Thursday, my last day on Santorini was archeology day. In the morning I want to the small museum in Fira. It holds the treasures found on the island, mostly from the excavations of the ruined town of Akrotiri near the southern tip of the island.
Akrotiri was a thriving centre of trade and commerce in the first part of the 17th century BC. It had been levelled several times by earthquakes and rebuilt but the huge volcanic eruption around 1630 BC covered it deep in ash and it was abandoned. The excavations have uncovered ceramics, metal work and frescos that are now in the museum. It was first thought to be an example of the Minoan culture originating in Crete, but is now thought to be distinct. We don’t know a lot about the culture and history, the writing has not been deciphered, but the artifacts are beautiful.
In the afternoon I took a bus to Akrotiri. It is big and to preserve the ongoing excavations, it is under three acres of roof.
Thursday evening I traveled by ferry to Crete. Worst ferry trip of my life. HIgh winds and heavy seas on a high-speed catamaran. Perhaps better than having the sailing cancelled, many sailings were cancelled that day, but a very rough trip. Many people were sick, some fell, it was very quiet as everyone was at least uncomfortable if not afraid. The crew was excellent. They worked furiously to get unloaded and loaded with a rocking ship and a gangway that bounced up and down and rocked side to side along the dock. One elderly man fell on the gangway getting off and was so angry he punched the crew member who helped him up but they took it in stride. They grabbed heavy suitcases from passengers, ran them along the gangway, then assisted the people. Once underway, they made sure everyone had a sick bag or two, kept everyone in their seats, picked up those who fell because they didn’t remain seated and cheerfully cleaned up the mess from those who didn’t reach the sick bag in time. Two hours of controlled chaos. While loading I waited until everyone else was on board and had stowed their luggage before I tried to stow my bike and a crew member showed me where to put it inside. Glad he did as the salt spray was intense. The ferry arrived and hour late at Santorini and by the time we reached Crete we were two hours late.
Today I had a quiet day in busy Iraklio, the main city in Crete. Bought a detailed map of the island, walked the city, took some time to chill out after the intense ferry ride. Tomorrow I’m off for a five day tour of part of the island, then an overnight ferry to Piraeus, the port near Athens.