Unusual experiences on Santorini: A baker’s half-dozen

Breathtaking scenery and idyllic accommodations blend with world-class shopping and historical exploration to make Santorini one of the most beguiling destinations in Greece.

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The glorious blue Aegean Sea as seen from the iconic Greek isle of Santorini. (iconicsantorini.com)

IMEROVIGLI, Santorini, Greece, July 22, 2017 — At some point during every traveler’s first visit to the Greek isle of Santorini, there’s suddenly an epiphany, during which those white, snow-capped peaks lining the crest of the mountain morph into white, sugar-cubed dwellings.

Most people arrive at Santorini from the sea, sailing into a backwards “C” shaped volcanic caldera that’s now a beautiful, sweeping bay. The Santorini eruption, one of the largest volcanic events in recorded history, is dated back to the middle of the second millennium BC, and created the largest and southernmost of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea.

At first, Santorini looks like snow capped mountains. (Image via Wikipedia)

Some say it was this eruption that gave rise to many legends in Greek mythology, including the mystery of the Lost City of Atlantis.

Today, a combination of breathtaking scenery and idyllic accommodations blend with world-class shopping and historical exploration to make Santorini one of the most beguiling destinations in Greece. Santorini has, indeed, become a “land for all seasons.”

Daybreak on Santorini. (iconicsantorini.com)

If you happen to be among the thousands of visitors who discover the charms of Santorini either now or in the future, here are some suggestions that will enhance your adventure.

Quad bikes are a fun, fast and convenient way to get around the island. (santorinibikerentals.com)

Rent a Quad Bike: A quad bike is an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with four wheels that operates on low pressure tires with a seat that is straddled by the driver. As the name implies, it is designed for a variety of surfaces which makes it ideal for sightseeing on Santorini’s sloping geography.

The gas powered motor allows you to maneuver the steepest hill while the compact size provides access to places that otherwise could only be viewed on foot. Best of all, rates begin at about $35 per day which makes for plenty of independent exploration without breaking the bank.

Visit a Working Archaeological Dig: Remember those old movies about archaeological digs in Egypt where a scientific team unearths some ancient relic that subsequently plays havoc with the contemporary world?

Akrotiri is a working archaeological site on Santorini. (Image via Wikipedia, GNU 1.2 license)

Perhaps it was the film’s black and white format or its scratchy soundtrack that made those pictures come alive with ominous sensations emanating from ancient history that modern movies, for all their high tech and CGI technologies cannot duplicate.

Whatever it was, if you have ever been intrigued by the idea of watching or participating in a real archaeological dig, you can do it on Santorini at ancient Akrotiri. Here you can observe scientists unearthing, shard by shard and cobblestone by cobblestone, ancient artifacts scattered among the ruins of a city that existed in the 17th century. BC, that is.

Shhh! Mummy’s the word.

Many tales from Greek mythology originated on Santorini. The tale of that impetuous overachiever Icarus, depicted here, is one of them. (Image via Wikipedia)

Marvel at Ancient Treasures: One of the difficult things to adjust to when visiting Greece is realizing that time marches backwards from BC to AD. Therefore, 1500 BC is earlier than 1000 BC, which sometimes makes it difficult to internalize this seemingly reverse chronology because we are so accustomed to thinking about time in the opposite direction.

The Museum of Prehistoric Thera (the more formal name for Santorini) takes visitors back thousands of years in time with its collections of golden statuettes, sculptures and archaic Roman inscriptions. Even museum-haters end up loving this venue.

No visit to Santorini is complete without sampling Assyrtiko wine. (iconicsantorini.com)

Sip an Assyrtiko: There are wine tastings and then there are vino tastings. Santorini’s distinctive Assyrtiko wine puts this adventure into the second category.

Guests can take a 4-hour vineyard tour complete with a sommelier (and driver) where they can sample a glass or two of Santorini’s unique native wine.

Or if you prefer, when you’ve competed a day at the dig, or a morning at the museum, or simply want to take a break from your quad bike excursion, you can do that as well at a local taverna.

Either way, be sure to savor the most popular wine on the island before you depart.

Red Beach really is red due to the metallic acidity that resulted from the major volcanic eruption on Santorini thousands of years ago. (greecetours.com)

Cool off on Red Beach: Cancun has its powdery talcum powered white sand beaches. In Bermuda, some of the beaches are pink. There are even black beaches in other parts of the world like the big island of Hawaii and other locales where volcanoes have erupted in the past. But Santorini has the distinction of having a red beach thanks to the metallic acidity that was one result of the ancient eruption that carved out the island that we see today.

Red Beach on Santorini is among the most famous of its kind. But in reality it’s probably a better location for laying out in the sun, enjoying a quiet picnic, or just taking in the gorgeous scenery than it is for swimming.

Try a catamaran in the caldera. (santorinicatamaran.com)

Cruise the Caldera: Sailing into Santorini’s caldera is one thing, but to experience it aboard a 74-foot catamaran is a different experience entirely. If you embark on this adventure, play a little game with yourself and see if you can figure out when the white houses crowning the island begin to look like snow.

Iconic Santorini is a unique boutique hotel that beckons to be visited (iconicsantorini.com)

The concierges at Iconic Santorini, an extraordinary 19-room boutique hotel that is literally carved into the island’s white-vaulted caves, can arrange for any or all these marvelous adventures. And, as the description implies, Iconic Santorini adds yet another dimension to this unique travel experience all by itself.

Oh. There is one other treasure that’s not to be missed during your stay:

Pistachios: They’re the best in the world. ‘Nuff said.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)

His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

Read more of Travels with Peabod and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

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