The day after we embarked the ship we had a sea day, which also happened to be my birthday. We rented a private alcove on the top deck and spent the day reading and sunning ourselves. After a bunch of visitors and a lot of traveling it was nice to sit and do nothing as we crossed through the straights of Messina in our quiet and exclusive area of the boat.
|The day started out chilly, but warmed up quickly!|
|Our private alcove|
The next day we arrived at the islands of Santorini. Santorini consists of three islands with Thira being the largest and most inhabited island. The islands are basically what's left after an enormous volcanic explosion. They form a circular shape that is remnant of a volcanic caldera (a caldron-like volcano).
After taking a tender to the island we hopped a bus that took us to the beautiful town of Oia (pronouned eee-ah) located at the northern tip of the island, where we spent some time wandering the tight paths and alleyways. The town is known for its dwellings built into the rocks, including their iconic blue domed churches and luxurious private suites. These elegant white and blue buildings look out onto a beautiful view of the caldera and sparkling Aegean Sea.
We also spent some time in the main town of Fira. At a nearby restaurant we ordered some Greek specialties consisting of fried tomato balls (tomatokeftedes), mashed fava beans, tzatziki sauce, and pita bread. Delicious!
Fira is located on top of a cliff and there are three options to get back down to the boat: cable car, donkey ride, or walk. The cable car line was at least 45 minutes long and we felt bad using the donkeys who didn't look well taken care of. So we hoofed it and tried not to slip on the steep footpath covered in donkey poop (although one of us did end up slipping).
|Donkeys trotting up the footpath|
|Fira from our balcony. The footpath we walked down zigzags on the left.|
The next day we went to the island of Mykonos. Mykonos is known as a non-stop party island with beaches catering to young crowds looking to drink and bare all at their nude beach bars. In the summertime it is packed with party-goers, celebrities, fashionistas, and cruise chip crowds looking to either enjoy the outdoor party scene or the charming towns and water-view restaurants.
|Approaching Mykonos from the ship|
We started walking around the main town of Chora and noticed just how lost you can become in this town. The streets of Chora were purposefully made into a web of mazes in order to trap pirates that would come to invade the town. Once the pirates started getting lost in the twisted network of roads, the natives would sneak up and attack them. We definitely got lost a bunch of times, and since every building was very similar looking we weren't sure if we were somewhere new or had just made a large circle. We took a side alleyway that led us up a bunch of staircases where we ended up at a large windmill. Windmills are an iconic feature of Mykonos, but have not been used since the middle of the 20th century. The views from the top were worth our trek up some long staircases and quite a few turns down below.
We knew we wanted to spend time at a beach, but wanted a more relaxing atmosphere. We took a taxi to Kalafatis Beach located on the other side of the island. The beach was empty, chaise lounges were untouched, and there was an outdoor restaurant on the water. The weather was cool and somewhat cloudy, but as long as it wasn't raining we were happy.
|Stuffed tomatoes and peppers|
Going to the beautiful islands of Santorini and Mykonos was a great start to our vacation. The islands have their own qualities and individual characteristics making each one a unique vacation destination. Up next... Istanbul!