Whilst some travel destinations do not live up to one’s expectations, Santorini is certainly not one. You actually get to see what you’ve been hoping for. With a brief stop in Athens, followed by Mykonos (that’s for another post), my travel partner and I finally reached the famous volcanic island, Santorini. We sojourned in its capital, Fira, perched atop the caldera cliffs.
Here’s a list of my highlights and some photos from the trip:
The famous caldera sunset is breathtaking (more on that a little later).
The plethora of iconic chapels warmed my heart and is truly wonderful (these are actual places of worship, deserving reverence, and respect).
I thoroughly enjoyed the Koutsoyannopoulos wine museum which is nestled in a cave and marks years of traditional wine making. The wine tasting was also an amazing experience. I’m not a lover of sweet wine but gave it another go and nope, still not a fan. Bring on a fine cab, merlot, pinot noir or great blend. I digress, back to my list…
Kamari Black Pebble Beach is quite mesmerizing. Gazing at the ocean and taking in its magnificence remains a humbling experience. It makes you realize what a peanut you are and how tiny your problems are in the grand scheme of things. Enjoyed a quiet walk alone on the beach and made my way towards the hill (correct me if I’m wrong, the hill of Prophitis Ilias). I felt an indescribable sense of awe and as time passed, eeriness. Probably from the magnitude of this beloved solitude.
(Next time, I’ll get the recommended Kamari massage).
The white-washed Cycladic buildings are picturesque, postcard stuff!
Eye candy deluxe! Beautiful landscapes from any angle and part of the island.
Not forgetting the delicious food … Oh. My. Gosh! You can enjoy scrumptious gyro pitas; deep fried feta cheese wrapped in phyllo pastry drizzled with honey; Nick The Grill’s ‘kielbasa’ and seasoned french fries with a cold local beer is a must and of course, the traditional Greek salad (didn’t have many of those, on vacay yo!). I’ve also tried the traditional aperitif, Ouzo, sorry, not for me! Give me a tequila instead, I prefer agave to anise.
Last but not least, the precious donkeys (no, I did not ride one). Personally, I do not recommend the donkey rides on offer from the port of Fira because it doesn’t seem right. It’s the island’s oldest mode of transportation and I think, best left in the past too. Riding donkeys up the cliff look unsafe for both you and the donkey. The cable car is certainly the better option, should you arrive by ferry.
Back to my first highlight, the sunset splendor by the caldera overlooking the Aegean. The deep blue sea, that panoramic view of Santorini with a glass of wine in hand from one of the surrounding vineyards … this is the magical trifecta of Santorini sunsets. Now Oia (pronounced EE-ah), a village located on the north point of Santorini, offers a visually impressive sunset that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. If you’ve visited this island before, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement. If not, it’s time to start planning that trip. Oia is typically shown on picture postcards of Greece. People arrive in droves for this essential sunset experience and other attractions on the island.
Santorini is a plethora of sight and feeling.
When to go? Here’s some advice gathered from a few locals. If you prefer peace and tranquility, avoid the high season between June and September as it becomes quite crowded. May and October are good months to visit since there aren’t many tourists and it’s still warm with sunny skies. Although, if you enjoy swimming in the sea, the water may not be the warmest during these months. During low season, November to April, there’s not much happening as most of the hotels, restaurants, and shops are closed.
The takeaway from this trip:
- Arrive early at your sunset spot in Oia, at least an hour before sunset.
- Stake out your spot for that perfect shot. Go to Oia Castle, it is a great spot to capture this impressive sunset.
- The best places to stay are either Oia, laid back and peaceful, or Fira, for more activity and a busy nightlife.
- Come back as there’s so much more to explore. And don’t forget your camera’s battery charger.
- The beauty of Santorini, in fact, any place, lies in the everyday life!
Thanks for indulging me.