" 4. Santorini, Greece ~ a walking day today ~ "
Date & Time: Monday 8th October 2012.
Locations : The Greek island of Santorini.
Walk details : 5.8 mls, five hours including two stops.
Places visited : Fira, Firastefani, Imerovigli, Oia.
Accommodation : Cheladonia Traditional Villas Oia, Santorini, Greece.
With : Ann and myself ( Harry and Bethan were being doggie-sat by friends back home)
Weather : Sunshine and blue skies all the way. A little high cloud on occasions.
Burning the midnight candle wax . . . planning today's long distance route.
This was the local 1:50 scale map we used for the walk.
[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map ]
Sunrise with a little more cloud than before
but it adds a touch of added interest to the spectacle of dawn on the island.
Our plan is to walk the skyline of this photo . . .
from Firastefani in the distance (behind the umbrella) back to here in Oia, a distance of 10km or 6.2 miles.
We had two options, one to walk there and catch a bus back,
or to do what we ended up doing, which was to catch the bus there and walk back at our leisure.
First find the green local bus at the bus station in Oia . . .
We thought we would be looking for a bus like this . . .
. . . but in fact our transport was by luxury coach around the island to Firastefani.
The main road into Fira, the capital of the island, where we left the bus.
It had driven us around the top half of the island . . .all we had to do now was walk back
Time about 9.45 am and already the temperature was rising fast.
A short walk up to the highest part of the town brought us out on the rim of the caldera and beautiful views
of the central volcanic island of Nea Kameni and one of the two cruise ships that were anchored in the bay below.
These large boats are an amazing sight.
In the height of summer there can be as many as eight or ten, each disembarking several thousand visitors
who then get taken around the island on coach trips to see the sights.
From Firastefani, which blends with Fira itself, we start our walk north.
Ahead is Imerovigli with its easily recognisable rock feature of Skaros on the outer end.
Our villa is in Oia, in the far distance.
Looking down from the corner on the "castle rock" of Skaros.
From the taverna we could look down on Skaros rock and the blue ocean.
Across the caldera was the island of Thirasia which formed the opposite side of this once circular island.
Moving on we pass an old windmill and have a closer view of our route ahead.
An old track, presumably the old donkey track around the island, took us on around the top of the high cliffs.
Less than half way . . . and already that refreshing drink seemed a long while back.
At the end of a long Greek summer the undergrowth was parched
and the colour scheme of the small lizards provided good camouflage in this dusty environment.
A fine palm tree stands outside one of the last hotels of Imerovigli as we walk north along the track.
A nice view . . . let's build another Church.
Looking back, the view was actually quite extensive, especially of the flatter eastern side of the island.
The main road we travelled along by bus just now can be seen below, alongside that partially completed building.
Immediately below is a new holiday development that looks a little like grain silos.
They have been built along the lines of old fashioned windmills (without sails) and each is a modern apartment within the round structure.
On the top of the hill, another paved area and another white painted Church.
[ It may have been the monastery of Aghios Nikolaos ]
It is such a shame when these churches are locked and no-one can appreciate them when passing.
The old track, beautifully cobbled at this point, continues on down the hillside.
What a delight to find that last house was in fact a small roadside cafe . . .
Their speciality . . . fresh orange juice and moist walnut cake . . . how could we resist ?
The rocks and cinders around here was a real geologists paradise.
Each subsequent eruption over the millennia could be traced by the colour and thickness of the strata.
There have obviously been attempts to terrace the hillside for agriculture
though the scrub vegetation hardly gives encouragement to try and grow anything nowadays.
The main road below us as we leave the narrow neck of land.
We're looking down now at the eastern sea coast, rather than the western waters of the caldera which are behind us.
Our route so far completed . . . and yes it was as hot as it looked.
Fortunately the path was well graded so walking up the gravel and cinders was not too difficult.
The Church on Mavro Vouno, 331 metres (1000 ft) above sea level.
Ann takes time out to relax in the shade of the building . . . but she was not alone !
One the shelf above . . . a rather 'hot' Greek dog . . . trying not to expend too much energy either.
One group of small reptiles that were appreciating the heat of the day were the lizards.
They move fairly fast in this heat so I quickly pointed the camera and caught a picture before he went away.
Moving carefully round and trying to predict his movement paid off with a much closer photo.
Say " Hi " to the camera !
Saying " Hi " from on high, Ann was ready to move on.
The final part of the route would take us down to the township of Oia
and to our villa on the final headland.
No colour modification here . . . it really was that parched colour which matches the end of the summer season here on Santorini.
From the brochure . . .
"The long summer sunshine is accompanied by a noticeable lack of rain and this means that you can sightsee and sunbathe at your leisure.
From June to October, Santorini's sunny weather and inviting climate results in temperatures peaking at more than 30°C / 86°F."
In practice they only have about 35cm (12 inches) of rain
per year . . . that's why the land looks parched.
Carrying the small rucksack on one shoulder to stay cool.
Small cairns on the track but they are not needed to mark the way . . . the track is clear enough.
Nearing the outskirts of Oia we pass a second church.
One of the memorable sights of the island is the incredible number of buildings that had been started but never finished.
I don't think they could all be as a result of the recent economic downturn in the Greek economy. The Santorini tourist trade was holding up well.
I think there must be a good structural building salesman but a poor market for " finishing handymen ".
Where modern houses have been completed they look delightful.
Narrow streets now as we enter Oia.
This part of town appears to have two old windmills, their sails long gone, their surrounding fields now built upon.
Looking across to the Church of Aghios Georgios that we walked to yesterday, but from the other direction.
The Perivolas supermarket . . . where the mountain track regains the road.
Back to the accommodation at the end of an excellent, liesurely five hour walk.
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Slightly more cloud for tonight's sunset . . . but that just adds a nice variation to the scene.
" Last one to bed . . . please turn out the light "
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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, my Canon G10 or 1100D Digital SLR.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . . A handy pull cord as we're already under the sheets after the hot day.