Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 98 – More Santorini

When I got up in the morning I found out that the dog was still there. The very friendly gardener pointed toward the dog, laughed, and said something incomprehensible in Greek. I thought he said that the dog was waiting for breakfast, so I gave him a few pieces of bread, but he showed absolutely no interest. Instead, when I went for a morning walk he faithfully followed me around. Eventually it was time for me to leave, so I said goodbye to the friendly animal, who simply turned around as if he had satisfactorily completed his tour guide duties. Nice, isn’t it?

I made a couple of touristic stops in charming little towns, on my way to the main village in the island, Fira. This where the big museum of Akrotiri is located, and I just had to get it out of my system. It was really very nice, and although I would have loved to see the site itself, the reproductions of frescos and mosaic floors did much to impress me with the finesse of the great Minoan culture. Fira is, again, a beautifully tended village with endless opportunities for tourists to dispense large amounts of money, and I confess I was tempted by a beautiful reproduction of one of the frescos, which would look great in the library :)

Later I went down to the old port, down an interminable series of switchbacks. The views of the island of Tholos (a small basaltic shield volcano that grew after the collapse of the caldera, and was last active in the 1920’s) and the very lively bay were spectacular. This is the port where the cruise ships drop anchor, so there is a very lively buzz of tourists (however, the main tourist tsunami will not start until the beginning of June, so I didn’t have to beat them off with a stick, but besides a couple of nice looking restaurants there is nothing of particular interest (but I bought a hat there). After half an hour I started the long ascent, only to be overhauled by long trains of mules transporting lazy tourists to the main city. Half an hour later the empty train came back, clopping down in happy abandonment without a muleteer accompanying them; apparently the mules are so well trained that there is no need to guide them on their up and down voyages.

I had a couple of hours to kill before it was time to embark, so I went for a lazy drive through the vineyards. Santorini claims a tradition of good wine making, with small but high quality production, but I was puzzled by what seemed to me a very peculiar type of husbandry. Instead of letting the vines “stand”, supporting the weight of the bunches with stakes and wire, here the vines form a low bush that to my untrained eyes seems to simply “spill” unto the ground. Actually, close inspection showed that the main trunk has been trained to form a type of “nest”, inside which the bunches of grapes are shielded from the ocean breeze (I only learned the purpose of the “nest” after I visited the Wine Museum maintained by one of the oldest wineries). Next time you are looking for a sweet dessert wine try the Vin Santo of Santorini!

At about 6 pm I made my work down to the commercial port, fed my little car into the belly of one of the enormous ferries, and thoroughly enjoyed myself looking at the loading of huge trucks and the coming and going of people in the port.

Alas, all good things must come to the end, and eventually we said goodbye to Santorini, heading into the sunset toward the mainland.

No comments: