Monday, May 17, 2010

Holiday: Greek Islands part 2

The Island of Santorini

Our final full day of cruising once again began early with a visit to the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete. For those of you who don't remember your Greek mythology (which i'm guessing is pretty much everyone), Crete was the birthplace of Zeus and the home of King Minos. It was Minos who ordered the genius inventor Daedalus to create the labyrinth and who placed the minotaur inside it. Short summary, the minotaur was eventually killed by the hero Theseus and Daedalus managed to escape the island by making wings of feathers and wax. Unfortunately we weren't able to fight a minotaur while we were there because mom employed a guide to take us on a personal tour and there just wasn't time for killing mythological creatures. *sigh

According to locals, this mountain is "The Sleeping Zeus". They say he left it to prove that this was where he was born

What we did have time to do was see a lovely, lush island that has a long proud history and a terrific amount of agriculture (they export a great deal of food and water to the other more barren islands). After a quick tour of the city, we visited the remains of an ancient palace. It was not impressive (our best picture from it is of a drawing of what the palace might have looked like). Fortunately we saved the best for last. We drove up into a small village (1oo inhabitants) and sat down for a relaxing bit of food and drink with some locals. It was charming, quaint and all those other qualities tourists love to gush about.

The drawing of what the Palace of Knossos might have looked like (maybe)

Our guide on Crete

Our small town excursion

Once again the early morning necessitated some serious R&R once we got back to the ship. But we were warned, make sure you come to the front of the ship as we approach Santorini this afternoon. "It'll be worth it" the cruise director told us. She wasn't kidding.

Santorini is a volcanic island. One of its ancient eruptions caused a large part of the island to sink deep below the surface of the ocean. This has left cliffs that are 0ver 900ft tall and are stunning to behold as you approach from the sea. To further accentuate this already breathtaking sight, almost every building on the island is white. As these pictures (and the one at the top) demonstrate, the combination of these is nothing short of magnificent.

The approach by sea
One of the small fishing ports

Our time there was short but fortunately mom had again arranged a private tour guide for us. He let us take a magnificent walk along the clifftop city of Oia (like everyone else). But unlike everyone else, we also got to see a fishing port at the base of the cliff, the back side of the island and the black sand beaches produced by the volcano.

Our Santorini guide with Dad and I on the black sand beach

All too soon we had to leave. But the island was kind enough to present us with a parting gift. A blazing orange sunset over the deep blue waters of the Aegean brought both our Santorini visit and our cruise to a magical end.

Tune in tomorrow for our Italian adventures in Roma (Rome)

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