Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nea Kameni, Palea Kameni, and a schooner cruise

Thursday was mostly taken up with a volcano hike and boat trip.  We started in Santorini's new port, Athinios, where we boarded a schooner called Afroditi and headed toward Nea Kameni, the newer of the two volcanic islands in the middle of the Santorini caldera.  For 2 euros, I hiked up and down the island, which was pretty barren (not surprisingly) with a bizarre mix of black, red, tan, and sulfur-yellow colored rocks and a few scrubby plants.  Also very hot, with a few sulfur-y gas vents within the rim of the main crater of the volcano.  I was't with a tour guide, but I eavesdropped on a nearby group and learned how, by digging a shallow hole in the gravely surface along the hiking path, you can feel the heat/hot gases produced by the volcano.  There were several shallow holes created all around the crater rim, and everyone was sticking there hands, then pulling them out quickly due to the heat.  I tried it and it was definitely hot.  And smelly.

I remember when we hiked the glacier in NZ, our guide pointed off to the distance on one side of the moraine and explained that we should avoid that area, because a sulfur vent had recently been disturbed and exposed, and it wasn't safe to get too close.  Wonder why nobody seemed concerned about a similar set up on the volcano?  Maybe less concentrated gases?
View of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni from above Athinios port

Boarding the Afroditi

Coastline of Santorini

Stopping at Nea Kameni
View of the main crater (click to see larger)

Rocks and shrubs

Another view of the main crater.  Probably not obvious in the photo, but gases are
coming up around those yellow-green rocks to the left.

Cairns and Fira in the background

Colorful rocks
Anwyay, the volcano was not beautiful, but it was very interesting, especially considering its history.

Next stop for our ship was Paleo Kameni (the older volcanic island, adjacent to Nea Kameni), where we were able to jump into the water and swim to the hot springs.  Hot springs were kind of more like warm springs and they were also pretty smelly, but it was cool to see.  The water was orange-yellow.
I'm somewhere in there, making my way toward the hot springs.

Hard to tell from the pic how orange the water was as you got further back

Back on board, heading to Thirassia

Mom, Oia in the background.
 We moved on to Thirassia for dinner, and then toward Oia to once again enjoy the sunset.  It was interesting to see Oia from below, including all the people huddled near the western tip of the town trying to capture the sunset.  To be honest, while it was beautiful, it didn't seem all that amazing to me.  I guess I am spoiled with those Boston sunsets :)  (Actually, Plain City, Ohio offers a pretty nice sunset.)  It was very scenic though, with several boats, the sunset, and Oia up on top of the cliffs.
Heading toward Oia

Bottom of the cliffs

Cute boat
Looking up at Oia from the water

More Oia

Port of Amoudi in Oia

Another shot of Amoudi -- nice red cliffs!

Looking northwest

Sun is setting

See the sun rays?

Tiny island off of Oia...wonder who lives there?


Sunset -- I think my phone sometimes takes better pics than my camera


Looking northwest
Today we spent a few hours traveling from Santorini to Mykonos.  More exploring planned for tomorrow...

Church -- Agios Nectarios (back in Kamari, near our hotel)

Aegean cat on the beach :)

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