Today we where headed for the island of Paros under full sail at a brisk 7 knots. We had briefly visited Paros in 2007 and were heading back to anchor in the bay at Paroikia. Caution is needed on the approach to Paroikia as there are a number of rocks and reefs to be avoided. It was here in 2000 that a Greek ferry hit the rocks and sank with the loss of 80 lives. Fortunately today with a two metre sea running the rocks are clearly visible and we have no trouble entering the bay and dropping anchor.
We are looking forward to meeting up with Fiona and Terry on Rome II, John and Vanessa who we were with on Siros will also be joining us in a couple of days. We have all come for the festival on the 15th August dedicated to Dormition of Our Lady , the programme includes local folk music and dancing on the water front and a spectacular firework display in the bay.
R to L Vanessa, Terry, John, Anne, Fiona
After a fantastic week which included far too many sundowners we managed to extricate ourselves and head south to our next island and a new one for us, the island of Ios.
Downwind to Ios
We had two reasons for visiting Ios, the main one being we wanted to visit the island and see what it had to offer and two we would leave Alba Voyager there and visit Santorini (the next island south) by ferry. We have been told there are no good anchorages on Santorini and it wasn't safe to leave your boat there. On arrival at Port Ios we were lucky to get a berth at the town quay, all be it right next to the ferry terminal.
Ferry change over mayhem at Ios
The island is the backpacker's capital of the Aegean and when a ferry arrives mayhem breaks out on the quay as one half try to board the ferry as the other half try to disembark. It all sorts itself out in the end and makes for good entertainment for the spectator.
The restaurants around the quay were varied and good and we were able the try our favourite Greek fast food 'The Gyros' which you can buy as a 'take away' wrapped in pita bread or as you see me enjoying here, plated for a sit down meal. With our boat secure on the town quay we take the 9 o'clock high speed ferry to Santorini. On boarding we are amazed to find the layout similar to a jumbo jet (only a lot bigger) with rows of seats and a steward showing you to your numbered seat. The journey time is about one hour as this thing travels at 35 knots, we would have taken all day to sail there!
Boarding the ferry for Santotini
What's special about Santorini? Well it's like many of the other Greek islands, volcanic, but with this one only the rim of the crater is above sea level and its huge. The crater measures, six miles long by four miles wide and is filled by the sea. In about 1450 BC a massive explosion ripped the volcano apart. The explosion was estimated to be four times greater than that at Krakatoa which took place in 1883 and a tidal wave of about 80 metres high destroyed many towns and villages on surrounding islands. The volcano is still active today, the last earthquake was recorded in July 1956 which destroyed many of the buildings in Thira.
The ferry enters the crater through one of the breaks in the rim and because of the large number of visitors attracted to the island a new ferry port has been built within the crater.
Santorini from the ferry
The picture shows visitors newly disembarked from the ferry and looking up to the top of the crater rim where the main village of Thira lies.
Alpine road to the plateau on the top
The rim of the volcano reaches a height of 700 feet above sea level. From the top you get a magnificent view down into the crater with cruise ships anchored below.
Looking down into the Old Harbour
The village of Thira is perched right on top and while being very picturesque is also very touristy and expensive.
The village of Thira on the top
Donkey or Cable Car
To get from the old port (now used by the cruise ships) to the village you have three choices. You can travel in style as they did for many years using one of the local donkeys or you can now use the new cable car, less romantic but a bit more exciting and last but not least there's Shanks's pony by far the most economical if you don't mind the 600 steps.
A great day out and definitely not to be missed if you are visiting the Greek Islands. We returned to Ios and Alba Voyager again via the high speed ferry reflecting on how it felt to be a tourist instead of a traveller.