Half an hour before the ship would dock at Santorini we got out on the deck to watch approaching the island in the night.

Santorini (or Thira, as it's officially called) is a "C"-shaped island, which "lagoon" is partially closed by a smaller island Thirasia. Volcanic islets Nea and Palia Kameni are located in the centre of the "lagoon". The internal coast of Santorini is very high and steep. Santorini owes its shape to a volcanic eruption that occurred a long time ago, destroying the Minoan civilization on Crete.

Santorini - Fira
Santorini - Fira

The main city on the island is Fira, located on the edge of caldera (this is how the steep coast of Santorini is called). We observe the lights of Fira from the ship that soon docks in Athinios, a harbor under the caldera. It's 05:00 and it's still dark. In the harbor we take a small and ugly bus that drove on the steep winding road to the top of caldera. A 10 minute ride to Fira followed. Numerous nice hotels make it clear that Santorini is not a cheap place. We arrive at the first *real* bus terminal after Heraklion. One guy approached us and started torturing us with his accommodation. We left him and went for a walk through Fira. We found the Greek orthodox cathedral with a bright blue roof, a cathedral that is so often seen on pictures from Greece. We reached the caldera, full of hotels and restaurants. The cars are not allowed in the center of Fira. We've seen monkeys used for garbage collection in the center of Fira. Unfortunately, where they pass they leave shit on the streets behind them! We sat in a bar and ordered coffee, waiting for the dawn...

When it finally dawned we went to find accommodation and transport. To our big disappointment many rental agencies were closed or had "call the cellular phone..." attached on their entrance doors. We found an open agency where we were offered a miserable Fiat 600 for 30€ daily. Well, this is Santorini, so we took it. I even had to leave my driver's license as a guarantee!

Željka soon found a nice apartment for our next two days. We've had trouble parking the car because we were close to the center of Fira and so there were many cars parked on the streets. We dropped on the bed and fell asleep. After an hour or two we woke up and went to find a beach. We descended on the eastern coast of Santorini to the village of Monolithos. We didn't like the beaches there so went to Kamari, a tourist village for those who want to see Santorini and can't afford the pricey Fira. We've had a swim here.

We got back to the main road and headed southwest, to the Red Beach. We parked the car near a small church, from where it takes some 10 minutes of walking to arrive on a beach located under high red cliffs. After some 200 meters of red cliffs there are greenish cliffs, then yellowish cliffs... All the rainbow colors. There are many stones in the sea - the beach is average but the ambiance is great.

Santorini - Oia
Santorini - Oia

We returned to the apartment and got ready for a trip to Oia, a city on the northwestern end of Santorini. The road to Oia goes over the top of caldera (one can stop on a few places for a nice view). There's even a walking path all the way from Fira to Oia. Oia is, like Fira, located on the top of caldera. Below Oia there is a small settlement Amoudi (in reality the port of Oia). There are a few taverns in the port. We chose one and dined, with a look over Thirasia.

After the dinner we went up to Oia - our guidebook recommends seeing a sunset from Oia. The sunset was a real comedy - hordes of tourists with their cameras awaited a nice, but far from spectacular sunset. We went for a walk through Oia. The long central street is full of small luxurious hotels, expensive restaurants and chic cafés. We preferred to buy beers in an open shop, found a nice place to sit and enjoyed the view (it was still not completely dark). It's a warm October night, we have only T-shirts on...

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Greece: Santorini (Perissa)
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