Tag Archives: santorini

Farewell to Greece

We farewell Santorini, and Greece, with a little walk through the village of Pyrgos Kallistis. This village is a bit out of the way from Fira and the other caldera towns, but it does give a good view of the island. To get to the lookout, we needed to wander around its narrow, whitewashed streets.

Pyrgos Kallistis

We passed a church or two on the way to the top of the village.

Pyrgos Kallistis

Pyrgos Kallistis

And some tantalising glimpses of the view.

Pyrgos Kallistis

At the top of the town, an old fort, we were able to see Santorini in all its glory. A fitting end to our odyssey around Greece.

Pyrgos Kallistis

We’re not done with Europe just yet. Next, we’re heading north.

Minoan Past

When the Santorini volcano erupted 4000 years ago in the Bronze age, there was already a full-blown civilisation in this part of the Mediterranean. The Minoan civilisation centered on the island of Crete, and since Crete is a mere 200km south of Santorini, with no other landmasses in-between, then Santorini became an important gateway to the rest of the Greek islands. We have a great record of how things were in the buried town of Akrotiri.

Ancient Akrotiri

Akrotiri was on the slopes of the old volcano, and looked to be a wealthy town. They had buildings up to three stories high, running water, even drains and sewers. That’s highly sophisticated town for the Bronze Age. Unlike in the buried Roman city of Pompeii, people on Akrotiri had plenty of warnings that the volcano was about to blow through a series of earthquakes that devastated the city in the months leading up to the eruption, hence there have been no skeletal remains found on the site. What was left though is quite astonishing, and the Greeks have beautifully preserved it in a giant hanger-like structure to protect the site.

Ancient Akrotiri

Here, the houses, the pottery, even the frescoes have been preserved and in tact. You could even walk through some of the houses.

Ancient Akrotiri

We saw the remnants of the old kitchen, where someone was cooking dinner 4000 years ago.

Ancient Akrotiri

And here looked like the remains of the toilet facitilies.

Ancient Akrotiri

Outside, we saw how much ash the archaeologists, who have been working on the site since the late 1960s, had to dig out in order to excavate the site. It’s certainly the work of a lifetime for them. We were glad to be able to see it.

Ancient Akrotiri

Santorini Food – Part 2

As for the mains, there were the usual grills…

Santorini Food

Then we saw dishes that haven’t featured on taverna menus, but what international tourists seem to recognise as Greek food – moussaka and lamb in a parcel. Perhaps these dishes are typically cooked at home and so only appear in restaurants for the tourists?

Santorini Food

Santorini Food

However, my favourite main dish that weekend wasn’t very Greek at all. The prawns were very fresh.

Santorini Food

Speaking of Italian food, one taverna (the one where I ate prawn linguine) also had really lovely desserts – panna cotta and a deconstructed cheese cake with soft pillows of ricotta. It was also the one without a view and where the locals seemed to eat.

Santorini Food

Santorini Food

We liked the place so much we went back a second night. Mmmm….

Santorini Food – Part 1

Being a tourist town, Santorini does have a wide range of eateries available. Some have caldera views, but we found that the best, and the ones the locals go to, have a far better view of the TV!

Santorini is known for its broad beans and cherry tomatoes. We had a broad bean dip that was laden with garlic, a carrot and cheese salad, and grilled egglant, again with fetta.

Santorini Food

Santorini Food

Santorini Food

At another restaurant, we had our first dolmades. We didn’t see much of it while in Greece – it must either come from another area than the ones we visited, or it was the wrong season for vine leaves.

Santorini Food

But we loved our veges, and the grilled veges below was the best way to enjoy the spring harvest.

Santorini Food

Santorini – Part 4

We still had a long way to go yet – past that church with the blue dome at the top of the hill.

Santorini Clifftops

On the way, we passed a few other churches. There was certainly an abundance of them on this part of the island.

Santorini Clifftops

Santorini Clifftops

At least because of tourism, much of the old architecture has been preserved, like this old windmill.

Santorini Clifftops

There was of course some more jaw-dropping views of the caldera.

Santorini Clifftops

And after two hours of walking, we finally reached the end of the road. What a view it was.

Santorini Clifftops

I would have loved to stay here for a week, but much of the accommodation at the end of the road was still closed.

Santorini Clifftops

And now for the journey back down. With views like this, it wasn’t much of a hardship.

Santorini Clifftops

Santorini – Part 3

Let’s take a walk. As I mentioned before, the main villages in Santorini are located along the cliff tops. They must have been distinct villages at one stage, but these days they have merged into one long village. We start off at the quarry, opposite our hotel. The town of Fira looms large.

Fira

A wander down the back alleys took us past a church, where the bell-ringer was getting a morning work-out.

Fira

Fira

The hotels and pensions were stacked way down the cliff side in this area. Even though the view would be great, I wouldn’t fancy a 100 stair walk everytime I wanted something.

Fira

Looking up, we had a long, long way to go yet.

Fira

There was option to take the easy way up, if you’re coming in from the bottom of the cliff off the ships. But we came by plane and so came by taxi.

Fira

Fira

Soon we were able to stop at a cafe, and admire the view.

Fira

But don’t go away as we’re only halfway through the walk!

Santorini – Part 2

Hubby was certainly fascinated by the geological aspects of the Santorini eruption, and certainly the signs of a massive eruption was all around, if you know what to look for. To begin with, the soil on the island was all made of volcanic ash. In fact the ash layer was perhaps 50 metres thick. You can see it in this quarry. All those layers under the buildings are all ash.

Fira

The volcano before the eruption must have been very big. Hubby says it would have looked like any other volcano cone, perhaps like the shape of Mount Fuji, but bigger. You can get a taste of the scale of the volcano from various high points on the island.

Caldera View

Santorini Clifftops

We could see the shape of the caldera clearly curve around from the village of Pyrgos, which we will visit later.

Pyrgos Kallistis

Pyrgos Kallistis

Whichever way you look at the island, Santorini is certainly impressive.

Santorini – Part 1

We’ve finally made it to our final destination, in Greece at least – the island of Santorini. Santorini is what Greek holiday dreams are made of – stunning location, generally good weather, and large selection of accommodation and activities. That also meant that there was bound to be crowds all year round. We certainly weren’t sure of what we would find in April, but we were pleasantly surprised.

Our hotel was a pretty plush affair, and postcard-perfect, if it wasn’t for the 30km/h winds and mid-teen temperatures that greeted our arrival.

Fira

We didn’t have a ‘caldera view’ despite the plushness, but a quick walk across the road remedied that.

Fira

Santorini is of course the main island of what was once the rim of a super volcano. The volcano infamously imploded upon itself around 4000 years ago, wiping out the Minoan civilisation, and creating the caldera (a flooded volcano) that we see today. Since then a mini volcano has started growing in the middle, so Santorini isn’t quite dormant yet. An active volcano doesn’t seem to put off the cruise ships – it’s the favourite destination of many Mediterranean cruises.

The towns on the island are mainly perched high upon the rim. We stayed near the main town of Fira where the houses were built staggered down the cliff-side. That made for a lot of stair-walking.

Fira

We’ll be exploring the town and its surrounds in the next few posts.