there is a prehistoric settlement on santorini – in the ancient city of akrotiri. the ruins date from the first phase of the late bronze age (1650-1500 BC). the ruins have been closed to the public for years, but reopened last april, so on tuesday, we knew we needed to take the trip to see the excavation site. for 5 euro, we entered into a massive building that was built around the ruins in order to protect them from the elements. only four of the over thirty buildings have been fully excavated, and the whole scene was a work in progress. we followed ramps around the ancient neighborhood, impressed by how intact many of the buildings, streets, and tools were.
after finishing our tour of the archeological site, we walked through the small village of akrotiri, following the arrows to red beach. in order to get to the beach, we had to do a little more climbing and maneuvering down some huge rocks, but the beach was breathtaking. giant red cliffs plunged straight down into the red and black sand, as the deep blue waves came crashing onto the coast. mysterious, corroded doors are built into the red cliffs, rusted over and locked up, standing out starkly in the middle of such a natural setting. it was surreal, and we basically had the place to ourselves. it was definitely my favorite beach on santorini.
after all the trekking, we were hungry, and settled on a fish tavern called glaros. the owner told us she had just opened back up for the season (she’d been running the tavern for 26 years), and we loved how friendly and down-to-earth she was. she took our order and we decided to get the meze platter (and discovered “tomato balls,” a savory santorini treat with grilled tomatoes, onions, cheese, etc. rolled into a little patty) and we went out on a limb and got the fried anchovies. the owner told us that they were fresh-caught that very morning, and she would fry them up real nice for us. we loved them! they were actually much bigger than our idea of anchovies – each one was about 7 or 8 inches long and whole – and we were supposed to pick them apart with our hands.
the owner then brought us some of her homemade wine to try, and then she brought us a dessert of creamy yogurt with a homemade grape jam/marmalade sauce on top. when we told her how much we loved the yogurt, she proudly declared that the yogurt was homemade too! we loved how local and fresh everything was. after dessert, the owner hung around and chatted with us for a while about the economy and her thoughts on the euro and the future. we really appreciated hearing her perspective. it’s fascinating to travel and learn about other people’s lives – each one has an original story to tell, and i’d write them all down if i could.
back to the bus stop where seven cats were sunning themselves, we sat and scratched the friendly felines behind their ears until our ride pulled up. we wound back through the steep roads of santorini until we were back in fira, where we grabbed a coffee and used the wireless internet (our internet has mysteriously stopped working at the cave house), then ducked in at a restaurant called “mama’s” for an early dinner (fava bean spread, a spicy soft-cheese spread, and some tomato balls).
we caught one last gorgeous sunset in oia, and peeked in a couple souvenir shops, before heading back to our house. our time in santorini has been slow-paced and relaxing, but i still can’t believe it’s almost over. we’ll miss this island, but we are both excited to see what athens has to offer.