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Our Big Fat Greek Christmas

GREECE | Thursday, 25 December 2014 | Views [462]

Dreaming of a White Christmas, Santorini

Dreaming of a White Christmas, Santorini

IF YOU ARE DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS in the Greek Isles, look no farther than Santorini. No, it won’t snow but the blindingly white buildings clinging to the volcanic cliffs silhouetted against the cobalt sky are a pretty good substitute.  

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    Antoia Apartments, home for the holidays

Cosmos picked us up at the airport and took us up the winding road to the Antonia Apartments where we set up house.  Other than the fact that everything will be closed for two days, you would hardly know it’s Christmas.  No Bing Crosby or Frosty, no blinky lights, very few Christmas trees and no hoards clambering for last minute gifts.  Our apartment has a kitchenette and we stocked up with enough food to get us through.  While others may be having their Christmas goose, we dined on mac and cheese, a real treat for travelers weary of eating in restaurants.

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    Closed for Christmas

Santorini really doesn’t warrant five days at this time of year.  The skies are sunny but it isn’t beach weather — and beaches are the real draw for the Greek islands.  Many of the hotels in Fira are closed for the season and Antonia will follow right after New Years.  But everyone has to be somewhere and Fira (or Thira — Greek translations are arbitrary) is as good as anywhere.

The Santorini of 3500 years ago looked much different than it does today.  In 1435 BCE a volcanic eruption blew the island apart leaving the caldera and cliffs that give the island its charm.  It also blew apart the thriving Minoan civilization not only on Santorini but in Crete where a tsumani devastated the island.  

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   Akrotiri - a work in progress

The fabulous museum at Akrotiri is a work in progress with only a tiny bit of the Minoan city excavated.  But you can easily piece together bit by bit like an archeologist what a place it was.  The best pieces and murals are back in Fira at the Prehistoric Museum but seeing the buildings and streets in situ brings it all together.  And it appears that the Minoans had plenty of warning about the eruption; only a single object made of gold was found and there were no skeletons, human or animal, discovered either.

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  Mural of Blue Monkeys                             Jars from Akrotiri

Ancient Thira is much more recent but not nearly as interesting.  Nor as easy to access.  We hiked for nearly an hour up the rugged trail to the entrance.  Again the best pieces are in a museum in Fira. 

 

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