The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Tuesday June 29, 2010

Day 39 Santorini
I spent today on the most beautiful island I have ever seen. It is named after St Irene, and its whitewashed buildings cling to vertiginous, volcanic cliffs, that plunge to a turquoise sea below. It is part of the Cyclades Archipelago. Santorini, today, is shaped like a fishhook. Centuries ago it was called Thera and was shaped like a neat round cone, but that cone was formed by a volcano and sometime around 1600 B.C. Thera erupted. Some scientists believe that it was this eruption that was the cause of the end of the Minoan civilization. Excavations began here in 1967, but we were unable to see these excavations because they are unsafe at the moment. The Dawn Princess anchored in the caldera of the volcano, which is now filled with water to a depth of 400 metres. We took a tender ashore, and climbed the 580 steps to the town of Thera. There were only three ways to reach Thera from the point where the tenders dropped us, namely, cable car, donkey or walk. I chose the last of these because there was an hour and a half wait for the cable car, and I was a bit scared to ride the donkeys. The donkeys looked in peak condition, some of them being as big as horses, but once you were on the donkey the owner just gave it a smack on the backside and it started up the hill. One Japanese man fell off which was scary, and some of the donkeys had a will of their own and stopped far from the end point and refused to budge. As we walked the 580 steps down the volcanic hill at the end of the day, I looked back to see Bill leading a donkey with a New Zealand man on top down the steps. This donkey had just stopped and Bill was coaxing it down. The reason for the long waits at both ends for the cable cars was that there were a large number of cruise ships in Santorini today. There were Spaniards, Norwegians, Scots and Americans, not to mention English, Australians and New Zealanders. When we reached the town of Fira at the top of the 580 steps we were actually standing on the top of the rim of the volcano and we could see the centre of the volcano in the middle of the caldera. There were fantastic shops in this white and blue town, and restaurants all of which had the most magical views. After shopping and lunch, I walked up more steps to another town. This was a much quieter area with hardly any tourists, but the views just got better and better at every turn. Tonight I went to a song and dance show on board the ship but I was so tired that I could hardly wait to get to bed. (Barbara) We had a wonderful Greek lunch provided by a local man who added “mate” to the end of every sentence he spoke to us. I had a bottle of Mythos beer and chatted to a Scottish couple from another cruise ship while Tom, Valerie and Barbara did the walk that I had already done. Santorini has to go on the list of places to revisit in a more leisurely fashion. For those of you into Facebook, I have loaded ALL of the Santorini photos there. As usual, there are some sample photos below. (Bill)

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