Walking on Santorini and Naxos was interesting in ways I had not expected. I had expected the beautiful sea views, the walking and the swimming, but not the reminders of the early inhabitants of the two islands which we came across on our walks.
On Santorini, the star was the prehistoric city at Akrotiri which had been a large and thriving settlement until it was completely covered in ash following the ‘big’ volcanic eruption about 3,500 years ago.
Parts of it have been dug out of the ash and the excavations have recently reopened to the public. It seems that the people and their valuables left before the final eruption, but there are many extraordinary items in the museum in Fira.
On Naxos there are the kouroi. These stone statues of men broke as they were being laboriously cut from the marble hills 2,500 years ago or more and were abandoned. They are big – very big. My favourite of the three was the one at Apollonas. At 10.7 m long and with feet as tall as a human being, it is enormous, wonderful and mysterious.
The kouros lay on the hillside just above the sheltered bay of Apollonas. We had reached the bay by walking downhill through the scrub from high in the mountains behind the village and when we had admired the kouros for long enough, Apollonas was perfect for those two other features of the trip – a swim and a visit to a taverna.