Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Greece - Exploring Santorini

Dedicated to Paul, a Seattle-based geologist who has been popping in and out of my travels for the last few days.

Santorini has been extremely picturesque. (As my wordsmith grandfather pronouces it, picture-skew). Cats, although generally reknowned for their ability to pose, are truly supermodels here. Most views seem fit for postcards, given the right light. Indeed, they probably have been printed at some point in the last forty years. It may just be the most well-documented place on earth.

Tourism is such a big industry that there is a town, Ia (or Oia), whose survival is pinned on it's majestic sunsets. I hiked around 20km along the northern half of the island (up from Fira in the centre) to check it out. The sunset was gorgeous (an intense stratified red sphere against a purple sea and almost no clouds), but the walk itself was the real highlight. I walked along ghettoes of completely empty 5 and 6 star hotels, with superb flowing architecture, vineyards of coiled grape vines laid upon the ground, and many stunning stark white and blue churches. An impossibly well-placed and affectionate white cat provided company for a portion of the trek.
The windy winding pathway of red, black and white pumice pebbles took me up along the summit of two mountains, and right around the edge of the grand Caldera (volcanic lagoon). Outstanding views throughout!

But my time in Santorini has come to an end. I am now in Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic islands. It seems too big for a single day, so I shall confine my meanderings to the main town area tomorrow. Plus, I have a shopping idea...


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