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Previous trips can be accessed by clicking the following links:

2013
Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea

2014
Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Denmark

2015
Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India and England

Saturday, October 29, 2016

10/17: Santorini: Hike to Imerovigli, Perissa Beach & Pyrgos

We had a fairly long walk anticipated today so decided to make it easier on ourselves by taking the bus from where we were staying in Karterados to the island’s main town of Fira and then hike from there to Imerovigli. We had long planned to hike the seven miles fom Fira north all the way to Oia, the town where we had spent sunset last night, but then reconsidered, figuring half that distance would still give us still more lovely views of the island and also a good amount of exercise. 

Photos of our hike: In the background is a view of Thirasia, the island we’d visited yesterday on our boat trip.
The Catholic Church of St. Stylianos just clung to the edge of the caldera. It was a family church and was first mentioned in a list of Santorini churches compiled in 1757.
The whole path had the most stunning views of the caldera and it was a great way to appreciate the island away from the crowds.
It was interesting seeing the island from different perspectives as we continued our journey.
The town of Imerovigli was just beyond the left side of my head; the white buildings in the distance to my right were in the town of Oia.
The path initially meandered through Fira along narrow, cobblestone paths dotted with white villas and the Aegean Sea below. It was very picturesque and what you think of when you imagine Santorini. 
I loved how the owner had put up a sign on the villa roof advising people not to get in the boat!

Another stunning blue-domed white church so typical of Santorini. You'd think we might have gotten sick of seeing the same style of church everywhere on the island but we never did.



The path further along became more remote but still gave way every few minutes to more equally stunning views.



The blindingly white town of Imerovigli: Set on the highest point of the caldera’s or volcanic crater’s rim, Imerovigli – the name means ‘watchtower’- the village is quieter and less expensive than other villages on the caldera.

There were so many spots for getting that classic blue-domed picture in Santorini.


What a magical place to wed your one true love!

The big rock backing the village was once crowned Skaros Castle when Venetian overlords reigned after 1207. It collapsed in an earthquake, leaving only the rock. We noticed people walking down there but I/we decided to wimp out and not do it. I didn’t feel too guilty as it was one of the few climbs this trip we decided not to take.

We could have hiked all the way to Oia, the town on the northern part of the island which we had been to last night for the sunset but we decided we had hiked enough and wanted to explore other parts of the island instead. It was about 12:30 so we walked through the town of Imerovigli and then hopped on the bus heading south toward Fira arriving at the town’s bus station just a few minutes later. 
We noticed a sign for an express bus leaving for Perissa in just three minutes so jumped on that. What a great bus system the island had as we could have waited just a short amount of time to go to any of the other villages or towns on the island. The buses were all like intercity buses or coaches and not a regular city bus at all – so they all were very comfy and quite luxurious. 

They had curtains and darkened windows because of the strong rays from the sun. The only snag for some people was the very strictly enforced no eating or drinking rule on any of the buses in Santorini. You couldn’t even bring an open cup of coffee on board even if you promised not to drink it, we observed. 
En route to Perissa, we passed a sign for the Tomato Industrial Museum – that would have been the first of its kind museum for us! We also noticed signs indicating Traditional Settlements.
After burning the midnight oil last night writing a post about our first day in Corfu and then working on HOA matters because it was ‘that time of the month' once again, it was so nice to just head to the beach and relax there. It would be our last time to do that for goodness only knows how long as we had a very busy schedule planned while in Egypt for the next nine days.

We had never seen a beach that had volcanic sands like Perissa Beach. We were lucky being able to snag free lounge chairs this time just a few feet from the beach. We had brought our swimsuits with us but there were again no changing areas. We were quite content just to vege out, however, for a couple of hours.
There was one more place we wanted to see on Santorini and that was the town of Pyrgos so we hopped on another bus close to 4. I talked about Pyrgos and its many churches in yesterday's post as the bus had stopped there to pick up passengers for the day-long boat trip.
Though today Pyrgos only has 500 inhabitants, until the early 1800s, it was the capital of the island. Medieval houses were stacked on top of each other and back to back for protection against pirates.  

Pyrgos was almost totally empty; it was strange hardly seeing anyone wandering along the town’s narrow passageways. We felt like we had the place to ourselves which was so unusual compared to the other communities we had visited while in Santorini.




Unlike the other churches, this one was a very light shade of gray. It was called St. Theodosius, was constructed in 1639 but was closed.

St. Nicholas Church, built in 1660, was open so we spent a few minutes in it.





St. Mary’s Church, again closed, was built in 1400. I was surprised that so many of the churches were still intact as the town had been particularly harshly affected by the 1956 earthquake that hit the island.
We weren’t sure whether these were shutters or just temporary coverings – whatever they were, they were a lovely shade of turquoise against the stark white of the home.

The donkey was making a grocery delivery, I kid you not!


In Pyrgos, we felt like we were really in old Santorini as hardly anything seemed to have changed there. It was like we had walked back in time. 
We got the bus back to Karterados around 5 and had a really nice dinner in the small town. There were only two other tables that had guests so the service was very quick! I had a glass of the island’s very decent wine. If we were to ever return, I would love to stop at one of the island’s many wineries. We didn’t realize until talking with our waiter that night, that the very small bushes we had seen laid out in orderly rows all over the island had been grape vines. We are so used to seeing lush and big grape vines, not those rather ugly little things, that it had never occurred to us that they had been grape vines.
We certainly had seen a good chunk of the beautiful island today as we had taken the bus initially northwest to Fira, then hiked further north to Imerovigli, then the bus due south to Fira, then another one southeast to Perissa bfore going northwest to Pyrgos and then finally the last one back to Karterados - it makes me tired just writing that but it was one of most special days of our trip.

Posted from Doha, Qatar on October 30th, 2016.

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