ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY– Santorini is an island I have dreamed of for years, and today I get to visit.
It’s another bright sunny day and as we sail up to the island, there in front of us are the spectacular cliffs of Santorini, rising from the great half moon caldera. It is more gorgeous than I imagined.
There’s an early morning start at 8:15, and I’m one of the first ones on the bus. We drive along hairpin turns up the cliffs to the top of the island and then tour along the top all the way to Fira, where we tour and shop, and then to Akrotiri. Akrotiri is an excavation site of a Minoan bronze age village, buried and preserved much like Pompeii, by a volcanic eruption on the island. There have been no bones and no gold treasure found (except for a solid gold ibex hidden in a box and buried) which would indicate that the inhabitants fled the city in advance of the eruption.
It is a remarkable site, and we are privileged to tour it since it has just reopened in April of this year. A collapse of the roof caused the site to be closed for several years. Frescoes, pottery, furniture, advanced drainage systems and three-story buildings have been discovered at the site so far, and only about one third of the site has been excavated. There are those who hypothesize that Akrotiri is in fact Plato’s Atlantis.
We had an excellent lunch in a restaurant overlooking the ocean and then drove to Oia, the city that you see captured in photos and paintings with white buildings and blue domes along the cliff face.
We visited the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, where many of the artifacts from Akrotiri are kept, including the golden ibex. And here you can see the wall mural depicting blue monkeys, an important turning point in art, as it is here that we see for the first time an artist moving away from presenting things in flat silhouette. One of the blue monkeys looks boldly forward. It is very cool to see this – a moment when art started to change. Then we walked the narrow streets, did some shopping had coffee and then zipped down the cable car to the waiting tender to return to the ship.
This evening before dinner, Professor Cormack delivered a lecture about Crete and Knossos, which we visit tomorrow. “There are more icons and wall paintings in Crete than in all of Greece,” he tells us.
Photos by Barbara Ramsay Orr