Today’s post is catching up again With Debbie and Jim as we follow along on their Grecian adventure!
Day 4: Santorini
Another great day exploring Santorini. The island has similarities and differences to Mykonos. First, where Mykonos has buildings beginning at sea level, Santorini is mostly inhabited at the top of the mountain. Santorini was formed, along with some other pieces of land nearby, by a volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago. The volcano’s top was blown off in the eruption and debris was sent everywhere. The last time the volcano erupted was 1956, so many areas were destroyed and had to be rebuilt.
In Santorini, we took a tender to the dock and then boarded a bus. There are three ways to get to the top if you haven’t booked an excursion – walk a long way on cobblestone streets, ride donkeys (which was not recommended), or take the cable car. We had an excursion booked so we had a bus. The bus drove around the island as the guide told us things about Santorini. We went to the highest point of the island, but it was foggy and we couldn’t see much. We did notice that many wild flowers were in full bloom and it was very pretty. Then we drove to Oia, an old village on the northern tip of the island on a steep slope. On the way we saw beaches and views of both sides of the island. One of the beaches has black sand because of the volcano. Santorini has lots of land in between towns, and seems more spread out. (Maybe that is because we only saw certain parts of Mykonos.) After Oia, we were driven to Fira, another town. There are lots of shops here, and the streets are narrow and made of cobblestones. (They were in Oia, too.) Even in the beginning of the tourist season, which is now, it is crowded and hard to get around. Most of Santorini’s streets are cobblestoned. Everything is not white and blue like Mykonos; there are other colors on buildings.
Day 5: At Sea
There is much to do on this ship. They have activities scheduled all day and night. Most of the time, we are on excursions and are gone (or just aren’t interested – like games, trivia contests, parties, etc), but today I got to go to two art classes. I took a watercolor pencil class and an acrylic painting class. The outcome was nothing to write home about, or even keep, but it was fun to get to do some art. Jim spent some time at the pool talking with people (he met some people from UF), working out and walking again, and laying by the pool. All in all, we enjoyed the day.
Day 6: Malta
Today our port of call was Valetta, Malta. It looks very different from the Greek islands we have visited. On Malta, all the buildings are made of blocks of limestone (a little bigger than the size of a large concrete block) and are a honey color. It looks like a fortress in some areas. The architecture is a combination of Arab and Baroque design, and looks very majestic. One interesting thing about Malta is the houses were originally built with balconies. It is against the law to take them down, and owners are required to maintain them. They aren’t all the same and are very interesting.
Our tour first took us to the town of Mosta, and we went inside the Mosta Dome church. This church has the third largest dome in the world. Everything is beautiful and ornate. Then we drove through the countryside to a former World War II airfield that has been turned into a crafts village called Ta’Qali. We went to a store that makes filigree jewelry. It is such tiny, delicate work. I think I would go blind if I had to do that all day. Our next stop was Dingli Cliffs – the highest point on Malta. The views are great. There is also a small, old church there with no windows, only the door. The lack of windows was for protection from invaders.
Our last stop was the ancient city of M’Dina, which is a walled city with narrow winding streets to confuse invaders. Inside M’Dina are churches, aristocratic houses, and a few stores. They are all connected, except for the streets. Most of the architecture is Baroque, but in the middle of the city is a square with the Cathedral of St. Paul and St. Peter. The buildings here reflect Spanish design, Baroque style, and Neo-gothic, but all are of limestone.