On the third day of our visit to Santorini (You can read about our first and second days here), we decided to explore the antique city of Ancient Thera, which is situated on the ridge of a steep, 360 m high Mesa Vouno mountain.
Ancient Thera was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD. Most of the ruins found here date from the Hellenistic era (time between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire), but there are remains that belong to the Roman and Byzantine (mostly Greek-speaking continuation of the Eastern part of Roman Empire) eras too. (Sources- Wikipedia and this website)
Many relics dug from this place have been preserved in the Archaeological museums of Fira and Athens. Still, what remains, like the pillars, inscriptions on stones, etc. paint a vague picture of the life during that period. Designated areas like “Roman Baths”, “Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods” etc. show that there were links between Egypt, Rome and Greece, probably through the Mediterranean Civilization? Well, I have no idea! But I’ve decided to dig more into the history of the region and so I bought an audio book on ancient Greece from Audible. Let’s see what I learn…
In addition to its ancient ruins, the site offers spectacular views of the sea.
Later we drove to the Red Beach, so named because of the red and black volcanic rock and sand. In spite of its smaller size, it is one of the most famous and populated beaches in Santorini.
Then we drove to the lighthouse in Akrotiri, in the southernmost part of Santorini. This lighthouse was built in 1892 and was fueled by petrol until Electricity was introduced to the island. Now it is electrically- operated. The best time to visit the Lighthouse is during sunset to get some great pictures.
From there we drove to towns like Megalochori and Perissa (stopping at the Perissa beach to have lunch. I tried fried tomatoes, a Greek specialty, which tasted awesome!). Later, Mike and I enjoyed a bit of Greek shopping. I couldn’t believe when he purchased pure white cotton shirts, and that too 3 of them! He simply loathes buying or wearing white shirts!
I treated myself to a Greek designer dress! Ha!
The next day, Mike booked a special cruise for us on a Semi-private yacht. It was going to be a 5 hour ride in a Catamaran (Mike was too excited and so was I). We opted for the sunset cruise which starts from the old port of Ammoudi and ends at Vylchada beach. A bus picked us up from our hotel in Kamari and dropped us at the old port. While we waited for our Catamaran and the 8 others who were to join us on the cruise, guess which celebrity was playing with his skateboard on the rocks?? None other than Justin Bieber himself! Apparently, he and his bodyguards had booked a similar cruise along the coast of Santorini!
I was in awe as I entered the Catamaran. Normally a ship has a single hull, but a Catamaran is made up of two parallel hulls of equal size. At its back, there was a seating area big enough to accommodate up to 15 people. Before we began our journey, the captain and his 2 assistants gave us safety instructions and a tour of the facilities available. As the boat sailed on, the assistants shared their knowledge about the islands we were passing, how the whole of Santorini was disintegrated into smaller islands due to volcanic eruptions and so much more.
We stopped near Thirassia Island, a tiny mountainous island whose population is around 600, for a swim. The azure blue sea blanketing the brown mountain looked so inviting, that even I, who only just began learning swimming, felt tempted to take a dip. With the help of an inflatable tube, I swam around for a while, feeling happy and blessed. Now I can proudly say that I’ve swum across the Mediterranean Sea!
After Thirassia, we sailed towards Palea Kameni to soak in its famous Hot Springs. But the water looked brown and dirty, perhaps due to the mountainous sand, so we moved on as no one was willing to get out of the boat. We had a great time with the others on board, who were mostly British. They were a jolly bunch and as the day passed, we got to know each other quite well.
At the white beach, our captain informed us that we could go snorkeling if we wished to and that the gear would be provided. Mike got super-excited! Like a kid he dove in and began looking for different kinds of stones and fish in the water. He even fed the Fish some bread!
After a hearty dinner (cooked by the three crew members), we sailed towards the Red beach, where we enjoyed watching the Sun at his brightest before dipping reluctantly into the Mediterranean sea.
Along the coastline we sailed some more, until we reached the Vylchada Beach. Then It was time to disembark….
This is one Birthday Gift that’ll remain with me forever! Thanks Mike!