Thursday, January 28, 2010

Savoring Santorini

How shall we warm our hearts in the cold of winter?

I noticed day after day of dreary gray was dampening my spirit.

Seeking an attitude adjustment, I try foraging through pantry shelves for something that will brighten my outlook.

Aha! A jar of thyme-flavored honey Ted and I toted home from the romantic Greek island of Santorini. I am, in a flash, transported to sun-splashed patios, whitewashed houses, and more than three hundred blue-domed churches.

Santorini in October—the perfect month to visit—has very few tourists and temperatures in the low 70s. As our ship, the Celebrity Solstice, entered the bay formed by the crater of an ancient volcano, the C-shaped arc of the island came into view. How fortunate to be there, and how excited we were to see, at long last, one of the top destinations on my bucket list.

Disembarking, we headed straight to the tiny town of Oia, the heart of the tourist trade, perched atop a 1000-foot peak on the northwest tip.

Bright bursts of color greeted us as we climbed cobblestone streets,

and friendly vendors crowded close to offer samples of sesame-coated roasted peanuts. So addictive!

Cliffside tavernas beckoned us to order traditional Greek dishes for lunch.

Every single step upward offered postcard vistas in every direction. No wonder Santorini is the most photographed of all the Greek Islands!

Jewelers, using good-natured banter and heaps of flattery, tried luring us into their shops, but our hearts were so full of the natural beauty surrounding us that no golden adornments could possibly compare. (Though I did linger a while in this shop called Woman’s Paradise.)

Around every corner, colorful shops tempted us with an array of natural sponges, pottery, olive oils and local honeys.

Hours later, before returning to the ship, we remembered we had a promise to keep. Our best friends at home insisted we taste an island specialty—tangy Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey and walnuts, Yum--what a combination!

Honey always tastes of the sun, don’t you think?

This local honey I carried home is made by bees who collect the nectar of wild thyme flowers, and will taste terrific with not only yogurt, but with all kinds of sharp cheeses.

As the sun began to set, Ted and I joined the long line leading into the entrance to the suspended cable cars that transport passengers all the way down along the steep cliff to the ship. Just being part of the line itself was a happening for the hundreds who saw the sky change to a thousand colors. We watched the whole island and its lighted shops and homes begin to glow like candles.

Such pure beauty made everyone giddy.

Now in my kitchen, spooning this delectable tangy/sweet combination into my mouth I marvel at how sensuous such memories can be.

Surely, the most enduring benefit of travel is bringing home not only photographs, but a myriad of jars, bags of treats, and spice blends.

What a gift, in wintertime, to revisit sun-drenched tastes of places we’ve been.

1 comment:

  1. Some lovely photos! Always nice to bring home items that remind us of a wonderful voyage...Greece is definitely on my list of places to visit!