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The famous blue domes of SantoriniOct. 25-29,  1998  Santorini, Naxos, Mykonos,  Greek Isles

Santorini
When people recollect their own images of the Greek Isles, it is most likely a mental snapshot from the storybook island of Thira, more widely known as Santorini, that they have in mind. The mountains of its rugged, dramatic landscape are crowned with towns whose little streets are crammed with buildings all designed in the architecture of the islands. Simple lines and smooth surfaces, whitewashed with bright white from top to bottom, proudly trimmed in glossy, royal blue. An island almost perfectly representative (if any one of the islands can be), of its Cycladic brethren, Santorini is probably the top on most visitors list of favorites.

Greek architecture at its bestWhen we arrive that morning, the Zeus II is the only ship docking at the normally bustling pier at Skala Thiras. This, one of the island’s two major piers, is tucked within the flooded crater of a long extinct volcano. This same volcano exploded thousands of years ago to blow over two-thirds of the former island’s land mass high into the sky, and then back deep into the ocean. Local lure dictates that the great explosion was Poseidon’s way of stealing the lost city of Atlantis back to within his grasp beneath the waters of the surrounding sea.

The famous blue domes of SantoriniAtlantis or not, docking at the waterline on the inside wall of a crater meant a long, almost straight up climb to the rim. We had 3 choices - on foot, by cable car, or by burrow. Being the adventurous types, we of course, chose the burrow. Clickity-clop, clickity-clop. Up the gradually sloping roadway, one direction, then back in the exact opposite one. The view on the way up stole my thoughts as the 20 minute zig-zagging ride ended in no time.

Perched high on the crest of the craterOnce to the top, the task of finding a cab, negotiating a price, and making the very windy trip to the village of Oia was relatively simple one. The cab dropped us off into what seemed to be a beautiful, yet very surreal ghost town. At 11:00 in the morning, two days after the end of ‘high season’, the village seemed almost deserted. Undaunted, we readied our cameras and began to explore. Each little side ally-way towards the cliffs, off of the main walking street, brought a breathtaking new view of the cliffhanging buildings and the sea far below. It didn’t take us long to begin to not only get comfortable with, but also appreciate, having this incredibly picturesque village almost all to ourselves.

The famous blue domes of SantorininThere was no one to wave at, no one to say hello to, not even a single sole to ask directions of. As we stopped for a moment to take in the view from atop of a ruined fort, Laura and one of the other girls we were with, bent down to make friends with one of the local canines. The little fellow looked a bit like a small Benji. When we decided to continue our quest, he decided to go as well and lead the group. We all joked about our new tour guide, but each followed him around each turn.

Our guide dog posing in front of the villiage chapel Oddly enough, we later found out that he did lead us to some of the best sites on the back side of the island. Not only that, but, no kidding, he returned us to the exact point that we had started our voyage. He took us in one big circle, full of incredible views, and didn’t even ask for a tip.

The sunset from MykonosNaxos
The next island on our itinerary was Naxos. Although a very charming island, the turbulent weather and high winds that had settled in for the majority of our stay had made exploring this relatively undiscovered island during the day both difficult and uncomfortable. For this reason, the majority of our memories on this island were made after the sun had set.

Laura with Lou Diamand Phillips' Greek twin brother (LaBamba baby!)It just so happened that two of the biggest party nights of the trip were spent in the small clubs that hug the harbor, just a short walk from the boat. A good time was had by all as we drank, danced, laughed, and celebrated into the wee hours of the morning.

Our motley crew of revelersOur motley crew of revelers was made up of a handful of islanders, a good portion of the crew from the ship, and a hearty bunch of fellow passengers. Someone looking in on the scene would have taken us the closest of friends. Seeming to know one another for years and years, we danced arm in arm, told jokes, and carried on for song after song, and drink after drink.

The bizarre, beautiful, and asymmetrical church of Panagia ParaportianiMykonos
The rough weather and sailing advisories were still keeping the Zeus II in port at Naxos, when the tour company decided to send us all, via ferry, to Mykonos for the last two days of our trip. Now the most popular of the Cycladic Islands, it was originally visited only as a stop on the way to Dilos.

The scenic windmills of MykonosFortunately, it seemed that this scenic island was also apparently on the top of the sun’s list of favorite places, for it followed us to its shores. Our days were spent walking through the maze of streets in Mykonos Town.

Talk about a 'close' neighborhood!Originally intended to confuse pirates and plunderers, their layout now makes getting lost in these quaint little ally-ways, a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Heading to marketSeemingly designed for lazy strolling, the small shops, boutiques, trendy bars and cafes, mixed in with the small but well-kept homes of the few hundred or so full-time town residents, are placed too close to one another to allow cars between them. 

Everybody, now have you heard, there's a brand new dance, it's called the 'Bird' . . .I suppose that this lack of motorized traffic is what makes these streets such a friendly habitat for the island's furry and feathered inhabitants.  There are scores of cats (some friendlier than others), dogs, and birds that comfortably make the alley-ways of Mykonos their home.

A Kodak moment in the harborSome, in fact, seem to rather enjoy the attention of the wandering, camera laiden tourists who happen their way.   This is especially true of the town's handful of pelicans who almost seem to pose for the ameature photographer's lens.

Children showing their patriatism on National 'No' DayMixing with the locals along these streets as they went about their daily routines, was as always, the highlight of our visit.  We found the people of the Greek Isles, both young and old, to be warm, friendly, and always willing to make the extra effort to make a visitor feel welcome.

Couple captured at the windmillsI can easily see why so many have chosen these islands as their ultimate 'decompresion' getaway.

 


All packed and ready for the next stop

Packed and ready to go!

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Last modified: August 19, 1999    Photographs and text 1998 Scott and Laura Kruglewicz. All Rights Reserved.

 

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