Searching for Atlantis

This blog entry about the events of Thursday, September 07, 2006 was originally posted on September 09, 2006.

DAY 14: Santorini’s central volcano Nea Kameni erupted around 1625 B.C. and destroyed what the Minoans had settled there, causing a massive tsunami across the sea that washed away many Greek settlements — the most well-known being the lost city of Atlantis.  Some believe the Atlantis that Plato spoke of (was it Plato?) might have been near the Temple of Knossos in Crete or somewhere near Gibraltar, but many believe it is in fact near Santorini itself.  One way to find out is to go underwater and see what’s there, so I set up two scuba dives with the Santorini Dive Center.  I had hopes of seeing something cool, like the remains of the mythical city, or if anything, an octopus.

“NICE SHIRT,” I told the guy sitting across the table from me as we signed our lives away on indemnity forms.  His shirt said “FRANK THE TANK” and had a picture of a tank on it.

“Thanks,” said the fellow Will Ferrell fan.  His name was actually Todd, and he was a Torontonian now living and working in Chicago.  He was in Greece to do The Santorini Thing and add a couple of dives to his count of over seventy.

“How many dives have you done?” he asked me.

“Just a little over thirty.”

“[Eh, you’ll be fine.]  The difference between seventy and thirty is just forty.”

We suited up (picture above) with the rest of the certified divers — although certification was never an issue; the Santorini Dive Center didn’t even ask, probably since it didnt’ matter because we signed our lives away anyway.  That was the only real risk involved in what was otherwise an easy, well-supported day of scuba diving.

“I should have gotten this T-shirt I saw in Thailand that said, ‘Remember when sex was safe and diving was dangerous,’” Todd the Tank told me.

Olga our divemaster briefed us on the shore dive from Caldera Beach before us, complete with a review of the local underwater hand signals.

“What’s the sign for danger?” my dive buddy Todd the Tank asked.

“There’s nothing dangerous down there,” Olga said.

The “perilous” search for Atlantis was just that:  pretty lame and not dangerous.  Diving an underwater wall, we saw some sea sponges, a few sea peacock fish, and a non-aggressive barracuda, but mostly it was just a bunch of rocks.  Olga had to open up a bag of bread to attract fish for us to see, but nothing brought on the remains of Atlantis or an octopus for that matter.  Despite it being pretty boring, Todd the Tank got a nose bleed from the pressure of his mask squeeze.

The decompression rest period was spent at the nearby restaurant where I chat over a dish of takos (not to be confused with tacos) with my fellow divers:  Kate from Canada, Susan from Orlando, former BBC correspondent Peter from the U.K., and American honeymooners Brian and Georgia from South Carolina.  We all agreed that the dive was okay except for the fact that we were swimming way too close to each other, bumping into each other flippers all the time.

THE SECOND DIVE promised to be a little more exciting:  a volcanic wall dive off the coast of Nea Kameni itself, in the center of the Santorini micro-archipelago.  “Is there anything dangerous?” Todd the Tank asked again.

“Just each other,” I said.

The dive along the wall was sort of mediocre, although I’ve become more of a dive snob after every dive (like every diver does), especially after seeing incredible marine life in the Galapagos and more colorful coral off the coast of Zanzibar.  I dive wasn’t a complete bore though since I saw a few things:  a spirograph worm that fanned out for food but retracted into its tube upon my arrival, bright purple sea anenomes, and a little grouper.  Still no Atlantis, or an octopus for that matter.  In fact, the only thing cool I did find on the second dive were more Will Ferrell fans:  the three young British girls who had come along to snorkel and altered quotes from Anchorman:

“I love snorkeling.  Snorkel, snorkel, snorkel.  Down, down, down.  Down into the water…”

Meanwhile, Todd the Tank came up from the dive, his entire mask red from another nose bleed.  He told us not to worry.  “This always happens.”

TAKING ADVANTAGE of the dive center’s transport shuttles from Akrotiri, I ended up not back in Fira but in Perissa, Santorini’s laid-back backpacker beach haven, where I found more fish on my plate (fried gavros) than I had seen on my dives.  I found something else there, someone more specifically:  Lilit, the fellow New Yorker, friend of a friend, and Williamsburg hipster who also had a blog of her travels in Greece

“Hey!” she called out to me.  She was holding her roller-luggage since she was just about to leave for Crete.  “I got your little note,” she told me.  “You should have woken me up.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t want to be that guy.” 

She was literally on her way out — the shuttle to the port was waiting for her — so our second encounter in Greece was also brief.  No big loss, we’d meet up back in New York anyway.  It was nice to run into her again though; at least I could say I found something I was looking for that day, even if it wasn’t a legendary, mythical lost city like Atlantis.  Those are pretty hard to come by I guess.

Next entry: The Lotus-Eaters

Previous entry: The Santorini Thing

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Comments for “Searching for Atlantis”

  • GREETINGS FROM NAXOS! It seems I’m always posting entries about an
    island from a different island. More entries to come.

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • Thanks for the Sunday morning read Erik! This means the weekend was not
    a total loss. LOL Keep them coming. Rose

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/09  at  04:32 PM

  • Sunday morning read includes the Washington Post and Global Trip over
    breakfast. It’s like reading an extended Travel section on the paper(but
    with better pics). Thanks for the posts…

    Posted by Dan 3  on  09/09  at  05:48 PM

  • GREETINGS FROM NAXOS… I’m tired and a little buzzed, but I aim to get
    one for up for the WHMMR (Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush)... Is
    there even a rush anymore?


    Posted by Erik TGT

  • fixed some links on last 2 posts…pics are awesome…

    Posted by markyt  on  09/10  at  04:18 AM

  • I’m starving, and those takos aren’t helping!! Lame that the dives
    weren’t all that special… boo.

    Posted by tallgirl

  • I’m starving, and those takos aren’t helping!! Lame that the dives
    weren’t all that special… boo.

    Posted by tallgirl

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This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by, which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
The Lotus-Eaters

Previous entry:
The Santorini Thing


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