Santorin (Santorini)

About the Port

It is certainly unsurprising that Santorin is included in the cruise itinerary. Now known as Santorini, it was called Thera in classical times and now officially called Thira just to confuse everyone. Around 120 miles Southeast of the Greek mainland, Santorini is one of a small group of islands which are the remains of a volcanic caldera. The caldera erupted about 3,600 years ago with devastating effect. Known as the Minoan Eruption, it is thought to be the cause of the collapse of the Minoan civilisation and could be the origin of the legend of Atlantis.

The name for the island is Santorini rather than Santorin; it is a contraction of Santa Irini - to whom a cathedral at Perissa on the island is dedicated. It is perhaps an Anglicised name that has since fallen into disuse.

Santorini has been inhabited since at least the 4th Millennium BC. It was under Ottoman control for a long period until the Greek War of Independence and became part of the Greek state.

Santorini depends heavily on tourism and agriculture and the population in 2011 was 1,857. In 2015 it was voted "One of the world's most beautiful islands" in the Travelers Choice Awards amongst others. In preparing this article I have decided that I want to go there myself someday.

Santorin - Google Earth [22]

Arrival and Departure

Moldavia arrived in Santorin today Sunday 9 August at 08:00 and will sail for Salonika at 14:00 this afternoon. There are no organised excursions at this venue, but we are free to make our own arrangements. The motor launches will take us ashore at Ormos Firon from where we can ascend to Thera.

The next leg of our journey to Salonika is about 300 nautical miles and we expect to arrive at about 13:00 tomorrow after sailing through the night.

Santorin Port Leaflet

P&O provided a leaflet about Santorin as an introduction for visitors.

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Santorin Excursion Leaflet [1]
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Santorin Excursion Notice [1]

Photos and Souvenirs from Santorin

Although there is no mention of this in the album or leaflet, it seems likely that Moldavia anchored between Nea Kameni and Santorin as cruise ships still do. It is just a short transfer ashore by launch for those planning to visit Thera.

Ormos Firon to Thera

The album photo below is captioned 'Welcome to our British Friends'. I originally thought this was a local 'welcoming party', but they look very much like a group of Scouts - perhaps British Scouts on holiday - which would explain the caption. Tourists would be welcome for the money they brought into the local economy. This photo must have been taken on the beach at Ormos Firon near the start of the winding track ascending to Thera. The boy front right is 'Alan' based on other photos in the album. The old dwellings built into the cliff face have been replaced by characterless modern buildings unfortunately. Underneath the photo from the trip, I have added a modern photo showing Ormos Firon with the winding path leading to Thera.

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Ormos Firon beach. [1]
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Modern photo of Ormos Firon beach [3]

The album postcard below shows Ormos Firon and the winding path to the top. It is captioned 'Climbed to the top on mules'.

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Ormos Firon and the winding mule path [1]

Ascent to Santorin/Thera

The album photo below shows the boy Alan on a mule and part-way up the steep path with a local man in attendance.

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Mule ride to Thera [1]

There are now three ways of getting up to Thera - walk up the staircase of 588 steps, take the same route but ride on a mule, or take the recently built cable car.

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Modern photo of the cable car ascent [10]

Ascent by mule is no longer considered acceptable in many quarters and I will most certainly walk up if I ever visit. The quote below is from The Metro newspaper dated 28 July 2018

Donkeys on the picturesque island of Santorini are being crippled by carrying overweight holidaymakers up the steep cobbled hills. Now locals are starting to breed their donkeys with stronger mules, so it is easier for them to carry fatter tourists.

A spokesman for charity Help the Santorini Donkeys told the Mirror: "They're having to resort to using cross-bred mules, as the donkeys just aren't strong enough. It's recommended animals carry no more than 20% of their body weight. Obese and overweight tourists combined with the lack of shade and water, heat and cobbled steps is what's causing such a problem." He added: "There should be a weight restriction. With donkeys it should be no more than eight stone, but how would that be imposed?".

Santorini Animal Welfare Association founder Christina Kaloudi, 42, moved to the island from Athens 10 years ago. She said since then, the number of overweight US, Russian and British tourists has trebled, adding: "Donkeys are pretty much in work year-round. They are made to work in terrible conditions without adequate water, shelter or rest, and then I find them tied outside my shelter, barely alive."
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Modern photo of tourists from an article in Metro 28 July 2018 [26]


The album postcard below has in the foreground the Anastasi Church in Oia Santorini as shown from the modern photo underneath it.

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View of Santorin [1]
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Modern photo of the Anastasi Church in Santorino [25]

Dominican Convent at Santorin

The album postcard below is captioned 'The Church of Santorin'. It has taken me a great deal of digging to work out that the building in the photo is actually the church of the Dominican Convent devoted to the Virgin of Rosary. The modern photo underneath confirms this.

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Church at Santorin (Church of the Dominican Convent) [1]
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Modern photo of the Church of the Dominican Convent at Fira [24]

The album postcard below has another view of Santorin/Thera looking along the cliff.

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View along the cliff at Santorin [1]

The album photo below is captioned 'Group in Santorin' and shows a group of local men with a heavily laden donkey. It looks like the heavy sack is fastened to the donkey with a rope underneath its abdomen. The short person at the head of the donkey has no shoes on.

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Group of men at Santorin [1]

Most of the men are wearing flat caps. I was surprised to find that Lock & Co of St James' Street in London have 'Santorini plain flat caps' for sale at £115 as I was writing this in 2019. Something tells me they were a bit cheaper back in 1936.

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Online advert for a Santorini Flat Cap [27]

The album photo below is captioned 'Little Santorinos'. The boy on the right is Alan. The girl on the left is clearly a tourist - whether one of the girls appearing on the photo of children in the pool on board ship I can't be sure. The child in the middle might well be a local but again I can't be sure. They seem to be standing outside a shop selling paintings as souvenirs.

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Children outside a souvenir shop in Thera [1]

The album photo below is captioned 'Thera' and is a view of various buildings and churches.

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View of churches and other cliff-edge buildings in Thera [1]