Monday, June 10, 2013

A Santorini MUST: Donkey Taxis

Santorini is a very uniquely shaped island.  It was once a volcano, that caved in.  The outer rim is now the island, while the caldera is flooded with water.  Greek mythology leads to believe that the lost town of Atlantis was once on this island, before the interior collapsed into the ocean.

The cliffs holding the towns up high above the water are vast and steep, and the thought of an earthquake makes you quiver.  The traditional cave house that we stayed at didn't just hang off the cliffs, but literally dripped off the cliff.  You can read more about how we prioritized staying in this location HERE.

There are two ports on Santorini.  The new port and the old port in the town of Fira (Thira).  The new port was more actually more fearful for me.  Upon arriving at the new port by ferry, we took the public bus into the town of Fira.  Sounds simple right?  Just grab an inside seat on the bus and don't look outside.  The switchback road leading up the cliff from the port is a steep one.  I'm not going to lie... I just closed my eyes for a bit.  Needless to say, I'm not cut out for death road in Bolivia.

During our time in Fira, we took a boat out of the old port to a tiny island in the middle of the caldera where you can still see some of the volcanic activity and swim in the mud baths.  This is something that almost every tourist does on their trip to Santorini, but please, don't hold your breath.  It is not all that impressive and the tour guides move you like cattle.  However, what I did enjoy was the view of the caldera from below, and the trek back up the cliff from the old port.

The path down to the old port in Fira.
There is no road from the old port up the cliff into Fira.  You have three options, ride the cable car, ride a donkey, OR last but not least, walk in the donkey poop on very slippery, stinky, and steep stone path. I suggest taking the cable car down to port bright and early in the morning.  This way you'll be working against everyone coming in off the cruise ships.  If you wait until later in the day to go to the old port, you may run into long lines of travelers trying to get back to their cruise ship on time. The cable car will cost you €4.  THEN, when you arrive back in the port, take a donkey back up the cliff for €5. 

If you do decide to dare the donkey poo and walk down the stone path... beware... the donkeys are NOT controllable like horses.  Also, take your time.  Like I mentioned before, the path is slippery. The stones are worn from the donkey hoofs, and when you top that off with donkey poop... you have one slippery surface.  Needless to say, we witnessed a few slips and falls.

I loved riding a donkey up the cliff in Fira! It was something on my bucket list that I just had to do while we were there.  It gave me another way to take in and enjoy the breathtaking views.  (It might be because my breath was taken away that the smell of donkey poo didn't bother me...) However, Nick, was not impressed.  I think the smell got to my princess' head just a little. ;)

Take my advice, skip the cable car and take a donkey back up the cliff. :)  

Bon Voyage!

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