Monday, March 24, 2008

Fira to Oia walk - 21 March 2008

Mother and daughter churchToday was a clear blue-sky day when we surfaced, the first such morning on the island. Since we had extended our car hire for another morning we set off for the archaeological site at Akrotiri, which is supposed to be one of the finest Minoan sites in the area; however, it was closed for "technical reasons".

After returning the hire car we set off from Fira on the walkway to Oia. We had attempted this walk on our first morning but had lost the trail in Imerovigli. View of the volcanoWe had decided on this walk having read in a section on Oia that "a marble-paved walkway skirts the edge of the caldera to Fira" (Eyewitness Travel Guide: 'The Greek Islands', 2003): the author of the guide had obviously never walked this marble-paved path. A couple of hundred metres leading out of Oia is indeed a fabulous marble-paved walkway but the rest, between Oia and Imerovigli is neither marble nor paved in places.

However, it is a great walk and well worth the 3 hours, if you have the time. Arriving at Oia we could not believe how dead the place looked. OiaShops that had been open on our two previous visits were now all closed and the streets were practically deserted. The difference: no cruise liners moored near Fira. So we enjoyed Oia in the sunshine with the views, streets and photographic vantage points pretty much to ourselves and the hard-working load bearing donkeys. There are advantages and disadvantages of visiting Santorini in the off-season, not too hot, not crowded but many businesses are closed.

There are a number of substantial dwellings along the ridge that once belonged to sea captains. OiaThey are quite imposing and clearly much larger than the surrounding houses and of quite a different and distinct architectural style. With a spare €400 - €500,000 you can buy a derelict one - not on the caldera side with the great views - and providing you have another €150 - €200,000 to spend on renovating it, you can have yourself a lovely home on a Greek Island. Oia is, apparently, the most expensive real estate in Greece. There is one ruin there currently that is on the market for a mere €750,000: we were not tempted.

Oia windmillThe local bus returned us to Fira where, in the absence of yesterday's sea-fog, we thought we may get one of the fabled Santorini sunset shots, but although the sky was clear the bank of cloud on the horizon prevented any colour at all as the sun set.

Many more photos here

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