In the early afternoon we made another visit to Cafe al Bacio, then had a light lunch at the Oceanview Cafe at about the time that ship was anchored and cleared in Santorini slightly ahead of schedule at 1:35pm. The local small boats, known as tenders, were already lined up waiting to transfer passengers on a 10 minute ride to the shore. We weren’t in a rush because we had a tour scheduled to leave the ship at 3:00pm, so we made our way to the Solstice Theatre after lunch to wait for our tour to be called. For future reference we took note of the timing on the tenders, numbers 0 and 1 were called immediately as the ship was cleared and numbers 2 to 5 were called about 15 minutes later. Numbers 25 and 26 were called at about the time we checked in at the theatre for our tour at 2:40pm. We had passed people waiting around the ship holding tender tickets with much higher numbers. Our tender ride took us to where the excursion buses were waiting - Athinios Port, south of the main town of Fira.
Our first destination was Mount Profitis Ilias near the village of Pyrgos and towering over the entire island. Our bus travelled to the highest point possible where we could get out and look over Santorini. It was quite windy up there, but the view was spectacular. It was also a bit hazy, but we could make out the large Greek island of Crete off in the distance to south. At the peak sits what was a monastery dating back to 1711, sharing the name of the mountain. This monastery was dedicated to the prophet Elijah, but now is a museum. Our next destination was the nearby Pyrgos, a small village about 8 km south of Fira. Pyrgos was once the capital of the island until the early 1800s when it was replaced by the current capital of Fira. Pyrgos is very quaint, and our tour guide was engaging as he talked about this sleepy little town with all its charm on our walking tour. Quite different from Fira and Oia that we had seen on our previous visit to Santorini. We had some free time in Pyrgos to wander around on our own, and we met up with the tour at an area with some cafes and shops. Before heading back onto the tour bus we decided to purchase some water and found proof of an interesting Santorini fact. You’d think that with the island being a big tourist destination and pretty much everything coming to the island by boat that it would all be expensive. Well, that is almost entirely true - except for water. Very little fresh water exists naturally on this island so it either gets shipped to the island or is created in a desalination plant. By Greek decree the price of drinking water sent to the island is kept low to make sure that the locals can afford it. Our two bottles of cold water cost a total of €1. That wouldn’t get us one bottle of water while we were in Rome and we are pretty sure the locals weren’t paying what we paid for the water. Our last stop in Pyrgos was Taverna Pyrgos Garden where we enjoyed some traditional Greek mezes and local wine. The views of the islands from the gardens around the restaurant were nice, even though not quite as panoramic as the views from Mount Profitis Ilias that we enjoyed earlier.
The formal part of the cruise ended in Fira. We enjoyed strolling around the shops, and Linda found a very nice bracelet in one of the many jewelry shops in the town. Gary tripled his helmet collection while in Santorini - first by finding a plain Corinthian helmet in one shop, then a more elaborate officer’s helmet mounted on stand in another. We strolled around Fira, enjoying the picturesque views for a while until we decided to head back to the ship around 8:00pm. The last tender was scheduled for 9:30 pm, so we figured it would be better to head back to the ship for dinner. We took the cable car down the cliff face to Fira Port and didn't need to wait too long to take a tender back to the ship. That was a good thing, because even at that it was a quick change to get ready for dinner. We made it about 15 minutes late for the start of the late dinner seating - which seemed to be common this night with many people arriving late for dinner after the day in Santorini. We decided to bypass the show this evening, it was billed as “Sensational Piano Showman: Tommy Bond” - it just sounded like something to avoid. Instead we perused the shops near the Art Gallery and then stopped by the Martini Bar for a nightcap.
It was the end of a nice day, although it would have been nicer to spend a bit longer in Santorini - the afternoon arrival and evening departure made for a short day in this very pretty Greek island. Had the tenders run later we might also have stayed ashore for dinner. Our next port of call was Mykonos, and that was only 96 nautical miles away - so one would have thought staying later could have been an option. We’ll just have to go back for more time in Santorini!
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.