Part IV: O Canada, Our Home and Native Land

Friday, 28 June 2013

Since moving abroad, it's become blatantly obvious how little people know about our vast and awesome country.  We're often mistaken for our Southern neighbours and while we have a lot in common, we most definitely have our own unique culture.

I've teamed up with some of my favourite Canadian bloggers, expats and travellers to share with you some things that are distinctly Canadian.
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From Melissa...


The community of St. Jacobs is located in southwest Ontario, just north of Waterloo in Woolwich Township, Waterloo Region.  It is a tiny village with a Mennonite heritage and is a popular tourist destination - for those who know about it.

The village feel and quaint shops showcasing local art and homemade products is reason enough to make a stop off here if you are in the area.  Besides the shops there is a farmer’s market and The Millrace Footpath, a recreational trail that forms part of the Trans Canada Trail (known as the world's longest network of recreational trails).


'The Bay' (slang for The Hudson's Bay Company)

This company is completely and totally quintesstial Canadian, and - fun fact - it's the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world (thank you Wikipedia.)  It started off as a fur trading business in the 1600s and today is a full-fledged retail store.

My favourite part about it?  The HBC Collection brand.  Maybe it's because I don't live there anymore but my heart melts when I see anything with a blue-yellow-green-red stripe combo.  If I had it my way, my room would be littered with this pattern, starting with this blanket, these mitts, this bear... I think you get the point.  And, if I owned this, then my life would probably be complete.

Lots of people also tend to buy products from it's Olympic Collection and I may or  may not have grabbed a pair of these bad boys to rep' my homeland will travelling later this summer :)
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Melissa is a current Canadian expat in London.  Born in Jamaica, growing up in Toronto and travelling from a young age, she's constantly exploring the world and inspiring wanderlust amongst her readers as well as sharing some cool, lesser-known things to do in the UK.

Lauren is a Canadian export who has been studying towards a Masters in PR in Los Angeles, California.  If that wasn't cool enough, she packed up and crossed the Atlantic for a summer in London, England.  She has travelled fairly extensively, loves taking beautiful photos and trying new restaurants.

A Stay at the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace in Versailles

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


When I began looking into staying in the town of Versailles for my 30th birthday celebration and I happened to stumble upon a Waldorf Astoria hotel located on the edge of the palace grounds, I was sold.  

The setting was perfect, right on the edge of town quite literally touching the palace gardens and set amongst the trees had us feeling like we could be staying in the French countryside yet still a short stroll into the heart of the town.  The hotel itself boasts quite an interesting story - built in the early 1900's, it was later used as a hospital in WWI but more notably, on May 7, 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was dictated in the reception salon before being signed several days later in the Hall of Mirrors at Chateau Versailles.  The Trianon Palace has welcomed Queen Elizabeth II as well as many other well known guests and currently houses a Gordon Ramsay restaurant possessing two Michelin stars.

The entire property was luxurious and every element from the marble floors to the silver spout in the bathtub was polished to perfection.  

Our room was huge by Parisian standards.  Located on the 4th floor in a corner suite with views of Chateau Versailles from both the bedroom and the bathroom, we slumbered in style.  I'm certain there are some apartments in Paris smaller than the bathroom with it's elaborately tiled floor, double vanity, soaking bathtub, separate shower and WC and as if that wasn't enough, heated floors, plush towels and Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.

There are certainly some perks to staying at a luxurious property.  The service is unbeatable - nothing is off the table and you're made to feel that no request would be turned down.  The concierge is reputable and knowledgeable and will gladly take care of anything you ask promptly and professionally.  The in house food and drink are top notch and you're surrounded by the finest amenities one could ask for in accommodation.

Obviously, I'm a fan but even I can't deny there are a few downsides.  The nightly rate is extravagant and the costs don't stop there.  Food and drinks will be pricey and in our experience, the nicer the hotel, the more exorbitant the internet fees.  (At the Trianon Palace it was a whopping 25€ per day, per device.)  

Regardless of that, this was a no holds barred celebratory trip and despite having stayed in a few fairly nice hotels, the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace was definitely the most luxe.  It was worth every cent and completely worthy of a 30th birthday fête.
The view from our room
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Part III: O Canada, Our Home and Native Land

Monday, 24 June 2013

Since moving abroad, it's become blatantly obvious how little people know about our vast and awesome country.

The international community often assumes that we must be just like the United States and while we gladly share more than just a border, nothing makes a Canadian angrier than being told we're practically American.  (After all, you wouldn't tell a Norwegian they're no different than a Swede or a Scot that they have no culture apart from England.)  We know that we don't do a great job of shouting our accomplishments out to the rest of the world but don't let our quietness fool you, we are fiercely proud of our country.

Over the next few weeks, I've teamed up with some of my favourite Canadian bloggers, expats and travellers to share with you some things that are distinctly Canadian.

In case you missed them... PART I and PART II.

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My absolute favourite travel show, Departures, may have ended in 2010 but it's beautiful cinematography sticks with me years later.  The two hosts, Justin and Scott, along with their videographer friend, Andre, travel the globe, featuring authentic and interesting experiences from Canada, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Russia, Ethiopia, Mongolia and many more.  For me, it's more than just another travel show, it's an art.  Originally airing in Canada on OLN, I've seen it all over the world thanks to National Geographic picking it up.

I'm looking forward to seeing Scott & Andre's new 13 part documentary, Descending, which premiered in 2012 on OLN.  For those of you not in Canada, you can check out their YouTube channel here.


Jeanie: Hello, my large rodent friend.
Beaver: Hi (wearing a red and black checked jacket, and a green John Deere hat.)
Jeanie: Thanks for agreeing to meet with me today, I really appreciate it. 
Beaver: No problem, this isn’t going to take long is it? I’m plenty busy (sucking on his teeth, pssssssft.)
Jeanie: No, no. Just a few quick questions.
Beaver: Okay, let’s get to it.

Jeanie: Well...how do you feel about being the reason that Canada became a nation?
Beaver: I don’t think about it in my day to day life, you know. I’m just a little beaver trying to raise a family and build a nice home. I don’t feel overly popular these days, although I guess in the 17th century people couldn’t get enough of me (pssssssssft.)
Jeanie: It’s true, European men were all sorts of nutso for the felted hat.
Beaver: My fur made the best felt! Take off my think coarse guard hairs and underneath is soft underfur just waiting to be pressed into a fashionable hat. (pulls out a toothpick and sticks it in his mouth)
Beaver: Next question! (toothpick goes flying)

Jeanie: How did this all transpire...your nearly two hundred years of fame?
Beaver: My cousins in Europe went extinct because of the need for beaver furs; over hunted, eh? A French merchant heard that beaver pelts were being found in North America. Samuel Champlain was sent from France and he realized the business opportunities quickly.
Jeanie: Ah, the French and their fashion.
Beaver: No doubt, eh? As always, the Brits were right on their tails, trying to get a piece of that there action.
Jeanie: As they are...
Beaver: Right so...
Jeanie: Errrrrrm...can I interrupt?
Beaver: (raised eyebrow)
Jeanie: Weren’t the First Nations People involved somehow? What was their take on it all?
Beaver: Oh, sorry about that! I totally forgot about them. 
Jeanie: Seems a common problem.
Beaver: Yeah well...of course the First Nations people were the ones who actually did the trapping of the animals. They knew the land and were very skilled at catching animals. They would trade the furs for European goods that made life easier; tin pots, knives, blankets, traps and guns. Of course, liquor was also a high commodity in the later years.
Jeanie: Let’s leave that one alone...seems a touchy subject.
Beaver: Sure, whatever you like. (leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest)

Jeanie: .....
Beaver: ......
Jeanie: So....that’s it?
Beaver: In a nutshell. I mean, the fur trade slowly spread across the country from east to west. There were complications along the way, other resources found, the French and the English continued to fight for control, more settlers came from around the world. (tipping his hat back by pushing up on the brim with one finger)
Jeanie: Thanks for talking to me today.
Beaver: No problem, mind if I get going? (standing up and pushing his chair back with a scrape) I’m getting a little long in the tooth.

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Jeanie hails from Northern Alberta and after a couple of years teaching in Singapore, she has repatriated and reclaimed her spot amongst the oversized pick up trucks in the small oil city she previously called home.  An avid traveller, she's visited places from Bhutan to Cuba to China to Australia.  She's also a good friend of mine and hopped on over to Europe to galavant around Norway with me!



Turning 30

Friday, 21 June 2013






A 30th birthday seems like a momentous occasion.

I had honestly expected that I would dread it - that as it approached I'd start seeing my life pass before my eyes, frantically calculating whether or not I'd have accomplished everything I thought I would by 30.  I figured my birthday would be passed mourning the loss of my twenties.

In actuality, none of that happened.  I didn't dread 30 at all; in fact, I was sort of looking forward to it.  My twenties were great - filled with change and aspirations, uncertainty and fun.  There were also stresses as I lived pay cheque to pay cheque paying down my student loans and a lot of time wondering if I had chosen the right path for myself.  By my late-twenties, I had sort of let that all go.  Things came together and those that didn't weren't a big deal.  I was more relaxed yet more confident in myself than I had ever been.  So with that, I gladly bid farewell to that decade, ready to welcome another.

I decided much earlier in the year that I would celebrate 30 as opposed to mourn 20 and living in Europe meant there was no better way than jetting off elsewhere for the occasion.  I pondered locations and experiences but ultimately decided I wanted a relaxed yet luxurious getaway, just the two of us.  I didn't want to feel like we were 'traveling' yet I wanted to see something new.  Thus, Versailles became the frontrunner.

I've been to Paris twice before and both times missed Versailles for one reason or another and while we wanted to visit the palace, I didn't want to be in bustling Paris.  I had never heard of anyone staying in the town of Versailles itself but upon further research, it seemed like the perfect decision.

We stayed in an ultra-luxurious hotel, we visited the palace, wandered the stunning gardens, dined in the quaint centre of town and I felt completely pampered throughout.  Due to Joe's business trip, we had to celebrate a couple of days in advance but he surprised me with champagne and flowers delivered to our room and dinner reservations in town as well as a brand new wide angle lens for my SLR.

For someone who often doesn't make a big deal out of birthdays, this was completely extravagant yet so perfect.

(PS. My 29th Birthday in Gabon)

Rogaland Real Estate Dreams

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I've always been interested in real estate.  The TV hardly leaves HGTV when I spend time in Canada as I watch marathons of House Hunters, Income Property and Selling New York.  I love getting to peek inside the homes of others and daydream about my own multimillion dollar property, hiring Jeff Lewis to design and decorate my entire remodel.  Of course, it's all just dreaming.

When Joe and I stroll the streets of downtown Stavanger, we can't help but stop to look at the windows filled with real estate postings.  Occasionally when I'm bored at home, I'll peruse Finn.no, Norway's version of MLS.  We have no intention on buying property here but it's fun to look.

Before you start shopping below, as a rule of thumb, we divide the prices by 6 to get an approximate Canadian dollar amount and copying & pasting the descriptions into Google Translate works well.

{1}
19 000 000 kroner
7th Floor Apartment
4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, underground parking
202 m² 

................................................................................................................................................................

{2}
9 900 000 kroner
Attached Home
4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
248 m²
................................................................................................................................................................

{3}
8 900 000 kroner
Detached Home
5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
194 m²
................................................................................................................................................................

Scandinavian design just speaks to me.  I love the clean lines and the bright whites.  The large and abundant windows make everything feel so open and the views are stunning.  Of course, it comes with a hefty price tag - we are in Norway after all.

So, which would you choose?

{1} Luxe apartment with great views?
{2} Brand new attached home with large windows in a great, family neighbourhood?
{3} Rural waterfront property with a cabin feel?

Part II: O Canada, Our Home and Native Land

Monday, 17 June 2013

Since moving abroad, it's become blatantly obvious how little people know about our vast and awesome country.

The international community often assumes that we must be just like the United States and while we gladly share more than just a border, nothing makes a Canadian angrier than being told we're practically American.  (After all, you wouldn't tell a Norwegian they're no different than a Swede or a Scot that they have no culture apart from England.)  We know that we don't do a great job of shouting our accomplishments out to the rest of the world but don't let our quietness fool you, we are fiercely proud of our country.

Over the next few weeks, I've teamed up with some of my favourite Canadian bloggers, expats and travellers to share with you some things that are distinctly Canadian.

You can check out Part One here!

.......................................................
From me...
Performing at this year's Coachella, Canadian sisters Tegan & Sara have been respected Canadian artists for years.  Born in Calgary, Alberta, their first album was released in 1999 and their 7th album hit the waves this year.  They've toured with Jack Johnson, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers and fellow Canadians, Brian Adams, Rufus Wainwright and City and Colour.  In recent history, their music was featured on Glee and HBO's Girls and they performed on The Ellen Degeneres Show after having just earned their first Grammy nomination.  We are proud to have these twin sisters representing Canadian music.


While most people know of Australia’s Aborigine people and Native Americans in the USA they are less so aware of Canada’s Aboriginal people also know as First Nations.

Canada is a young country by European standards but First Nations people settled across Canada by 40000 – 10000 BC.  Their history is long, complicated and often contentious but the richness of their culture gives a richness to the fabric of Canada.

First Nations’s art, music, food, and dress is quite distinctive and so quintessentially Canadian but not well known abroad.  If you are visiting Ontario, there is an annual Aboriginal festival in Toronto where one can go to learn more of the culture.  It is also a good opportunity to watch a pow wow and see all the different styles of dance.
Freda Diessing (1925-2002)
Eagle with Salmon 

I’m delighted to be sharing a few fun facts about my home country with you today. I’m currently studying towards two (yes, I must be crazy) postgraduate degrees in marketing and I’m living, eating, and breathing cool brands. And I bet you didn’t know a lot of those cool brands hail from Canada! (Yes, we do export more than maple syrup and friendly expats.)

RIM (Blackberry): Although it seems to be dying a slow death (sorry, BB’ers!) Research in Motion (RIM) and Blackberry are proud Canadian brands.

McCain: You’re probably familiar with McCain French fries, but you may not know that McCain Foods was established in 1957 by four brothers in Florenceville, New Brunswick (that’s on Canada’s East Coast). Today McCain produces a mind-boggling one-third of the world’s frozen French fry products, consumed in more than 110 countries!

Bombardier (Ski-Doo!): You might have guessed that Ski Doo’s were born in Canada, country of eternal winter. But wait, there’s more! Joseph Bombardier, inventor of the Ski-Doo, and his namesake company also make many of the trains, planes and automobiles that many of you probably rode to work this morning.

Lululemon: When you think of Canadian sports and sport apparel you probably conjure up images of hockey players, snowsuits, and skis. But famous yoga brand Lululemon was born here too, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1998.

Joe Fresh: Joe Fresh is a fashion brand created by designer Joe Mimran. Joe recently packed up and moved this brand to America, with pop-up shops in NYC and a flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Joe also recently opened over 680 stores within JC Penney outlets throughout America. Not bad for a brand that is still based in grocery stores across Canada! 

More brands to come from Jess later in the series!


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Melissa is a current Canadian expat in London.  Born in Jamaica, growing up in Toronto and travelling from a young age, she's constantly exploring the world and inspiring wanderlust amongst her readers as well as sharing some cool, lesser-known things to do in the UK.

Jess, of Mike and Jess in Malta fame, moved from Halifax on the East coast of Canada to Malta in 2010.  She just completed a double Masters degree, already having finished a degree in Art History and can often be found revelling in clever branding.  If that didn't make her busy enough, she's planning an über-cool wedding to her counterpart, Mike, this year.  (She also designed that awesome graphic above!)



Copenhagen

Friday, 14 June 2013


Joe and I have flown through Copenhagen a few times enroute to other destinations.  Usually it's a brief stop, disembarking from one flight and walking a few gates down and boarding the next however, returning from Greece, we had a few hours to kill.  As we descended into the city, the pilot announced that the city was sitting at a lovely 15ºC and we figured we should take advantage of it!

Copenhagen airport is 8 kilometres from the city centre which is practically unheard of in many European capitals and the Metro connects directly to the airport making it super easy to slip into town for a few hours.

Denmark, like many other European countries, was enjoying a public holiday so while the shops were closed, the restaurants were plum full of people enjoying the Spring weather.  Street musicians were out in full force and I couldn't help feel wooed as 'Moon River' floated down the streets courtesy of a clarinet.  The city certainly has the same Scandinavian feel we've become accustomed to yet it seemed a little edgier.  If anything, our few hours in town put Copenhagen back on our radar and it will be on our list of weekend trips in the future.

Notes:
-The Metro is located in Terminal 3 of the airport.  A return ticket cost 72 kr ($12.50 USD) for the 15 minute journey into city centre.
-The Kongens Nytrov stop is the perfect location to explore central Copenhagen with many shops, restaurants and sites nearby.
-We ditched Joe's backpack in a storage locker before heading into town.  To be honest, it was a bit of a hassle as the lockers are found in the parkade directly across from T3 and while the automated machine could be changed to English, it immediately switched back to Danish as we tried to make the transaction.  It was a little confusing, we may have inadvertently charged ourselves twice but it worked out in the end.

O Canada, Our Home and Native Land

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

When we left Canada and moved abroad, it was inevitable that we were going to be spending the vast majority of our time with people from other countries and cultures which always proves to be fascinating.  When we're feeling homesick or nostalgic, we reminisce with our friends about our homelands.  It's enlightening hearing so many firsthand accounts of life all over this world and I love being able to share my love for Canada.  What I didn't expect was just how little my friends knew of my country.  Often times, simple things like discussing our wine country or our Prime Minister (no, it's not a President) would be met with looks of surprise and bewilderment, even from our close neighbours to the South.

I think people assume that we must be just like the United States.  They're right below us on the map, their presence is loud all over the world, we're both known as English speakers & North Americans and we share a rather large border but even with all of those commonalities, we are very different.  Part of this lack of international understanding is our own fault - we're quiet and often hesitant to toot our own horn.  We have a difficult time summing up our national identity and we're known to err on the side of caution, never wanting to come across as arrogant or impolite.  But, don't let our quietness fool you, we are fiercely proud of our country.

Over the next few weeks, I've teamed up with some of my favourite Canadian bloggers, expats and travellers to share with you some things that are distinctly Canadian.
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From Me...
Covered by John Cale, Alexandra Burke, Canadian Rufus Wainwright and most notably, Jeff Buckley, the song Hallelujah actually is the product of Canadian Leonard Cohen.  To date, the song has been used in movies and television including Shrek, The OC, House, Cold Case, ER and on several talent shows including The Voice and American Idol as well as performed countless times live by many big name artists from Bon Jovi to Il Divo to Willie Nelson to Bob Dylan to Justin Timberlake.  Currently, it holds a spot on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of all time and it is proudly, Canadian.


From Rika...

“A large double-double and Boston Cream, please.”

If you’re Canadian, you know exactly what this means. (If you’re not, it means a large coffee with two creams, two sugars, and a Boston Cream doughnut.) This is the lingo at one of our quintessentially Canadian chains – Tim Hortons.

Tim Hortons is Canada’s answer to Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a coffee and casual food chain that was founded in 1964 in Ontario by the famous hockey player Tim Horton. It now operates as a franchise and has thousands of stores in Canada, as well as a few that have spread to the US and some on military bases in places like Afghanistan (soldiers need their coffee too!) and far-flung locations such as the United Arab Emirates and even a small outlet at the Dublin Zoo!

Timmy’s, or Timmy Ho’s as it is often affectionately known in the great white north, started out by serving only coffee and doughnuts. Over the years the menu has expanded to include muffins, cookies, teas, blended drinks, smoothies, bagels, soups, sandwiches and a variety of other quick-food items. Its focus is on friendly service that is quick and convenient.

One of Canadians favourite (yes, with a “u”, that’s how we spell it up here!) things about Tim Hortons is their infamous “Roll Up the Rim to Win!” promotion. Every year they have a marketing campaign that sees over 31 million lucky winners each year (however, in my experience, about 30,999,990 of these winners are just a free coffee or doughnut). Every Canadian knows the excitement of finishing a coffee or tea as fast as their can to roll up the rim of the special red cups and see if they’ve won something!

As it grew exponentially in the 1990s and 2000s, Tim Hortons has become a cultural icon for Canada, and some would even say a national symbol. Famous Canadian author Pierre Berton once wrote: "In so many ways the story of Tim Hortons is the essential Canadian story. It is a story of success and tragedy, of big dreams and small towns, of old-fashioned values and tough-fisted business, of hard work and of hockey." As a Canadian expat, I always look forward to heading to Tim Hortons when I get home. It’s not the best coffee in the world, but I know it will always be the same no matter if I’m in Toronto, Vancouver or Moose Jaw.

So if it’s not the best coffee in the world, why do we love Tim Hortons so much? I think mostly because it’s ours. It’s something that started here by Canadians, flourished here due to Canadians, and still is mostly found just here. We don’t have much to call our own in Canada as a lot of the stuff in our daily lives comes from the States, so when we get something that’s all our own we hang onto it fiercely with pride! It’s a tangible symbol in a country where, when we are asked about our Canadian identity, we often have little to offer up besides hockey (although did you know our national sport is actually lacrosse?), poutine, maple syrup, speaking French and polar bears. There is a Tim Hortons in every single province and territory in this country. It might just be coffee and doughnuts, but it’s ours and we love it.
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Rika is a Canadian expat who is currently calling Honduras home.  She decided she'd had enough of her Vancouver cubicle so she left her corporate job to spend her days under the sea as a dive instructor. A self-proclaimed bad-ass, this Canadian has a pretty cool life in Central America.

Stay Tuned ---- I've got more Canadian goodness coming your way from a few of my fellow countrywomen.

Final Thoughts on a Dreamy Grecian Vacation

Monday, 10 June 2013


I feel like I could go on and on about Santorini.  It was just one of those trips that was perfect - perfectly beautiful, perfectly relaxing, perfectly everything.  The people were some of the friendliest we've ever encountered while traveling and the food quite literally, scrumptious.  From day one until day eight, I couldn't help but grab my camera, trying to capture every corner of the island.  I never tired of the views.

There is something so magical about Santorini.  A delicate fog enveloped the island even on the clearest of days.  As we watched the ships sail away from Santorini, it looked like they might just sail into an abyss.  I kept trying to put it into words when we were there but it just seemed impossible.  Today, it's still impossible and it feels positively dreamlike.  Perhaps that's exactly what it is - dreamlike.

I'll leave you with a random collection of photos that I just couldn't help but share.



Restaurant Recommendations:
+Ambrosia - If you're going to choose one night to splurge on a romantic dinner in Oia, this should be it.  Make reservations (it's small) and try to get one of the tables right on the edge for a more private dinner.
+Vanilia - Located between Fira & Imerovigli right along the walking path, this was a great little garden to stop for lunch in.  There's also seating on the roof for sunset dinners.
+Cafe Galini - Also located on the walk between Fira and Imerovigli, the terrace overlooking the caldera was stunning.  The sandwiches and salads were great for a light lunch.
+Imerovigli Tavern - A casual setting with amazing Greek food, we ate here twice and it was delicious both times.  The service was always good and the view is pretty nice too!
+Anogi - The food at Anogi was really, really good and the pricing was so reasonable!  Every night it was packed (definitely reserve a table unless you plan on eating early!)  It's not a restaurant with a view but the food makes up for it and it's a great place for a casual meal.
+Selene- This restaurant is located on the other side of the island at Pyrgos but it was certainly one of our better meals.  It's the perfect place to get away from the crowds on the popular caldera side of the island and the food is so wonderful that it's been recognized internationally.
+Kapari Wine Restaurant - Found in Imerovigli, not far from Absolute Bliss, this restaurant is a gem.  It's in one of the fancier hotels and it might be a bit of a splurge but the food and service was impeccable.

Other Santorini Posts

The Ancient Village of Akrotiri

Friday, 7 June 2013

The purpose of our trip to Santorini was to relax and soak in some sun.  We knew we'd do a little exploring but we were also aware that this trip probably wouldn't be the cultural peak of our 2013 travels.  I was prepared to spend the majority of our time on the terrace, reading a book from a sun lounger but was quite excited when we stumbled upon Ancient Akrotiri while exploring the island.

Part of the grade 6 Social Studies curriculum in Alberta featured Ancient Greece.  In fact, up until recent years, it accounted for one third of the entire year's program.  I spent a lot of time talking about Greece and the many, many ways our society has benefited from that ancient and advanced civilization (*ahem, democracy.)

While they've traced settlements back to 4000 BCE, it was around 3000 BCE when a more substantial settlement was founded on Santorini Island.  It continued to grow and essentially became one of the main hubs of the Aegean sea.  At the end of the 17th century, a major volcanic eruption covered the entire settlement preserving the town below the new island surface for thousands of years.  Speculation says the entire event may have been the inspiration for Plato's Atlantis.

In the 1960s, the site was discovered and excavation began.  The absence of human remains have lead researchers to believe that an evacuation must have happened before the volcanic eruption and the amazingly well-preserved site has been compared to Pompeii.  It's stated that only 3% of the site has actually been excavated meaning that there will most certainly be more to see and learn in years to come.

The city itself is quite literally, fascinating.  Multiple story homes, a pretty clear grid system, an advanced drainage system, pottery & furniture all provide insight into the ancient civilization.  While it's a little difficult to see in the photos, it was quite clear onsite that this was a fully functioning and advanced city.  I was amazed to see well preserved artifacts sitting in rooms like nothing had happened - designs and paintings still fairly evident.

The majority of the smaller items have since been moved to a museum located right in Fira including enormous and elaborate wall paintings.  Tea cups and frying pans look almost exactly as they do today and dainty and intricate appliances survived the thousands of years below all of that sediment.  It really was quite an amazing site to experience.

Notes:
+The archaeological site of Ancient Akrotiri is located at Akrotiri near the Red Beach.  The site costs 5€.  The man at the gate didn't give us any information when we arrived and we had wished to either join a guided tour or at the very least, use the audio guide as signs inside are few and far between.
+The museum housing the majority of artifacts found at the site is located in Fira.  The entrance fee is 3€ and can quite easily be done in 1-1.5 hours, reading at all of the exhibits.
+All of the photos above are mine except the wall mural which was borrowed from Wikipedia.

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