Celebrity Equinox Mediterranean Cruise May 2012: Day 7- Santorini, Greece
This was the easy day for us port-wise. No tour, no set plans, no rush. Kind of a rare day for me!
Decision on how to visit Oia
After getting into a long, passionate conversation about photography with friends during the cabin crawl, they offered a ride in the rental car they booked for Santorini. Made sense to me - didn’t have to fight crowds for the bus or take the ship’s tour. Which was a relief, because I had considered it for months. The ship’s Oia and Winery tour offered to bonus of not having to do the cable car up the hill and also be the first ones off the ship. However, it only allows for maybe 45 minutes in Oia, which I did not think was sufficent time for such a beautiful place. So we jumped at the opportunity to share the rental car.
That meant braving the cable car… which is no problem for me. Ben is afraid of heights, and cable cars certainly don’t help with his fear. I had to convince him that it was quicker and safer than using the donkeys to climb up to the top. Ben was definitely not feeling the journey upward, but he made it and was able to relax. Our friends called to have the rental car company meet us and take us to the car. It was a small Citroen car that surprisingly could fit all four of us. Our friend was given instructions about the car, then tried to get the GPS to read where we wanted to go. Took us a little time to get the GPS situated, but we were on our way, following the signs to Oia.
The beauty of Oia
The drive to Oia is pretty and scenic. Be warned: if you don’t like heights or seeing far down to the water, then you might not want to be driving or looking out the window. Again, Ben wasn’t feeling the ride since he wasn’t “in control” of his surroundings, but thankfully the drive was relatively short. We easily found parking right outside the town of Oia, and then we began to explore!
What can I say - Oia is breathtaking! Beautiful views of the coastline, colorful buildings, tons of shops and restaurants, and don’t forget those famous blue domes! We really took our time just strolling down the main street and taking oodles of photos. We stopped in a bakery to grab a delicious honey soaked pastry. We saw some cool artwork. We ran into cruise friends here and there.
We grabbed lunch at a restaurant along the main street with a nice view of the coastline. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on lunch, so we looked for a place with a reasonable selection of appetizers to share. I helped myself to a Mythos beer (gotta try the local alcohol wherever I go) and we shared dishes such as tzatziki or feta cheese with tomatoes and peppers. Food was good and the price was affordable.
Back to Fira
Then we headed back to the car. We contemplated driving to another location on the island, but thought it was safer to drive back to Fira and spent some time there before getting back on the ship. It was a little challenging to
1) find a nearby gas station to fill the tank before car drop-off, and
2) actually finding where the drop-off was.
Apparently, after trying to review the map, we kept confusing Fira with Firostefani. Once we figured that out (and had some memorable “bumper car” moments involving a knocked over planter), we made it back to Fira in one piece. We found a place to enjoy baklava and a greek frappe. Then Ben and I wandered off on our own for some shopping. I found an awesome necklace and ring set in one store.
Then we got on line for the cable car ride back. To ease things, I quickly jumped out of line to buy a nip of ouzo (Greek liquor that tastes like licorice). Ben felt worse going down the hill, and almost was going to wait for the next car because he didn’t want to ride forwards. I held his hand the entire time and we got back down the the dock safe and sound. After prying open the difficult bottle, we got to enjoy our “prized” ouzo. We got back on the ship and relaxed for the evening.
Added notes of Cable Car
We went up the cable car at approximately 8am. No wait. It was perfect. It helped that we were the only ship at the dock at that time. I’d like to note that the wait for going down the cable car wasn’t bad either. Maybe 15 minutes. Apparently a half hour later made all the difference. Our friends got stuck in long lines. Some took their chances with the donkey trail. All I know from their stories is that we made the right call with the cable car.
That’s it for the day - photos of Santorini are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robynalman/sets/72157630118689196/
Next up: Mykonos!