Sunday, October 5, 2008

Santorini, Part 3 The Volcano and Thirasia

The volcano, called the island of Neo Kameni, is in the center of the giant caldera and takes about a half hour by boat. The island is uninhabited and almost completely without vegetation. Here and there I saw a struggling weed.

A view from the top of the volcano, looking south towards the smaller island of Palaia Kameni and the tiny Aspro Nisi. If you look closely you can see the in the center a small gathering of boats. This is where we'd go next -- a hot springs (see below). The volcano is growing a little every year in several thousand years will fill in the caldera, making Santorini a round island once more.

After a few hours in the heat, we went to a hot springs along the shore. About half the passengers elected to jump off and swim to it. I was tempted but passed. Apparently it's not terribly deep, but it's required that you be a strong swimmer, which I'm not. Someone panicked and had to be thrown a life preserver.
We then went on to the little island on the west side of the caldera, Thirasia. One could elect to lunch at the several simple cafes along the shore, swim or sunbathe on the pebbly beach,
walk up the stairs to the town at the top of the cliff or if you'd prefer,
ride a donkey up instead.
A few days later I went back to Athens for one day, the low point of the trip. The hotel Royal Olympic desk clerk seemed to think providing hot water was an optional service to their guests. London was as I had left it, cool, breezy and showery, but after nine broiling days, I had a newfound appreciation for it. As the days get shorter and colder, however, I'll soon change my mind.

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