Noplace to Park

Santorini, Greece

Cruise ships form the backdrop for dramatic cliffs and cliff-side towns overlooking what was once a volcanic caldera at the island of Santorini, Greece.
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July on Santorini, Greece. It is hot — very hot. Near 100 degrees or more. The humidity feels like about 200 percent. The blazing summer sun here is so hot that evaporation from the sea is actually visible. The haze that obscures the other islands nearby is not actually pollution; It is literally mist from the ocean evaporating.

My son, Dan, and I arrived on one of those ships down there. We were ferried in to the harbor by one of the ship’s boats, then took a tour bus excursion to the island’s two most touristed towns, first Oia at the far end of the island and now Fira. Later we will walk down the donkey path from Fira to the boat landing, be ferried back to our ship, and watch Santorini disappear into the dark as our ship departs. Our stateroom on the ship is air conditioned and has an en-suite shower. That last bit seems very important — a promise for later, as I stew in the sun at the top of Fira town.

On this side Santorini seems to rise near vertically from the ocean, so the towns here are clustered at the top of steep slopes and cliffs. Homes are piled on top of one another, tenuously joined and separated by staircases and narrow alleyway/paths. All are neatly painted in bright colors, glowing in the Mediterranean sun. And what a view they all share!

After a morning hike around Oia, the bus brought us here to Fira and we have now walked along the central “street” all the way to the end, where I found this fabulous view. Dan left me about ten minutes ago in hopes of finding a cool spot to await our return to the ship. As usual, I have stayed to explore and take pictures. The sights here are emblematic: Who hasn’t seen pictures of these towns on a travel poster or in a magazine? Just like those advertisements suggest, we have found neat villages with breathtaking views; beautiful water; classic architecture; and wonderful, friendly people. I love it and can’t resist trying to capture the feeling in a photo. I fear I will fail yet again.

Standing here in the sun, I am sweltering. I am going to go find cool cantina, where I can sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze and a beer. But first, I wonder if there’s a better shot just over there…

(Sony cybershot DSC-F707, integrated lens at 10mm, ISO 100, f/4, shutter speed 1/200 sec.)