Rage against the stam­pede

This sum­mer there was a daily cap on cruise tourists to the Greek is­land of San­torini - but it still seemed crazy crowded.

Sunday Star-Times - - ESCAPE - SEPTEM­BER 17, 2017

Are­lent­less heat bore down on this vol­canic rock in the Aegean. ‘‘Al­right?’’ I yell back to my travel buddy. ‘‘Stay fo­cused, hold on to my hand and we can get through this in one piece.’’

We were so close, but one wrong move could spell dis­as­ter… or at least get­ting trod­den on by a gag­gle of cruise tourists.

Yes, this was no dan­ger­ous moun­tain de­scent, it was merely sur­viv­ing the white­washed streets of San­torini. I know, tough break.

The fa­mous Cy­clades is­land, home to the blue-domed white build­ings that adorn ev­ery Greek yo­ghurt con­tainer world­wide, has had enough of be­ing pop­u­lar. But if you’re think­ing I should quit griz­zling and go home, you’re not alone – be­cause plenty of lo­cals on San­torini have ex­actly the same at­ti­tude to­wards trav­ellers like me.

This sum­mer sea­son was the first with a daily cap on cruise tourists – fast be­com­ing a dirty sub-group in some travel cir­cles – af­ter lo­cals pushed the mayor to deal with the is­land’s buck­ling in­fra­struc­ture.

That’s easy enough to un­der­stand: any is­land will have chal­lenges with things like wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and trans­port even be­fore you add a Greek debt cri­sis and a peak sea­son aver­age of 18,000 daily cruise ship vis­i­tors in to the mix.

The mayor capped it at 8000 last year and this sum­mer has seen it come into full ef­fect, but if you had asked any of the towns­folk, tram­pled tourists or even the trans­port don­keys, it still seemed as crazy as ever (and this, in Septem­ber, is af­ter the peak).

I counted five float­ing ho­tels an­chored off the fa­mous is­land one day just last week. Two mil­lion will still visit this Aegean beauty this year, and you would think that would be cel­e­brated by a coun­try star­ing into a pro­longed debt cri­sis. But it’s a bit­ter­sweet suc­cess.

So San­torini (like Venice, Barcelona, Machu Pic­chu and the Cinque Terre

ISTOCK

Two mil­lion tourists will still visit this Aegean beauty this year.

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