"" Writer's Wanderings: Adventures in Santorini - Day Four

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Adventures in Santorini - Day Four

Sadly it was our last day on Santorini. We were scheduled to fly back to Athens at 7:30 p.m. There was still a day to look at a few places we hadn't seen yet but a lot depended upon whether we could leave our luggage at the B&B. We didn't want to leave luggage in the car that could be seen. Our host was so gracious. She suggested that since they weren't expecting anyone until late that night, we could stay until 6 in our room.

We packed our things, leaving some clean clothes out to change into before the flight home and started out to explore the part of the flat side of the island that we hadn't seen yet. The road we took followed the eastern shoreline. We passed through one area that appeared to be somewhat industrial. Then a section where it looked like the wind had carved a modern sculpture out of the sandstone.

As we neared the airport, we found another black sand beach only this time it truly was sand. Obviously this was also the windward side of the island. The surf pounded against a small breaker of boulders that protected the beach area. While the sand was nice, the beach area was not nearly as nice as the one by Kamari we had seen the day before. But if you were looking for a place with fewer people, this would be it.

The main sight for our day's outing was the wine museum. I expected us to spend a couple of minutes looking at a few old wine presses and then move on. I was pleasantly surprised. The museum was built below ground level and took you through several long hallways punctuated with vignettes of historical wine making processes. Many of them even had animated models in them. (One animatronic female was going through the motions of kneading bread.) The price of admission included an audio guide in several languages and was narrated quite well--just enough to tell you what you needed to know and not so much that you were tired of standing to listen.

The museum traced the history of wine making on Santorini from the viewpoint of the Koutsoyianopoulos brothers who founded the winery. They were in a sailboat trying to make it to another island to sell their oil when a storm blew up and they put into the safe harbor at Santorini.

At first they used Santorini only as a market place for their olive oil that they produced on mainland Greece but eventually due to the "clever sharpness of their minds" they started the first winery on Santorini in 1880. Between the two brothers, they had twelve children, two of whom they say became scientists which probably led to some of the advancements made in the wine making there.

One of the old wine presses in a display showed someone helping to crush the grapes with his feet and sure enough, there next to the display was a picture of how they did it back then.

The tour answered one of the questions we had about the vineyards we had seen on the island. Most of them did not have posts and wire for the vines to be tied up on. As we read and looked at the displays we discovered that the winds that whip across Santorini at times are not good for the grapes and so instead of tying them up, they wind the vines in a circle, almost making a basket and the grapes are protected in the center. It cuts down on the amount of grapes produced as opposed to the other method but otherwise they would not have good grapes if any for their wines.

We saw the progression of storing the wines in wine skins and then to bottles. Before the donkeys were carrying people around, they were carrying wine skins.

 After WWII, they began bottling their wine but they did it manually as there was no electricity on the island until 1967. 1967? I did a double take and sure enough a little farther on was a display of old electrical boxes from when electricity was first introduced to Santorini and the date was 1967.

We spent much more time there than we expected. It was all done very well and was quite interesting. Back in the gift shop and main tasting area that had lots of tables to accommodate tours, we sat at the bar to enjoy a taste of the wines made there. Our 7 Euro ticket to the museum included a taste of four different wines: a white, a red, and two dessert wines one of which was extremely sweet.

As I looked over some of the fancy bottles they now have I thought to myself that they had certainly come a long way from those old wine skins.

By the time we were done, it was time for lunch and we decided to return to Kamari and eat at one of the restaurants along the beach. We picked one arbitrarily--they all looked good. On the menu was moussaka, another Greek traditional dish and something we'd never had. Now I knew it had eggplant in it and neither of us is fond of it but we were both game to try the dish. We ordered one to split in case we didn't like it and Greek salads on the side.

We should have ordered two. It was heavenly. I can't begin to tell you exactly what it tasted like. There was some mild cheese, a little eggplant, a sauce with meat (kind of like a Bolognese sauce) and it was baked like lasagna in a small casserole. Later, before leaving for the airport, we ordered moussaka again at a restaurant near our B&B but it wasn't quite as good. It was a little dry and didn't have the beautiful flavor of the earlier one.

AT 5:30 we checked out, thanked our hostess, Maria, again for taking such good care of us and with a small tear in my eye, we left for the airport. We would spend the night at the Athens airport hotel and fly home in the afternoon. It had been a wonderful three weeks exploring Spain, the Black Sea, and the paradise they call Santorini.

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