After leaving Sally and Colin we spent a couple of nights in Heraklion, capital of Crete, where not too much happened. We stayed in a nice hotel and visited another museum with some exhibits from Knossos including the Phaistos disc, written in Linear A script which, unlike Linear B, has yet to be interpreted.
We took the ferry to Santorini, two hours away, which seems to be the most visited and most expensive Greek island. The setting is stunning. It’s the site of a volcano which erupted around 1900 BC. The centre of the volcano sank into the sea and the resulting caldera is where the ferry comes in with views of high cliffs on which the villages are perched with lots of geological strata visible below.
The spectacular nature of the place sadly means that it seems overdeveloped. Thousands of tourists stay on the island and thousands more on the cruise ships and excursion boats which moor in the caldera. Even in October it is crowded and, as lots of people hire a car, scooter or quad bike, the roads are hectic . We used the bus service which is very efficient.
The most expensive accommodation and restaurants are packed together on the cliff tops to the West to take advantage of the famous sunsets.
We stayed across the road, in a roomy apartment set in nice grounds and half the price. It was a short walk to a sunset view beside a monastery opposite. This is the best we saw!
One day, sitting outside our room, we chatted to Drew and Herman from Vancouver Island who said ‘If you’re not doing anything at 4.30, come to no.15, we’re getting married’. So we did and Alan took the video and was a witness! The bride and the registrar both wore white!
We visited the famous black sand beaches by bus on a windy day with high seas too rough for swimming so they were deserted. Lots of pumice stone had been washed up on the beach – we collected some to take home.
There’s yet another great museum in Fira, also called Thera, the capital. There we saw fossils of plants that flourished before human habitation of the island, including olive leaves dated to 60,000BC – what a wonderfully ancient species!
Akrotiri was a city on Santorini destroyed by an earthquake in 1700BC (rather like Pompeii where we haven’t been). The objects found there are remarkable – household equipment, metalwork, wall paintings.
Most impressive of all is the gold figure of an ibex, in mint condition, found as it had been packed, in it’s box.