While we had an amazing time exploring the Athenian streets and architecture of ancient Greece, we were ready for some relaxation in the sun. Our destination was the furthest island in the Cyclades archipelago, which goes by the name of Santorini. Most people know this gorgeous island by its famous, blue-topped, white washed churches and jaw dropping views. In addition, most visitors also find it interesting to learn that these beautiful panoramas were actually developed when this now crescent shaped island, was once a sizable volcano. In 1646 BC, the mountain erupted and collapsed, creating the ringed caldera that we are familiar with today.
Our journey began in the port of Athens on a 7:25 AM Blue Star Delos Ferry, which would take about 7 hours of elapsed time to meet our destination. Sounds like a long, uncomfortable "ferry" ride, right? Fortunately for us, this was much more like a cruise ship than a ferry boat. In addition, we booked a stateroom for the ride down, so that we could get some rest, just in case our antics kept us up too late in Athens the night before. The stateroom came with 4 beds, a full bath (with shower) and access to the ships business lounge seats/service. Since we booked the entire room with our party, we got a reduced rate and only paid around $12 extra per person over economy. We had 6 of us travelling, so we grabbed a couple of economy seats and all sat together in business class, which made this a very comfortable ride. The crew had no issue with this fare discrepancy, since we had the state room. Be advised, these rooms need to be booked months in advance during high season.
Throughout the day, we lounged around on padded chairs in front the of the ships floor-to-ceiling windows and ordered cappuccinos, espressos, danishes and sandwiches (which we were surprised to find weren't over priced). There were a couple of restaurants on board, in addition to the service provided at our seats. Even a boutique shop opened up a couple hours into the voyage. Between Piraeus Port (Athens) and Santorini, we stopped at the islands of Paros and Naxos (more on Naxos in a future post, as we stopped on the way back). It was a nice break in the relaxation to head out onto the open deck and watch the boat taxi into the different islands. There were some beautiful photo opportunities with each port, as the sun shone into the blue water and reflected off the white buildings. The ports lacked the ugliness we might find from an industrial port, as the majority of them are used for tourism nowadays. This is, of course, with the exception of the fisherman supplying the restaurants with fresh fare. Even after 7 hours, arriving into the "new" port of Santorini seemed to come too soon. But as we looked up the switch back roads to those fairy tale towns hanging out on the cliffs, we knew it it was time for our journey to continue.
More on Santorini coming soon!