Things you should know about Santorini Greece
Santorini is the commonly used name by tourists. However, did you know it is officially named Thira? Greece has many gems, but perhaps Santorini is the absolute pick of the gems for its scenic beauty. Santorini 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 Greece
The Santorini Caldera
The big volcanic eruption caused the land to fall into the sea creating the Caldera. As a result, cliffs 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.
Wonky Knees? The Paths Are Made For Wonky Donkeys!
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). They 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. This means going up is strenuous. Of course going down also requires good footing, good balance, and needs to be managed very carefully after a celebration!
Akrotiri, the Excavation Site: Back In Time To 1700BC
The volcano was also the cause of ruins at Akrotiri. Volcanic ash had turned to pumice stone. People came across evidence of ruins while digging for pumice to make concrete to build the Suez Canal.
Over time archaeologists got involved and unearthed parts of an ancient city. They found 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 protecting the site from damage from the elements. It is believed that the site goes back to a Minoan Bronze Age settlement of the 17th century BC.
The Lost City Of Atlantis
Many experts consider the Akrotiri site to be the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis. Plato wrote at length about the lost city. He described 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 to go to the Beach Club. It was a very interesting experience as we had 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. Fortunately after about 45 minutes 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
The Santorini Wine Museum was very informative. The roots of the grape vines are trained to form a basket shape. This is an ancient style of grape growing. The leaves create a canopy under which the grapes can grow and sweeten. The grapes are protected from the sun allowing them to be moistened by the natural humidity created by the basket. We tasted three of their wines. The dessert wine was particularly tasty.
Emborio Venetian Village
We visited an interesting Venetian village. We walked around some of the very narrow winding paths. Pirates used to attack this little village. Paths were built to be narrow and winding so they would stop the attacking pirates from escaping and from drawing their swords. Locals used to pour boiling oil from the windows above the narrow alleyways to rid the village of pirates.
Oia Santorini Sunsets
Crowds flock to Oia to watch the magnificent sunsets. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t oblige the afternoon we visited. In fact I was less than impressed by Oia. The town and location are just as you would expect but the crowds made it an unpleasant experience. The sunset attracts thousands of people every day. They crowd the narrow cobblestone streets and jostle for a good viewing spot to see the sunset. I would hate to be there in the middle of summer.
Two Santorini Tourist Tips:
Take Good Shoes And Be Careful If You Have Wonky Knees
I really enjoyed visiting Santorini. The wedding was amazing and the scenery breathtaking. However I doubt that I’ll return there, mainly because of the steep paths and the crowds of tourists. Tourists are loving Santorini to death!
My suggestion is to 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