We awoke this morning to an amazing breakfast – sandwiches with fried eggplant, home-made cornbread with home-made jam, coffee, and banana pancakes; it was basically a feast.
While we were having breakfast our hire car was delivered. Its distinguishing feature is that there’s not really a single surface that’s not already scratched. That’s sort of reassuring, because there’s little chance of me doing further damage. We got in our scratch-mobile and braved the tiny, twisty road to go to Akrotiri.
Three thousand years ago Akrotiri was a thriving and sophisticated town. Houses had beautiful murals, hot and cold running water, and toilets. The hot water was, perhaps, a warning of a problem though because the geothermal activity which provided it also led to the volcano the town was built upon erupting. The eruption was loud enough to be heard in Egypt and caused crops to fail in China. Here, it buried the town of Akrotiri under 15m of compacted ash. In the last 50 years archaeologists have begun excavating the town and gaining insights into the lives of the ancient Minoans. All of which makes for an interesting visit.
Just round the headland from Akotiri is the famous Red Beach. While this beach is famous for being red, we found the whole thing, including the colour, pretty disappointing. You get to the beach via a tortuous little path, it’s incredibly crowded and dirty, and all the space is taken up with ratty and expensive sun-loungers. It didn’t help in the slightest that a gale was gusting all the rust coloured sand into our faces. That said, the water was clear and warm and a lovely blue colour so the swimming was great.
We debated having an ice-cream on the beach but really it just wasn’t pleasant enough to hang around. But back the other side of the headland we’d spotted a taverna by the water. We were going to stop for an ice-cream but ended up having a long, extended and quite wonderful meal sitting in the dappled sunlight and watching boats go by. It really was the perfect afternoon, exactly what we’d been dreaming of when we thought about coming to a Greek island.