Things you should know about Santorini Greece
Santorini (also known as Thira) is one of the gems of Greece, a country that has many gems. Santorini Greece is a tourist mecca perched on top of the remaining part of a massive volcano that exploded in the 17th century BC.
Things to do in Santorini
The Santorini Caldera
The most obvious result of the volcano is the Caldera, cliffs that rise steeply from the ocean. Great views must have been highly prized then, as now, because the original homes were built up the side of the Caldera and into the side of the mountain. Most of them are now hotels or restaurants, with paths giving access up and down the side of the Caldera.
While this offers fabulous views, sunsets and photo opportunities it is hell on the knees! The paths are built for the donkeys (yes, you read that correctly) that are herded down to the bottom of the Caldera to carry tourists up to the town of Fira from the Cruise ships. The slope of the paths is fairly steep, with steps every few metres or two. Going up is strenuous; going down requires good footing, good balance, and needs to be managed very carefully after a celebration!
Akrotiri, the Excavation Site
The volcano was also the cause of ruins at Akrotiri. Volcanic ash had turned to pumice stone. When people were digging for pumice to make concrete to build the Suez Canal they came across evidence of ruins.
Over time archaeologists got involved and unearthed parts of an ancient city that had three level buildings, some indoor plumbing, and market squares. Many elaborate frescos were found that depict women in fine clothing, with facial makeup and manicured nails.
This is now a UNESCO site and the diggings are housed in a protective shell that protects the site from damage from the elements. It is considered to be a Minoan Bronze Age settlement of the 17th century BC.
Is this The Lost City Of Atlantis?
This Akrotiri site is considered by many experts to be the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis. Plato wrote at length about the lost city, describing in detail the buildings, frescos and their way of life including how the women were dressed and groomed. As the ruins have been slowly uncovered these exact details have been revealed.
Santorini, The Party Island
We went to Santorini for a wedding. The celebrations commenced with a pre-wedding dinner at a great restaurant on the Caldera. The food was wonderful, the company was outstanding, and the experience of sitting on the side of the hill with the views of the Caldera of Fira and the islands was magical. It was one of those moments when you feel like you want to pinch yourself to be sure it is real.
The wedding was held at Santorini Gem, next to Santo Winery. Whilst we didn’t visit that winery I have it on good authority that it is well worth a visit. Certainly, the outlook from that area is amazing. The wedding celebrations went late into the night and were fantastic.
For some reason ☺ many of the younger wedding guests were very quiet at the recovery the next day. It was held at Waves Beach Club, about half way between Fira and Oia.
We caught an old taxi and had the very interesting experience of having no idea if we were going to the right place, or if there was going to be anything there when we arrived. We drove down a dirt track, which became a sandy track and an even softer sandier track as the minutes ticked by. There were no signs that we were getting anywhere closer to civilization, then suddenly we came around a corner and found a bar and restaurant right by the beach. Apparently, in the summer months, it is a very popular venue.
One Day Bus Tour around Santorini Island
We wanted to see as much as we could so we took a one day bus trip around the island, which included Akatori but also took us to several other places of interest.
The Wine Museum
At the Santorini Wine Museum we learned that wine is grown in an ancient style, wrapping the roots around to form a basket shape. The leaves create a canopy under which the grapes can grow and sweeten, protected from the sun and moistened by the natural humidity created by the basket. We tasted three of their wines. The dessert wine was particularly tasty.
Emborio Venetian Village
The bus tour took us to an interesting Venetian village where we walked around some of the very narrow winding paths. It was designed this way so that an attacking pirate did not have enough space to draw their sword, and they would be unable to escape easily. A favourite way of ridding the village of pirates was to pour boiling oil from the windows above the narrow alleyways.
Oia Santorini Sunsets
Crowds flock to Oia to watch the magnificent sunsets but unfortunately, the weather didn’t oblige the afternoon we visited. In fact, I was less than impressed by Oia, not because it isn’t stunning in its own way, but because of the crowds. Literally, thousands stand around to watch the sunset, and for some time before and after sunset the cobblestone streets are absolutely packed with people. I would hate to be there in the middle of summer.
In summary, I’m so glad we spent time in Santorini and had the beautiful experience of being involved in such a lovely wedding. However, I doubt that I’ll return there, mainly because of the steep paths and the crowds of tourists. It’s being loved to death.
My suggestions, go to Santorini Greece just before the tourist season or just after it and take really good walking shoes.
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See the rest of my Greece vacation:
Check out why Naxos is My Favourite Greek Island