La Ponta- Castle of Akrotiri -  traveling back in time

courtyard of the La Ponta castle
courtyard of the La Ponta castle

A real authentic and historically charged location on Santorini is La Ponta, located within a 13th century medieval venetian tower in the castle of Akrotiri.

 

 Two good friends of mine Yannis Pantazis (a passionate musician, composer and musical instrument maker)  and Argy Kakissis (a multi talented entrepreneur and visionary) were offered this watchtower in 2012. 

 

Argy Kakissis
Argy Kakissis

The story started in the tower four years when they privately funded the internal restoration of the tower and created a tsabouna workshop, a concert venue and a folk wind instrument exhibition (including Greek flutes and percussion instruments) The tower has been lovingly restored taking into consideration its authentic state and respecting this noted historic monument of the Greek ministry of culture. 

 

the exhibition hall
the exhibition hall

La Ponta is truly a magical place, located on top of the Akrotiri village, in the centre of a once fortified castle overlooking the  south and west coast of Santorini. La Ponta in the middle ages was one of five castles on the island constructed on top of hill to protect the islanders against the pirates. 

 

I spent quite some time especially the evenings at La Ponta attending the concerts organized during the summertime and the "sounds from the castle"  really made me feel like I had travelled back in time.

Before and after the concerts one may enjoy the view from high above and the peacefulness of this part of this island that is truly breathtaking. 

flutes and a tsabouna in the background
flutes and a tsabouna in the background

There are different "activities" that one can attend at la Ponta: 

1. Daily Tours,  a historical and musical presentation-

An interactive "musical journey" with various hand crafted wind and string instruments that explain the development of primitive instruments from the bone flute to the tsabouna.

The tours take place from 12.00-12.45h and 18.00 - 18.45h ( entrance 7 Euro) from 01.04. - 29.10.2016

2. Two different evening concerts take place five times a week, starting 23.05. - 29.10.2016, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays: 

 

"Odysseus returns" (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday), Yannis Pantazis, wind and string instruments and

"Notes of the centuries" (Tuesday, Friday), Yannis Pantazis, wind instruments  and Thanasis Kleopas, guitar, vocals.  Entrance 12 Euro.

The general entrance fee to enter La Ponta is free.

Yannis Pantazis in his workshop
Yannis Pantazis in his workshop

 La Ponta includes a workshop were Yannis constructs the tsabouna, the Greek folk wind instrument of the bagpipe family, as well as single blade reed flutes, various double flutes and the traditional cycladic percussion instrument, the doubaki, in various sizes.

 

These handmade musical instruments among other handpicked beautiful items are available for purchase at a small shop inside La Ponta.

Argy and Yanni really managed  to breathe new life into La Ponta with their never ending enthusiasm and their love towards music, history and culture.

 

Every little detail inside and around the castle

of Akrotiri proves their endless devotion for their venture.   

La Ponta filmed by a German documentary filmcrew
La Ponta filmed by a German documentary filmcrew

I highly recommend you visit this fascinating location and that applies to locals and non locals! 

 

Enjoy the peace, literally feel the passing of the time in La Ponta and let Argy and Yannis guide you through centuries of music and culture.  For more detailed information refer to the  website,

                                                                     http://www.laponta.gr/

 

and then again: don' forget to comment on my post (any comments as well in Greek or German, my motherlanguage, are very welcome) and please share this content with your online community.

 

See you soon.

 

Catrin Günther

 


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Santorini - spring is in the air

red poppy field in Pirgos
red poppy field in Pirgos

"It was one of these "April" days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade" Charles Dickens.

 

This is exactly how Santorini feels to me these days, actually an oxymoron because Santorini is a dry, rough and vulcanic island.  The nickname we, local expats gave to Santorini indicates this fact : "The rock".

 

But still,  Santorini has got spring, it lasts only for a short time, not more than a month, but as short as spring is on Santorini as captivating and beautiful it is.

 

Flowers are blooming everywhere and one can see myriads of colors and species of spring flowers, if only you have the eyes to see them...let me guide you through "springtime on the rock" with the following captures:

 

 

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wintertime on santorini-places to eat and drink

Firostefani located at the Santorini Caldera
Firostefani, golden hour

 Good and delicious food is one of the most crucial topics when on holiday, so if you are planning to visit Santorini in winter or if you in Santorini right now then my feature on the topic  "what to do in winter on Santorini" or to be more precise

"where to eat and drink on Santorini                                                                 in winter" will interest you for sure. 

traditional Greek grill tavern
kritikos tavern, Mesaria, Evangelia and Katarina

In the following I will focus on for more spots (see also my last blog concerning this topic), that work all (or almost all) winter to offer food and hospitality to the islanders and to the visitors of Santorini, most of these places exist for many years.

 

 

We start with Kritikos (click for the link)  a place that I personally remember since 1995, when I first visited Santorini. 

Kritikos is a must go for meat and grilled, "hearty" food lovers and for people who fancy the typical, "old-style" Greek grill-tavern. It is run by a Cretan family (as the name says "The Cretan" ) on the main street from Mesaria to Kamari to your left hand side after a gasoline station. 

Katharina, the daughter of the owners serves, always with a smile on her face, huge portions of almost any kind of grilled meat, besides  other classical Greek tavern food like french fries, "choriatiki salata" - Greek mixed salad, Tzatziki, Horta (boiled greens) Fava (split pea mush/pulp) and many more. In winter it works as well as a take away when locals pass by to get some grilled meat for home. As already mentioned the portions are huge and quite reasonable priced.

 

 

restaurant in exo gonia, close to kamari
aroma avlis, exo gonia

Further down on the same side of the central road to Kamari is located another fabulous place to lunch or dine,  Aroma Avlis (click for the link), a  restaurant connected to a winery.  The restaurant opens at 13h00 until midnight and the winery can be visited for wine tasting from 11h00 onwards.

 

The restaurant offers excellent local and Mediterranean food combined with the local Santorinian wine.  It has a modern, spacious interior with lots of white elements and a big terrace enclosed from where you have got a marvellous view  over the vineyards to the sea. 

Recommended: the local Fava hummus, white eggplant starters and the pork fillet with smoked cheese.

 

We still stay on the same central road to Kamari and about 1, 5 km further down the street and turn right in a long curve to the village Mesa Gonia.

 

Before entering the village we see a tavern or to call it with the Greek name a Kantina (a local inn) on your right hand side. This local hangout is called "Xartiri", (click for the link) it exists since many years, run by two very friendly and hospitable brothers Kosta and Vassili. 

Since it is not directly located on the main road and does not advertise very much it is a real local place.  A cosy, traditional authentic spot, very much visited by locals, who might just pass by for a glass of wine or a coffee. Xartiri offers a simple and delicious menu.

Kosta and Vassili have got usually two  different "mageirefta" (home cooked food)  plates, this can be a typical Greek stew or stuffed vegetables. Further on there is fresh fish, for example grilled marides (small deep-fried fish that can be eaten whole) and a variety of starters like tzaztiki, fried tomato burgers (tomatokeftedes), stuffed wine leaves, olives etc. 

fishtavern at the Perivolos Beach
the nets, ta duxtia, Perivolos

If you find yourself by any chance on the south coast then there is one more must go at the beach of Perivolos and Perissa. The restaurant I would like to mention to you was one of the oldest fish taverns on the island. I visited the place in 1995  for the first time and in fact it was back then the only place I can recall on the whole southcoast to eat and drink. When I got to know "The Nets" - "Ta duxtia" (click for the link)  it  existed already several years, and has been in operation for almost 30 years. Its a fabulous fish tavern, situated at the Agios Giorgos Beach in Perivolos, which means sea view is included. It is a large place, but still in summer a reservation is obligatory. As one of the oldest fish tavern on “The Rock , "The Nets" represents good quality food as well as excellent. Being a fish tavern its highly advisable to  eat fresh grilled  fish there or any other kind of seafood.  The Santorini Salad, smoked eggplant, Santorinian fava and a lot more are very delicious plates as well. 

Megalochori, a village in the centre of Santorini
early morning in Megalochori

We "islanders" are almost at the end of our quiet time of the year and you now have all the information you need to enjoy the peace of a Santorinian winter.  

The Santorinians are still preparing for the season 2016 but one more month and the island starts to work full on again.  We just welcomed these days our second cruise boat of the season 2016 on the island.

 

I’ll be back soon with a new topic:  the island during springtime with some lovely spring flora pics. 

Hang in there.

 

Catrin Günther 

 

 


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santorini mou-wintertime on santorini

Firostefani, golden hour
Firostefani, golden hour

 Due to the off-season in winter, most of the places are closed. For us living on the "Rock" all year long, having a lot of free time on our hands in winter it is not always easy to find a cool, decent location to attend.  Actually the spots which are open all year are very much appreciated. 

 

So let’s give you some insights into our preferable lunch-, dinner and/or coffee-, wine-tasting spots.  

All of the following are authentic places, some of them running for years:

 

 

There is "To steki tou psara" at the Vlychada port in the South of the island. It is a small authentic fishing tavern inside the sailing port of Vlychada, run by Roula and her family. Existing seven years, they are very busy all year round. In this tavern one can find fishermen drinking their frappe (cold coffee), next to locals on Sundays during lunchtime and people from all over the world in summer. Roula serves typical local food, fish, salads, seafood etc.  The small fried fish are delicious (marides in Greek), you eat them in one piece including the tail and head or fried squid (kalamari tiganito). Open from noon until evening. 

 

           

 Another spot you should put on your  "must-do-list" is the "Metaxi mas" (click the website-link). It is located in Exo Gonia between Pyrgos and Kamari. A classical Greek tavern run by two brothers - Kosta and Dimitri - it is  "the place" for many years, a  popular location well visited by locals and  tourists and for good reasons. A real authentic place for years, keeping its high level of quality food, friendliness and authentic atmosphere. There are some tables inside a small vaulted traditional house and on the outside on a terrace overlooking the village of Exo Gonia and Kamari down at the bottom of the hill. 

My favorite dish:  asparagus in cream sauce, revithia with kapnisti pe- strofa (chickpeas with smoked trout) or arpaki (smoked pork), yummie:-). 

 

In summer a reservation for a table is absolutely compulsory. 

 

Perissa Beach
Perissa Beach

If you are looking for a great spot at the seaside for your coffee or any other beverages and/or a light snack, there are (among others) two preferable choices open right now on the island. Both are located at the most popular beach called Perissa at the one end and  Perivolos at the other end,  on the south coast of Santorin. 

 

Right next to the mountain in Perissa "The Demilmar" (click the website-link) is a great spot since several years, winter and summer for having coffee or any other beverage and food right at the shore with the sea in front of you. It provides an airy and light location with a very spacious inside and outside area as well as comfortable chairs, even in winter, to sit on the beach. When I passed by this week to take some pictures there were already quite some people enjoying the sun staying on sun chairs right on the beach. Open every day,

 

Caldera, view from Santo Wines Winery
Caldera, view from Santo Wines Winery

The second hangout that I recommend is "Forty One, 41" ( to see the facebookpage click the link)  at the exact other end of the longest beach of Santorini, in Perivolos. The building hosting this place is an old, renewed tomato factory facing the shore. Forty one is a beach bar, lounge and a restaurant, but what makes me want to mention this place to you is that this winter there is live music every Sunday and a lot of local Greeks are combining their Sunday afternoon stroll with some food down at the Perissa-Perivolos Beach and later on taking some drinks in Forty One and listening to live music. Open every day.

 

And at last a place for tasting some of the delicious local wines, or just having something to drink and while doing so sitting right at the rim of the Caldera. It is the "Santo Wines Winery", (for the website click the link)  the biggest winery and agricultural association of the island. This spot is open in winter for wine tasting or soft drinks, coffees etc. which means it works in winter as a cafeteria during the day until 19h00 in the evening. There is a shop too, where u can buy local products; or you might just enjoy the magnificent view from their terrace. It is located on top of the Caldera (the steep volcanic rim) close to Pyrgos and on clear days you can even see the surrounding islands of Santorini. A great spot as well for photographing the sunset!

view to Emborio and the Profitis Ilias
view to Emborio and the Profitis Ilias

More open spots will come up in my next blog. 

 

In any case as the season starts soon, in fact the first cruise ship stopped by Santorini last Sunday, thus more places reopen day by day. 

 

See you soon and Kali Sarakosti- Good Lent,  a prayer the Greeks say around this time of the year since for them the period of fasting for Easter begins now.  In one of my next blogs I will tell you   "everything" about the Greek Easter (the most important religious holiday in Greece and truly amazing to celebrate in the traditional way).

 

 

Mesaria, the village, where I live.
Mesaria, the village, where I live.

Catrin Günther

 


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santorini mou-wintertime on santorini

Fira, golden hour
Fira, golden hour

 Almost every year Santorini is elected as one of the most beautiful islands in the world by various travel magazines ; in 2015 TripAdvisor ranked Santorini as No. 1 in Europe, in their Travelers’ Choice Islands, and Nr. 4 on the "top-islands-list" in the world.  It is truly a unique and magic place, not only due to its volcanic history and very special morphology.

       

About 2 million tourists visit the island every summer. Last year 790.000 guests came by cruiseships alone to visit the island during the summer season.

 

The basic summer season starts in May and ends in October. The cruise ship season stretches from the beginning of April until the end of November. In summer Santorini is more (in July and August) or less, (May, June, September, October) busy. Peak season is in August and to be honest with you, if you can avoid Santorini in August, you better do so. The traffic and crowds of people everywhere can be pretty overwhelming and tiring during this month. Having said that, August is the month when, usually, a lot of Greeks travel to the islands, therefore most of the local and cultural events take place during this period. You can attend concerts of well known Greek singers, international DJs play in several of the local clubs, and exhibitions and interesting cultural events of all kinds are held during this time.

       

So, August is a great time for those of you looking for a cultural experience, but best avoided for those of you who are looking for peace and quiet. 

 

at the rim of the Caldera
at the rim of the Caldera

Santorini has an off season from November until April; time for us islanders to relax and recharge our batteries ready for the following season of six months non-stop work.

       

Living in Santorini, both summer and winter, I can highly recommend visiting the island during the wintertime as there are few people, infact mostly only locals.

Winter is a relaxed time on the "Rock", you get a glimpse of the original Santorini and a chance to be a part of the real Greek lifestyle. Although it is not exactly the time for swimming and laying all day on the beach you can still definitely work on your suntan as the average sunshine-hours in winter are 6-7 hours a day. The weather until Christmas is usually good, mostly sunny, of course lower temperatures (around 14 degrees celsius or 57 fahrenheit) but there is not much rainfall. January and February are wetter months (a 60% possibility of rain) a bit colder (around 50 fahrenheit, 10 degrees celsius) but then again in March and April temperatures rise and rainfall becomes less. In general the weather in winter changes fast: in the morning it might be grey, around noontime the wind has blown away most of the clouds and in the afternoon the sun is fully out. By the way ideal conditions (fast weather and light changes) for the photographers among you.

 

Crete visible on a clear day
Crete visible on a clear day

The island in winter is easy to approach by plane via Athens or by a daily ferry boat from Piraeus port.

 

So, imagine you are on the island, it's wintertime, now what are you going to do?

 

There is really plenty of things to do, enough to spend several days on the "Rock" without ever getting bored.

 

          Santorini has got two archaeological sites; a Minoan excavation site in Akrotiri and a Dorian excavation site above Kamari, on Mesa Vouno. Both are open daily in winter, from 8h – 15h, except Mondays. Speaking of the excavation site on top of Mesa Vouno; in winter you are allowed to drive up with your car, although it is also a good idea to leave your car at the bottom and take a hike up to the top. There is the main winding road leading uphill or parallel to it on your right hand side (right after the last hotel on the right) a small walking path along the hill, where you pass a little church nestled in the huge rocks of Profitis Elias. Right next to the church of Zoodochos Pigi (Life-giving-spring) as the name indicates there is a cave with natural springs of drinkable water.

view from Mesa Vouno
view from Mesa Vouno

Along with the two excavation sites are two museums:

the Archaeological museum and the Prehistoric museum located in Fira. The Archaeological museum is open 8-15h , closed on Mondays and the Prehistoric Museum is open daily from 8-15 except Tuesdays.

 

Santorini is a great spot for walking and hiking particularly in wintertime due to its lower temperatures, with many walking paths to be explored.

 

hiking trail to Oia
hiking trail to Oia

My first suggestion is the hike from Fira to Oia (depending on your physical condition and your walking speed 2-4 hours) You follow a narrow path along the rim of the Caldera with the most spectacular views imaginable ( good hiking shoes are necessary and don't forget your camera). Most people start walking from Fira (or Imerovigli, two more bus-stops from Fira, the central bus station), ending up in Oia and take the local bus back (have a look at the local bus schedule KTEL before you start.

 

Emborio, Kasteli
Emborio, Kasteli

Another beautiful excursion is the path leading from Pirgos to Emboreio village.

     To reach the entrance of this path you follow the main road of Pirgos village, en route to Profitis Elias, and before the street inclines there is a small road turning right down to the old donkey path to Emborio. The path leads you down, in the direction of the south coast, through the fields parallel to the bottom part of Profitis Elias. The excursion will take about 1 or 1,5 h until you reach the old centre of Emborio village: A picturesque fortress, reminding me of a dollshouse, with its narrow alleyways, small tunnels and small village houses almost "glued" to each other. Stroll through this ancient part of the village called Kasteli, with its typical, cycladic, cubistic architecture.

 

Right now I can see myself getting carried away, unable to stop "blahblahing". I find it kind of difficult not to, because I know this place so very well and I am always keen on giving all the real, valuable information to you guys.

      So to cut this long story short I will conclude the first part of my "Wintertime in Santorini" blog. Part two will deal with the very important topic of food, winetasting, coffeespots and local hangouts. Give me a bit of preparation time for the second part and I will be back soon.

      Whoever is reading my blog... any note, any comment, any criticisms and any suggestions are very welcome. I am a newbie in blogging and I am just " wondering about the other side", about your opinion, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 Catrin Günther


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laundry, chair, Oia, Santorini

Welcome to my photography website. I am very happy to have you here with me.

 

Elliott Erwitt said: "Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them"  So I'd like you to get to know my way of seeing "things", seeing life.

 

My photography focuses on the beauty of nature , on landscapes, waterscapes, close-ups, abstracts and black and whites and in particular on Santorini, my adopted home.

 

My first blog about Santorini with real insider information about this gem in the Aegean Sea is online, have a look.  

 

 

 

 

Herzlich willkommen auf meiner Photographie Website, schön, daß Ihr bei mir vorbeischaut und hoffentlich etwas verweilt.

 

Elliott Erwitt sagte: "Photographie ist eine Kunst der Beobachtung. Es hat nicht viel zu tun mit den Dingen, die du siehst als viel mehr mit der Art und Weise, wie du sie siehst."  In diesem Sinne lade ich Euch ein,

meine "Sichtweise" der Dinge, des Lebens kennen zu lernen. 

    Mein photographischer Schwerpunkt liegt auf der Schönheit der Natur, auf Landschaften, Wasserlandschaften, Nahaufnahmen, Abstraktem, Schwarz- und Weiß Photographie und insbesondere auf Santorin, meiner zweiten Heimat. 

 

Ab sofort ist mein erster englischsprachiger Blog über Santorin online. Er enthält viele Informationen über dieses wunderschöne Eiland in der Ägäis aus der Sicht einer fast "Einheimischen".  Sie können gerne Kommentare, Fragen und Anregungen auf deutsch schreiben und Sie erhalten natürlich eine deutsche Antwort von mir

 

 



landscape. waterscape. nature. travel. close up/abstract. santorini . golden hour. sunset. black and whites. doors. chairs. phototour santorini. prints. prints on canvas. landschaft. wasserlandschaften. reisen. nahaufnahme/abstraktes. santorin. blaue stunde. sonnenuntergang. schwarz-weiss. türen. stühle. fototour santorin. drucke. fotoleinwand. santorini blog