One of the tips I got for my great ideas tour was to make sure I included some cities where I could relax and take a break from moving everyday from sunrise to sunset. Santorini was a perfect place to stop, take a breath and simply enjoy.
We flew on a budget airline from London to Santorini and we were scheduled to arrive at 11pm, but there was bad weather on the island, so we were diverted. We landed in Crete and we had to stay on the airplane. They said that they were in contact with headquarters and would tell us more information in one hour. In an hour they came back on the intercom and said they still couldn’t approach Santorini so they would come back in another hour and tell us more. Over an hour after this they told us that we could arrive in Santorini but we had to deplane for refueling first. So my feet touched the ground in Crete. We finally flew back to Santorini and arrived at 4am.
We stayed a wonderful place called Anna Pension. This little old lady, Anna, rented out rooms of her beautiful Greek villa in a small town, Karterados, on the outside the main city of Fira (Thira). We had our own room with a kitchen and bathroom. It was very clean, located in a safe neighborhood, and it looked like the pictures of villas you see on Greek islands.
It was a 15 minute walk to the city, so after trying to catch a little sleep we walked into the city center to find lunch.
We caught a bus to the south of the island where we could visit Perissa, a black sand beach.
There were beautiful cliffs rising out of the clear blue water, and the black sand was made of tiny black pebbles which massaged your feet as you walked over them.
The beaches were pretty, but no one goes to Santorini for the beaches, they go for he sunsets. We caught the bus back to Fira, where we wound through the cobblestone streets to reach the edge of the caldera. Santorini is shaped like a half circle and is the result of a volcano. You can take a boat to the central island to see the volcano, and the entire western side of the island is a steep cliff looking over the water below. There are hundreds of villas built into the side of the cliffs overlooking the beautiful view and waiting for the incredible sunsets which grace the island.
We sat on the rooftop of a restaurant and ordered glass bottles of Coca Cola- my sister has a collection of glass coke bottles she has collected from every country she visits. we sat next to a Canadian lady who offered to take a picture of us. She had won the trip from her laundromat, and she was returning to Greece after 40 years. When she was in college she spent 2 months living in Greece.
Santorini was a lovely opportunity to relax and regroup. My favorite part of our time in Santorini was our morning hike from Fira to Oia. Following a tip from Kristi (2006) we set aside a morning to follow the hiking trail along the edge of the caldera.
We began on cobblestone roads in Fira and followed small signs along the way to reach the outskirts of the town. There were beautiful views of the cliffs along the way, lines of donkeys being led down the steep steps, and incredible resorts painted bright white with pristine pools and windows facing incredible views. Outside the city we began the trek up a long hill crunching over volcanic rock and baking in the early morning sun. It was good that we started the hike early in the morning.
We passed a church on the top of the middle hill with the blue domes that are iconic of the island. We saw incredible view after incredible view- the pictures don’t begin to do the place justice. We reached another church towards the end of our hike with a white arch overlooking the city of Oia.
We spent time wandering the streets in Oia, finding the places to take the pictures of the blue domes that you see on every postcard of the island. We went into a tiny bookshop hidden in an underground cave and ate lunch at a cafe with a view of the ocean.
We caught a crowded bus back to Fira- something I observed several places in Greece was that people didn’t really get into lines, it was more of a clump of people with everyone pushing towards the door.
After an afternoon nap by the swimming pool in the heat of the day we returned to Fira to watch the sunset.
We wandered through the many shops. The friendly store owners called out “hello lady” “come into my shop lady” “thank you lady” all of them trying to sell us something. We found another cafe to sit at as the sun began to set behind the mountains. This cafe was a perfect place for people watching. We sat there watching all the tourist pass by and take their pictures, people in beautiful clothes, young couples, honeymooners, all posing and trying to take photos which would never do the incredible view justice.
Santorini was fairly inexpensive, especially after Iceland. I would love to return to the Greek island someday to hop between them on the ferries and spend a few weeks enjoying the beauty.