Day 305, Santorini

Thursday, 10/3/2019

We assembled at 8am to bus to Akrotiri, to see the vast archaeological exhibit of a Bronze-age town destroyed by the Thera eruption. Mostly exposed in the 1960s, the dig site has been preserved under a huge roof. Visitors walk around on foot paths above the digging area.

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Probably a merchant’s storehouse, with jars of–oil? grain?

The town was a busy seaport occupied by people doing trade with other places around the Mediterranean, in particular the Minoans of Crete, who we’ll be dropping in on soon. The town was buried under several meters of volcanic ash, preserving even some organic things like wooden furniture. No human remains have been found, unlike Pompeii (which happened 1700 years later). Possibly the inhabitants had been warned by earthquakes and escaped. There is evidence of buildings being damaged by earthquakes and being repaired and used again before the final kaboom.

Quite a few of the buildings were multi-story and the ground-floor areas have yet to be opened. There is little on-going work, and what is being done now is privately funded, largely by Kaspersky, the Russian whose anti-virus app was widely used in PCs for years. However, for the first time on this trip, there were actual archaeologists at work.

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This woman was carefully sieving dirt for small objects. Slow work, archaeology.

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The road to and from Akrotiri (which means “hilltop”) gave some great caldera views.

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Back in town we went first to the Archaeological Museum where bits from the dig are displayed. Frescos that had been lifted off walls, and many pots and small objects.

After this we had free time to explore the town. If one walks to the topmost street, there is this view (as a panorama).

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Behind you, as you look over this railing, are several streets worth of tourist bazaar.

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We were on our own for lunch. I was walking along one of these streets and noted a tavern advertising Craft Beers. It was a pleasant place inside, an open veranda with a breeze and a view the other way, over rooftops to the distant sea. I had a slab of moussaka and a bottle of Red Donkey amber ale.

Back to the hotel to chill until 5 when we go out once again. Then we went to the winery where the famous vinsanto is made. The winery has a spectacular location on a bluff with a great view of the cliffs. They host a lot of groups and weddings, you can tell. Everyone in our group was given three glasses, and cheese and breadsticks, and a winery employee poured us small samples of three wines, explaining the virtues of each. The first two were dry whites and I could barely tell any difference between them, and barely detect any flavors. Not even good box wine in my opinion. The third was the vinsanto, which was more interesting. A pale red, it was extremely sweet but with other, spicy flavors. If I entertained, I could see keeping a bottle of it around for after-dinner sipping.

From here we went to a taverna where we had supper and then live music and dancing. The two musicians and three dancers were more than competent. The dancers worked hard to get people up to join them in dancing to the familiar tunes like “Never on Sunday” (and when will I get that out of my head again).

Tomorrow is a slow day: bags out at 9:30, depart at 10 for a couple of simple activities here, basically killing time until the ferry for Crete departs at 6pm.

But the real good news: my cold symptoms have completely gone and I feel normal again.

 

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