Friday, June 5, 2015

Santorini Sunshine, Akrotiri & Oia

Bright and early we rolled out of bed and devoured breakfast. Our day would be a full day tour exploring our first stop: the island of Santorini.

I was quickly astounded to see that it was not all white washed homes by the sea, but rather brown and green fields of small shrubs. I was quickly informed that they were vineyards.

Tons of them. Our bus zoomed down the little roads, passing dozens of small homes with small vineyards. It's common in that area for families to have these small vineyards in their backyards. And, apparently, the Greeks make excellent wine.

The bus soon pulled up to the Akrotiri Archaelogical Site, a museum essentially built around the ruins of this incredibly ancient and once thriving city. If your lucky, a sweet old man will be parked outside with a truck bursting with fresh fruits for next to nothing.

Ever the hungry family, we snagged a bag of crisp, sweet grapes to chomp on while our tickets were retrieved. Upon entering, you are greeted with a small diorama that displays the huge and intricate expanse of the museum.

It was shockingly well preserved. You are allowed to freely walk around, and even through, these ruins. Most site-goers could easily identify the rooms in a home, complete with perfectly intact door frames and windows and varying levels. All this supplemented with pieces of hand crafted pottery, and, occasionally, the structure of a small bed.

Definitely go with a guide. Even paying good attention to ours and looking closely at the ruins, I could only process half of the knowledge she was dishing out to our eager ears.

Rivers of words flowed from her as she spoke of the history of the active city, the time-intensive process of discovery and excavation, how the city remained so well preserved, and the insider scoop on every hidden gem to be found in the site.

Unfortunately, we were ushered back to the buses before I could get to the real exploring. I was so excited by what I learned I was ready to roll up my sleeves and start digging - though I was assured repeatedly that enthusiasm wasn't enough to excavate the rest of the city. It had been a decades long process before I'd visited, and it would take years of slow work before excavation was even close to completion.

The old bus rolled out of the lot promptly, the doors swinging shut just as my perpetually late bottom had passed over the threshold.

We were rolling towards the sea now, a thought that had me wriggling in my seat. The Aegean Sea was nothing short of expectation.

The port of Athens just didn't do justice to the beautiful waters. Suddenly back in our element, my sister and I gravitated to the water's edge to breathe in the salty air. Waves slapped the concrete dock, throwing our next mode of transportation back and forth like a rag doll.

Undaunted by the choppy sea, we boarded quickly and set out for the unknown seaside stop we would be making for lunch.

We rolled by the rocky island shores and snapped dozens of photos.

The rough sea breeze kept the blazing sun from being too unbearable, and then suddenly we had arrived.

Oia is, without question, my favorite spot in Greece. That may be unreasonable - and perhaps my mind will change, but as I stood at the edge of the sea I could feel happiness flooding my body from head to toe. Rarely am I so completely thrilled by just being somewhere.

The water is unearthly. It's completely clear, and made of a beautiful array of luxurious blues and greens.

Topless natives sunbathed on the concrete that jut out over the heavenly waters, unbothered by the squid just feet away.

We were ushered to our table at Katina, which we gladly surround. The gorgeous locale had reignited our weary minds and bodies, and now there were nothing but smiling faces and slanted rays of sunshine.

We soaked up the view while food piled up.

Plates of Greek salad, bruschetta, and hummus filled the table, so delicious that the plates were licked clean before I had time to get my camera out!

Luckily my sister had the forethought to take her own pictures. Doesn't it look superb?

 Easily the best hummus I have ever eaten. I probably finished two plates on my own!

When it came time for the next course I managed to snap a few photos before we tucked innit.

The fish was excellent, even with already full bellies we managed to chow down most of it.

Though the squid was just not for me.

My father, on the other hand, loved it. He devoured it playfully, a poke at my own disdain.

We sat back while dessert was passed around, and instead opted for a quick roam of the seaside. Off to one side we spotted a favorite haunt for the locals, but the access point was too far for us to make it up and back before our boat left.

We settled instead for a little nearby exploring.

And I made a friend.

And then some more.

We were ushered back to the boat too soon for my liking, and carted to the capital town, Fira.

That wound up being quite the adventure! But with amount of photos I've already thrown at you, I should probably wait until next time for that.

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