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2017-05-17 06:00
Photo: Carolyn BorchardSantorini with its gasp-inducing views from land.

Photo: Carolyn BorchardSantorini with its gasp-inducing views from land.

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SANTORINI, the “supermodel” of the Greek Islands and a head-turner, whose face is instantly recognisable around the world. It is famous for its dazzling panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic sand beaches. It is hardly surprising that this island features on so many travellers’ bucket lists and there is no denying the uniqueness of this destination or its huge allure.

Santorini is one of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. A devastating volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC forever shaped its rugged landscape. Today the white-washed cubiform houses of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to the cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater) and overlook the clear blue sea, small islands to the west and numerous beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.

One and a half million tourists visit Santorini each year, on cruise ships, by way of ferries from Athens or through its bustling airport. The approach by ship is one of multi-coloured cliffs which rise majestically out of a sea-drowned caldera and which are topped by drifts of the brightest white-washed buildings, the famous blue domes and the brightest Bougainvilleas.

The ascent to the top is by way of cable car or the infamous Santorini donkeys, but either way, it’s a must, as is the walk across the top from Fira to Oia. The east coast on the other hand, is lesser known than its celebrated, elevated west coast counterpart and resorts such as Kamari and Perissa, with their volcanic sand beaches, have a more traditional and affordable island holiday appeal.

Even if it is just a day trip, to wander atop the caldera edge is to experience Santorini’s full wow factor. Hotels and villas with their whitewashed interiors, beautiful terraces and infinity pools, spill down the cliffside, inspiring marriage proposals, high fashion shoots and many an Instagram post.

It’s true – Santorini does afford the gasp inducing views from sea or land, so frequently featured in magazines, on the Internet and on postcards, and in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, it truly is a place to “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea and drink the wild air”.

 

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