Mr. Wonderful had one last surprise before we headed back to reality (aka London). After a few days of exploring Santorini by more traditional modes, he manned up and chartered a speed boat for the day! He reasoned, this was the only way to truly delve into some of the island’s best kept secrets. Hey, I’m not going to argue with that.
Our captain, Panos, would be waiting for us at the old port in Fira at 1100 hours. But first we had to get there. The old port lies 800 feet straight down the sheer cliff face of the Caldera, and is used mostly by the ginormous cruise ships shuttling boatloads of tourists on and off the island. My inconvenient fear of heights meant that the two-minute cable car ride down was out of the question. So we opted for the 600 steps on foot. Which would have been merely unpleasant – were it not for the herds of mules that traverse the path everyday. Now I had to totter down the hazardous route in my flimsy sandals, the cobblestones slick with donkey mess! It was awful – not to mention stinky!
Miraculously, we made it to the bottom uninjured. I practically threw myself onto the boat – let’s get outta here!
We sped off toward Nea Kammeni and motored into the secluded sulphur spring inside the volcano. The warm waters have a distinctly sulphur smell, and are a murky orange color, tingeing the volcanic rocks at the water’s edge. The minerals are little metallic flecks shimmering near the surface which have curative, spa-like powers. We dove in and, clinging to a life buoy, paddled into the opening of the volcano. It was like swimming on Mars!
After climbing back aboard and rinsing the mineral water from our swimsuits, Panos steered us around Pallea Kammeni, where the sea was a crystal clear blue.
Thirassia is one of Santorini’s satellite islands. This little village has a population of only around 100 year-round inhabitants. Village elders have steadily refused foreign tourism, turning down lucrative offers to build hotels and resorts on the island. The result is a humble little seaside town that survives off of fishing. We anchored in a quiet cove just in front of Thirassia and got down to business – poppin’ bottles!
We talked, and laughed, and toasted the advancing conclusion of our Greek escapade – until the captain called us into the cuddy for a traditional meze lunch. What he served us was a comprehensive tasting menu of all the Greek staples – tomato keftedes, white aubergine, saganaki – seven dishes in total.
After a wonderful lunch – and plenty of champagne – the real silliness began.
As we rested on the bow, Panos whizzed us around underneath the sky-high cliffs of Santorini’s perimeter. It was so spectacular, gazing up at all the places we’d visited over the week. As we swerved around the jagged rock outcroppings, we passed Amoudi Bay where we’d dined the night before.
I could not think of a better way to say farewell to Santorini than a day on the water touring its most remote borders. As we sped back into the old port, I tried to capture the memory of the sparkling sea, the dizzyingly tall cliffs, and the sense of perpetuity that reassured me if I ever come back, I’ll find it untouched by time.
- Sunset in Oia (godsavethescene.me)
- Santorini “The Old Way”: The Hilltop Village of Pyrgos (godsavethescene.me)