Easy to see how ancient people made perfect souvlaki
Our late morning began with a walk up the street to the Archeological Museum. Many of the artifacts are Minoan. Most are large, because they were left behind when the population fled the rumbling volcanic activity about 1640 BC. Archeologists think that no one was killed, because no bones have been found, and there is evidence of the population in North Africa, Crete and Israel. The large storage jars and other vessels are quite decorative. And this museum is where some of the famous Minoan frescoes (brought from Knossos) have been reconstructed and restored, displayed as three walls of a house.
Our visit to the Boutari Winery was a revelation. We were told that Greece exports relatively little wine because most grapes are grown in family plots for the family’s use – never bottled. Boutari is a big, commercial winery, renowned in wine circles for leading in the preservation of the many indigenous, historic varieties of vines and their wine. The visit began with a slide-video portraying the history of wine from ancient times to current times at Boutari. We saw it in a specially built, marble theatre used for international congresses. The local presenter was passionate.
outside to some experimental vineyards. These and most in Greece hardly resemble those in Italy. The plants are pruned to the ground and grow up annually as low bushes. A wreath of old branches is placed over the plant to support and shelter the new growth. The roots can grow fifteen to twenty feet into the ground, possibly the reason why Greek vines are not prone to disease, according to our host. Right now, wild flowers are growing around the plants and throughout the fields, because it has been too wet to burn them off and pick the “weeds”.
Inside we sat at restaurant tables to taste a young white and an older one. Then a Vinsanto – good but perhaps not as good as Italian. Another white was served with lunch: salad, roast pork and potatoes. Our table of four included the wine drinkers; we had a very good time and “helped” the others.
On returning to Fira (the main town), we were free to pursue our own interests. Joi, Suzanne and I wanted to go down and up the cliff. Although not planned particularly, only I wanted to walk down the 440 steps to the seaside.
The sun was out (finally!), and the stone cliffs were warm and sheltering – a real vacation feeling! About a fifth of the way down, I encountered the herd of donkeys that take people down and up. Being cowardly, I stood for several minutes waiting for help. Another tourist overtook me and made her way through the herd with me following. “I needed a leader”, I said. That startled her a bit, and when we started chatting, she answered that she was from Edmonton! She was on a cruise, one of the three ships anchored in the caldera.
My next move was taking the cable car up. Joi and Suzanne had taken the cable car down and were going to ride donkeys up. We agreed to meet at the top. To my great surprise, the cable car was very fast (cost €4), almost precluding pictures. Since we hadn’t really said where to meet, and the donkeys and cable cars are not in the same place, we failed to meet. After a time, I wandered back to the hotel, buying a large blue and gold scarf along the way – if the weather is going to be chilly, I might
as well look fashionable rather than continuing to use my 25-year-old 99-cent scarf (that still keeps me warm).
Bravely I swam some lengths in the hotel pool. Even though swimming alone keeps me warm, I could feel the chill creeping up my legs. An unheated pool on a breezy day doesn’t benefit enough from the sun. Yet, after a hot shower, I felt invigorated.
For the evening, we drove to a tavern on the flat part of Santorini, where there is community dancing at least two nights a week. After starting the appetizers and wine, the demonstration dancers got some of us up. Then the big-family diners took over. Wonderful to see the older, middle and younger generations sharing the traditional country-dances. They came and urged us to join in. I danced a lot of times – this is a memory of a real time, not just a museum piece. My Regency dance practices have probably helped, because others said I was “good”, although I wasn’t doing the steps right. Even so, country dancing has commonalities across cultures.
Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations. In Worl...more history