Monday, March 24, 2008

Santorini Tour - 20 March 2008

Windmill at FiraAfter an early morning stroll through Fira to the northern end of the suburb that adjoins it we returned to our Hotel and rented a car from a nearby car rental firm. Car and motorbike/quad-bike rental firms are everywhere on the island, although like many other businesses in this off-season period, most are closed. Car rental seems very good value, presumably because there is no way that you can drive hundreds of kilometres before you return is as the island is not very big.

Church at KamariLeaving Fira we went east, past the airport to one of the sandy beaches on the east coast, Monolithos. We then drove down the coast to Kamari, another beach resort and then on to Ancient Thira. Ancient ThiraFirst settled in 9 BC this ruined city is on commanding hilltop site 370m above the sea. A series of 24 switchback turns takes the braver driver to within a few metres of the top, leaving only a short climb to the extensive ruins.

PyrgosWe retraced our route down the 24 switchbacks then headed across to the western side of the island and visited Pyrgos, which, according to the guidebooks is one of the more attractive villages on Santorini. Frankly, we were not convinced. Through Megalochiori and towards Akrotiri we passed through the grape growing area of Santorini Grapevinewhere the vines are intriguingly trained into coils on the ground as protection against the wind.

Heading north we took the costal road to Oia where there are supposedly the best sunsets in the world/ the Mediteranean/Greece/Santorini (depending on which book you read). Unfortunately the clouds have to conspire to assist in these solar displays and tonight they conspicuously failed to do so - we will have to buy the postcard!
Church at Oia
The trouble with relying on the guide books is that you can be seriously let-down as we were tonight over dinner. All the books we had read recommended 'Nikolas' a restaurant in Fira not far from our Hotel. Last night it was full so tonight we considered ourselves fortunate to secure a table. There is no English menu, the fare is explained in English but, of course, the prices on the board are against Greek text so you have no idea until your bill comes what the cost of your chosen dish will be. The ambience is OK, the bonhomie from the host is great, the prices are medium to high, the portions are not huge and all in all we left feeling that we had fared much better at other establishments that were not mentioned in the guidebooks.

Many more photos here

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