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Keith’s intimate travel diary 14 – Island of peace

On top of Santorini - Nautica below rightKEITH JACKSON

THURSDAY 16 MAY – SANTORINI, GREECE. It was in April 2007 that we were last in Santorini, all whites and blues and one of the lovelier of the beautiful and peaceful Greek islands.

On that occasion, Ingrid and I walked up the 680 steps from the boat harbour at the bottom of the volcanic caldera to the town of Fira [population about 2,000] on the ridge above.

The track is, in fact, a donkey trail. Which means where go donkeys, there trails donkey shit.

So it wasn’t one of the most scintillating walks I ever committed to. Though it was, you could say, scentillating.

Truth is I would have walked it again today except my left Achilles tendon, at last on the mend after nearly four months, did not deserve to be too much sorely tested now it’s coming good.

So we took the cable car instead, accompanied by two young Filipino crew members of Nautica who, having their first experience at the aerial route, were white-knuckling it big time.

Arriving at the cable car station at the top of the caldera, as in 2007 we walked up hill north from the town in the opposite direction to the bustling retail precinct towards the churches and the best views.

At my halting pace it was about 15 minutes along the caldera rim to the satellite village of Firostefani and a further 15 minutes to the church at Imerovigli, from where the prettiest views are available, causing cameras to be taken from holsters.

We looked down at Nautica – from this great height floating like a distant dream on the millpond below - and felt sublimely happy and at peace. I was especially pleased that the Achilles, while painful, had held good while I managed some serious uphill walking.

Ingrid and I reflected on the calm and tranquillity of this place in comparison with our brief experiences in Egypt and Israel, zones of disquiet which left us with a sense of unease and foreboding.

As I write this, I do so in the shadow of Papua New Guinea’s hauskrai, talk of sentences of death, anxiety about malpractice by Chinese storekeepers, Campbell ‘Can Do’ Newman’s antics, Julia ‘Can’t Do’ Gillard’s antics, life in pressure cooker cities like Moresby and Sydney and the other bothersome matters of daily existence that vex us too much.

What is it in the nature of humans that causes us to do such dreadful things to ourselves?

By the way, there’s a hauskrai to grieve for PNG women victims of violence in London, England, next Saturday (at St Philips Church, Earls Court Road at 5 pm) and a march to protest violence against PNG women in Brisbane on the same day. I have no further details, but I’m sure you can find them.


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Maureen Wari

...Santorini, all whites and blues...

If I were an architect, I would fight for Moresby's Touaguba and Paga Hills to resemble just that. Peaceful.

Colin Huggins

Looks like all is well in the Greek Isles. Thank God for cable cars. eh? Saves that left Achilles tendon.

Enjoy your trip and don't concern yourself with the Can-do Campbell's, the Can't do Julia's, the Superman Clive Palmer, the Mad Monk, the Rottweiler with the bee-hive, the Slippery Slippers and the now presumed Independent Craig of Thompson fame.

They will all be still around when you arrive back!

Tim Ashton

Enjoy your trip. It sounds blissful.

Really pissed off about you abandoning Sydney. Wattabout the occasional lunches? Only got to one but was planning to lock more in :)

The irregular PNG-media-politics lunches, in their mysterious way, will continue - KJ

Peter Kranz

KJ - Santorini is a magic place (also known as Thera), but not just because of it's beauty.

Try and visit the excavations started in 1967 at the site called Akrotiri under the late Professor Spyridon Marinatos.

He made Thera the best-known Minoan site outside of Crete, the homeland of the culture.

There is an excavated city there which is probably 5,000 years old and dates back to before the gigantic volcanic eruption which formed the modern islands.

You can see two-story houses, paved streets, flushing toilets, amazing frescoes and even under-street drains.

Dad loved this place and did many paintings there.

Francis Nii

Happy to know that you've fully recovered from the mishap. Beautilul background, especially the Nautica.

Francis Nii

Happy to know that you've fully recovered from the mishap. Beautilul background, especially the Nautica.

Phil Fitzpatrick

I'm enjoying your eloquent travel diary - maybe you should write a book.

Speaking of which; have you read 'Travels with Epicuris: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life' by Daniel Klein?

He's in his seventies and its got nothing to do with food.

Paul Oates

Ahhh.. Santorini. How is the local economy now that the financial crisis has finally hit the Greek social scene?

An interesting local belief is that when Santorini's volcano blew up about 3,000 years ago, the resulting devastation and tsunami gave rise to the legend of Atlantis. Yet they still build on the lip of an active volcano even today.

Don't whatever you do take a taxi and expect to relax. The taxi driver we took drove at maniacal speed through the narrow one way streets dodging children, donkeys and people and other taxis. You'll know the taxi if you find it. There's some fingerprints on the metal frame of the front seat that match mine.

Leonard Roka

Nice picture there and cool tour of that part of the world despite pain in your tendon.

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