Despite having been here several times before, often for months at a time, this time round I am still doing and seeing things for the first time. There are still corners and alleys and cliff-paths I haven’t walked, churches I haven’t been into, villages in which I haven’t poked around.
Yesterday we hired a car (first time I have done so here) and hit the bottom half of the island. We went to Pyrgos and this time I followed the winding paths all the way to the top. This time I went into the little church (one of 33) instead of passing it by. We stopped and bought a little bag of ntomatinis and bottles of Vinsanto from an old local men whose store was a trestle table. Mum and I followed a path into one of the many ruined houses that populate the village and came out the other side, face to face with a couple of donkeys. We found a house for sale right in the heart of the island’s old capital and plotted its purchase. We looked out over the other side of the island, the side you never pay much attention to.
Afterwards we went to the ancient Minoan ruins at Akrotiri, which re-opened to the public in April of this year. Santorini has done an utterly superb job. You walk through the 3000 year old village, through the public square looked onto by the wealthy captain’s house. You see ancient barley pots in situ, perfect stone steps cracked in half by the volcanic eruption that destroyed the civilisation. You can see the stone streets, the draining system, the tiny windows, the bowls for crushing seeds and cooking. It is truly extraordinary. I have never felt so fully in history as I did walking through these beautifully excavated and preserved ruins. You cannot miss it. You must see it.
This afternoon we will follow the cliff-hugging path from Imerovigli to Fira. There we will get on an old, traditional boat and go out and around the volcano, before heading to the island’s tip to watch the sunset from the deck. Another first. And probably another favourite.