Get me out of here! The crowd raves for the island of Santorini … I rave from a different perspective.
Picture it; your rooms are little cells sitting on the downslope of the side of a crater, as if any minute they’ll slide down to the water below. There’s no flat, no sand outside your door, no trees, but wee patios spotted with lots of multicolored flower pots. All white buildings, blinding white in fact … great in photos but hard on the eyes when there.
Steps to your hotel … yes, many many hillside steps and walkways to get to your hotel. They’re made out of sharp rocks, including unmarked turns greeting you while you’re trying to drag and wrestle your luggage over cleverly laid bumpy cobblestones.
There are hundreds of these darling decorator steps and paths to negotiate everywhere you go (no exaggeration here). “You can walk from the hotel to Fira, the main town, on the path along the side of the mountain, only takes 25 minutes,” says the concierge. Yes, bloody hot, feet hurting, knees aflame, up and down, losing way, arriving 25 hours later it seemed. The path is clever though, one very unique feature that gets our raves. No need to walk the crowded, fumes-filled streets above and I mean thick fume-filled and it’s off-season! The walking path goes for miles and miles. It winds through all the hundreds of tiny hotels tucked together liked sardines along the side of the caldera.
Caldera? Hey folks, the formation of Santorini with no land in the middle of the semi-circular caldera except for small leftover islands was caused by a volcanic eruption between 1500 and 1600 BC, resulting in marvelous antiquities being preserved intact. With an earthquake happening in 1956, what’s not to have another one soon? And with the hotels terraced down toward the sea, the slide would be instant. From our mini hotel pool patio the sea’s almost straight below, said by one with vertigo.
Being met by a woman sweating puddles and in a big hurry was not the most entrancing way to be greeted to such a much heralded island. She rapid-fire announced the tours we must go on as the minivan driver swore at hundreds of other buses and vans picking up eager tourists at the ferry dock.
As we lurched up the hill, I pictured everyone fleeing to these few sites, pushing and shoving to see old ruins, and a handful of villages on this small island.
Plus, give me patience. There is a street to walk (no cars) called Gold Street … hundreds and hundreds (I’m known to exaggerate) of jewelry stores, each with a person standing out in front saying anything to attract you … “How are you? What a pretty belt that you’re wearing!” … anything to get you inside. Blocks and blocks of this …
We chose to visit the very small but super museum…lovely displays of antiquity, from the years 3300 BC to 1700 BC, found here. It was cool, and NO ONE WAS THERE! Took lots of photos to send to various friends and to remember this awesome art. Really impressive and worthwhile.
At this point we’d only been there less than 24 hours.
Like to eat? How about going to one of the best restaurants and having 3/4 of a small zucchini, shredded, called Santorini Salad and costing $24 (17 euros), or a chocolate parfait thing (plus the overly soliticious lady didn’t like to be asked twice about anything) that was topped with white eggplant and geranium herb. Didn’t order that, needless to say…we just fell over laughing and beat it out of the beautiful outside patio setting, again hanging over the cliff.
Now our breakfast is being delivered to our tiny terrace where I can’t look to the side as we are at the end of the row of hotels and it’s STRAIGHT DOWN, well you know that already. Not too shabby to have breakfast delivered. (They don’t do it any other way at this hotel … do you suppose it’s meant to keep you here forever? We’re both wearing the complementary white robes, looking like patients in a mental institution.)
Everyone seems to love Santorini, especially those who like to party all night, as it’s known for that. The island is packed tight now. One can’t even compute what it’s like in the summer months. Maybe it’ll just sink. Only two more nights to go, then off to the more obscure island of Mytilini also called Levos. A British lady who lives on Santorini had never heard of it, she who said she had visited 30 of the Greek Islands. (It’s only the largest Greek island next to Rhodes.) So we’ll be saved soon…
At first, antiquities were found in 1862 when digging up ash/pumas blocks for the Suez Canal. Later, one man wanted to prove his theory that the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete was ended because of the volcanic eruption (never was proven). So another dig commenced in 1967 and has been going on ever since. Some of the somewhat perfectly preserved artifacts were the ones we saw in the small Santorini museum and a huge number of them are at the Archeological Museum in Athens. Santorini agitates to this day to get those back.
The more recent earthquake just about destroyed the town of Oia perched at the end of the island. It has been restored and was our favorite. We discovered some true artisans and enjoyed the views but didn’t walk the steps down to the water. Just to be clear, the view of and from this left-over half-moon shaped island is dramatic and impressive! Nothing like it! Daughter Liz writes that what she remembers when she visited here years ago was the terrible smell of uzo…maybe I should have had some…