Getting From The Ferry Port To Fira A Heart-Stopping Experience
As the large ship approached and the stunning cliffs slowly moved into view, I heartbeat began to accelerate with every turn of the propeller.
I was on a ferry headed to the Greek Island of Santorini for the first time and the sheer size of the cliffs – with white dots attached the the top of them like Lego pieces – seemed exciting and intimidating at the same time.
And I was about to find out just how intimidating they were when we docked at the port.
(Actually, it wasn’t really a port, not in the sense that you and I think of a port. It was basically a strip of concrete with a couple of shops selling light clothing and a few provisions like beer and bread sticks.)
At the end of this strip of concrete were buses taking people to various parts of the island. My friend and I were headed to Fira, so we found the appropriate bus and took a seat by the window. This was a view we did not want to miss!
The bus had to negotiate the face of the cliff and from the port it was almost impossible to even see a road. There was pencil-line line carved into the cliff and my friend I gave each other one of those silent, but telling “uh oh” looks.
Plus, the bus was not exactly a sleek and modern coach, but rather kind of like a Greek Islands version of the American school bus. Which is to say those grey double-seats and a very bouncy suspension.
Slowly, and with a few puffs of smoke and a growling reluctance from the gearbox, we headed up the side of the cliff. The road was steep and narrow and consisted of a number of tight switch-backs, and all we could see below us was the ferry getting smaller and smaller as we slowly rose higher and higher up the cliff.
We could not see the ground.
The wheels of the bus were precariously close to the edge, so much so that my friend and I scooted – veeery carefully, I might add – across our seats toward the middle for fear we would tip over at any moment. If we did, we would most certainly die, for there was nothing to stop us from plunging several hundred feet until we crashed and splashed into the sea.
That was to our left and to our right was, well, the cliff, so close we could have reached out the other window and touched it.
If you think my heart was racing before I reached Santorini, you should have felt it now!
About halfway up, my friend and I and quietly remarked to each other that we didn’t know what would happen if a bus came down the other direction. There was no way two buses could fit on this narrow road.
And then, of course, that’s just what happened. As my friend and I held our breath, our driver slowed, pulled over right up against the cliff and somehow, the other bus squeezed past us on the way to the port. My friend and I didn’t so much exhale a “whooo” of relief but looked at each other in disbelief.
How the heck did that happen!?
Strangely this gave us a bit of confidence in the driving skill of the Greek Islands bus drivers. It’s amazing how they make this trip several times a day, day after day, and never do you ever hear of one careening off the cliff and bouncing time and time against the giant rock in spectacular fashion like in some Hollywood movie.
As then before we knew it, we were at the top. We looked down and and our hearts nearly left our body for it’s a looooong way down to the port. How we made it, I have no idea but our initial fear had passed and I never had a problem with riding up that cliff again in follow-up visits to Santorini.
But whoa – I’ll never forget that first ride!