The pictures and brochures for Santorini always show a sunny and idyllic island with picturesque white houses with the blue church roofs dotting the landscape. What the pictures don’t show very well is that in March there are near gale force winds in Santorini (and indeed on many of the islands). We rented a car to see the island, which in March is essential because there are no, or few (I didn’t see one), buses and without a car you would miss out on most of the interesting things to see. The main town of Fira was much more commercial than I was expecting, all shops and neon and resorts everywhere. No joke, at least every second shop was renting out cars, scooters, or boats. Oia, pictured above, was much less commercial and was made up of back streets that were pedestrian friendly. That being said, there is a lot less things open in Oia this time of year. We had two days on the island and with a car, that is a pretty decent amount of time since the island is so small. We kicked it off with a drive in the country and we wound our way down to Parissia to see the black beach. Which is literally a beach that is made up of black stones. I had anticipated some wading perhaps but the wind proved prohibitive and some errant waves managed to find their way into my shoe. Wet left foot for the rest of the day.
From there we drove around to the ancient Minoan archeological site of Akrotiri which is an extensive set of ruins that are still being excavated and were all covered over with a “bioclimatic” building (so we could pretend there was no wind!). The city is from the Bronze Age and is thought to have been in existence from as early as 3000 BC. As with most ruins in Greece though the artifacts and wall paintings are housed in a separate location and to appreciate the ruins it is kind of important to see all the things that were found there. The corresponding museum for Akrotiri is the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in the town of Fira. The town was thought to be an important trading point as many of the artifacts found are associated with other island such as Crete. Many of the buildings found were as many as eight metres high and several stone staircases were found intact. It’s amazing how advanced things were five thousand years ago.
From there we continued on to the Red Beach. I know, so inventively named, but indeed the rocks and sand are all red. We did some hiking and ended up with a lot of red grit in our eyes. Yes the wind was still blowing full tilt.
One site that we didn’t visit, but viewed from afar was the volcano. Santorini is a volcanic island and originally was a ring of island around a central volcanic piece. Only some of the ring is left, but you can still go out by boat across the caldera and walk on the volcano.