Today South London, Tomorrow South London – shirk, rest and play south of the river
The #TFBookClub visits Santorini
25th March 2018
The setting for this bewitching novel, marrying romance with mythology and archaeology, is the Cyclades. A group of islands in the alluring Aegean Sea, off the southeastern mainland coast of Greece, they are home to some of the country’s most important archaeological ruins.
In her engaging #TalkingLocationWith article for TripFiction, author Hannah explains how her fictional island of Helios is based on Santorini, one of the most popular Cyclades destinations for tourists.
‘Much of the story in my latest novel, Aphrodite’s Tears, is set on a privately owned island called Helios. It’s a fictional island, an amalgamation of several of the Greek islands. But a real-life island also features prominently in the book, and it was to here that I travelled while writing to immerse myself in the culture, history and legends of the Greek islanders.’
‘The island of Santorini is about 120 miles off the Greek mainland, in the Aegean Sea, and it has a population of around 15,000 people. Like Helios, it’s a volcanic island; here the Minoan eruption occurred more than 3,000 years ago, one of most catastrophic eruptions in the Earth’s history, which decimated surrounding islands.’
If you have the opportunity to follow in Hannah’s footsteps – and her main character Oriel in Aphrodite’s Tears – we thought you might enjoy reading these articles on Santorini and other Cyclades islands, courtesy of our partner Silver Travel Advisor and their adventurous members.
‘Cliche time, but there’s one Greek holiday island that really deserves its place on any ‘must see’ list before you take the final trip no traveller ever returns from.’
‘No surprise to be told that it’s Santorini, which stakes a firm claim to being the inspiration for the mythical paradise of Atlantis and still manages to cast a spell on everyone lucky enough to go there.’
‘Continuing finds at ancient Akrotiri under the compacted ash and pumice – the rock that floats! – can claim to put Pompeii in the shade, with constantly-emerging evidence of a large and advanced, multi-storey city with a social structure to match, while us Brits were still polishing our axes in the Bronze Age.’
‘The town of Fira itself is a jewel in the Aegean Sea, Perched high on the sheer cliff overlooking the beautiful caldera. Many people only spend half a day in Santorini stopping off on a cruise but really this is not enough time to savour the delights of the island.
If you love good food, breathtaking views, ancient ruins, quiet walks along the beach, magnificent sunsets this is the island. My abiding memory is of the white buildings, blue domed churches, and the magnificent volcanic islands set in the sparkling sea.’
The physical remains of the past create landscapes of memory that still resonate in our modern minds. Everyone has heard of the myth of Atlantis but how many people have actually visited the most likely site of the original city?
Many scholars agree that the Aegean island of Santorini is the very place. This volcanic island erupted around 3,500 years ago with devastating effects on the Bronze Age civilisation of the Aegean, and probably the entire eastern Mediterranean.
It is simply amazing to stand today on the rim of that volcanic crater and realise the scale of the event, and marvel at the antiquity of the island’s ancient city of Akrotiri, incredibly preserved in ash like a prehistoric Pompeii; then to sail across to the nearby island of Crete to explore Knossos and other Minoan sites, the land of King Minos and the Minotaur and Europe’s earliest civilisation.
Island hopping Cyclades by Saidy53
‘Sifnos in the Cyclades has many treasures. We stayed in the port of Kameres at a little hotel named Stavros, owned by a family and run by their son and his English wife Sarah. It was excellent the amazing view which you all have at Stavros hotel. The buses in Kameres were also very good. Kastro was our favourite place steeped in history, wonderful friendly people. We got lots of walking in round Apollonia another village nearby. I can recommend if you love Greece and enjoy travelling.’
But the last word definitely belongs to Hannah Fielding, luring #TFBookClub readers to Santorini like a mythical siren…
‘My visit to Santorini coincided with the annual Ifestia Festival, which is when the islanders commemorate the Minoan eruption with an explosive firework display. I watched from the terrace of a tavern, and then was delighted to find I had a front-row seat as the Greek waiting staff broke into an impromptu song and dance. I love the Greeks’ sheer joie de vivre, and nowhere is this more evident than in the traditional dances and songs that both the men and women perform. There is such passion and exuberance, it is impossible to watch and not yearn to join in!‘
‘My time on Santorini was full of warmth, sunshine and wonder, and it gave me so many ideas for my novel. As Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta said, ‘Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.’
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And of course we can suggest further books set on these glorious islands, just access the TripFiction Database.