Monday, July 12, 2010

The Floor is Lava: Santorini Volcano and Sulfur Springs

Lays Chips in Greece have so many different flavors. Oregano is good, but I don't think I'll try Prawn Cocktail.

This is red beach of Santorini.

View from Santorini

The sunset at Santorini is breathtaking. This picture doesn't do it justice.

The view of Thira, Santorini.

Here is Rachel on her donkey.

Me in front of a donkey.
This a picture from the boat of the sulfur springs. It smelled bad and the water was so opaque!

Me at the Caldera
A picture of our pirate ship in the bay of the Caldera

The first day of Santorini we decided to check out the volcano and hot springs of the island. After putting down 17 euro, we had tickets to take the tour. A hike, bus ride, and climb down a cliff later we reached a boat. Some of the class skipped the climb down the cliff and took cable cars down instead. I saved the four euro and went on foot. Then the boat, reminiscent of a pirate ship, took us over to the caldera and the sulfur springs. It was an enjoyable ride. Our first stop was to the caldera, the remnants of a volcano eruption. It was interesting to see the volcano crater. I had seen Mt. Vesuvius at Pompeii so I knew what to expect but I still looked forward to seeing the Santorini volcano. It was pretty neat. The geography was incomparable as we looked from the caldera back to the mainland. After hiking up the caldera, in the most insensible shoes, we went back to the boat. Then we stopped at the sulfur springs. They were unmistakable from the boat. The water was an opaque rusty red in sharp contrast to the clear sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea. I didn’t have any qualms about jumping into the sea and then swimming into the red. The brownish red waters were so thick that you couldn’t see the bottom. And it was quite shallow so you could stand up and feel the mud squish in between your toes. The water wasn’t as warm as usual but was still warmer than the sea. The current and winds were quite strong so the temperature was significantly lower in the hot springs. Apparently the sulfur is good for your skin. Crowds of people were rubbing mud all over their bodies. And we followed suit. I did a little bit more enthusiastically than the other girls and just went right ahead with the mud. A group of French girls were really getting into to it and even giving themselves facials. A tinted bathing suit and a couple days of smelly hair were souvenirs of this extraordinary experience. It was interesting since there were so many people from all over, Greece, France, Italy, America, all crowded in this cove area, rubbing themselves in sulfur. It is not something I would make a common experience, but definitely entertaining. Once we reached the shore again, the long hike up still faced us. It was either the hike or the five euro donkey ride up the hill. I decided again to save the money and walk up. Since I have never ridden a horse or anything else, I decided riding a donkey up a steep cliff would be too advanced for my novice riding skills. Plus I saved more money to splurge on our extravagant dinners. I was the paparazzi for everyone else and took pictures of them on their donkeys. Retrospectively, it is a good thing I did not take the donkeys because it was a scary ride. One of the donkeys fell and caused one of the boys in the class to have some scratches and a bald spot on his legs. Although, the hike up was definitely more exercise than I expected and tougher even than climbing up Mt. Lycabettus in Athens or to the track at Delphi. I recommend taking the cable car up if I was to do it again.

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