Santorini Island, July 3-5

Santorini is quite something. The island as it is today was created by a huge volcanic eruption around 1500 B.C. The rim of the crater forms the island, and the views from it are nothing less than stunning. The spectacular setting has made it a huge destination for tourists of all types. We dealt with crowds, traffic, and far more Americans than we'd encountered anywhere else. On the other hand, once we set out on a crater-rim hike, and especially when we climbed a small "plug" jutting out from the main island (photo 3), we were nearly alone. There were also some terrific mountain-top ruins to visit, although Crete promises even more in the way of ancient sites. The kids reaped some benefits of mass tourism: prevalent souvenir shops, a donkey ride (wow, was that touristy!), and another water-slide park. We also became very familiar with chicken-gyros on the street -- yum.

The waiter in our Santorini hotel was the polar opposite of the waitress in Amorgos. He had his own laptop that he snuck off to use whenever possible, and he initiated many computer-related discussions with us, ranging from wireless bandwidth to role-playing games to the ultimate convergence of computing and communication devices. He seemed genuinely sorry when we checked out.

Weather update: The climate improved considerably once the winds arrived while we were in Amorgos, although they're the same winds that caused our canceled ferry. Temperatures dropped some around the same time, making the heat much less of a significant issue in our daily activities, although it's still considerably hotter than summer at home.

Our laundry is done, but replaced by a more serious concern: our plane tickets from Crete to Naples. During our intense travel-planning period we ordered tickets on Travelocity, which has never been our favorite but offered by far the best flight/price options. With a mere $39.95 charge the tickets would be delivered by FedEx to our hotel in Crete. Excellent, except nothing happened for several days. After numerous emails to Travelocity we finally got a cheerful reply that our tickets were now issued and on their way, and they would arrive July 10 by 6:00pm. Excellent, except our flight is July 10 at 10:15am. Continued emails didn't improve the situation, so we finally made our first international internet phone call. Calling at midnight from a hotel patio in Greece, using a laptop with headphones and microphone, trying to be as quiet as possible, with the call going through the U.S. and then rerouted to a call center in India -- well, it was only marginally successful, and the status of the tickets remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, Tim has been busy with Photoshop. In Athens we particularly liked a statue of Emperor Hadrian near the entrance to the old city. On Tim's Hadrian Statues page you can see the statue on its own, joined by a Tim-statue and Emily-statue, and finally wearing Emily's shirt.

Next stop: Five days in Crete (or more, depending on the outcome with the plane tickets), with overnights divided between the main towns of Heraklion and Chania.

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