Greece! A destination on everyone’s bucket list for sure! In particular the gorgeous island of Santorini had been calling my name for a few years.
The day had finally arrived when my husband and I flew into Athens and boarded a ferry bound for Santorini the next day.
Did you know Santorini is the only inhabited Caldera (volcano cauldron) in the world?
The island was formed from lava when the volcano erupted in 1660 BC. There was also an eruption in the 1950’s and a lot of the towns were destroyed.
Thankfully it’s all been re-built and is a must see wonder of the world. The island is unique because the towns and villages sit on top of the massive cliffs of the Caldera.
As we approached the island from the boat, the buildings appeared to look like snow. Santorini is really like no other Greek island.
The population of Santorini is just over 11,000 people, but the island welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year!
We arrived at the main port on Santorini called Athinios. We enjoyed the ride gliding over the azure ocean and as we got closer to the island the water turned to a crystal clear turquoise shade.
We were met at the ferry by our hotel driver courtesy of Alexander Villa’s at Imerovigli.
The view as we drove up the steep winding road from the port was incredible; by the time we reached the peak it was breathtaking. The sight of the striking white of the buildings capped with their blue domes against the blue of the sky and the ocean was a dramatic contrast against the volcanic cliffs.
We arrived at our villa and were welcomed with drinks on the balcony over looking the spectacular view of the Caldera. We have never experienced such an incredible setting like this.
Our accommodation was a cute little white villa with a curved dome roof and our own private pool outside the door. When we walked in there was a small living area with a welcoming bottle of bubbles and a fruit platter.
Down a couple of steps to the bathroom and then the fun part was climbing the ladder from the living area up to the mezzanine where the bedroom was. We had to remember the curved ceiling when we got in and out of bed so we didn’t knock ourselves out!
Each day we enjoyed seeing the cruise ships coming and going. Each day new visitors would arrive and the Fira would be a bustling metropolis with tourists on a time schedule shopping and sightseeing fitting in as much as possible before their time ended and they were back on the tenders returning to their ship.
Staying on the island meant we had the time to see Santorini at our leisure. We would walk each day down to the Fira and wander the little alley ways discovering beautiful gift shops, galleries and quaint little restaurants. We savored the authentic Greek food that we love, listened to the music and really felt part of the vibe. The atmosphere on Santorini is pure buzz with the music, the color, the excitement all creating that wonderful feeling of being in love with life.
One of the days we decided to catch the Cable Car from Fira down to the bottom for the sole purpose of riding back to the top on a donkey. The Cable car transports 1200 people per hour on cruise days and takes only three minutes. For those arriving from the cruise ship, it is the easiest way to climb the 220 meters and be right in the heart of the main town of Fira where all the action is.
It was a good decision to ride a donkey from the bottom to the top. I held on tight and made sure that my donkey didn’t get too close to the brick walls when I could easily have scraped my dangling left leg. I think riding down the hill would have been a lot harder to hang on. Some people choose to walk the donkey track, which is fine if you are good at avoiding the donkey pats and keeping out of the way when a whole line of them are coming through. The donkey has been part of the rich history of Santorini and you do have to be careful anytime you are participating in animal adventures.
The highlight of the evenings in Santorini is the sunset! As the sun starts to go down over the ocean and the light changes to the evening glow, people head down to the far end of the island to Oia to see the sun sink into the ocean.
Be sure to make your way down there early as the crowds do make their pilgrimage to Oia to get the best spot for that magical sunset holiday memory. We hopped on the bus to go from Imerovigli to Oia and it was a fun atmosphere with everyone chatting excitedly in their own languages.
Once the sun had set, the bars and restaurants come alive. We chose a rooftop restaurant which had magnificent view of the village and the Caldera. We were serenaded by musicians as we indulged in more delicious Greek cuisine washed down with a local rose bought to the table in different size carafes.
As we relaxed into the holiday, we would sometimes head to a little local supermarket and buy some fresh bread, deli meats, olives, local beer and some wine to enjoy by our pool. We could walk in any direction to find a restaurant with local fare and good wine. We would always finish our meal with a small shot glass of ouzo usually given as complimentary by our waiter at the end of dinner.
We loved seeing the traditional Zorba being performed. Many restaurants had dancing while dinner was being served and it was always fun to see people joining in the fun, hands clapping, feet tapping, enjoying life.
I’m sure you will want to have Santorini on your bucket list. Remember it is a high tourist spot but talk to the locals and find out what they love to do. Get down to the beaches, take a boat trip to the volcano and do some hiking. There is plenty to do. Or like us, mix it up with some quality relaxation time in one of the most romantic places in the world. I’m sure we will return to Santorini one day. In the meantime, here’s to your health….Yamas!
For more information on visit Santorini, visit www.visitgreece.gr.