The most beautiful place I've seen
Santorini Travel Blog› entry 42 of 57 › view all entries
Santorini is a ring of islands in the Agean Sea and what was left after a volcano blew up in 1628 B.C. Now I have no idea how the explosion can be dated so exactly but I have been told that the resulting tsunami and ash clouds were enough to destroy not only this area but also the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete.
As the Prinsendam sailed into the center of this ring of islands, each island looked snow-capped but it was just the whitewashed houses clinging to the tops of the cliffs that made it appear that way.
The only possible ways for us to reach Thira (the main town at the top of the cliffs and the one with the most tourist books and museums) was to either ride a donkey up the cliff on a narrow path, walk up the cliff on a narrow path while dodging what the donkeys left behind or riding in a cable car.
The town is the spectacular picture-postcard version of what Greek villages should look like and it's one of those places where you can't take a bad photo. It is beautiful everywhere you look. There is the view of the houses, the winding streets (about 3 of them), the cafes perched on the brow of the cliffs, the local artwork and of course the lovely shops. The lovely shops got me for a few things - soap made from olive oil seemed like a good idea when it came with a plaster copy of an ancient statue and so did the bookstore.
We had lunch at one of the cafes and drank Mythos beer with our fresh fish while we looked down the cliffside and watched our ship repositioning itself below us.
My favorite part of Thira had to be the museums. We saw two: the Old Archaeological and the New Prehistoric Museums. (I had a little trouble with the Old and New designations; it did seem strange.) The Prehistoric Museum has remains from the town Akrotiri which was destroyed by the 1628 BC explosion. It was destroyed while also being preserved (in lava and ash) and about half of this Bronze Age settlement has been uncovered. The museum displays some magnificent pottery, tools, weapons and frescoes. I have a copy of one of these fresco fragments in my family room at home and it was thrilling to see the original.
We sailed out of Santorini at 11pm and I sat on the verandah as we departed. I watched the town's lights glowing over the tops of the cliffs and reflecting into the water around another cruise ship that was still anchored. Day or night, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.