Santorini, Paros and Samos

Trip Start Apr 23, 2009
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Trip End Jun 23, 2009


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Where I stayed
Hotel Porto Carra

Flag of Greece  , Northeast Aegean Islands,
Friday, May 22, 2009

Santorini, Paros, & Samos

After our two-hour Flying Cat (catamaran) trip from Iraklion to Santorini, we took the local bus into Thira, the capital city of Fira (Santorini). Matt and Gail sat on a wall near the main walkway while David and Judy went scouting for a reasonably-priced room with a view of the caldera. In November 2005, we had one of the last rooms of the season for 40-50 Euro. Our preliminary search on the internet, this time, gave us a best rate of about 50 Euro for a place out of the main area or without the view, so we knew it might be a challenge.

David and Judy returned after 20 minutes of walking the pebbled, narrow walkways to reveal that their searching had a serendipitous result. They found a wonderful hotel at the end of the strip where the donkeys carry cruise ship passengers up the 588 steps from the sea, and it was only 50 Euro a room, including breakfast! Bonus! (We paid 45 E in Iraklion for no breakfast, no fridge, no private bathroom, and no VIEW!!)

The season is just getting going, so I guess they would rather make 300 Euro for three days than none. We were the beneficiaries. The scent of donkeys on the steps was free, but we felt it was a fair trade....even if there were a few flies. The beautiful, golden-coloured Porto Karra Hotel was a wonderful base, and we were looked after by two friendly, young, good-looking, Albanian cousins, Christo and Zachary.

We had an expensive lunch at the restaurant next door, which had a fantastic view of the caldera-part of the cost was to pay for the view, of course.! After going for a short walk, we sat on our patio with beer and wine, and just enjoyed the sun and the view. It was VERY pleasant.

Thira (Santorini town) is a maze of narrow, cobbled walkways lined with shops, so Gail and Judy wandered off to explore. There is an astonishing number of high-end jewelry shops with clerks eagerly waiting for buyers with big dollars from tour groups and cruise ships. We were just lookers!

One of the prime advertising promotions for Santorini is the superb sunsets. Alas, we didn't get any memorable ones during our three-day stay, as it was either too cloudy, or not cloudy enough. We did have a gorgeous setting, so we didn't mind.

There is a major archeological excavation on Santorini, however, Akrotiri was closed to the public several years ago, when a tourist was injured. We were hoping to see it in 2005, and were disappointed, so hoped we would have the opportunity this time. It remains closed, so the only place to see the artifacts was the museum.

We spent an hour and a half looking at the progression of pottery development from 2200 BC (surprisingly, the ancient Minoans were able to fire their pots to 1000 degrees Celsius!) The museum displays fabulous wall frescoes, and marble figurines. Some of the photos are on this entry, but more can be seen if you visit this link from our 2005 visit to the same museum.

Another interesting visit was made to the Cultural Centre , housed in a section of an old Santorini mansion. Many beautiful, old maps and historical, hand-written documents had been preserved by the Catholic church and displayed for the public. There were some amazing, priceless treasures in wonderful condition. It was a terrific place to pass the time if you love maps and handwriting!

Christo recommended that we take the local bus to a nearby Wine Museum, suggesting that it was well-presented. There were many dioramas with automation, and the audio guide had sound effects to compliment the descriptions. The three different wines we sampled at the end were quite pleasant, too!

After the Fast Cat to Mykonos was cancelled due to a rough, windy, crossing, we took the ferry to Paros.  At the dock, a fellow with a Newfoundland shirt wanted to show us his hotel.  Andreas' lovely Alexandros Hotel has huge family rooms.  Our 25 Euro rooms came with a bottle of his good, homemade, rose wine!  Andreas was friendly and helpful. 

We wandered the quaint, old section of Parikia enjoying the painted stone alleys., and took a local bus to the community of Noussa.  Parikia's museum had several interesting displays, and we looked at the old Ekatonapyliani Basillica.  The wind was wild and chilly, so we were not encouraged to check out the beaches or other parts of the island.

We had first class seats to Samos, which really meant that we had first class positions on the floor and couches overnight.  Who can sleep sitting up all night?  When we docked in Vathy, we were approached by Costas, who took us to the clean and comfortable Dream Pension.  We had a gigantic deck with a view of the harbour where we enjoyed our breakfasts each morning.  A plate-sized tortoise plodded through the brush below our balcony, one morning, and while we had our afternoon wine and beer, we felt the whole building shake for a few seconds.  It was an earthquake!  On our second day, we took the local bus to Pythagoria, a very touristy town on the coast. 

The Samos Museum had a great collection of artifacts from the Herion, an ancient temple dedicated to Hera.  The giant kouros is their most famous piece and stands alone in a great hall.  At five metres tall, it is the largest free-standing surviving Greek effigy.  Many votive offerings of Egyptian design are a testament to the trade that took place between Samos and the Nile valley dating to the 8th century BC.


CONTEST QUESTION!!

10.  Name the man who "had all the angles" and whose statue is in one of our photos in this entry.
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