A trip to everyone's dream destination – Santorini, Greece 1/2
Santorini! When you say the word, you imagine the heavily circulated dreamy Instagram posts and videos - which I am pretty sure everyone has seen. The whitewashed houses with beautiful blue domes. The indoor pools overlooking the ocean that sparkles as if dumped with glitter. The charming cobblestone streets that look like straight out of a movie set. But it's real; it's all real. I am going to make this story into two posts, one with our experience from the recent trip and one with travel tips, advice, expenses, and more.
First Things First
Santorini is indeed beautiful. One of the many Greek islands, Santorini, is the second most southern Island from mainland Greece. The Island's main cities are Akrotiri, Fira, and Oia.
Fira is the capital of the Island, bustling, beautiful, and well-connected to every part of the Island. Oia is the most popular, it's where all the Instagram pictures you see are from, very crowded, lacks privacy, and the most picturesque of all. Akrotiri is at the extreme end of the Island, not crowded, calm, and very private, with only a few lodging options.
Getting All the Photos
Let's face it, pictures are an integral part of the millennial routine. No travel is complete unless you have managed to annoy all of your social media friends with at least 4000 pictures. However, getting a decent picture in Santorini can be a tricky business. The main attraction is Oia unless you are unconventional like my husband and me, this is where you would want to be. Oia is crowded all the time, so you cannot get a decent picture without being photobombed by huge crowds. A lot of places you see in Oia are also private properties, so you will be trespassing if you want to get all the perfect shots. I don't recommend it, neither did we do it, but we sure saw people jumping over other people's fences, climb up roofs, and even stepping on church terraces to get a shot. It's sad but true.
Remember, everything you do in a foreign country represents all of the citizens back home, so be respectful and considerate.
The Blue Domes
The Blue Dome are churches, and built between the perfectly whitewashed homes, they make quite a sight. But finding the right place to get the perfect shot is tricky! I am going to make it easy for my friends who might want to make a trip in the future. Unless you are staying in Oia, find the Oia bus stop or post office to start your quest. Here is the Google pin for the restaurant you need to find to get to the picture spot. It's called Pelekanos.
A few steps down the street, and you've got your spot. Now, remember, this is a private property, but the owner is quite friendly and lets you in for a quick picture. However, lots of people line up and crowd the spot. It can be hours before you get your turn to take your photo. As crazy as we both are, we woke up super early to get here and got our pictures before 7:30 am. We still had to wait a while cause a few people beat us to it, but we got them anyway. This helped us actually enjoy the rest of the Island for the remainder of the day. Most people waste their time waiting in line for pictures, and I have seen this at many touristy locations, but travel shouldn't revolve around photos, always spare time to soak in the beauty of your destination. Later in the day, Oia got pretty crowded and noisy, so we headed over to Fira. After long strolls in Fira, we returned to spend our evening at our beautiful Airbnb at Akrotiri, overlooking the ocean with a glass of wine (okay, it was more than a glass!).
The Cities of Santorini - Walk, Eat, Repeat!
Every nook and cranny in Oia and Fira is beautiful. So, walk, explore every street. Gaze at the stunning views from Oia Castle, look for the windmill homes, eat at a restaurant overlooking the sea, or at a cozy one like Karma that we chose on a quiet street.
Here's a link to locate Karma the restaurant.
Fira is another beautiful part of the Island and even busier than Oia. The markets are a total shopper's paradise and have amazing bars and yogurt shops. The cobblestone streets and white streetlights make it look even more amazing at night. Fira is very well connected to all parts of the Island via public transportation. You can hike to the village of Imerovigli from Fira and enjoy beautiful views from the Skaros Rock.
Lastly, Akrotiri - the place where we decided to stay. It is extremely calm and full of solitude. Scattered dome houses still present, but the area is popular for the historic village of Akrotiri that preserved a mini civilization during a volcanic eruption.
The Sunset Cruise
The most popular thing about Santorini is its beautiful sunset. Sunset watchers flood Oia in the evening, and there's no room even to stand. If you want a good view of the sunset, I recommend taking a sunset cruise. I will include buying tips and recommendations on my next blog, so be sure to check it out. The sunset cruise is on a vintage boat that takes you to the mini Island of Neokameni, where you can hike up to see the still-active volcano. You can see smoke coming out of the crater, smell the methane and other gases burning, and feel the heat. It's a truly unique and thrilling experience. You can also swim in the hot springs and take in magnificent views of Oia and Fira. The Cruise takes you to the sunset point where you can bask in the last light of the sun unhindered by heads popping into your pictures.
Santorini is right out of a dream for sure!
To avoid bad experiences and to make wise financial decisions watch out this space for my Santorini travel guide coming up soon.