Santorini 2

Santorini 2

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    nd tend to miss the pointg there and, the land-s not nearly as remark-

    view can compare tofrom the Santorini

    s. This is the big drawnsures the island is on

    obetrotters to-do list.is certainly true of the

    of manager Georgeotis, who came fromto holiday in Santoriniyears ago. Like thou-

    f travellers before them,l in love with the place.thousands of visitors,

    ecided that they wereo build their own hotel atf edge on the southern

    he volcano.Astarte Suites take full

    age of one of the islandspectacular views acrossdera to Thira and Oia.

    oom has its own privatelooking directly across

    ean to the caldera. Here,om the madding crowd,ct collection of exclusive

    eyries, popular withmooners.

    ts either well into theirges, or well rid of them,ke advantage of theinfinity pool, one of theon the island, as the

    weds can tend to spend aheir time indoors. Theytaking advantage of thecreature comforts pro-

    n each suite, including aJacuzzi, lit from above

    warovski crystal lighting.his way, a stay at the

    Suites can make guestsif they have the entiret their disposal. It is noe that within it has

    clocked up severaland is currently short-

    for the world travelas the best boutique

    n Greece. The service isy and relaxed and thesize adds to the overall

    feeling of exclusivitiy.On offer here is discreet and

    personal service, the perfectcombination of a beautiful loca-tion, relaxed atmosphere andboutique hotel chic. Its a temp-tation for travelers to spend allof their time here taking advan-tage of all the luxuries on offerbut Santorini offers far toomuch. A swift cocktail at thepool bar can steel you for anoth-er Greek adventure.

    Santorini is also the home ofGreek viniculture. Several cellartours are available but perhapsthe most entertaining one is thetour at Volcan Wines. Its verysimple and certainly isnt givingthe Napa Valley a run for its

    money. Nonetheless it has itsown charm, employing somescarecrows secreted in theunderground caves to showhow wine came to be grownhere.

    The windmills that populatethe Cyclades are a hidden clueto the fact that it sometimes gets

    windy here. The vines onSantorini are grown in a coil toprotect the grapes from the ele-ments. This has led to the islandenjoying a reputation as pro-ducing the best Greek winesavailable.

    Theyre probably not losingmuch sleep over it in France butthe reds supposedly better thanthe whites. One of its mostfamous exports is the dessert

    wine Vinsanto. At the cellar tourit is described as having theintense aromas of coffee,caramel, dried fruit, jam, raisinsand dried nuts. To a less sophis-ticated palate it tastes likecough mixture.

    Another stop on the itineraryis the ancient and now aban-doned old capital of Thira.More steps beckon whenexploring this ruined site com-plete with all the usual setpieces including amphitheatreand garrison. The views from

    the top are spectacular but itcould well be that the old capital

    was abandoned because peoplejust got fed up of the climb.

    The real architectural discov-ery on this island is the entiretown of Akrotiri. Only a recentdiscovery, similar to Pompeiithis is an entire town left aban-doned. The Greeks being some-

    what smarter, they didnt appearto wait for the actual eruptionand appeared to evacuate ingood time. The evidence ofMinoan civilisation they haveleft behind is genuinely aston-ishing.

    Tourists cannot visit Akrotirisince a glass roof covering thesite collapsed claiming the life

    of one visitor. There is no datefor when tourists will be wel-comed back.

    The choice finds from thesite however are all housed inthe museum in Thira. Even tothe most ancient-averse muse-um-dodgers, the exhibits arebreathtaking in their sophisti-cation. Huge urns, everydayhousehold pottery and even

    wall friezes are all on displaythat would not look entirelyout of place in a modern home,or in a gift shop around thecorner.

    It leaves visitors wonderinghow much has really changed inthe intervening five thousand

    years. But on an island such asthis, why would you need tochange?

    For the world weary, it is arelief to know that this island iseverything its cracked up to be.Its ranking among the mostbeautiful and romantic destina-tions on the globe is warranted.

    Visitors will leave with theirown postcard images ofCycladic sunsets imprinted ontheir memory forever. It mighteven prompt you to reach forthe history books. Just what didSaint Irene actually do to end upexiled here?

    TRAVEL FACTS

    syjet flies directly to Santorini three times a week. Prices from 40.99 (exc tax) one way.ts scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday www.easyjet.com

    tarte Suites www.astartesuites.gr

    rries leave from the Athenian port of Piraeus at least twice a d ay.Depending on the speed ofhip, the journey can take between 4.5 and 8 hours.L arger ships have cabins available. Forls of sailings see the Greek Travel Page www.gtp.grlcan Wines : www.volcanwines.gr

    Vothonas Wine Museum.Caldera.

    Thira.

    The Astarte Suites swimming pool. Below: one of the suites.

    i.