Arrived here at 01:00 Tuesday on a big ferry from Rhodes, stopping first at Kos, then here at Santorini, on the way on the way to Athens. Lots of trucks. Many passengers booked cabins as the trip to Athens takes all night. We sailed past islands with big hills and small towns, interesting possibilities for a future hiking trip hopping from island to island by ferry. It looked beautiful in the evening light.
The ferry port was an amazing hub of activity at 1:00 am. Buses, taxis, vans, people holding signs for hotel pickups, guys trying to sell hotel rooms. The island has a small airport, but ferry traffic is the major part of tourism and when a ferry arrives, everyone is there. I checked for hotels on the internet before setting off from Rhodes and was glad I did. Found an inexpensive small hotel in the Lonely Planet guide and booked on-line. I phoned later yesterday to ask how to get to the hotel. “No problem, we’ll pick you up, no charge. But I have a bike with me. OK, we’ll bring the van.” They did. At the hotel the driver unlocked the door, gave me a key to my room and said “We’ll do the rest in the morning.” Great people.
In the morning, I got a map, a description of the things to see and recommendations for how not to get overcharged on this very touristy island.
Like Rhodes, this island thrives on cruise ships. Three arrived in the bay Tuesday. There isn’t a pier for them so they anchor in the bay. Small boats run back and forth like ants to a hive. Early morning it is quiet here, but as the morning goes on it is busy. What a mix; French, British and American accents fill the air, and there are many Russians. In the evening it is quiet again.
Yesterday I walked in the afternoon, about 10 km, along the top of the cliffs to the town of Oia. Scenic, hilly but hot. I drank a lot of water. The path probably was the original pack animal trail between the towns. It reminded me of walking in Corsica. The cliffs are the rim of the old volcano that blew part of the island away about 1600 BC. The crater became part of the sea. The soil is colourful volcanic rock – red, shades of brown and sometimes black. There are black sand beaches. The return to Fira cost only €1.60 on the public bus.
Today I explored by bike. The main roads are narrow and busy but drivers are courteous. The minor roads are scenic, but they are frequented by large busses taking the cruise ship passengers for a tour of the island. It is hot and hilly. I was in bottom gear often and needed a shower when I was done.
I am looking forward to heading to Crete tomorrow. This island is pretty, but I’ve seen what there is to see. I’m ready to do some town-to-town touring.