Santorini and Poros

July 27, 2016

Truth be told, we didn’t care if we got to Santorini or not. There was certainly a question as to whether or not we would as the wind and mechanical issues made it a difficult voyage, but so many people on this trip had never been to Greece and it was on their must-see list, so the captain did his best to get us there. The issue with a small vessel is the trip from ship to shore at Santorini required private tenders. There is a small port at Santorini, nothing large enough to accommodate the Harmony V, so we were moored off the island like the big boys. Because of the cost of the tenders they had only scheduled an early morning boat for folks visiting the archaeological digs at Akrotiri and then going into town for lunch, with return tenders at 4 and 6:30PM. We’d visited Akrotiri a couple of years ago and didn’t want to go again, and 8:30AM to 4PM in the main village would make for a long day, so Steve and I decided to stay on the boat.

After breakfast everyone, and I mean everyone (but the crew) departed for Santorini. Steve and I had the ship to ourselves. They served us a private lunch in the dining room, and we sat in the open-air lounge like we owned the place. The captain happened upon us in the late morning and asked why we’d chosen not to go to shore. We explained about the tenders and long day and he said, “We’ve got the lifeboat in the water to test it out. We can run you into port if you’d like.” His offer of a zodiac ride to shore was very lovely but I had my day planned out with organizing my notes and photos and a bit of writing, so we declined. When the first tender arrived from shore late in the afternoon I looked up and said, “Who are these people on my boat?”

Overnight we traveled to Poros, an island in the Saronic Gulf separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow channel. The town is a mix of Neoclassical houses with tile roofs and Cycladic houses with flat roofs and lime washed exteriors. The Cyprus and pine trees made the harbor feel more like the port on an alpine lake than on a Greek island. And the massive anchor in the port, well, we’d had some anchor issues so we needed to document this one.

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There was a working clock tower on the hilltop and the library had an exhibit called “The Shells and The Sea”. For our librarians and our geo and microbiologists this was a busman’s holiday. How cool was it to visit an exhibit where someone who actually knew, well, basically everything about what we were looking at was there to explain it to you? I will tell you, it was way cool. One of the best things was an Argonaut or a paper nautilus. I had no idea that it was actually a real thing, but they had several.

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We wandered the streets and visited the shops, traipsed up to the clock tower and saw fig trees and grapevines and spectacular views on the way, and then headed back to the port for another spectacular lunch.

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After lunch we straggled back to the ship, but not before coming across a rather spectacular gelato shop. We’d been to an amazing one in San Gimignano in Florence, and this was at least a tie. We sat with our gelato listening to The Clash classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go”. My tapping foot reflected in a mirror at the base of the gelato case, and I glanced over, thinking, “Who is that old woman with the swollen ankles”. Sorry, I still feel 17.

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Since this was our last night on the ship the captain threw us a cocktail party before dinner, with traditional Greek dancers. They, of course, pulled folks from the audience to dance. One of the Harmony V passengers was the retired Archbishop of Tasmania, Adrian Doyle. He’d told me that Greece was on his “bucket list”, and I’d replied that I hoped he’d see all of the places he wanted to visit, but he said time was running out for him. I wasn’t sure if it was because of his age or his health, but I was happy he partook in the Greek dancing that night.

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After dinner we watched the lights of Poros over a Metaxa on the deck as we headed to Athens.

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Next up – Return to Athens and The Benakis Museum

Deborah

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