In this project I collaborated the brand Millican who make sustainable bags for the conscious traveller, the deep-thinker, and for personal journeys across the globe. I was given a bag and notebook which had already travelled around the world on other adventures, for my part in the project I travelled to the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. Click the button bellow to see the published version of the project on Millican's travel blog.
I traveled to the Greek island of Santorini this summer just before high season. This small Greek island is world famous for its beautiful sunsets, black, white and red sandy beaches, pristine traditional towns sat high upon volcano cliffs tops, and a legend of the lost city of Atlantis.
Almost as soon as I arrived on the island I craved being in the ocean. The heat was intense and I had arrived at the start of a heat wave with even the locals seeming to struggle. I was staying in Kamari, a small town near the airport on the south side if the island. The main street is lined with bars, shops and restaurants which run along the entire length of a black sand beach. At the end of the beach is an impressive headland jutting out made of limestone, upon which you can find the ancient town of Thera which has a history stretching back more than 3500 years.
I immediately found a shop to buy a cheap snorkel and mask and headed down the beach, across the hot black sand and into the warm, calm and crystal clear waters of the Aegean sea. I used to come to Greece as child on family holidays and would spend hours in the sea snorkelling. I felt like I had gained access to another world with fish darting past me in a endless soup of amazing blue water. On this occasion it was no different, apart from being a bit taller I was just as excited. After a few adjustments to my mask (leaky mask) I was away. The water was warm and still and deepened a surprisingly short distance from the beach. Tiny fish swam together in shoals shining and flashing in silver as they tried to escape the reach of my GoPro. Further from the beach you’ll find some rocky areas, it gets pretty deep but there are plenty more fish.
Santorini’s unique landscape was created by its fascinating Geological past. The island itself is a vast volcanic crater which has collapsed in on itself after an eruption. The most famous towns and villages line the cliff tops of this crater which is called a ‘Caldera’. The eruption responsible for Santorini’s distinct landscape occurred around 1600BC. At this time an ancient people inhabited the island called the Minoans. They were an early Mediterranean civilisation based on the island of Crete who are famous for their impressive temple complex at Knossos, and their tradition of leaping over charging bulls. This civilisation is said to have inspired Homer’s myth of King Minos’s labyrinth and the ferocious Minotaur.
The volcano is still active today and you can visit the new island in the centre of Caldera, which erupted out of the sea in the 1950s. From the port at Thira you can join a relatively cheap boat ride across to the new island. Arriving on the active volcano I noticed how unforgiving and ‘new’ this place was with almost no plant life. The lava flows are still visible and the path to the summit winds between the flows which look like a frozen rivers of black and red boulders which once poured into the sea. It gets pretty busy up there. Multiple tours of the volcano happen once and the lines of people can be intense, especially in the heat. But its worth it. If you can listen to your guide they will tell you tales of the lost city of Atlantis, one of the many famous legends which the island has claimed for it own. After climbing the volcano the captain sailed around the corner of the island for us to swim in a hydrothermal springs. Everybody lined up on the deck, eager to jump overboard and swim towards a small cove where the water had turned from blue to a sulphur rich orange. I leaped from the boat into the water and swam my way into a rocky cove with the water becoming warmer and more orange with every stroke. Stream rose around me as I was greeted with the distinct smell of eggy sulphur. I have been in a few natural hot springs in my time, but this had to be the strangest and only one which dyed my cream coloured swim shorts to match my red hair.
If you get the chance I would recommend you to visit the island of Thirassia. The island is part of the Caldera but you can only get there by boat. Typical of ports on the crater side of the island, the cliff face starts almost immediately where the boat ties up and then continues up for hundreds of meters. The island feels much more sleepy and traditional than the hustle and bustles of the towns on the opposite side of the crater. Leaving your boat you will be met with a few restaurants along the waters edge. However, for the best views and to beat the tour crowds follow a winding path of steps up the cliff until you reach a restaurant which overlooks the whole bay. Its incredible, and well worth the 300 odd steeps in the 30 degree plus heat. When you get there grab a table on the cliff edge and sit back and take it all in. I ate some incredible stuffed tomatoes there. There is another place to eat on the cliff top, you will see it sign posted as the ‘Other Restaurant’ - I felt kind of bad for these guys. Only a few minutes more along the path from the first restaurant and you will reach the ‘Other Restaurant’ . I can imagine most who climb those steps will take the first opportunity they can for the chance of some shade and bite to eat, just like I did. You can hitch a ride from the bottom to the top of the steps on some donkeys which will cost you around 5 euros, minus the sense of achievement of course.
Santorini is a photographers paradise, by far the most picturesque part of the island is Oia. If you search for images of Santorini this is the place you will mostly likey find. With good reason, from here you get amazing views of the rest of Caldera as the town is perched on the crater edge and has beautiful white buildings with blue domes which seem to be piled on top of each other. There are also traditional windmills, pristine marble streets, expensive shops, a beautiful world famous book shop, bars, restaurants, an old fort, and crater view villas with private pools, this is the most desirable and affluent place on island. Most of the images you will find of Oia are taken from more or less the same spot of the same view. This became apparent while I walking around, not long before sunset you will find queues of people waiting to take a photograph from at least 2 of these popular locations. I had never seen this before, and was quite surprised. It isn't uncommon for people to sit in a spot for hours before the world famous sunset to avoid the queues and get the perfect shot here. The sun sets right behind the town and the white and pastel coloured windmills provide the perfect scene to photograph it. I have never been to a place where crowds of hundreds of people will gather to wait patiently for the sun to set, and then clap when it disappears bellow the horizon. Oia is a must see, even if you don't like the crowds and prefer a quieter time, its well worth the trip. Thira is another beautiful town on the cliff top, I would recommend having a meal at sunset here overlooking the Caldera, it’s incredible.