A donkey, decked out in colorful beads and an evil-eye amulet, awaits the day’s passengers on the stairs leading up to the village of Fira, on the island of Santorini. When visitors arrive to Santorini’s Old Port via cruise ship or boat, they have three ways to make it up to the town of Fira: climb the almost 600 stairs, ride a donkey (5 € one way), or ride the cable car (4 € one way). Riding a donkey is controversial – animal rights organizations and some visitors say it is cruel, whereas the local government assures visitors, via signs posted at the port, that the animals are well-cared-for by veterinarians and offered regular periods of rest.
If you choose to tackle the path with your own feet or ascend via cable car (we did both, but chose not to ride a donkey) beware of donkey droppings and hoof encounters with the first option, and potential vertigo spells with the second one. We saw one tourist whose foot was accidentally stepped upon by a donkey’s hoof, and the woman exclaimed how painful that was. We found the walk to be great exercise. The cable car ride, on the other hand, offered a beautiful view of the caldera and cliff, albeit quite quick!
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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.