Oia (pronounced "EE-uh") is a small town at the northern end of the island of Santorini. Most of the town is situated along the rim of the caldera, with long, steep cliffs 900 feet above the water. The view is absolutely fabulous. The sunsets are world-famous. There isn't much on the island except for tourism and a little farming. The tour guide rattled off some of the things that are grown there. I seem to remember pistachios, figs and prickly pears.
Many years ago, the volcano exploded and left a huge crater, or caldera in a half-moon shape. The pile of volcanic pumice in the middle is a deep, dark color and nothing grows there. It looks eerie, like a huge pile of industrial waste as you sail by it. It is quite obvious that this is ground zero for a cataclysmic event that happened long ago. I've read that the explosion completely covered whole cities many miles away, just as Vesuvius covered Pompeii.
Oia is a superb place for tourist to wander. All the narrow streets are covered with bars, shops, restaurants and tourist hang-outs. Wonderful Greek pastries and desserts are available to try. We sampled a pastry (called baklava) that was dripping with a honey mixture and looked something like a bird's nest on top. We learned that there are many kinds of baklava. It tasted great and was like nothing I've ever had. Here's a description of how it's made:
"A rich Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern pastry of phyllo (filo) dough and nuts. Phyllo is a simple flour-and-water dough that is stretched to paper thinness and cut into sheets, a process so exacting that it is frequently left to commercial manufacturers. For baklava, 30 or 40 sheets of phyllo, each brushed liberally with melted butter, are layered in a baking pan with finely chopped walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. After the pastry is baked it is drenched with a syrup of honey and lemon juice. Cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom, or rosewater may flavour either the filling or the syrup."
Next time we visit Greece, we need to try many varieties.
The tour guide also said that there are about 300 churches on the island. The population is very religious and since the churches are quite small, there has to be a lot of them to accommodate the people of Santorini.
Earthquakes are very common on Santorini. They've had many due to the active faults in the area. There is always the chance that another earthquake or volcanic event could destroy the town. But, the people of Santorini seem to accept that risk as a part of living in such an awesome place. Tourists swarm the island each day to walk around the town and to get a look at the sunset. I must say that the visit to Oia was one of the highlights of our trip.