Setting sail for the volcano

Day 35
Santorini, Greece

After spending the morning snooping (Dad’s word, not mine) through Fira’s shops, we took the steep cable car ride down to the Old Port for a sail around Santorini. We could have gone by donkey, or walked the soiled path like my parents did when they were here 27 years ago, but the smell kept us away.

Our boat, Thalassa, was an exact replica of a schooner used in the 18th century. With only about 30 passengers on board (including a really nice young couple from Texas traveling around Europe for the month), there was plenty of space, and we soon started on our way to Nea Kameni, the port at the volcano, while Fira sat off in the distance.

We arrived at the volcano, a desolate place with no vegetation, and hiked to the rim of a crater left by an eruption in 1940. It was a steep walk up past steaming vents, but the view of the islands and sea at the top were pretty amazing.

Our next stop were the “hot springs” on the other side of Nea Kameni. The brochure for this trip described the hot springs with quotation marks — we didn’t fully grasp why until we arrived. The hot springs are not located inland, they’re actually just heated channels of the Aegean Sea right next to the island. So, swimming in the frigid water is the only means of getting to them. There was an intense game of chicken on the boat, as everyone waited to take the plunge. After a few Aussie women jumped in, it was time. Unfortunately, in Dad’s excitement to catch his son’s amazing feat of courage, he dropped the Nikon lens cap into the sea. May it R.I.P — and may we find a replacement before the dust of Cairo ruins my camera.

Next, we sailed past Thirassia, the second largest island of the caldera complex, and whose lights we see glimmering every evening from our patio. It has a tiny port and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

Finally, we made our way to Ammoudi and Armeni, small ports at the base of Oia. A multi-talented sailor pulled out a saxophone and serenaded us as the sun set.

Back at the hotel, Dad packed for his trip to the States. His bag, stuffed now with much of my clothing, is huge. The bell boy faces an ominous challenge tomorrow hauling it up the hundred steps to the lobby. My flight to Cairo, Egypt via Athens departs shortly after his.

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