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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Santorini, Greece

Mysterious and almost foreboding when approached by sea, Santorini is the world's largest caldera and some suggest it is also the Lost Continent of Atlantis. Waves of visitors are drawn to this beautiful and arid island by the legend, the scenery, the resorts and beaches, and most significantly, to see the ancient Minoan city at Akrotiri. Curiously, the jagged cliffs appear to be dusted with snow. Nearing the island, the dusting of white became recognizable as the whitewashed buildings so typically identified with Greek isles.

Diversions

Tendering ashore at the port of Skala, passengers are faced with three choices to reach Fira, the town above—the cable car, a donkey ride, or on foot. Walking means using the same path as the donkeys and riding a donkey means some of the beast’s fragrance may linger on clothing for the rest of the day. The cable car offers a spectacular view along with the speedy ride.

Fira is easily explored by walking and taxis are available to other areas of the island. Santorini is best discovered by rental transportation; mopeds are cheap but a jeep or similar vehicle is safer. Visitors pass barren volcanic landscape where pumice was once mined for export. Santorinians quite literally were selling their homeland. Currently agriculture and tourism are the main commercial pursuits.

Since excavation began in 1967, archeologists have regarded Akrotiri as one of the world's most significant sites and a walk through this Pompeian-like city is a must-see. Destroyed in 1522 BC by volcanic eruption, the city's two and three-story buildings were perfectly preserved beneath the lava and ash. Protected under a tin roof, only a small predetermined route through the site is available to tourists.

Ancient Thira is the site of Hellenic, Roman, and Byzantine ruins and affords incredible views of neighboring islands.

The picturesque village of Oia, like much of the island, was devastated by earthquake in 1956. Rebuilt, it perches on the cliffs above the sea and gleams—buildings and tree trunks are painted white every year. White serves to disinfect and the rounded roofs are designed to collect water, scarce on Santorini. Stroll through Oia and have your camera ready for picture postcard views of the caldera. A visit to the small Naval Museum is interesting; however, the real appeal of Oia is the stunning scenery and utter tranquility.

Back in Fira, buildings cascade over the caldera’s rim and it's quite breathtaking to stop for lunch at a taverna seemingly suspended in mid-air.

Shopping

Somewhat touristy, Oia’s shops nonetheless contain some nice souvenirs, including lovely watercolors and hand-painted shirts. Merchants in Fira are anxious to show off their wares, particularly gold jewelry crafted in ancient Greek designs. Be sure to barter for the best price. Local wines are available in abundant quantities and can be sampled at some of the wineries.

Beaches

Two popular beaches, Kamari and Perissa are located on either side of the mesa where ancient Thira is located.


Back to Mediterranean Ports of Call


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