Today was a big day. I again woke up to the sound of the engine being turned on as we started manoeuvring out of our anchored position off the coast of Anafi. We set course for the legendary Samtorini, also known as Thira.
Both the sea and the wind continued to be rough and virtually the entire journey was against the wind. Lisa and Maurizio steered the whole way voluntarily, they knew we were on treacherous grounds (sea, really). We had lots of what we began to call "salty showers" from waves breaking on board for the first half of the trip, luckily Neptune showed a bit more mercy in the second half of the journey. We originally intended to moor in the harbour on the southern tip of Santorini, but the wind was too strong for us to find good shelter there and the harbour was overcrowded anyway. So, instead we decided to go a bit further west, find a sheltered bay, swim and wait for the wind to calm down and then assess our options. Maurizio tells me that mooring in Santorini is quite difficult: you cannot anchor on the inside of the bay (aka in what remained of the crater) because the depths there are tremendous (200-300 meters) and the outside shore of the island has so few mooring options that harbours are always crowded. We shall see what happens!
So, for now, we anchored near one of the harbours, swam and made lunch. Then we decided to remain at anchor for a bit more and instead take the rescue boat to shore with hopes of taking a bus to Thira, the capital of the island. We left the boat at 4:15pm and paddled ashore.
Once we got out my dad realised that there are world-famous archaeological excavations around the corner! So we went in--the site was quite large and encapsulated under a canopy and concrete walls. The ruins were essentially all of houses that once formed a town. Sadly, any decorations such as frescoes or beautiful vases that the archaeologists found were taken to an off-site museum (probably in Athens), leaving us visitors with just bare walls to look at which weren't much of a thrill.
After an hour or so we decided to catch the bus to Thira. The journey took only about 20 minutes and we were welcomed by a wash of tourists the moment we stepped off the bus, very much like what happened on Mykonos, they are both some of Greece's most popular islands. Luckily we found a way off the main road quite quickly and enjoyed the calmer side of the town first. First we visited a catholic cathedral; apparently there are about 500 Catholics on the island. The total population of the island is over 8,000 and most of its people, together with the rest of Greece, are members of the orthodox church rather than the catholic church.
Then we walked to a street near the edge of the cliff, where we saw magnificent views of the moon-shaped island and the caldera in the distance. Quite, quite marvellous. We walked along the path for a while and then I noticed a castle-like structure on the top of a hill and so we changed course to walk there. We ended up never finding a way--those windy streets can be tricky!--but we did manage to discover a "suburb" of Thira, with some old ruins of houses (possibly destroyed in the earthquake in 1950s, possibly earlier).
We returned back to the cliff path just in time to see the sun set, enjoyed the view for 20 more minutes or so, and then it was time to make our way back to the bus, which left at 9pm. We then all headed back to our ship Oxalis, had dinner and relaxed. Tomorrow the plan is to sail around the caldera--an experience to be remembered!