Dramatic, breathtaking, awesome – that first view of the caldera catches you unawares and almost defies description. Nothing can really prepare you for seeing the caldera for the first time. You don’t initially realise just how high up you are until you gaze down at the slumbering volcano and the miniaturised boats slipping silently across the silky blue water far, far below. For now, just sit back in a shady, flower bedecked terrace with a cool beer or a delicious frappe that the Greeks make so well, and let Santorini work her magic. A soft breeze cools you and a dish of olives or peanuts appears as if by magic before you. Relax and enjoy. If you are lucky enough to be staying more days in Greece you might want to visit the best Greek Islands.
The light here is wonderful, sparkling and dancing off the whitewashed walls of the buildings and bouncing up from the incredibly blue waters of the caldera hundreds of feet below. Seabirds swoop and play on the thermals and a single hawk hovers over its unsuspecting prey way down among the wildflowers and shrubs that cling to the cliff.
Slowly, and with the dignity of a royal dowager, a huge ocean-going liner full of eager voyagers slides across the deep waters of the caldera to her mooring and small boats bustle out to her from the tiny harbour to collect the passengers. Sleek private yachts and tourist laden ‘pirate ships’ shrink to toy-size from your lofty heights and behind you, in the narrow twisting streets sun baked tourists climb the endless steps and tortuous byways that typify this remarkable little island.
You hear the jingle of bells from many harnesses and the clatter of dozens of iron-shod hooves as a string of tireless mules and donkeys trot up from the harbour way below bearing tousled tourists on their strong backs.
As you wander through the narrow streets, shopkeepers smile and beckon, tempting you with their beautiful jewellery or lovely local works of art. The aroma of wonderful food from the dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes that line the streets reminds you that your last meal was at least a couple of hours ago, and surely it’s time for a snack? Certainly, Thira is heaving with tourists, but the nature of her narrow cobbled streets means that a slow shuffle is the fastest you can travel, so why not relax and literally, go with the flow. After all, this is Greece…what’s the hurry?
If you are fortunate enough to be staying of the island for a few days, you should visit the fascinating ruins of the town of Akrotiri on the Southern tip of the island.