Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Greece - Santorini

Dedicated to the ancient Therans

I'm writing from an internet cafe playing "Mandy" in all it's kitsch magnitude, at high volume.

But on a positive note, I'm on the Greek island of Santorini. This place is spectacular - white buildings lined with blue doors and window frames are the norm. Expensive hotels and restaurants cling to the sides of steep cliffs that descend straight into the sea on one side, and slowly glide into beaches on the other. It's very touristy, but hey, that's all that's keeping this place alive. Every single one of the Greek islands we cruised past this morning was rocky and barren, just like Easter island. Presumably for all the same reasons!

(Hey DJ - now the cafe's playing the theme song to the Eleventh Kingdom!)

The whole island is shaped like the crescent and star of Islam. This is because it was once a volcano, which blew apart (like Krakatoa) when ancient people were actually living here. After watching a quietly gorgeous sunset, I stepped into an understated but impressive museum exhibiting the frescoes uncovered from local excavations. These are 3500 years old, and the ones on display were reproductions of those too fragile to actually show. Beautiful figures and patterns, simple line drawings yet highly animated, and sumptuous colours. These Bronze Age "Therans" are thought by some to be the same group that started the myths of Atlantis, due to the volcanic eruption.

It is the off season and I was able to negotiate a good room with private facilities for 15 Euro. However, it turned out to be about 3km from the town of Fira (the capital). It's not an especially picturesque walk either, but hey, I'm only there for one night. Tomorrow I'm planning to o/n in Ia, the smaller town on the far north tip, reknowned for outstanding sunsets and interesting alleyways.

Maybe a self-guided moped is in order for the day...


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