April 8, 2012
View of the harbor at Harakleion, Crete
Today is our final day of the cruise, so we are all excited about the amazing things we will see today, but sad to know that our time in the Mediterranean is drawing to a close. Our ship pulled into Herakleion, Crete, early this morning, and nearly everyone was off the ship as soon as possible to explore this seaside town on their own. There is an ancient fortress on the breakwater in front of the marina dating back about 1500 years. From the marina area, many of us followed a recommended path up through town passing by street vendors, seafood markets, and souvenir shops. It was great for everyone to have some time on their own, without a guide, just to browse the shops, or just sit and have a greek coffee and watch all the people pass by.
Looking at 3500-year-old artifacts!
The path wound its way past an open square, and some of us ended up at the Archeological Museum of Crete where we could see artifacts collected from the island, many of which have been dated to about 1800 B.C! Then, it was all aboard by 11:30 am for our 4 hour cruise up to the island of Santorini. According to the Greeks, Santorini is the largest volcanic crater in the world, partially submerged, and the towns that make up the island dot the rim of the crater like white icing drizzled on a bundt cake. The volcano blew up with a tremendous explosion in 1640 B.C., apparently producing a tsunami 700 feet high, which headed right for Crete, virtually wiping out the inhabitants of the island that lived there at that time. Santorini is now considered to be one of the most beautiful and exotic of the Greek islands, and now we can see why. The sights and vistas are awe-inspiring!
Aimee and Fifi on Santorini
Breathtaking views on Santorini
We disembarked by tender and were shuttled to shore, where we took a cable car up to the rim of the island. A bus met our team and soon we were off to the village of Ai. The white buildings, blue roofs and marble streets, against a backdrop of the emerald ocean make this a very special place indeed! As we say goodbye to the Greek Islands, we look forward to continuing our journey in Paris and Normandy starting tomorrow.
Walking the streets of the village of Ai