Some cruises are short and visit only a few islands in three to four days. Others visit more islands over a longer period of time. Almost every ship docks at Mykonos, one of the most famous and most visited islands. Small enough to walk from one end to the other, the streets are lined with gorgeous white washed houses. The huge bird, perched on the edge of a white wall, cleans himself as tourists timidly approach for a photo. His pink and blue beak is nearly the size of a man’s arm. A white cross crowns the blue dome. Their base is whitewashed, but the cones topping them are covered in straw. Thin sticks of wood latched together comprise the wheels that spin slowly on the light breeze coming off the sea. An island close to Mykonos is famous for its ancient temples.
Daily excursions can be booked in Mykonos. The first signs of habitation on the island date from the 3rd millenium and important remains of the Mycenaean period have been uncovered in the area of the sanctuary. In the 7th century Delos was already a known Ionic centre because of its religious importance as the birth-place of Apollo. During the period of the alliance of Grecian kingdoms under Athenian domination, Delos was the designated treasury. One day here is definitely not enough to absorb the splendor of what has been often referred to as Greece’s most beautiful island. Santorini is considered a caldera – a volcanic depression in the shape of a basin. The caldera was created thousands of years ago when the Strongyli volcano collapsed. Santorini is the portion of the submerged caldera that remains above sea level. This, however, is only one of the possible sites of Atlantis, the Canary Islands and the Bahamas being the two most prevalent among the believers in the story. Approaching the crescent shaped island from the deep sea, you may be astounded by its size.
The sides of the island are too steep to bear any buildings and the majority of the island’s structures are built on its flat top. Numerous cruise ships anchor in the harbor, but the massive island dwarfs even the biggest vessel. Small boats transport tourists from the cruise ship to the shore, where buses wait to drive them up the skinny road that winds its way up the side of the island. Their destination is Oia, a small village set at the edge of the caldera’s steep slope. Oia’s bars, restaurants and homes sit along the perimeter of the island. Relaxing at one of the cliffside restaurants provides you with an unbeatable vista of the island and surrounding water.
The blue sea glimmers in the bright sun and Santorini stretches on and on. Smaller islands, part of the same volcanic group, are speckled throughout the sea.