Monday, June 4, 2012

Lost City of Atlantis

"According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying 'in front of the Pillars of Hercules' that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean 'in a single day and night of misfortune'."  (Wikipedia)
Legend has it, the lost city of Atlantis is the sunken, underwater, caldera of Santorini.

Whereas most calderas are the highest point of a volcano, Santorini's caldera (12 by 7 kilometers or 7.5 by 4.3 miles) mysteriously, and quite suddenly, collapsed. Coincidence? I think not.

Along the 300 meter high (980 foot) cliff leading into the caldera, is an 11 kilometer (6.8 mile) path that stretching from the capital city of Fira to the northern most city, Oia. I had a 2.4 kilometer (1.3 mile) advantage, since my temporary resting spot was in Imerovigli, which, coincidentally, is the most picturesque of all the spots on the island.

The hike, leading me up, down and around giant hills, was beautiful and completely relaxing. Wildflowers dotted the landscape. Churches were placed sporadically along the cliff's edge, overlooking the caldera, and standing as lone beacons amongst an unpopulated stretch of land. My leisurely pace brought me to Oia three hours after my departure. But I swear they must have seen me coming-  why else would they have rolled out the marble roads, except for my arrival?

It was no wonder why top Blockbusters hits such as "Laura Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (parts 1 and 2) were filmed there.  It's an incredible location and completely photogenic... which was why I spied at least 3 Asian couples posing for engagement photos. But, it didn't keep my attention for too long. I enjoyed Fira more.

After a nice wander around the city, and lunch with a view, I headed for the bus - as enjoyable as the hike was, I felt no desire to repeat it. While standing in front of the stop, looking at the bus departure times, a taxi driver approached me. "Want a taxi to Fira?" he asked me. "No, I'm waiting for the bus," I responded. "For you, I'll make a good price... that way you can leave right now instead of waiting." I looked at him suspiciously, "How much?"  "10 Euros," he stated. I gave a half-hearted chuckle, and put on my game face. "5," I challenged. "8," he played back. "6, final offer!" I exclaimed. He laughed, draped his arm over my shoulders and said, "OK, you win. 6 Euros it is." I felt victorious... even though, at that price, I was still, most likely, swindled.

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