Ekmek, Anyone? (Continued from Last Saturday)

Article excerpt

Byline: SATURNINO P. JAVIER, M.D.

Several days later, it was time to explore the islands of the Greece a" collectively called the Cyclades. There could be no better choice than the island of Santorini. The trip to the island is a six-hour ferry boat ride with two stops at the islands of Palmos and Naxos.

Santorini is one of the most southerly islands in the Cyclades, lying between Ios and Anafi, with an area of approximately a hundred sq km. Arriving at the Athinios, the only port in Santorini, one is immediately struck by the frenzied activity around a" the hundreds of tourists milling around the port, the number of parked tourist buses, backpackers reading their maps, bus drivers awaiting guests and transportation assistants with placards of guest names. But immediately upon arriving at the port, the arriving guest will learn instantly why Santorini is touted as the most valuable pearl of the Greek islands.

The island is semicircularly shaped with the port situated within a circular lagoon, the caldera. The cliffs overlook the caldera where Athinios is located. These steep cliffs on the western side of Santorini, ranging in height from 150 to 300 meters, exhibit a variegated and multi-hued appearance brought about by repeated eruptions of the volcano of Santorini.

The cliffs are crowned by the wondrous towns of Fira or Chora, the capital city, and the majestic village of Oia. Situated about 300 meters above the lagoon, the view of Fira with its predominantly white houses and spots of bright blue cupolas that adorn a few Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, crowning the cliffs that demonstrate the varied hues of black, grey, brown and taupe (occasionally interrupted by green vegetations) in contrast with the light blue sky and the deep blue sea make this truly a sight to behold.

A cool breeze of late summer greeted us in Santorini, surely explaining why the island has become a summer holiday resort for Greeks and other Europeans. The allure of Santorini is also mired in ancient history. Many historians have linked the legendary continent of Atlantis to this island. It is widely known that the island is a result of several volcanic eruptions of which the most destructive was the one in 1500 BC. The islet of Nea Kameni, where the crater of the volcano lies, still shows huge masses of lava rocks that ultimately hint at how the area must have looked in 1500 BC. …