And that small island in the middle is where the volcano erupts.
My introduction to the island yesterday wasn't as pleasant as I hoped--had a problem with my hotel that put a bee in my bonnet, so to speak. Then today, I actually got stung by a bee. How this bee got under my blouse when I had a jacket tied around my waist, I cannot fathom, but it introduced itself rather suddenly and rudely with a sting as I was hiking along the cliffs. Fortunately. I'm not allergic, so it was only a minor irritation as my blouse rubbed against the sting area.
One of the fun things about traveling is encountering the unexpected. For example, as I was trekking along the cliff path, I saw these guys approaching.
Who would expect to encounter a pack of mules on a seaside walk? They were carrying bags of stone to a building site I passed farther along the path. I saw more crossing the major road through town later. These donkeys looked like the ones that are used to transport cruise ship passengers up the steep caldera cliffs, 600 steps as many as 7 times a day in high season. There is great controversy about this and other types of abusive treatment that these animals suffer from their owners, not to mention the dangers of traversing steps made slippery with donkey dung! I can attest to the stench of these animals as they passed by me.
Walking can get painful after a few hours when almost every walkway and the roads in town look like this. I need some thicker soles!
But the magnificent views are worth sore feet.
My hotel is on the opposite side of the island from the caldera. The view from my balcony isn't as spectacular, but I'll take it any day. This is the beautiful sunset sky I enjoyed last night.
I took a bus to the town of Oia on my second day here. I learned that this is where people flock to see the sunset, but I wasn't able to do that because I have a ferry to catch. Oia (pronounced ē-aah) is smaller than Thira, and there weren't as many tourists around. It's spring break time, so there are lots of young people on the island.
There are equally spectacular views here also. That's Thira off in the distance where the cruise ships are.
I wandered into a pretty quiet part of the town where there were some older buildings with a little character.
I stumbled into the area where everyone comes to watch the sunset. There are lots of restaurants and shops lining the walkway along the cliff. I saw this church framed by a simple but elegant arch.
And, for the first time, I was able to get in. These Greek churches are even more ornate than their Italian counterparts.
This unique and beautiful piece of art was hanging outside the gallery.
And I found another old boat high above the water.
This is the ferry I'm on as I write this. It's huge...semis were loading their trailers into the bottom level when I boarded.
i'm sailing off into the sunset, literally, to my last island stop.