We had an early excursion called the Hot Springs Tour, so we got dressed in beach wear and met with our tour group. The ship was tendered, so we got picked up by a smaller boat that looked like a pirate ship and set out to sea.
We passed the volcano that actually created the island of Santorini, and admired the gorgeous views from the boat.
When our tour guide told us we were getting off on the volcano and climbing to the top, we felt a little, umm, unprepared! Nowhere in our itinerary did it say anything about hiking up a volcano, which is the reason I wore flip flops. Several other people in our tour group were in the same boat (ha!) as me, so I didn't feel quite as stupid for wearing sandals. The soil was a bit rocky (read: painful) but we were in Greece and there was no way I was going to miss out on climbing to the top of an active volcano.
We took in the views of Santorini and the sea, learned a little about the history of Greece, and after about an hour we were at the top. It was hot, smelled of sulfur, and was quite a workout, but it was worth it. I'll let the views speak for themselves.
Proof that the volcano is still active: you could actually see steam coming out of the craters, and it was really hot if you put your hand near it.
No wonder it smelled like sulfur...
The hike back down was much quicker and slightly slippery, but we survived! We got back on the boat and headed to our next destination: the hot spring. The boat parked a few hundred feet away, and we jumped in the sea and swam to the spring.
The spring itself wasn't as warm as we expected, it was more like little pockets of warmth that would move around. You know when you feel a warm spot in a lake and worry that someone just peed there? That's what it felt like! Not as luxurious as it sounds. The water was really glittery and red because there was so much iron in it. It actually stayed on our skin when we got out which was a little gross. Honestly I much preferred the swim TO the hot spring more than I enjoyed actually being in the hot spring, but overall it was a fun and totally new experience for both of us. And the views from the spring weren't too shabby either.
I would definitely recommend taking a hot springs tour in Santorini if you can!
After the tour we went back to the ship and showered (we were sweaty and covered in iron!) and then took a tender boat over to the island. We took the cable car up to Fira, which was an adventure in itself. We feared for our lives a little and prayed that the engineers that built those little cars up the side of the cliff knew what they were doing. We tried not to look down, but we couldn't resist.
Thankfully we made it up safe and sound!We ate lunch at probably one of the most touristy restaurants in Santorini, but we were starving and it was one of the first places we saw. I had the stuffed tomatoes and peppers and have been craving them every day since! They were delicious. My husband (I still don't get sick of saying that) had the Greek sampler, which came with a stuffed tomato, moussaka, and some kind of potatoes, all of which were also good. I should know, I sampled all of it.
When our tummies were full we walked around and peeked into some of the gift shops in search for souvenirs and gifts. We wanted to walk to the black sand beaches, but we didn't have a map or much time left and it was starting to rain. So instead we walked off the beaten path a bit to take in a little more of the Grecian scenery.
Then it was time to head back to the boat. We thought about taking a donkey down the cliff, but we felt so bad for the poor little guys we couldn't bear to make them carry us down! So back to the deathly cable cars it was.
We made it down alive, and hitched a tender boat back to the ship. We said goodbye to Santorini knowing that we will be back again someday. It was one of our favorite places we've ever visited.