Skala Eresou really is a nce little fishing village, a great beach (volcanic sand), several cafes, just a few hotels and guest-houses and stunning cliffs on each side of the bay and mountains behind. And, I mustn't forget, a very cute archaeological museum (I liked the stone olive oil measure)

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The drive through the mountains to the east was interesting in itself but there were hardly any settlements which was not difficult to understand, as the land was so poor for farming or even sheep

And so we made our way back to Mytilene and drove to the fort for a quick viewiing but it shuts at 3pm! We still have the car tomorow morning, so will revisit the fort and an Art Musesm a few kilometers south of the town

As we had some time to spare, we thought we'd book the tickets for Thursday's ferry to Ikaria. Shock, horror, the ferry had been cancelled and the next one was not due to lead until Sunday and it was not going to Ikaria but Chios and Samos. Now, we do like Lesvos but another 3 days would be testing the friendship, and getting to Chios or Samos really doesn't help us get across the Aegean i.e. east to west into the Cyclades. So bugger it, we booked tickets on Aegean Air from Mytilene to Mykonos with a quick change in Athens. From there, 3 fast ferries leave every day for Santorini/Thira. The Greek holiday season is a real problem, if, like us, you try to miss the crowds. May is a good month for weather and not too many tourists but lots of places aren't open and a lot of the ferries don't run or get cancelled. Things will have to change - today the temperature hit 31C and that's too hot for me when I'm travelling. So in future, I'd want to come in March or April but nothing's open, so I probably will never come here again

Posted by kforge 08:03 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

A Grand Tour of Lesvos - Molyvos to Skala Eresou

and the Petrified Forest of Lesvos

sunny 28 °C

The Castle of Molyvos (or Mithimna) is one of the best preserved castles in Eastern Mediterranean. Probably constructed in the mid 13th century and renovated in 1373 by the Genovese Frangisk I Guateluzo and the Turks in 1462

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We then set out on a spectacular drive into west and south-west Lesvos. The scenery is immediately different - it changes from lush valleys to scrubby, desolate, volcanic mountains. We were heading for the Petrified Forest Natural Monument which Lonely Planett dismisses as "stumps...few and far between". Well there were dozens of stumps and some of those stumps were several metres tall and there were fallen trees 10-20 metres long..The landsccape is very rugged and it was intensely hot walking down into the park from the information centre (run by an enthusiastic Australian/Greek lady). Formed about 20 million years ago, this is an important world-wide site

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Good to see all of those years at NIDA were worth it:
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And finally, we back-tracked a little and continued south to Skala Eresou, a lovely little beach-side village were Sappho was born in 630 BC. So, of course, we had to stay at the Sappho Hotel

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Posted by kforge 21:07 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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