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Palea Kameni

I decided to revisit the volcano of Santorini today as I had done six years ago. I booked myself a tour while I was in Fira, which really only consisted of being picked up from Karterados bus station and then the transport on the big old pirate ship looking boat called the King Thiras.

We sailed towards the centre of the caldera where the ominous black heap of rocks stood smoldering. We docked the boat in the yellow green water and climbed off. They had actually made the first part of the climb easier compared to my last visit by putting in concrete stairs for the first part of the journey up the mountain.

After the first few initial stairs, the gloves came off. The mountain was one of the hottest places I had ever been. The suns heat seemed swallowed up in the black rocks that re-emanated the heat like a sauna. I trudged up the mountain, all the while actually thinking that it had not been as hard this time around, I can't believe I'm actually fitter now at 30 than I was the last time I was here at 24. The rest of the climb was the same as last time, I slipped and slid everywhere because no plants grew to hold the earth and rocks together.

I reached the central active crater in the blinding heat of the day and stood and marveled at the view of the main island and the refreshing blue water below. There was quite a bit of geothermal equipment at the top being used to monitor the volcanoes activity, which I found both exciting and un nerving.

The climb down took almost as long as the climb up. I was now hot and bothered and kept talking to myself, Come on K, one foot in front of the other. I saw the crows circling over my head and listened to the slow, steady sound of my foot falls on the earthy gravel, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch. I finally made it back to the boat and high fived a few of the other passengers. We then set off for the most fun part of the day, swimming in the hot springs.

Just like the last time I was here you could either climb down a ladder on one side of the boat or jump off the other side. Me being me of course chose the jumping option, or rather diving as it were. I did my perfect racing dive off the side of the old wooden boat and remembered that last time someone had yelled, Show off! After me as I dived.

I hit the water hard and came back up and swam around to the other side of the boat and swam about 250 meters to the hot springs around the smaller island next to the volcano, again I remembered this being harder the first time. I sat in the volcanic mud smearing it all over myself, much to the disgust of everyone else. That was until I told them all how good it was for your skin….then they all started doing it and with in minutes I was surrounded by about twenty other mud monsters.

They blew the whistle on the boat indicating that it was time to come back. Even against the current I had no difficulty making the swim, I remembered that last time, someone had offered to throw me a life ring as I was having trouble, but again, me being me wouldn't accept defeat in any form. I clambered back on board and then we headed for our final stop, the island of Thirassia, which is the other part of the island of Thira left over from the volcano blast of 3500 years ago.

We docked on the small island and the main village was up about 140 stairs, which I took one look at and thought, Screw it I'm supposed to be on holiday! I stayed down by the water and had lunch in a little taverna and then went and had a swim and sun baked for the remainder of the afternoon. I got back on board the boat and sat there listening to this guy playing Greek music on his stereo, he was actually playing a song that reminds me of Greece, Goodbye my love, Goodbye, by Demis Rossos. I laid down and fell asleep in the amazing Aegean atmosphere and actually had to be woken up when it was time to get off, how embarrassing. I got back on the transfer bus and went back to my hotel, stopping for a quick dinner on the way. After my rather active day I elected to have a bit of an early night and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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