Monday, August 9, 2010

Mediterranean Cruise Report -- Day 5

Welcome to my recollections of the wonderful cruise my wife and I took during the month of July, 2010 for our 5th anniversary. This will be an ongoing series replete with anecdotes, history, pics, and even videos taken as we experienced all that our various ports of call had to offer. As usual, click on the pics to view larger versions, and don't forget to also click on the "Vimeo" vids to view the brief live-action clips.

If you missed a prior trip report, or would like a refresher, please click on the appropriate link below:
Day 1 -- When in Rome.
Day 2 -- Bad Sun Rising.
Day 3 -- Let Me Take You On A Sea Cruise.
Day 4 -- Into the Wild Blue Yonder.


DAY 5 -- Our (Very Brief) Adventure in the Lost City of Atlantis.
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Since we had such a late anchor in Santorini, Lisa and I took our sweet time waking up the next day.

When we finally showered, got dressed, and headed above deck for some grub, brunch was being served instead of breakfast. But although we had not yet reached our anchor location, the famous volcanic rim of Santorini could be seen all around us. In fact, see for yourself by clicking on the following video I captured of our arrival in the lagoon just before the port of Athinios:



That was a pretty spectacular backdrop to dine to, I must say. The island, part of the chain known as the Cyclades, is site to a huge volcanic explosion which occurred over 3,000 years ago, caving in most of the island as it once stood. The towns and villages of Santorini today exist in the aftermath, having sprung up over the last two millennia along the caldera of this once mighty volcano. It's rumored to have been the location of Atlantis, the legendary lost city of Plato's recollection.

When you see the place in pictures, it's pretty awe-inspiring to imagine how such a huge crater could have been caused by one volcanic eruption. It took nearly a thousand years before humans set foot back on the island. Can you imagine that?








Since Santorini didn't have a dock for cruise ships, we had to tender in on little ferries to the shore. The waters were relatively calm, though, so the 10 minute ride was rather pleasant. Once at the dock, we had two choices -- take the cable car up to the main town of Santorini, Fira; or hop on a shuttle to the eastern side of the island where the best beaches are located. Lisa and I chose the latter. The shuttle was a quick 20 minute ride up a winding road from the dock that took us perilously close to the cliff's edge on several occasions. The other passengers on the bus made odd noises, but I personally found it exhilarating. Life on the edge, and all that!

We made it to Perivolos Beach with plenty of time to relax on the black sands and frolic in the ocean. Well, I did most of the frolicking in the ocean bit while Lisa sat under an umbrella and read.





You might think that volcanic rock sand would be coarse and hard on the feet, but it was the complete opposite. Soft and deep, with hardly any unpleasant sharp bits hiding beneath the surface. In fact, when I first set foot on the beach, I sank down to my ankles in the powdery black goodness. Wow! It was blistering hot, sure, but that was easily remedied via a quick dip into the ocean.



And what a marvelous ocean it was! As you can see, I had fun floating on my back and swimming out to the deep part. Not many people were there on the beach this day, so I felt like I had the sea mostly to myself. One crazy guy in a green hat swam way the hell out, though, to the point where we could barely see him. I wish I had my waterproof camera with me to take his picture. Better yet, I wish I knew where the hell he thought he was swimming to. Poseidon only knows . . .

Our stay at the beach was marvelous, but unfortunately brief. Since our ship's late docking didn't give us much shore time (only 5 hours), we packed up our things after only 3 hours of fun in the sun and caught the next shuttle back to Fira town.








We spent the rest of our time there browsing through the maze of shops, and taking touristy photos along the cliff (the Aegean sea below looked stunning, as you can see in the above pic), as we very slowly wended our way towards the cable car station. We had the option of taking a donkey down, but c'mon -- that's hardly an option! Maybe when I'm in South America hiking up to Machu Pichu and have no other choice, but not on this trip, buddy!





The line to get on the cable car, however, was government welfare cheese LOOONG! It stretched all the way down the street, around the corner, down another street, and then around another corner. Fuck! We only had 1 hour to get back to the ship. But luckily for us it was a faster moving line than I'd originally realized. We made it down to the docks in just 25 minutes. I was surprised by how many passengers were absolutely terrified of the cable car. It's weird: I get seasick pretty badly if I'm in a small boat on rough seas. But heights? Absolutely does not faze me even one bit. I was in the car with five other passengers and I swear it might as well have been a carnival ride for me! Lisa, on the other hand, was none too thrilled. She wasn't whining or crying like the others, but she was *very* quiet the whole ride down. I took a pic of the town receding above us just because it looked so dramatic with the light of the setting sun glowing on the white-washed buildings.





At the dock, we had to wait in another line to board the tenders back to our ship. I love docks. I don't know why, but they evoke a sense of travel in me. And it just so happened that on this one occasion, I was the one doing the traveling! It was a giddy feeling, to say the least. Lisa took this photo of me, trying to catch the setting sun behind me.



Of course, I'm under-exposed as a result . . . but I still like this pic a lot!

We got back to the ship in plenty of time and, for the first time this cruise, finally decided to eat at our assigned table for two in the main dining room. Problem was, we got there too late. It was already 2nd  seating. Luckily, though, they had an available table to accommodate us anyway. If you click on this link, it'll take you the blog entry where I discuss what happened next. It was an amusing night for me, and we made an unexpected new friend. I like making new friends, don't you?



Sometime during dinner the ship hoisted anchor and set engines for our next port of call, Mykonos. We met with our familiar group of friends afterwards for drinks at the Martini Lounge, where we discussed our plans for tomorrow. Unlike Santorini, we would be arriving at Mykonos early the following morning. Plenty of time to enjoy ourselves and not have to worry about rushing back to the docks too soon.

Which would prove to be a good thing, because we would barely make it back in time as it was . . .

Up next: Day 6.

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