We spent eight busy hours exploring Santorini yesterday. Highlights included a visit to the ruins of an ancient city dating to 2000 BC, which some speculate was part of the highly advanced civilization of Atlantis.
The roofed site, steamy in the summer heat, featured two and three-story houses, once richly decorated with beautiful murals and mosaic floors. They also had indoor plumbing and hot and cold water. Only minimally excavated, the city was buried and preserved by ash from the catastrophic volcanic eruption over three thousand years ago that formed the caldera in the center of Santorini island today.
Our next stop was a modern white-washed winery overlooking the sea. The white wine was delicious, which is incredible considering the lack of rain here. We munched on cheese, cherry tomatoes, and olives and relished the cooling breezes, so welcome after days of scorching heat.
The wine primed us for our big fat Greek lunch featuring great typical dishes and accompanied by live Greek music and dancing. To the cries of Opa, we even smashed plates in the floor like satisfied customers used to do during nights out. The custom that yielded mounds of messy, dangerous broken crockery is history. Happy celebrants now toss flowers instead.
Our final stop began with a quarter-mile trek from the bus parking lot to the entrance of Santorini’s most beautiful town. Perched above turquoise water, Oia gleamed with white homes and hotels punctuated with blue-domed churches. It also was jam-packed with tourists vying for the perfect Santorini photograph. It was hot and tempers sometimes flared. Thank heaven for the ubiquitous evil eyes that protected us all.
At one time Santorini was a quaint fishing town with donkeys transporting jet-setters to beach cafes where ouzo washed down grilled fish just plucked from the sea. But that yacht has sailed. It’s now a cruise ship mecca. Six were docked alongside us, dumping thousands of Mamma Mia fans onto the island’s narrow streets.
Too touristy? Yes. Still beautiful? Indeed. Your choice is whether to brave the heat and the crowds for that magical vista or the perfect photo. For us a return visit every 4-5 years, for a few hours, will be more than enough.