A lot of adventures, a lot of mishaps, a lot of gelato
There are no words to describe the beautiful island that is Santorini. It is strange that an island that is essentially the remains of an enormous volcanic eruption is this stunning. I had the most amazing time on this beautiful island exploring ruins, beaches and volcanoes, and experiencing more of the hospitable Greek culture.
We got up at about 4:30am (got to love those early morning wake-ups when you’re travelling!) and caught a ferry from Athens to the port in Santorini. The ferry was extremely bumpy and jolting, and I was very happy to be finally off the boat once we arrived. A driver picked us up and drove us to the main town of Fira to our wonderful accommodation, Noni’s Apartments, which is situated right on the edge of the Caldera Cliffs and had a stunning view of the Aegean Sea.
The owners of Noni’s were absolutely amazing, having a great chat with us and giving us so much information on everything to do while we were in Santorini. They were so helpful and welcoming, and the accommodation was so comfortable, I highly recommend them. We spent the afternoon relaxing on our balcony, taking naps and indulging in Greek salad (it’s salad so indulging doesn’t count, right?).
In the evening we went for a walk around the town of Fira before stopping at a local restaurant on a rooftop and having the most amazing Greek dinner with an fantastic sunset view. I had some delicious dolmades (vine leaves) followed by to-die-for moussaka and a mix of desserts. It is official, I love Greek food, obsessed, can’t get enough, always want more. We headed back to our apartment and tucked ourselves in in preparation for the busy day ahead.
The next morning we headed into town to catch a bus to the settlement of Akrotiri, which was destroyed in the Theran Eruption and buried in volcanic ash, preserving a lot of the buildings, objects and artworks. They began excavating the site in 1967 and continue today, it was quite amazing to see the level of effort they are taking to conserve the sight, it is situated in a large dome and you walk through a roped off walkway throughout the site to view everything. It was really cool to see all the ruins and Greek history, it reminded me a lot of Pompeii.
After exploring the ruins we walked up the dirt road and through a rocky cliff to the amazing sight of Red Beach, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life.
The beach is made up of a dramatic and bright red and black volcanic rock clifface that surrounds a small beach, with small pebbles instead of sand. It is described as a taste of Mars on Earth due to it’s bright red colouring, caused by the lava from the volcanic eruption. The water was very refreshing, crystal clear and very salty, so you were able to just lie there and float whilst taking in the beautiful surroundings.
After spending our time relaxing at the beach we decided to head back to Fira, stopping every now and then to take in the beautiful, crisp white buildings with their bright blue doors and roofs and to speak to the locals selling their wares on the side of the road. We bought some fresh preserves, sun-dried tomatoes and olives from a woman who was sun-drying the tomatoes in a huge net just outside her house, it was amazing.
That afternoon we walked to the town of Oia to see the famous Santorini sunset. The town was absolutely packed with people all trying to do the same thing, and ordinarily I hate crowds whilst travelling but it was actually really fun walking through the bustling alleyways, with all the locals selling wares and playing beautiful music, like these wonderful violin players. It made for such an electric atmosphere.
We finally found ourselves a spot and settled in for the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen (and that is saying something because I saw the most magical sunset in Dubrovnik only a few weeks ago!). It was actually quite surreal to see this sunset because at one point the noise and talking of all the tourists just died away, I think everyone was just taking in the breathtaking view, it was quite a lovely moment. I don’t know if pictures truly do this phenomenon justice, so I definitely recommend visiting to see it at least once in your life.
After watching the beautiful sunset we walked down a huge set of steps to Amoudi Bay for a bite to eat. The steps may have not been the best idea because we were slipping and sliding all over the place, and very thankful we made it down in one piece once we got to the bottom of them! We decided to indulge in a seafood Greek feast right on the edge of the ocean at a restaurant called Sunset Amoudi Taverna, which has been frequented by the likes of Oprah. The food was amazing and it really was a feast, and even though I am not a huge seafood person I could appreciate how fresh and delicious the food was. After indulging in so many Greek mezzes we decided to catch a taxi back to our apartment and not brave the steps again, collapsing into bed the second we got back.
We spent the next morning getting pampered at a local spa in Fira with manicures and pedicures. It sounds trivial but after spending so many days on the go, constantly moving, exploring and adventuring, it was nice to just sit down and be looked after for an hour and have my poor hands and feet attended to. They have bared the brunt of all my constant walking and carrying bags, so they deserved to have a break! We finished off our well deserved pampering session with a well deserved nap.
That afternoon we decided to split up and my friend Monica and I braved the heat to walk down the 588 steps of Karavolades Stairs to the Old Port. Even though the heat was nearing unbearable, it was quite fun to see all the hustle and bustle of different tourists, locals and donkeys making their way and down the stairs like we were. Once we got to Old Port we caught a boat out to Palea Kameni, and swam in the hot springs, which were very unusual. We jumped off the boat into bright blue water that was quite cold and swam towards the springs, where the water slowly changed to bright green and finally to orange, where the water was hot. There was so much mud but it was so soft and we decided to do a little exfoliating before swimming back to the boat.
The boat then took us to the island of Nea Kameni, which is a small, uninhabited island made of volcanic lava and ash that still has active sulfur vents. We climbed the 130m high volcano in the very hot sun and were pretty proud of ourselves when we made it to the top. It is quite cool to see sulfur gas rising from cracks in the rocks surrounding us and the views of Santorini. Plus we got to see where all the lost hats of Greece go, there were so many in the giant crater. Even though it was so hot and tiring it was such an amazing experience, how often do you get to say you climbed a volcano? The whole trip was only fifteen euro and it was pretty awesome.
The boat then took us back to Old Port, where we decided to each take a donkey to the top of the stairs instead of climbing them, which I had been looking forward to the whole trip. I got given my beautiful white donkey, Monica on her lovely brown one, and they proceeded to try and race each other up the stairs. By that I mean that mine tried to get ahead of Monica’s donkey, never succeeded, and eventually conceded to losing! It was so much fun and you can’t really control where the donkeys go, they just stop and start when they want and do their thing and you just have to accept it and go with it.
We met up with the other girls and had a perfect last night in Santorini by buying some Greek wine and mezze and having a picnic on our balcony overlooking another beautiful sunset. It really was the most perfect few days and I would love to come back and explore all the Greek Islands. The Greek people are absolutely wonderful and so friendly, and I felt so at home and comfortable in our little apartment, walking around the city and exploring and indulging in all the delicious Greek cuisine.
Next stop (and possibly the one I have been looking forward to the most) MILANO. I am finally bringing my girls to my new home!