Thursday, July 5, 2012

Santorini: Home of the Gods

By Edith McClintock

Fira, Photo by Yoo Chung
The gods do not want me to cruise. I know this firstly because I have been given the gift of seasickness. Further proof came on my first cruise through the normally tranquil seas of the Bahamas when our creaking wedding cake of a ship hit a hundred-year storm. Believe me when I tell you there is no pill on earth to convince me that being tossed about in the bowels of an overcrowded, floating condominium battling a vastly superior and angry sea is a human experience for which I should spend hard-earned money.

I do, however, understand others feel differently—my boyfriend and his parents were happily gambling the evening away while I moaned in pain begging the sea gods to please just pull us under already and end my misery.

Oia at sunset
But I did give cruising one last try in the Greek isles aboard the MS Sea Diamond (in truth, a diamond in need of some polishing, may she rest in peace). Although we didn't hit a storm this time, I was still most grateful to the Sea Diamond for bringing me safely within the sparkling blue waters of Santorini—a remnant volcanic caldera created in the Aegean Sea around 1630 BCE when a volcanic explosion blew the top off the island. The eruption likely caused the downfall of the Minoan civilization centered on nearby Crete and may even have given birth to the legend of Atlantis.

I was particularly happy when the Sea Diamond sailed away, leaving me on solid ground again. And what a terrain. What a setting. For three days we wandered in awe through white-washed towns with blue-domed churches clinging precariously to the tops of plunging cliffs. We hiked rugged hills past tiny pink churches and the ancient ruins of Minoa. We rested in cliffside cafes, tasting crisp white wines and mezes of eggplant, garlic, yogurt, and cucumber. We watched golden sunsets shimmer over a mountain of pastel homes intertwined with sea and sky and volcanic rock.

Fira, Oia, Firostefani, Thera. Even the names are beautiful.

It was early April when I visited, just after the Easter holiday and still cool, the crowds not yet arrived. But Santorini would be breathtaking at any time of the year. I tell everyone I meet to go—by ferry or plane (which is how I got home). Go. Even by cruise ship, if you must. But not by the Sea Diamond. She sank the following year, hitting a volcanic reef within that same caldera and sinking to her ultimate resting place with the gods of the sea—within the spectacular bay of Santorini. Paradise.

And as for further cruising, I think the gods have spoken and I will obey.

For more, visit my author website and/or personal blog, A Wandering Tale. Even better, order a copy of Monkey Love & Murder on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or the Book Depository (free shipping nearly anywhere in the world).


  1. What a jewel you found after all that misery, Edith. Such lovely photos.

  2. I was in Santorini just last week! It is a jewel. Did you ride the bus up up up the steep hairpin curves or did you take the funicular?

  3. Thanks, Heidi. I think we took the road, Patricia.

  4. It sounds so beautiful! I often wish I'd spent time in Greece when I lived in Europe. Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. Love it. Me too, Edith. Me too. I thought naively for many years that perhaps I was just sick on this boat or that ship...but now I've come to fess up to the facts. I get seasick on any vessel atop of water. Beautiful pictures, by the way. When were you in Santorini?

    1. 2005, if I remember correctly--we did 3 days in Athens, 3 on Mykonos, then 4-day cruise seeing lots of islands, followed by 3 days on Santorini, then flew home from Santorini. Pre-Facebook. ;-)

    2. Photos's aren't mine. I have my Greece photos on my back-up drive on the West coast and I'm in Miami at the moment, so I had to 'borrow' them from wikipedia.

  6. Ah, the site of our honeymoon. Santorini was a dream. We saw the whole island riding around our scooter. Of course, we flew through Athens, on when else but Greek Orthodox Easter. (And yes, the Acropolis was closed that day. What planning!)