Santorini Greece island
Capri Italy architectural detail
Santorini Greece hillside
Acropolis Athens Greece
Pompeii Italy ruins
Trevi Fountain Rome Italy
Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas atrium

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© 2006
Tom Buhl

Brilliance of the Seas ship’s bridge
Island of Capri Italy shop
Acropolis Athens Greece
Acropolis Athens Greece
Pompeii Italy mural
Spanish Steps Rome Italy
Brilliance of the Seas details
  Santorini, Greece with Royal Caribbean Cruises

Santorini Adventure

In the time-honored tradition of experiencing grand adventures despite of or because of inadequate research, a missed road sign at a fork in the road was a key ingredient to magical day on Santorini.
In Santorini I did a major T Buhl tour on my own. It was a beautiful, sunny morning as The Brilliance of the Seas nestled into our anchorage just off Skala Harbor. Took the tender to the dock. To get up to Firá (Santorini's largest city) one could take the cable car, ride the scary donkeys (and surly donkey “masters”) or walk the 588 steps up the cliff. Of course I took the walk. No cable car line waiting or surly donkey masters for this boy. The little tour advice map showed a couple of little museums, churches and shopping areas in picturesque Firá. I forsook those to head on foot to Akrotiri a little over 7 miles SW of Fira to see the archaeological sites of the Cyclades. That site was preserved beneath volcanic ash for 3,500 years.
On the walk I had plenty of time to think, sing and take photos. The ocean on my right (west) and a major hilltop with radio tower on the left (east) were my guides (along with the occasional road sign). Eventually I came to the village of Perissa, a small beach town which seemed to cater to English speaking young people. Hostels, bars, water sport rentals and a beautiful cove set off by an extended black sand beach. The road lead to a round-about. Which only seemed to be a turn-around other than a small street leading uphill with rentals, apartments and pensioner units alongside. Walked up that hill a bit. Couldn't see where the main road continued. Doubled back to Perissa. Asked a man getting into a car where I was while pointing along the west coast of Santorini on the little map provided by Royal Caribbean. He pointed to the far SE side. I said, “no where am I along the west coast.” He says, “you are here, Perissa.” Which of course was on the east coast. Even with that info I was still very disoriented until I realized that I had gone all the way around the mountain and was walking north into Perissa which is why the ocean was still on my right (but now to the east) and the mountain to my left (but now to the west of me).
I walked back a little bit and found a market with a good map and nice photos of Firá (had I not been in the sun so long I might have chosen the one written in English rather than Italian, opps!) and talked to the old man in the market who was being assisted by his young grandson. Finally oriented, I did go back to the little uphill road, so instead of exploring Akrotiri I was able to visit the archeological area of ancient Firá. I was entering from the back way so no markings or signage, but I did see some simple arch-shaped shelters carved out of rock and many old terraces. Some areas were fenced off and the climb was over very loose small rocks and rather steep. After climbing a bit I realized that going down would be even tougher so I sat on a rock and had lunch of an apple and a kiwi that had been kindly left in my stateroom upon joining the cruise. And most thoughtfully put in my pack by myself.
After the little lunch I walked back to the beach at Perissa. The Aegean was a such an inviting deep blue that I decided to go for a little swim in honor of my favorite SB Middle School alum, Crosby. Leaving all my stuff in my day-pack on the beach meant I didn't feel comfortable staying in too long. The water was cold by local's standards but to a Pacific Ocean boy it was truly delightful and refreshing. Could have spent hours but I still had a long walk ahead. Got back into new Firá just as the museums were closing so that happily eliminated that option. Slowly walked down the 588 steps to the dock and took the tender back to The Brilliance of the Seas.
I figure the round trip was probably about 16 miles (possibly more) plus 588 times 2 steps. My calfs for the next couple of days felt that estimate a tad conservative. A great day in a new neighborhood. On the return trip I did see the cut-off for Akrotiri. Which I did go along for just a couple hundred meters but when I saw all the traffic going the other way, I doubled back. So I have to return some day to see the wondrous site of Akrotiri.





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