About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rental Car Day - Exploring Santorini

This was our rental car for today's adventure.  Its a Nissan Micra.  It looks in pretty good condition, but it sure rattled and bounced around a lot.  Katrina couldn't open her window.  I had to do it from my side.  Her door handle fell out at one point, but she managed to snap it back in place.  We have learned...never buy a rental car, and that is especially true in Santorini.  

Our first destination of the day was the ruins of Ancient Thira, located on Mesa Vouno.  Ancient Thira was the only urban center on Santorini from the 9th century until Christianity arrived on the island.  Located on the top of Mesa Vouno, the ancient city spread out across the flat area of limestone.  The sheer mountainside offered natural fortification.  

On Mesa Vouno, looking down on the southern Santorini coast

Most of the monuments that are visible at the site are from the Hellenistic era.

The east coast of Santorini, looking down on Kamari

If you look closely you can see a lion and a hawk carved into the rock.  

Brandon and I take pictures of each other

Ancient Thira had no fresh water source, so rain water was kept in large cisterns like this one.

The point of the mesa is historically very windy, so no homes were found in this area.  It is mostly made up of temples.

The theater, built below ground level with outstanding views of the Aegean Sea.


Next, we headed down to Kamari for lunch.  This is a tourist town built after the 1956 earthquake.  It boasts black sand beaches, modern hotels, bars and night clubs.  

Brandon checks out the large waves today.  

High surf warning

Brandon and Katrina take some time to watch the waves roll in.

Brandon and Katrina pose in front of the restaurant where we had lunch.  They had only opened for the season just an hour before we arrived.  We were their first 'food' patrons for the summer.  They had great food and service.

After lunch we headed towards the town of Megalohori.  Along the way we stopped at Antoniou's Vineyard for some wine tasting.  We tried three wines:  a white wine, a red and a dessert wine.  The dessert wine was very tasty.  

The winery had several of these big 'pools' where grapes were once dumped, then stomped the only fashioned way, by feet.  The juice would run out the bottom and into the winery below.  They are not used anymore.  

View from the winery, overlooking the caldera.  There were four cruise ships visiting Santorini today.

This was a typical scene around the island.  Many building sites looked like skeletons waiting to be finished, but the sites were vacant.  

Grape vines.  They are trained to curl up into a small bush 

Megalohori is a small typical village that lies in a riverbed.  This village has been situated in the same location since the 17th century.

Chapel in Megalohori

We parked and wandered through the village for about an hour.  Katrina loved the texture of the old buildings.  

On the way out of town we stopped at a bakery to enjoy some baklava and ice cream before heading to the southern most point of the island to see the lighthouse.  

View into the caldera from the lighthouse

The lighthouse

Brandon and the Aegean Sea

From the lighthouse we headed back inland to the town of Pyrgos.  Pyrgos is a village on the slope of a small hill.  It's built around a medieval settlement.  Its a town of old narrow stone streets and alleys.  
We wandered through the town, making our way to the top of the hill where the church of the Presentation of the Virgin sits.  

Another all white town.

Brandon sure has grown since we moved to Italy.

Standing under an old stone arch to the fortress.  

Brandon, the cool kid!

As evening set in, we began to get hungry for dinner.  We decided that, although Greek food is spectacular, we would mix it up a bit.  We headed into Fira to eat dinner at a Chinese restaurant we spotted the other day.  

Tomorrow is our last on the island of Santorini.  I think we are going to spend it in the town of Oia.  

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