Sunday, September 27, 2015


We had a great tour of Santorini. I think it might be the most beautiful place we have visited and we did not see it at its best since the sky was mostly overcast all day. Small patches of blue sky just don’t provide the highlights the blues and whites deserve. Nevertheless, the beauty is still awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, these pictures only hint at the beauty.

The natural beauty of Santorini begins with the 3500 year-old caldera created when an eruption destroyed the cone of the volcano submerging it beneath the blue ocean leaving one crescent-shaped island with cliffs facing west to the sunset over the remaining small islands that draws lovers from all over the world. This natural beauty is enhanced by the stunning architecture. Pristine white buildings topped with arched roofs are interspersed with blue domes and the occasional red or pink doorway. Narrow marble walkways show off the island’s wealth.

The villages of Santorini perch high above the sea providing an interesting and perhaps scary ride or walk from either of the two ports. From the new port cars and buses negotiate seven switchbacks up the cliff side. Alternatives from the old port include a recently-built gondola or a donkey ride. Riding up on a donkey might not smell very good, but riding down can be a dicey proposition as the donkeys don’t seem to be aware of the fact that the rider’s legs are scraping the side of the cliff. Nor are they worried about how fast they might be going as they rush down the trail to reach the food and water that awaits them at the bottom. Walking is another alternative if you don’t mind the smell from that ‘stuff’ the donkeys leave behind. We chose the gondola.

One of the crew on our shuttle boat
The tour we chose here began at Santo Winery perched nicely above the cliff. We tasted three tasty wines: a dry white, a dry red, and a sweet desert wine which I liked although Linda did not. The vines are twisted into a circle to protect the grapes from the harsh sun and winds as they grow and also helps irrigate the vines as the morning dew drops to the ground where it can reach the roots. A shortage of natural water sources makes this important. In earlier days water reached the island by boat. Today, desalinization plants supplement the collected rainwater making the circular twisting of the vines important.

A huge crowd was no obstacle for this pourer
 The tasting process was highlighted by the pourer grabbing two or three glasses at a time into which she splashed an ounce or so without spilling a drop. Never have I seen anyone pour so much wine so quickly or take care of so many busloads of tasters at a time. We also had the option of a tasting tray. Our visit was too short to try even the six glass tray, never mind a tray of twelve or eighteen, especially since they were full five-ounce pours. I’m glad the Colorado couple we saw with the 18-taster had a driver.

Yes, those are tasting glasses.
From there we drove along the coast to Oia, the town everyone who ever had an inkling about visiting Greek Isles has seen pictures of. A picture of this white-walled village with its iconic round blue rooftops adorns most travel agency walls and every website that has anything to do with the Greek Isles. Blue and white are the colors of the Greek flag so when the country has been conquered by outsiders this was a way to show patriotism. Today, it is probably the law.

The old fort
Nightlife is concentrated in Fria, the capital city, but both Fria and Oia have many restaurants and tavernas to choose from. Guests staying anywhere on the island make sure they have a table in one of them to watch what must be one of the most romantic sunsets anywhere. If not in one of the restaurants, they will be sitting on one of the many terraces at Santo Winery. We stopped at one of these restaurants in Fria for a couple of drinks. While we did not get to see one of classic sunsets, we were still treated to some drama as the clouds did part enough to show us what we can look forward to on our next visit. 

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