Santorini is what’s left of a caldera and is the largest one in the word. In 1539, there was a massive eruption and the caldera blew out one side of itself, letting in water. The island is shape like a misshaped ‘c’ Most of the towns cling to the side of the caldera walls, looking more like snow than buildings.
Oia is at the northern tip of the island and is ‘the’ village you see when you think of Greece with its white buildings and blue roofs. Sadly, because the Norwegian Spirit with its 2,000+ passengers, things were very crowded. I couldn’t even imagine it with six or seven cruises in port. We had an hour to poke around, do a little shopping, meet some of the locals, and to take photos. There are few cars and most of the goods are transported around town by donkeys, the patron saint of the island, it would seem.
Then we headed to the Santo Winery for a tasting of their three wines. It’s very interesting because the soil is so loose, the vines are trained to grow in a basket shape, very low to the ground. What we thought were open pastures with low brush were actually vineyards. The wine reminded me a lot of the type produced in Hawaii. The volcanic soil gives the wine an acid flavor. I liked both the red and the white as they were both very dry. The sweet wine (created by spreading the grapes out and letting them dry in the sun for a few days) had the taste of concentrated raisins and was much too sweet for me.
Then we went to Akrotiri, a market and winery, where we met Maria. She was the owner and was going to be leading our cooking tour. The first thing she did was make us wash our hands – excellent. I liked her from the get-go. We went to the wine cellar, which was set up with two long tables.
We divided into groups and some of us grated cucumber, others, quartered or halved tomatoes. I’m not going to remember the Greek names for these dishes, so I will nearly describe them. We made a dip with yogurt, cucumber, raw garlic and a little salt and pepper and a salad of tomatoes, caper berries, caper leaves, and goat cheese, drizzled with olive oil. Then we did a tomato fritter, onion, tomatoes, basil and spearmint leaves, then flour was added until it resembled a cookie dough. Finally we did a dish called Fava Married. They have a fava bean here, which is more like a yellow lentil. It is cooked with three parts of water, one part fava, and some salt. Once it has become paste like, it is considered the bride. The groom is roughly chopped raw onions and to the mix we add love – olive oil.
We moved to Maria’s kitchen and fried off the fritters and Maria made me responsible for making the Fava Married, so I sautéed the onions in olive oil until they were golden. Then I added the fava mixture to it and mixed them together. It was very tasty and just being able to do that bit of cooking felt so freaking good! :D *yay!*
We carried everything, include a pork roast and potatoes, back to the wine cellars and proceeded to stuff our faces silly. It was all so great. Afterwards, there was a little time to purchase something in her shop and then it was onto Fira at the southern end of the island. I dozed a little on the ride back and I was glad I had. The walk from the bus to the cable cars was really tough and then we had to stand in line for 45 minutes for our five minute trip down the peak to the tenders waiting below. The other options were 589 stairs or a donkey.
Waiting in that line was probably the worst of the day. It was long and confusing, people kept trying to butt in and there was a sense of animosity between the two cruise lines passengers. Happily we made it back to the ship, where TBG quickly dropped his load (and it was a massive one) and laid down. We was out before I had a chance to get undressed for my shower.
See this was just the start of our long day. At 5:30, we are heading up to Sabatini’s for our Cruise Critic dinner – there is a group of ten of us meeting up. Then, at seven, there was a special party for the top 40 cruises on the ship, of which we are two. This just has a very long day written all over it.
We got to Sabatini’s with a minute to spare and a couple of our CC friends were already there (Cruiser Bill and Cruiser Diane). We chatted with them as the restaurant wasn’t open quite yet. Once open, the waiter showed us to a lovely table for ten set in the back of the restaurant with a panoramic view of the night. It was so lovely! Two of our party didn’t show and I suspect it’s because Derrick’s knee is bad. We saw them for the first few days in the buffet and then nothing. He was struggling with it after our first stop because of the climbing… and that was nothing compared to what was to come.
Because we’d eaten late, we were careful with our choices. TBG started with prawns over white beans and black truffles and his entrée was manicotti (spinach, ricotta and parsley in a rich marinara). I had a baked artichoke soufflé that was to die for and the manicotti, but as this is Sabatini’s, you don’t get away with just that. We were brought prosciutto on black sesame crackers and olives, deep fried calamari that was incredible and breads that were hard to resist. I had picked up two bottles of wine for the Sailaway party, but didn’t bring, so I gave those to the table and they waved our corkage fee. We also had a free dinner in one of the specialty restaurants (Sabatini’s has a $29 pp charge and the Steakhouse has a $35 pp fee) as a gift from AAA, so we got that waved as well.
We talked and laughed and got to know each other a bit better until it was time for us to go. We signed off on everything and off we headed for the Captain’s party fifteen minutes late. This has been only the second time we’ve been to a ‘Forty Most Traveled’ and so we wanted to put in an appearance. By arriving late, we escaped the having our photo with the Captain, not a bad thing. We immediately found our friends, Bruce and Judy and were instantly given a beverage. There was an open bar, but I’d had some wine, so I thought I’d just stick with the champagne. Apparently, that’s what gave me a headache the first couple of nights. Anyhow, there were all sorts of wonderful apps that I only looked at because I was so stuffed.
It was nice to sit and chat with Bruce and Judy as we hadn’t seen them since the second day. The Cruise Director came over and we chatted with him and mentioned Sammy. Then we told him our first cruise was on the Sky – that was his first ship, so we exchanged notes – then I asked, “Is it true that the Pacific will be put into dry dock next year, then sent to Alaska for 2020 and he confirmed it. We can sign up on the 13th, so the first thing we will do is call Mike and Rose when we get home and snag a cruise on her for 2020. If anything gave me a glad heart yesterday, it was that. I don’t know what this means for her the rest of the time, but we will see. I had once said the only way I’d go back to Alaska would be aboard the Pacific. Now I am going to have that chance.
We got back to our cabin to discover that our next tour had been cancelled due to a lack of participants, boo, hiss… it was another wine/cooking class, this time in Italy. We just can’t win when it comes to cooking in Italy. Oh well, I’m sure we will find something to do in Sicily. Tomorrow is Athens – hmm, what shall we do? :D
Sweet dreams, all!