No more rain … today (May 20) began with bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies. Unfortunately, it was also the day we left Santorini! Sigh … well, we’ll just have to come back sometime.
But before we left, it was absolutely necessary to experience the ancient history of the island of Thera. Known as the Pompeii of the Aegean, the city at the site now called Akrotiri was covered in volcanic ash in about 1627 B.C. Remember the volcano I talked about yesterday?
Unlike in Pompeii, however, it is clear that the people of Akrotiri had time to leave in a calm, orderly manner, as most of their belongings and all the people were removed before the great eruption. They must have had plenty of warning, probably in the form of earthquakes.
What did they leave behind? The buildings, of course; a few pots and pieces of furniture; and some absolutely beautiful frescoes. The frescoes have been removed and reconstructed at a museum. Our guide showed us pictures of the frescoes, and you can see them at this very good blog:
It’s clear from the architecture and frescoes that the people of Akrotiri were well off and lived relatively comfortable lives. They even had well-engineered indoor plumbing, with bathtubs and toilets. Not bad for the 17th century B.C.!
The remains of several bed frames were found in the streets. The excavators believe that the people coming back to clear out the citizens’ belongings would sleep in the street in order to be safer in case of further earthquakes.
Shifting from the ancient to the present day, we moved on to two wine tastings. Yes, two! I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
First we visited the Koutsoyannopoulos Winery and Wine Museum.
After learning about the history of wine production at the winery, we tasted four of their wines.
Santorini wineries produce wines unique to the island. One such wine, Vinsanto, is made with grapes that have first been dried. It tasted just like raisins (alcoholic raisins, of course).
After emptying our pockets for their best wines, we moved on to … another winery! For lunch.
At the Boutaris Winery, they offer a full meal with wine pairings, rather than a simple wine tasting. Once again, everything was tremendous.
The grapes on Santorini aren’t grown on trellises, and they aren’t watered. They subsist from the dew that forms each morning, and are trained to grow in a basket shape on the ground.
Once we were stuffed full of pork roast and tomato fritters, we got back on the bus and headed for … the port! It was time to leave Santorini and head for our next stop: Crete.