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Table of Content for greece2024:

More pages: April 2024 May 2024





2024/04/28 A few Sights from Athens Airport En Route To Nafplio
π 2024-04-28 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

Flying to Athens from Turks and Caicos was not an easy routing, but I managed to make it work via Montreal and Munich, which nicely avoided having needlessly go back through the US and its unnecessary customs and immigration when you are not actually flying to the US. Canada thankfully does this better and had legit transit:

I remember YUL, but this time around, didn't enter the country
I remember YUL, but this time around, didn't enter the country

nicely done, they check where you come from and if you come from an untrustworthy country, you have to go through security again. Fair enough
nicely done, they check where you come from and if you come from an untrustworthy country, you have to go through security again. Fair enough

finally made it to the lounge
finally made it to the lounge

even got Poutine!
even got Poutine!

the Lufthansa plane was nice, but the flight was too short, barely enough time to sleep before landing in Munich
the Lufthansa plane was nice, but the flight was too short, barely enough time to sleep before landing in Munich

of course landed 1h late, with a 1h30 connection. I had to run through the airport to make my flight with 1mn to spare, and my luggage didn't make it
of course landed 1h late, with a 1h30 connection. I had to run through the airport to make my flight with 1mn to spare, and my luggage didn't make it

planey of snow in Munich still
planey of snow in Munich still

finally arriving in Athens, lots of Islands visible right away
finally arriving in Athens, lots of Islands visible right away

After landing in Athens, collecting the rental car, and filing paperwork for my luggage that Lufthansa of course failed to put on the last plane, ther ewas a bit of daylight to see some minor sights on the way to Nafplio (some would have been ok to visit, but since the overworking staff only worked until 15:30, that was not in the cards...).

The Corinth Canal, between 2 seas, while of more limited importance today, was hand dug apparently 2000 years ago by 6000 slaves and is a remarkable achievement. It was later re-opened 2 centuries ago, although today it does not serve a purpose anymore for bigger ships that can easily go around


that almost seems like a wonderful idea :)
that almost seems like a wonderful idea :)

you can see the sea on both sides, and it's the same level, so no locks needed
you can see the sea on both sides, and it's the same level, so no locks needed

We stopped at a few more minor archeological sites on the way that were all closed, but still able to get a peek:






not overachieving hours
not overachieving hours

looked inviting inside
looked inviting inside

fantastic view from up there
fantastic view from up there


After that 2nd stop, it was time to head to Nafplio to end a very very long day (considering the flights that took over 24H)

2024/04/29 Palamidi Fortress in Nafplio
π 2024-04-29 01:01 in Greece2024, Monuments
Nafplio has 2 fortresses, but Palamidi is hard to miss, you see it as soon as you arrive and it's lit up at night. It hangs impossibly on a steep and sideways hill, and it's a miracle and testiment to its construction that it is still standing today. It is built with multiple defense layers and the views from up ther are of course stellar:













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2024/04/29 Ancient Theatre at the Asclepieion of Epidaurus
π 2024-04-29 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

It was a 30mn drive from Nafplio, and went early in the morning soon after it opened. Thankfully this was before tour busses arrived. It is not one of the most remarkable sites in Greece, but it has the best preserved ancient greek theatre to date. It is still used for performances today and the accoustics are fantastic, no microphone or amplification needed:





The grounds were wonderful at the time, but by now, unfortunately there isn't a lot left:



Of course it had a small museum with things that were found on site:


2024/04/29 Nafplio in a Day
π 2024-04-29 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

I say "in a day" because Rick Steves recommended 2 days for it, including the 2 side trips, but actually all of it was easily doable in a day. I just elected to put Mycenae the next morning on the way out to save some useless driving, but it did easily fit at the end of the day thanks to its later opening hours (20:00)

Day started with a yummy breakfast made by the pension:


Next to the pension, there was a very nice orthodox church:





So the day started with a side trip to the Ancient Theatre at the Asclepieion of Epidaurus (click me for blog). Best preserved theatre in greece:


On the way, there was a store that sold pretty nice art:



After that, and finding a parking spot downtown, which was a tad challenging, managed to get to port just in time for a bi hourly boat to Bourtzi fortress:


lots of friendly cats everywhere
lots of friendly cats everywhere





Back in town, the city walk went by some small churches and minor museums:






museums closed quite early, some around 14:30, so getting an early morning was a good thing
museums closed quite early, some around 14:30, so getting an early morning was a good thing






After the bourtzi fortress in the water, the 2nd one was Akronafplia's Castle, which you could drive up to, but there is also an elevator to it:


nicer view from up there
nicer view from up there

even a cactus garden
even a cactus garden




more friendly cats ;)
more friendly cats ;)

you can see Palamidi from Akronafplia's walls
you can see Palamidi from Akronafplia's walls

a godo picture of Akronafplia from Palamidi
a godo picture of Akronafplia from Palamidi

You can't really see that fortress from the fortress itself, but it had great views. Of course, the most impressive one is clearly Palamidi Fortress (click me for blog), which you can hike up, but it's a long ass painful hike. I went with the 10mn drive around ;)



even better view from up there
even better view from up there

While this could have been pushed into the end of the first day, to get a bit of rest, a nice dinner, and avoid an extra hour of driving to Mycenae and back to Nafplio for the night, I moved Mycenae to the next morning on the drive out (click me for blog)

Nice dinner to end the day




While this could have been pushed into the end of the first day, to get a bit of rest, a nice dinner, and avoid an extra hour of driving to Mycenae and back to Nafplio for the night, I moved

  • Mycenae to the next morning on the drive out
  • and since there was some spare time, I chose to add Olympia, which was a fair drive away, but obviously historically significant
  • See more images for Nafplio in a Day
    2024/04/30 Mycenae Near Nafplio
    π 2024-04-30 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

    The 2nd worthwhile sidetrip from Nafplio was to go see Mycenae, and it was conveniently located on the drive out of Nafplio when I realized that I had already done everything in one day, and it would make sense to push to Olympia instead of going back to Athens directly.
    Got there bright and early soon after it opened, and got to learn about the Myceanaean culture, which predated the greeks by about a thousand years:




























    That was an interesing 1.5H+ visit, and then time to drive to Olympia, a longish 3h+ drive...

    The Athens Archeological Museum had a good amount of artifacts from this location, including a nice overview:


    See more images for Mycenae Near Nafplio
    2024/04/30 Long Side Trip to Olympia
    π 2024-04-30 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

    After being ahead in Nafplio (1 day instead of 2), I realized that it was possible to add a long day trip to Olympia, so I did the drive there after finishing Mycenae. It was a somewhat painful 3H+ drive there from Nafplio and a bit longer back to Athens. It is true that by today's standards, it looks small and underwhelming, but it was still very much worth seeing. Thankfully it was just late enough in the season that the sightseeing times had moved from 15:30 to 20:00, making the side trip feasible and worthwhile.

    The museum of the olympic games, was a good place to start and the archeological museum was next:








    lots of things found in excavations
    lots of things found in excavations





    This is what the original amphitheatre that was used for over 1000 years, looked like. Yes, it's small and underwhelming compared to Roman theatres ;)


    of course the area had fancy buildings which are now mostly gone
    of course the area had fancy buildings which are now mostly gone

    The archeological tour, showed what was left. Nothing much, if anything, had been restored








    The tour ends with the arch to the main arena:


    it looks quite flat
    it looks quite flat

    I went to compete for the original 2000+ years old olympics
    I went to compete for the original 2000+ years old olympics

    It would have been nice if more had been restored, but even as is, it's a nice and peaceful area:


    Before driving out, a quick stop in town to visit the very good Archimedes museum, showing all the excellent work he did, arguably one of the top geniuses of the world until Leonardo de Vinci, up to 1500 years later. He was sadly and mistakenly killed by a roman soldier. What a loss...





    After leaving Mycenae around 11:00, arriving at Olympia around 14:00, the tour visit was mostly over 3H later, and with a 3.5H drive to Athens to return the rental car in time by 21:00:


    See more images for Long Side Trip to Olympia
    2024/05/01 Ancient Agora of Athens
    π 2024-05-01 01:01 in Greece2024, Monuments
    The Roman Agora, along with Rick Steve's audio tour, was enjoyable to visit. Even if again a lot is missing, the museum had good exhibits of what was found, and the temple of Hephaestus is actually the best preserved temple I saw in Athens.


    found lots of cats all around athens, many on this site, and they were friendly
    found lots of cats all around athens, many on this site, and they were friendly



    more cats :)
    more cats :)


    christian church added later
    christian church added later

    Good views from the site, of course:


    parthenon doesn't look nealy as good
    parthenon doesn't look nealy as good

    The museum was good:





    this was actually a sensus counter for voting
    this was actually a sensus counter for voting


    The temple was in pretty good shape:





    Also found that athens had wild tortoises roaming around

    See more images for Ancient Agora of Athens
    2024/05/01 Little Rook House Cafe in Athens
    π 2024-05-01 01:01 in Greece2024, Outings
    This was randomly part of the Psyrri walk in Athens, and a hillarious find. HAd to stop and enjoy the place for a little while. They really went all out, it was both impressive and fun:















    See more images for Little Rook House Cafe in Athens
    2024/05/01 Athen's Parthenon
    π 2024-05-01 01:01 in Greece2024, Monuments
    The Parthenon is of course what Athens is known for, so I put it first on the list. It's supposed to get very busy during teh summer, but I arrived just during the shoulder season when times were moving from winter to summer hours, and when getting in at 08:00 sharp as it opened (with a timed reservation), the place was pretty nice and quiet. By the time we left, around 10:00, it was starting to be overrun with tour busses.

    took the less busy south entrance, got in a few mimutes
    took the less busy south entrance, got in a few mimutes





    While expectations were probably higher than they should have been, overall the place had suffered too much damage over the years and looked a bit disappointing to me. The fact that it used to house a church for a while, and was also used a munition depot and that a lucky shot during a war, ignitied and exploded all the black powder, causing a huge explosion, did not help. I was disappointd that after 40 years of renovations, it still looked like mostly pile of rubble, but was told later that there is apparently some rule that says you can only add 30% of missing materials, beyond that you're supposed to leave things alone. This is not my field, but I'd have been happy to seen it rebuilt, even if other material, to get a better feel for it. Of course the fact that the british stole half of what was left of the 2 triangle roofs and are keeping it in the british museum, did not help.





    what is left of the decorations, the rest were stolen by the british
    what is left of the decorations, the rest were stolen by the british

    michoko bird!
    michoko bird!

    The side temple, Erechtheon, looked a bit better:



    One big plus of that location is that you can see all of athens from it and see many other sights:



    what left of the temple of Olympian Zeus
    what left of the temple of Olympian Zeus

    and the rebuilt Panathenic Stadium where the 2004 olympic games were held
    and the rebuilt Panathenic Stadium where the 2004 olympic games were held


    So maybe it was a bit bittersweet, but still very nice to see this site that was on my bucket list for sure

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    2024/05/01 Athens in 2 Days
    π 2024-05-01 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

    Athens had been on my TODO list for a long time of course, and while Rick Steves recommends 3 full days to do a good visit, it became clear after the first day that most everything else would fit on the 2nd day, so that freed up the 3rd day for a day trip to [Delphi and Arachova, the latter city was actually super fun and pretty (blog clickme)|].

    So, I'll start by mentioning cabs. They have a monopoly and too many are crooks that refuse to use their meters. If you step in one, they'll decide how much they want to charge you (usually double or triple the meter rate). Also, they hang out outside monuments and wait for "customers" to fall into their trap:


    The only way around is to uber which calls a cab, about half will refuse to take you unless you turn off uber and give them the same flat fee, but eventually one will be honest. Still, pain in the ass...

    Athens Day1: Parthenon, Agora and Roman Agora, Pssyri, and Kerameikos

    Day #1 hit all the spots on the Parthenon combo ticket:
  • Aacropolis
  • theater of dionysus
  • ancient agora
  • roman forum
  • temple olympian zeus
  • library of Hadrian,
  • keramikos cemetery
  • Some of the sights are on their own page, starting with the obvious:

  • Parthenon (blog clickme)

  • View from the top to scope the next destinations:




    After the Parthenon, a somewhat steep climb down through small streets, brings you to other sights included in the ticket:





    saw multiple tortoises in the city
    saw multiple tortoises in the city



    Lots of touristy streets:


    The Rick Steves Book recommended a Pssyri and Central Market walk, so I did followed that:

    they added nice murals to a run down area
    they added nice murals to a run down area

    food stops :)
    food stops :)


    On that tour, found this gem:

  • Little Rook House Cafe (blog clickme)


  • The spices and market area was very cool to visit:









    lots of cats to pet :)
    lots of cats to pet :)


    Ther other big site for that day was the:

  • Ancient Roman Agora (blog clickme)

  • A church or two on the way:





    more museums, kerameikos cemetary and museum:





    This is where I'll admit that it was only 16:00 and therefore there were 4 more hours of museums that could been done, but due to travels, lingering cold and short nights, the day ended here. That said, still time for dinner:


    Athens Day2: All the Museums, and More

    Started the day early (at 08:00) with
  • Panatheanic Stadium (blog clickme)
  • and got to learn more about the olympic games. You do get a reasonable distant view


    A short walk away was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Honestly there is very little left of it and it's skippable (nice history, but there isn't much left of it, and the unfinished restoration didn't bring it back to its original grandeur). The Roman Hadrian Gate outside is more interesting in my opinion.




    Hadrian's Gate still looks good today
    Hadrian's Gate still looks good today

    From there, lots of museums to see:

  • The Acropolis Museum (blog clickme) is definitely impressive and well built, read the blog entry for details


  • Next was Archeological Museum (blog clickme). It's somewhat out of town, and sadly due to orthodox easter week, some amount of staff did not show up for work, so 1/3rd of the museum was closed, pretty vexing. That said, was was open was definitely a very good collection (read blog for details)


  • From there, museum street was next, and five different museums to visit:

  • Byzantine and Christian Museum was another half closed museum. The collection was interesting and unique, but also showed that the artist skills from those times, were not good ;)
  • it's an interesting fork of christianity, with its own written language
    it's an interesting fork of christianity, with its own written language

    ouch
    ouch

    also ouch :)
    also ouch :)

  • The National Gallery was a cool building, various kinds of art, not essential but it was a short walk away;




  • National Museum of War showed some wars as seen from the Greek involvement in them. Always interesting to see history from another perspective:





  • The Museum of Cycladic Art was next down that long museum street, nice collection and ancient history:




  • Last was the Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture, an impressive private collection:





  • Athens Day3 Evening: Walk Around the Parthenon

    Most of Day 3 was on a day tour, but there were a few hours left over in the late afternoon to walk around. Because of orthodox Easter, it was all fun and games until we hit a procession of thousands of people, ran away the other way, and the poor taxi that tried to drive us around had to go 3 times longer around town as most of the streets back to our hotel had been blocked and it took forever to find a path back.

    A walk down Anafiotika


    more cats :)
    more cats :)





    checked out a few tourist stores:



    AFter finishing the loop of the Parthenon, ran into an easter parade, so I knew it was time to get the hell out before everything got blocked. By then many streets were already blocked and the uber had a hell of a time to get us back (took more than twice as long):





    And that was it for Athens, time for bed and an eearly 07:00 ferry to Mykonos the next morning

    See more images for Athens in 2 Days
    2024/05/02 Athen's Panatheanic Stadium
    π 2024-05-02 01:01 in Greece2024, Monuments, Museums
    The Panatheanic Stadium was rebuilt for the 2004 greece olympics, and it does look quite good. Much better than the original site at Olympia which wasn't very stadium-like by our current standards :)











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    2024/05/02 Athen's Acropolis Museum
    π 2024-05-02 01:01 in Greece2024, Monuments, Museums
    Day #2 in Athens was to go through museums, and of course Acropolis Museum was a major one to see. It was very well built and layed out, and looked well done. It was nowhere close in size, but it was Louvre quality.

















    storing black powder and ammunition there during the war
    storing black powder and ammunition there during the war

    turned out to be a big mistake and responsible for most of the damage seen today
    turned out to be a big mistake and responsible for most of the damage seen today


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    2024/05/02 Athen's Archeological Museum
    π 2024-05-02 01:01 in Greece2024, Museums
    The 2nd of the 2 major museums in Athens is indeed the Archeological Museum. It's a bit outside the main town area and unfortunately due to orthodox easter that week, it was only half open, which was pretty disappointing (it was not a national holiday, just not enough staff showed up for work to staff all the rooms, sigh...)

    We was available of the collection, though, was first rate:




























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    2024/05/03 Day Trip to Delphi and Arachova
    π 2024-05-03 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips

    Initially going to Delphi didn't seem like a fun drive, just going to Olympia was already a fair trek, but I didn't originally factor it as a day trip from Athens with a tour bus (to avoid the 4H+ of driving). But due to limited time, I picked from getyourguide, which offered 2 tours, one that stopped 2H at Arachova and said pretty much nothing about what Arachova was or why it was a good idea to stop there.
    As a result of the very poor getyourguide site (and you had one job), I picked what they called the "most popular" day trip which was indeed to Delphi only. Once on the trip, driving through Arachova and realizing how beautiful it was and why it was on the other tour that I didn't pick because I had no idea, now I had deep regret. Thankfully I was able to work something out to rescue to the day, do both Delphi and Arachova (With 2H in Arachova), and still catch the bus back to Athens.

    Let's start with Delphi, though. It was another one of those pretty impressive places back in the day, of which there is only so much left today, so you have to read the descriptions and use your imagination along with the audioguide:










    found a beautiful and probably poisonous spider on the way ;)
    found a beautiful and probably poisonous spider on the way ;)

    For comparison, thi is what the site used to look like back in the day:


    The highlight was the top forum that is still in good shape:




    From there, the rest higher up was apparently closed, but I managed to miss that and went to the top:

    the top arena was not well maintained and probably hadn't been for a while
    the top arena was not well maintained and probably hadn't been for a while

    From there, I felt I saw all that could be seen, so I went to check out the museum which had a decent collection:




    Once done with the museum, took a cab to nearby beautiful Arachova:











    super colorful church
    super colorful church


    Lots of yummy and cheap shopping:








    Cute little museum inside town:




    The town was full of friendly cats



    and after about 2H in town, walked to the bus pickup area, for the IG crowd ;)


    and then, longish ride back to Athens, but so happy I didn't have to drive :)

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    2024/05/04 Delos
    π 2024-05-04 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips
    Delos is an impressive archeological site from ancient greece. You can only access it from the nearby island of Mikonos, and there are several tours per day although on that day due to orthodox easter, there were only one left, but that was all that was needed.




    The Island is still an active archeologic site, it's a bit amazing that they let us walk around unsupervised, walking on the actual site, and probably causing some light damage to it:
















    the famous Delos lions
    the famous Delos lions







    Friendly cats were an unexpected part of the attraction:


    I might have had a few snacks for them :)
    I might have had a few snacks for them :)





    After about 2h on the island, it was time to get back, the boat was waiting for me :)


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    2024/05/04 Two Days in To Visit Mikonos and Delos
    π 2024-05-04 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips
    Mykonos was the first island on the trip. Taking the "fast" ferries is supposed to be part of the experience, but while they are fast for boats (up to 65kph or so), it's still 15 times slower than a plane and the boats cannot take the most direct route. Sadly those greek ferries are also chronically late because of bad schedules, and while this was the first ferry of the day, it still arrived about 1H late for no good reason, preventing taking the morning boat to Delos :-/ In hindsight, taking a plane would have probably been better and barely more expensive (those boats are not cheap).







    not bad for a boat, but not fast compared to a plane.
    not bad for a boat, but not fast compared to a plane.



    The first stop was another island, further delaying the already late arrival:



    finally, 1H late....
    finally, 1H late....

    After arriving, picked up a higher power quad (thankfully, the cheaper lower power ones would have been totally useless on that hilly island):




    A few museums to visit:




    wonderful old mosaics left over
    wonderful old mosaics left over

    Mykonos has lots of friendly cats:







    And of course Mykonos is well known for its pretty painted houses and churches, as well as windmills:




    The old town was fun to walk through, lots of small streets:











    Then, due to timing not lining up, time to burn before the late boat to Delos:


    absolutely overpriced dessert, not bad, but sold for 27 times its price of 1E
    absolutely overpriced dessert, not bad, but sold for 27 times its price of 1E


    Eventually it was time for the late boat to Delos with a good guide who actually used to be part of the team working on the escavations (clickme):





    After the tour, went back to the very nice hotel for the night:




    The 2nd day was a toss, either take an early-ish ferry around noon, or go around the island. In hindsight, going around the island wasn't that interesting and the noon-ish boat was probably 1H late anyway, so it would have been possible to go around for a while and then take the boat to Santorini. Taking the later boat to Santorini was a mistake, itwas very late and got there past midnight.




    found a nice bakery
    found a nice bakery







    Then had some time to burn for late lunch and then time to check out a few beaches, although they were windy:






    rode by the airport I never used and maybe should have
    rode by the airport I never used and maybe should have

    And after the ride, went to the boat, and waited for it over 1H since it was late like every day...




    2024/05/06 Two Days in Santorini
    π 2024-05-06 01:01 in Greece2024, Ntrips
    To finish the tour of greece, Santorini was the last island on the tour and it was beautiful. In hindsight it was indeed worth more time than Mykonos, although 2 full days is enough to see most important things, 3 days in Santorini is not a bad plan either.

    Boat arrived quite late (close to midnight), it was nice inside and fairly empty:


    the boat being chronically late, opens its doors while still arriving in port to save a few minutes
    the boat being chronically late, opens its doors while still arriving in port to save a few minutes

    better late than never...
    better late than never...

    I'll skip the terrible experience with the rental car dropoff at the boat, and the village idiot we ended up being stuck with and that wasted an entire hour making himself feel important, and eventually arrived quite late at the beautiful hotel with fantastic views:



    The next morning, after some needed rest, enjoyed a great breakfast with view:





    and then it was time to drive around the island to see the many viewpoints:



    still a volcanic island
    still a volcanic island


    A lot of history on this island, all the way to potentially being the lost island of Atlantis (the part of it that ended up being swallowed by water after a volcanic eruption)



    this used to be an entire crater filled with water
    this used to be an entire crater filled with water

    how things changed
    how things changed





    One level down, there are actual leftovers of a city:



    this is one of the most famous paintings
    this is one of the most famous paintings



    From there, I went to downtown Fira to enjoy some tourist stuff:





    Lots of viewpoints on the road:



    cable car from old town
    cable car from old town





    The heart of santorini is a nice hole in a rock:



    Next was another archeological site, interesting ruins:





    Plenty of cats in Santorini too:








    Then continued the island tour:











    From there, drove up to ancient thera, another archeological site, which unfortunately was closed early and closed the next day. It's supposed to not be essential, but kind of sucks to get all the way there, just to be turned back at the gate. At least there were good views form the top:




    So instead, I opted to visit a couple of wineries. Santorini is very arid, but somehow they still have a tradition of making wine:




    The first winery also had an art gallery:


    The 2nd winery had a fantastic wine museum that was beyond expectations, literally one of the best such museums in the world:







    Then went to the museum:









    Cool to see what happened to Santorini:



    After that, time to grab dinner and enjoy the view from the hotel and sunset:









    Fun to compare with the next morning:




    For the 2nd day, I picked a boat tour recommended by the hotel, which ended up being the wrong choice. I did want to see the craters and actually "do stuff" like get off the boat and be on islands, however this boat did not offer that, and felt like mostly a waste of time, even if it did offer some views:




    intersting colors on the rocks
    intersting colors on the rocks


    other people in the boat went to bathe, but water was kind of cold and I don't really go in the water unless it's to snorkel or dive :)
    other people in the boat went to bathe, but water was kind of cold and I don't really go in the water unless it's to snorkel or dive :)

    they offered a nice lunch
    they offered a nice lunch

    After the boat tour that burnt most of the day, there was a bit of time to drive around:


    While I thought it would be a tourist trap, in the end Lost Atlantis Experience was actually an interesting interactive museum that makes plenty of fair points that the Lost City of Atlantis, if it existed, may very well have been in Santorini as a good portion of it did sink under water level due to volcanic activity:







    From there, it was time to drive to the north side by Oia to visit this charming little town where many go see the sunset. The route there was interesting:




    Finally, Oia:















    then an early morning flight the next day to fly to Malta. Santorini was a beautiful island, great to have seen it.


    See more images for Two Days in Santorini

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