Volcanoes in Santorini

Part of a collection of travelogues by Trevor Hopkins.

Tracey and I were actually in Greece over Easter - much better weather than in the UK, of course! In fact, we spent most of the time on a small island called Santorini (also known as Thera), which is in the Aegean sea. This is a fascinating place! The island is shaped like a half-circle, with high steep cliffs on the inside curve of the crescent. There are a couple of smaller islands which form most of the rest of the circle. In the circle's centre, there's an island forming a low peak - this is an active volcano! The cliffs and circle are a caldera - a bowl formed when a volcano blows up! Fortunately, this last seriously blew up three thousand years ago - destroying much of the ancient Minoan civilisation, and is said to have given rise to the legends about Atlantis!

Santorini On this island, traditional houses are built into caves in the cliffs, and then extended out. So, much of the cliff face is covered with very pretty white-painted buildings, pathways and (of course) loads of steps. We stayed in a hotel called Sun Rocks - completely different to anything we've stayed in before. Our suite had two rooms - the bedroom being a cave, and the sitting room built out. It was more than 100 steps down the cliff face to the pool, and 40 steps up to the entrance! From our veranda, we could look down over the sea and other islands - I think there are not very many places in the world where you can sit outside having your breakfast and look down on an active volcano!

We were on Santorini right at the beginning of the season - not everything was open when we arrived. (I learned the Greek words for "tomorrow" and "later"!) But we found some nice restaurants, fun bars and splendid views. We walked the cliff path, hired a soft-top Audi for a couple of days to explore further afield, and got something of a suntan! We met an very interesting couple from Hong Kong (Danny and Susan), and hung out with them on several evenings.

On the way to and from Santorini, we stopped over in Athens. On the way over, we stayed at the Grande Bretagne hotel - possibly the poshest place in Athens - and entertained some friends of Tracey to dinner. Most entertaining. On the way back into Athens, however, disaster struck - Tracey slipped and fell head-first down the steps from the (tiny!) aircraft we'd taken from Santorini. She had to go to hospital, and have three stitches put in her head! Ouch! Fortunately, we were staying at the airport hotel, so not far to go - to cheer Tracey up, I ordered room service Iranian caviare - ludicrously expensive, but this succeeded in making her feel much better!