Ancient Athens and Cyclades - Santorini, Wednesday 2011 April 27


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May 27th 2013
Published: May 27th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Souvlaki "grill"Souvlaki "grill"Souvlaki "grill"

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.

We moved
Boutari vineBoutari vineBoutari vine

How to protect vines from the wind
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.
Steps to ferriesSteps to ferriesSteps to ferries

Quite easy down; I chose the cable care for up!
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
New scarfNew scarfNew scarf

Spectacular scenes with chilly winds
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.






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MuralMural
Mural

Famous Blue Monkey mural that proved Africa and Greece traded in Ancient times.
Beautiful vesselsBeautiful vessels
Beautiful vessels

Dating from 2400 BCE
Boutari vineyard Boutari vineyard
Boutari vineyard

A strange way of growing grapes to us but obviously it works!
SantoriniSantorini
Santorini

Beautiful views around every bend in the road
DonkeysDonkeys
Donkeys

Tourists can pay to ride the donkeys up, and between trips the donkeys take over the pathway!


28th May 2013

Dancing
Great video of the cross-generational dancers. It reminded me of nothing so much as (trying to!) dance the hora with my sister's Jewish in-laws and their community. As you say, commonalities....

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