Greek Island Explorer
This is my second travelogue, I had such a hassle in Mykonos with various computers who only seemed tuned into gobbling up Euros, that there might be quite a few of you who haven't heard from me before. Anyhow, for those of you who did, I won't bore you with a full repeat performance, just let me mention my record time of travel (40 hrs from home to hotel in Athens) which impressed everyone in my group of 23 "Trafalgar" travellers. Anyhow, it all went very smoothly, the hotels in my three destinations - Athens, Mykonos and Santorini - have all been very nice, and seem to get better all the time.
Our group has 20 "first" class travellers, and 3 "cost-saver" ones - which includes me. We were accommodated in different hotels in Athens, but the 3 of us have been upgraded to the more classy hotels used by the rest of the group, it makes things so much easier all around for our excellent young guide, Phillipos, and we enjoy that extra little bit of luxury. Both islands are so very, very different from any islands in New Zealand, so barren and full of rocky hills on which next to nothing grows ... you feel for the poor cows searching amongst the dust for a bit of grass, and the donkeys who nibbled on a few branches thrown out to them. No-one has to worry about cutting lawns here, prickly pears seem to do quite well and a few other "deserty" plants, most of the fresh fruit and vegetables come from the mainland, which of course adds to the prices. We have been doing quite a bit of supermarket "shopping", as it's quite expensive to go out for meals all the time, some lovely iced cappucini is my daily fix, sooo nice in this hot weather. The temperatures are around 30 deg. every day, in Mykonos the constant wind cooled the place down a lot, while here in Santorini it feels a lot hotter, suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses are certainly a must.
We had a 2 hr ride on a catamaran from Mykonos to Santorini, a big swell at times and everyone was glad the boat rode the waves so well. While the hotel in Mykonos was situated at a very nice "family beach", (there are certainly several of them where the emphasis is not on families), the hotel in Santorini is high up on the hill, a long way from the ocean. But what a hotel! Could be straight out of an architect's magazine, white palacial buildings, big courtyards, and not just one or two, but FIVE swimming pools. I have a lovely big apartment with a balcony near the pool, I could get used to this kind of life ... and oh joy, free internet use! The 2 1/2 days here will pass very quickly and pleasantly, I have booked several tours, today was quite an adventure. We walked first into the town centre (about 10 minutes from our hotel), there are delightful narrow streets full of small shops displaying mainly touristy things, much less than the maze Mykonos was, then a ride on the cable car down to the old port. Next came a boat trip which took us to a nearby vulcanic island, a fairly steep walk to first an active, then a dormant crater - I was so glad I had brought my Nordic walking sticks and managed fine, what a view to be rewarded with when we reached the top. As far as the vulcanic activity went, it was pathetic, somehow I expected flames licking the bottom of the crater ... all we saw was a tiny bit of a steam coming from a crack in the earth crust near the path with people feeling the heat and being impressed... Rotorua could teach them a lot! Then after another short boat ride, those who were brave enough jumed into the sea and swam to a nearby island, here, like in Lake Terawera, there was thermal activity, the water temperature changed and so did the colour - it became a reddish brown - some people smeared themselves with a bit of mud for skin treatment, much to the amusement of the rest of us. Luckily there was a substantial ladder to climb back on board, so I didn't have to be hauled abord like a stranded whale ... then back to Santori