Thursday, 16 May 2013

Day Seven: Fira? Thira? Who's Lost, Not Us!

We set out to find the ancient city of Thira this morning, so we asked directions, and one of the local women pointed us in the direction of the bus. We headed toward the bus stop where there were lots of people standing, and asked one of the women standing there if this was the bus to Thira, and she said “Fira”. Given that in Naxos, there was more than one name for the same place, I assumed that the same was true in Santorini, so assumed that Fira and Thira were the same place. Jordan tried to get me to go across the street to the Travel agency to catch the smaller bus to Thira, but since I am older and wiser, I won the argument.

For a mere 1.6 euros each, we got a great bus ride, again straight up the mountain until we reached the very top. The bus driver announced, “ride finished,” which was a polite way of saying, “get off the bus!” We had an absolutely delightful day walking from the town of Fira to Imerovigli, which is about a four hour walk round trip. The entire walk goes along the crest of the mountain, looking into the caldera (the inside) of the volcano, and in spots looks down on both sides of the island with amazing views out to the sea. The entire path is paving stones, with lovely little tourist shops, restaurants and small hotels built into the side of the caldera overlooking the water. This is one of the places that people come to enjoy the famous Santorini sunsets.

houses built on the caldera
We walked along the entire route and were completely surprised to not find the ancient city of Thira. At the end of the path, it was clear that there was nothing else, so we asked a woman who was resting under a tree if she knew where it was. We had a lovely conversation, she was visiting from Austria. People are always surprised when we tell them where we are from, as most of the tourists here are from Europe, they can get here with a 3 or 4 hour flight. When we tell them that it took us 30 hours, they just look at us and say, “so far, so far.” Yes, we are NOT looking forward to the return trip!

The only problem with this walk was Jordan harassing me about breathing heavy when we walked at a steady pace up long flights of stairs. Sheesh, she expects me, a 60 year old (61 in a few weeks!) to keep up with her, a 19 year old! Hmph, I’m going to get her to run a half marathon with me and then we’ll see how she does! Too bad I won’t be around when she’s 60 to give her a bad time!
This is truly an amazing place. It is thought that this is the place that Plato was referring to when he wrote about the lost city of Atlantis. Given that half the island disappeared into the sea with the last volcano, it makes a lot of sense that this is probably the area that he was referring to. In any case, Santorini claims the Atlantis story as its own, and there are many stores, restaurants and hotels carrying its name.

When we came back to our hotel, we asked the owner of the hotel where the ancient city of Thiros is, and he pointed up the mountain right beside the hotel. There it is, he said, straight up that zigzag rode. We could take the tourist bus up there, but it will be a good workout to do the hour long walk straight up the mountain. We will see how we do tomorrow, maybe it will be Jordan huffing and puffing!
Zigzag road to Thira

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