It's Tuesday and our first port visit to the island of Santorini. I have read that Santorini is one of the most photographed places in the world, and that claim doesn't shock me a bit. You don't have to go far to take in an incredible view in any one direction. The wise old owl used to ask how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop. I would ask how many beautiful and stunning views can you take in during your visit to Santorini? My answer is that you would need days to make a dent, yet we only had 6 hours.
I think today's post will be mostly pictures rather than stories, because again the pictures show the beauty far more than I could tell it. I did my best of give you the best ones, yet again I am limited by space and how much time you want to devote to the blog. Just a couple stories and then I'll let the pictures speak.
The cruise ship does not dock on the island of Santorini. Instead you have to take what are called tender boats to the docks. Before debarkation, you had to go get tickets for the tender boat which determined order of how fast you got off the cruise ship. I was in line for tender tickets by myself as Steph was taking care of some other things. I was wearing a Grand Valley State shirt, with a logo on the front and also it says GVSU Lakers on the back near the collar. I was standing in line minding my own business when a voice from behind me says " I see you're from Michigan". Many thoughts race into my mind as I try to process this. Turns out she was a SU demonstrator from Arizona but she had lived in Detroit so she knew of GVSU. She was very nice and we talked for the rest of the time in line but that still freaked me out a little.
The second story became the biggest story of the day and maybe the week. There are 2 main cities on the island of Santorini, Thira (pronounced FEAR-Ah) and Oia (pronounced EE-Ah). The tender ship took us to the port of Thira, but our tour was to begin by taking a boat to the opposite side of the island to Oia. You will understand this better when you see the pics, but there are three ways to get from the port up to the cities themselves. You can take the cable cars, you can ride the donkeys, or you can climb the over 500 steps to the top yourself. All the literature does NOT recommend option 3.
So I am definitely "in my element" going by sea from Thira to Oia. Steph sat below in the shade (edit by Steph: so I didn't have to climb steps…turned out very hot!) but I sat up top to be able to take as many pictures as possible while we traveled. Now the tour plan was we would get off at the port of Oia and take a bus to the city and then have free time to explore Oia. Now I 'm not sure if something was lost in the language barrier or we just didn't fully understand the tour package, but when we got off the boat we were told "The buses can't come down here. You have to meet them up there". As in ALL THE WAY up there. And there were no cable cars and no donkeys waiting to get us to the top.
Understand it was a very warm and humid day. Understand that the Stampin' Up group was probably not the best demographic of people who should have undertaken this climb. It probably should have been left to the NCAA just graduated 4 year scholarship athlete group. It was not easy by any means, but everyone made it to the top and I give them full credit. I will also leave it to you individually to ask my wife her thoughts on this.
I hope you enjoy the pictures to follow. Again Santorini may be one of the most beautiful places in the world, definitely that I have ever been to. I wish I was a professional photographer with hi-tech camera gear, but the beauty speaks even thru the lens of an iPhone.
I forgot to include this on the Monday post. First formal night on the ship.
Us on the dock at Thira waiting for the tour to begin.
View of Thira from the cruise ship.
Notice the pod looking things in the middle. Those are the cable cars.
View of Thira as the small boat is leaving port heading to Oia.
View of Oia as we approach the port.
View as we are ready to dock in Oia. Notice the road in the middle that we will be taking to climb the hill. It winds off to the left along the coastline.
This was at the top when we reached Oia. I totally would have gotten this, but after climbing a huge hill in the hot sun, cold water was a far greater priority. When we met back here later, I don't think this was still open.
View from Oia city back toward Thira. Our cruise ship is the upper right.
Us again at the top of Oia, but definitely not as fresh as the previous picture of us.
View of the white buildings and the blue domed Churches of Oia.
I think this may be my favorite picture. There are actually 2 different Churches in this shot.
Notice the middle of the photo. That is a restaurant deck. I can imagine that the views would be incredible, as well as the amount of Euros it would cost to eat there.
Blue domed Church with bells in the middle of the city square.
Tomorrow a new adventure…until then.
Note: Less than 1% of all demonstrators earn the incentive trip each year.