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ATHINIOS – “OUT OF CHAOS COMES ORDER”
There you are on the ferry, steaming to the island of Santorini, and as you enter the inner ring of the old volcano of Santorini, you pass the cliff villages of Oia, and Fira, with their majestic white structures, seemly precariously perched on the cliff faces like a haphazard collection of giant white and blue LEGGO buildings placed by a giants hand.
Still not seeing your destination, you sail on past the volcano itself, and not until the ferry turns to reverse into the Athinios port do you finally see your disembarkation destination, Athinios. The Athinios port is ringed by steep multi colored shear volcanic cliffs, and the first question that pops into everyone’s mind is “how do I get up to the top?”.As the ferry settles into her moorings and the ship stewards give the signal for the passengers to disembark, do you finally get a close up look at Athinios. Athinios maybe small in comparison to the major villages of the rest of the island, but on any given day during the season it is Santorini’s “ambassador” and as such meets, greets and delivers up and down the cliffs a hundred thousand visitors everyday.
By first impressions of Athinios, Athinios is one of chaos, as you jostle to move off the ferry, you are greeted by the hotel, pension, and room owners barking, “need a room”, followed closely by the car rental groups trying to out shout the hotel and pension group, “need a car” and mixed into this canopy of noise is the port police, blowing his whistle trying to keep order, and allow the lorries and cars that are also trying to disembark to move through the throngs of people without anyone getting their toes run over. During this you ask yourself “how do I get out of here?” and surprisingly within a matter of 30 minutes everyone has been accommodated, loaded onto buses, or rented a car and disappeared up the cliff road to the top to spend their time experiencing the island, but wait, you have missed the jewel of the island, Athinios port itself.
It is only when you are all finished seeing and doing your holiday routine on the rest of the island is it that you return to Athinios port to catch your ferry back to the mainland. Then and only then does one take the time to find out about the hidden jewel, with its authentic and quaint restaurants, little alleyways that lead to hidden shops selling local wines and other unique bric bac, along with taking the time to stop and chat with some of the local colorful people who inhabit the port and call it their home.
From one end of the port of Athinios to the other, the holidayer, can relax under the cool shade of an umbrella of a restaurant, find a quite little alley with it’s benches in the shade of an adjoining building and relax, play a game with the children, or just plain have a wee nap. It is only now that one can see all the local color of the people and businesses that inhabit the port, and really take the time to see why Athinios is the “Lady Ambassador” of Santorini – the hidden jewel of Santorini.