Sensational Santorini (Part 1)

IMG_1704 IMG_1698 IMG_1586Santorini is one of the most dramatic islands you will ever see. Pretty white houses line the rocky terraced terrain overlooking the magnificent blue water of the Aegean Sea and the huge caldera created by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. Its beauty and history have made it a huge tourist destination but, somehow, it manages to maintain its charm.

IMG_1573After tendering in from the ship and then meeting our driver for the day we made our way through the vast crowds to get the cable car to the top of  Thira. It was good to have our local helper, George with us to get us to the front of the extremely  long lines since we  had our appointments to make.  We certainly weren’t going to take the donkey ride up the mountain or walk in the over 90 degree heat as many others seemed to do. It was a short but stunning ride up to the top of  the main town of  Thira where we took in the views over the cliffside (while coping with the smell of donkey.)

We drove North from Thira to Domaine Sigalas winery in Oia where I was given a wonderful tasting and walk through the vineyards with the tasting room manager. Panayiota. She explained that the owner continues the island’s ancient winemaking traditions recognizing  the potential that Santorini’s Assyrtiko grape has to offer. Producing around 300, 000 bottles a year the Domaine produces wines from Assyrtiko, Aidani. Mandilaria, Mavrotragano and Athiri. It was interesting to see the unique pruning system that is prevalent in Santorini where the vine is trained into a wreath shape resembling a basket. This is important to protect the grapes from the very strong winds and hot sun. You can see vines like this all around the island.

IMG_1689IMG_1638IMG_1642Sitting under the grape vines, surrounded by the vineyards, I was able to not only sample a few  wines but was given some special island foods to eat along with them that included fava bean dip, white eggplant and local feta cheese. The Assyrtiko went so well with the goat feta. I loved the Vin Santo, their sweet wine made from Assyrtiko and Aidani. It was a really nice way                                           to get a taste of Santorini.

A surprise ending to that visit was to hold a little kitten that had appeared under one of the winery’s trucks a few days earlier. She becameIMG_1685 very snuggled in my neck and it was very hard to leave her behind. But, she’ll be taken care of well at the vineyard.

More to come tomorrow..

All the best,

Zita

 

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