The result of a volcanic eruption, the island of Santorini forms a rough crescent shape around a lagoon, with the towns on the lagoon side perched on top of, or built into, steep cliffs. Getting to them by road is straightforward enough, but arriving by boat, or visiting a harbour means climbing hundreds of steps. The alternative to climbing up the steps is riding up them on a donkey, or a mule (we saw far more mules than donkeys on our trip).
We planned to walk up and down all the steps we encountered, thinking that if we took our time it would be fine, but after a while I felt we should embrace the experience and have one donkey ride. This was after we had climbed up and down four long, long sets of steps within the space of a few hours, and our legs were beginning to feel the effects. I don’t think I will be rushing to repeat the experience but I’m pleased to say I did it! I didn’t feel particularly steady perched on my donkey, and the only place for me to hang on was a small, arched strip of worn metal attached to the front of the saddle. It did not inspire confidence, but I reckoned that so many people were going up and down the steps on donkeys and there had been no evidence of anyone falling off, that it must be safe enough.
The donkeys/mules are well cared for, despite them looking quite thin, and have plenty of water and rest. I was a bit wary of walking past them at first, but they just ignored us, minding their own business.
And finally, here is an actual donkey – spotted by a railing in one of the villages we drove through. I hope its sign isn’t inappropriate for posting here!