It's taken me awhile to get all the vacation posts written and organized. One advantage from my point of view is getting a chance to relive the vacation. These next few posts are pretty photo-heavy, but I hope you won't mind when you see how incredibly beautiful Santorini is.
Santorini has long been on my bucket list. Once I knew we were going to Istanbul to visit Rachel and Juan, I decided we absolutely had to include Santorini on the itinerary. Santorini is listed on many of the “Top Places to Photograph” lists, and I was not disappointed. It is truly a beautiful spot.
We decided to use a group called Homeric Tours to provide transportation and book our hotels for us once we left Istanbul. Although it definitely increased the price of the trip, it was worth every penny not to have to worry about transportation. And I know we saved a lot of time! In addition, we stayed in much nicer hotels in Athens and Imerovigli than we would have booked on our own.
Santorini has three major towns that overlook the Caldera: Fira, Imerovigli, and Oia. Of the three, Imerovigli is the least crowded, but also has very few shops and services beyond restaurants, hotels, and a couple of small groceries. Our hotel was about a twenty minute walk up a steep hill from Imerovigli, but was situated in the center of the Caldera overlooking the sea. Here is the view of Imerovigli from our hotel. It's the village at the very top of the hill. Between our hotel and the town were other hotels and restaurants.
And the view of the Caldera, with Oia in the distance.
A panoramic view:
Each morning our breakfast was delivered to our room or poolside.
The first day, we simply relaxed by the pool, and walked into Imerovigli to buy some wine, cheese and crackers to have in our room.
The first two days we were on the island it was incredibly windy. In fact, the second day some of the ferries were cancelled, and the guests expected at the hotel were not able to get there. Tracy decided to rent a car so we could explore the island. I was a bit reluctant since the roads are barely wide enough for two cars in the best of spots. He had to promise he wouldn’t pass any buses. (Our taxi driver passed two tour buses driving up from the ferry on a road filled with hairpin turns. I wasn’t sure I’d live to see Santorini. And I thought the traffic in Istanbul was bad!) Tracy did a great job, and we saw a lot more of Santorini than we would have without the car.
Our first stop was the ruins of Akrotiri. The ruins have been closed for nearly six years after the roof over them collapsed. We were thrilled that they were once again open to visitors. Akrotiri was built during the Minoan Bronze Age (20th century to the 17th century B.C.) It’s believed that the settlement was buried by a volcanic eruption around 1500 B.C. It’s amazingly well preserved, and some gorgeous frescoes were discovered and put back together again by the archaeologists.
Akrotiri was rediscovered in the 1950’s and the excavation began in the 1960’s. It’s believed that there must have been some warning prior to the earthquake that buried the town. Most of the inhabitants, believed to be in the tens of thousands, escaped. They had developed both a sewer system as well as an aqueduct that brought fresh water to the settlement. It really was mind-boggling to consider.
None of the frescoes are on display in Akrotiri. On the last day of our stay, we visited the Santozeum in Fira which houses reproductions of the frescoes. The Santozeum is a beautiful, modern museum with a fabulous view of the Caldera. One of the most fascinating films I’ve seen in a long time, detailed how the archaeologists numbered the tiny pieces and then had them scanned by 3-D scanners (at Yale and Princeton if my memory serves me well). They were then able to match the pieces like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The originals are housed in a museum in Athens, but we didn’t have time to visit when we were in Athens.
Here is a look at a few of the frescoes reproduced at the Santozeum.
More to come . . .