Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011 – Santorini, Greece – Party Cloudy – Mid 60s

Kusadasi to Santorini: 138 Nautical Miles

A beautiful and cool day in Santorini, Greece.

Santorini is one of the islands comprising the Cyclades, a ring of islands that surrounded the sacred island of Delos (the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis).

In 1450 BC (or 1650 BC according to another source), the island suffered a catastrophic volcanic explosion.  The eruption and resultant tidal wave destroyed the Minoan civilization and may have been the basis for the many events described in the Book of Exodus).

Santorini now consists of three main islands – Thira, Thirassia, and Aspronisi – and two more recent volcanic islands – Nea Kamini (where the volcano is located) and Palia Kameni (site of the hot springs).  Santorini is named for St. Irene (by the Venetians in the 13th century).

 Sunrise over Santorini and Fira (Small)

Sunrise over Fira Town on Santorini

We are on tour today - “Village of Oia and Santorini Wine Tasting”.  The ship now asks escorts to wear the official Azamara Escort Shirt so that they can be more easily identified by passengers and others.

In our special Escort Shirts (Small)

In our Official Escort Gear

Our tour starts with a tender ride to the Athinios Tender Port (a few miles south of the main port).  Ships cannot anchor in the Caldera because it is too deep (1400 ft) so they use their thrusters and azipods to control the position of the “drifting” ship.

Santorini from Tender (Small)

Fira from the Tender

Quest from Tender (Small)

The Azamara Quest from the Tender

Equinox from Tender (Small)

Our companion in the Caldera, the Equinox

Quest from Tender 2 (Small)

Both Cruise Ships from the Tender

E at Tender port (Small)

Ellen at the Athinios Tender Port

Ana, our guide, is very good and her English is excellent.  She is non-stop in her description of the island and its history.  Our first stop is the The Village of Oia, located at the northern end of the island.

Today is a Local Holiday, “October 28 Day”, that commemorates the resistance by Santorini to occupation by Mussolini during the War.  Parades are scheduled and many people are in the streets in both major villages, Fira and Oia.

Village of Oia (Small)

The Village of Oia in the distance

Oia (pronounced “Ee-ah”) is similar to Fira – white washed buildings, churches, and shops.  The village also affords great views of the Caldera and the rest of the island.

Quest from Santorini Winery (Small) 

The Caldera from Oia

Oia and the Caldera (Small)

Rugged Cliffs of Oia

Church in Oia (Small)

Greek Orthodox Church – Oia Main Square

The main square was nice but the presence of semi-aggressive unleashed and barking dogs (menacing little children) detracted from the experience.

E and the Caldera Oia (Small) H and E in Oia (Small) View from Oia (Small)   E at Oia (Small) 

Above: Oia Views and Us

From Oia, the bus took us to the Santorini  Winery for snacks and wine.  The snacks, cheese, tomatoes (volcanic, I suppose), and a very hard bread (I liked) along with the Vin Santo dessert wine were very tasty and good. 

As we drove away, the nearby Cyclade islands of Eos and Mykonos were clearly visible on this perfect day.

Looking North Island of Eos (Small)

Island of Eos

The Winery is close to Fira and we could see the people participating in the Holiday activities as we skirted the perimeter of the town.


  Vineyard at Winery (Small) Caldera from Winery (Small) Akrotiri from Winery (Small)

Akrotiri from Fira

Quest from Fira (Small)

The Quest and the island of Thirassia

Equinox from Fira (Small)

Nea Kameni and the Equinox

We finally reached the Cable Car station.  We were told by our guides that we did not need any cable car tickets since we were in Escort Gear.  The woman in the ticket book disagreed and gave us a very hard time regarding the tickets.  I refused to pay, asked her to call her manager.  She threatened to call the ship and I told her to do just that.  After a while, she waived us through.  The two checkers at the cable car launch point wanted our tickets but we were able to convince them that the lady in the office said we didn’t need any.  What an annoying experience.

Cable Car in Fira (Small) Down in the Cable Car (Small) Down in the Cable Car 2 (Small) Down in the Cable Car 4 (Small) Down in the Cable Car 3 (Small) Down in the Cable Car 5 (Small)

Above sequence:  The cable cars and the ride down

Fira from Fira Port (Small)

Fira from Tender Port

Fira from returning tender (Small)

Fira from the Tender ride to the ship

We had lunch in the Windows Cafe.  While at lunch, one of the waitress asked us if we would be interested in trying the Aqualina Specialty Restaurant gratis (we would have to share the table).  We, of course, said OK. 

We got to the restaurant at 6:00 PM and we asked about the possibility of a table for two (if was pretty open).  The Manager said OK but the waitress who gave us the reservation was hesitant.  Eventually, we got the table for two and the dinners were pretty nice (I got the halibut).

We had dinner during the sail away (shot through the restaurant window).

Santorini Sailaway (Small)

Santorini Sail Away

Dinner at Aqualina (Small)

Dinner at Aqualina

The ship had two shows scheduled for tonight.  Up first, at 8:00 PM, in the Looking Glass Lounge, was Gary Brown.  Gary is one of the Cabaret Singers and he put on a fine show.  The audience was essentially non-existent – maybe 10 people if y9u don’t count the other cabaret singers.  People missed a great show.

Gary Brown Show Looking Glass (Small)

Gary Brown

At 9:45 PM, we listened to Jamilla in the Cabaret Lounge.  She put on a super show (maybe the best yet on a cruise ship for us).  Great voice and stage presence.  She only had one show scheduled for this cruise – a shame.

Jamilla in Concert 1 (Small) Jamilla in Concert (Small)

Jamilla in Concert

Done for the night.

Pedometer: 6597 steps; 3.13 miles; 323 calories

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