Icing sugar houses and flourescent salmon sunset
10.06.2011 - 10.06.2011 27 °C
Today came bright and clear, so much better than yesterday, even though it was still pretty windy. I had a swim at the calmest end of the beach again, because we had breakers coming in at our end, which made it even more difficult to get into (and out of) the water without doing yourself an injury!
On my way down there, I picked up a bus ticket to go up to Oia (pronounced ee-ya). The village is right at the top of the island, on the caldera side, and famous for its sunsets and typical Santorini white houses, and churches with blue dome roofs. The Greek woman who sold me the ticket is totally in awe of the place, and sees it as the jewel in the island’s crown.
Which indeed it is! We loaded onto the minibus at 5pm, and headed up the middle, then the eastern side of the island, which gave us some great views as we got higher. I took a few pics, but they’re not the best since the bus was moving the whole time.
We arrived around the back of Oia, which you have to as there are no vehicular streets in the village. It’s on a cliffside, and a lot of the houses are cave dwellings, with fancy fronts. It’s very expensive to buy a house there – recently an 80 sqm cave house went for 800,000 euros (about NZ$1.5 million). There are a few places for sale if anyone’s interested!
The postcards you see of this place are absolutely spot on with the colours. The white houses look like they’re made from pure white icing sugar. There are a few pastel-coloured houses too – blue, yellow, pink and peach, and the odd bright orange thrown in. And many have those startling blue doors, that match the church roofs.
The views of the caldera of the volcano that blew a hole in the island thousands of years ago are stunning (some believe that Santorini was the original Atlantis before the eruption). You can see the different colours of the volcanic rocks, and along the top of the cliffs, the houses on the other side look like dusting of snow.
There are a lot of shops selling interesting souvenirs, paintings, clothing and jewellery, but it's pretty expensive there in comparison to Kamari. We had to wait till 8 pm before the sunset started to make itself known, and there are very few bars or restaurants with a view of the sunset, so I just sat on a wall with the best view and waited.
Hometime for the hard working donkeys, after slogging up & down the cliff all day
There’s a humid haze that hangs above the water, so you can’t see the horizon, and presumably that’s what makes the sunsets so incredibly stunning. There were no clouds in the sky to get in the way, but I couldn’t help thinking that a few would have made the sunset even more striking. The sun starts out white, moving through the yellows to a rich gold (which makes everyone look even more tanned!), and finally into the oranges to a fluorescent salmon, before it starts to dip behind the layer of haze which cuts it in two.
It was all over by 8:30pm, and we had to find the right bus by 9pm to come back. It was a tour bus, so we got the 2nd half of the commentary, which I thought was nice. It got pretty funny, because the woman who did it started talking about eucalyptus trees, which were brought here from Australia. She sounded a lot like Sophia Loren (for those of you who are old enough to remember her voice), and she told us that the tree roots grow 500km! Presumably, she meant that if you laid the roots of one big tree end to end, then it would be that long. By this time, half the bus was in hysterics. From there she got onto camels (as in the camels in Australia), and told us all about why they brought camels to Aussie, and how they now export them to Saudi Arabia. What that had to do with Santorini, I don't know! All through the story there were fits of giggles coming from all around the bus. I think she ran out of material because not long after that she put on some Greek music and only occasionally broke in with some tidbit about the local landscape. Everyone was disappointed because she'd been so entertaining.
Got back to Kamari a little before 10pm, and I grabbed a burger on the way back to my studio. I took nearly 200 photos today - a lot of duplicates, and I’ve picked out the best of the bunch for you guys which will make up for you having nothing to look at yesterday.
Tomorrow I’m getting an early start and taking the first bus up to Ancient Thera, the only ruins that are open on Santorini at the moment. I found out today that Akrotiri is closed because in 2005, one of the roofs fell in, killing some tourists. It’s unlikely that it’ll be open again until some time next year apparently. Maybe in time for my next trip here!