Friday, May 15, 2009

Day 6: Santorini, Greece

We were not adventurous enough to take a donkey up the steep incline to Fira. The donkeys were plentiful, and we saw multiple dozens packed into a narrow holding line to await tourists interested in a unique trip to the top. On our sedate and mild cable car I did see one donkey bump into a tourist attempting to walk the same path – the woman almost toppled over the side and it was clear the rider had very little control over the animal’s behavior. I can only hope they have the memory of a goldfish so that each climb to the top and down seems a new trip.

We walked the narrow streets of Fira as shopkeepers and café owners opened their doors and started their morning routine. The drive to Oia was amazing. Not only was the scenery expectedly picturesque, but the curvy, narrow roads, driven by an expert were just plain fun. Oia itself was also waking up and had a new, fresh feel to it as we started exploring.

This was one stop where we truly felt we were on vacation. Certainly there is history to the island (The rumors of Atlantis are still bandied about. Our taxi driver had done some research but seemed unconvinced one way or another.), but the interest and value of a visit is admiring the beauty. The best way to do that was to meander through the streets, sit occasionally and then grab lunch in a café – completely relaxing.

Sitting in a café overlooking the cliffs of Oia, Santorini I watched a small boat jet towards the port leading small streamers of dark blue water briefly glistening with silver accents from the sun and then rolling over into the lighter, clear blue of the sea.

This trip has been a study of contrasts: the large and jagged rocks of Dubrovnik with the cool green-blue of calm waters; the juxtaposition of quaint, historic Corfu Town surrounded by the reality of hard living evidenced by neglected buildings reminiscent of some small towns in the U.S. rust belt; and, the contrast between the Olympic celebrations of thousands of years ago and those that modern times. But no more so has contrast had such a beautiful impact than in the natural and artificial beauty of Santorini. The colors that nature has lent to this strange semi-circle of an island and the vibrant paint and architectural details added by the inhabitants create a vivid and unforgettable landscape.

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