So Santorini got off to a really weird start. The port is very basic at the bottom of the island and the ferry pulls up straight to a rocky face. Not exactly the warmest welcome. I checked into the hotel, settled in, hand-washed some clothes, and changed for dinner. I had to see a Santorini sunset! I ended up at Remvi, a restaurant that had been recommended to me by the girl at the reception. I hadn’t had a proper meal all day and felt like celebrating, so I treated myself! Per my usual routine, I gave the waiter two options and let him choose my meal. A glass of the house white, saganaki cheese, linguine with prawns, and chocolate soufflé with coffee, accompanied by a gorgeous Santorini sunset were a wonderful start to my stay there.
The one thing I knew I needed to do while in Santorini was the hike from Fira to Oia, which was estimated at 3 hours and 10 km. To start from Fira, I actually had to backtrack from Firostefani about 15 minutes. The walk went from the village of Fira to Firastefani to Imerovigli before becoming only trail over the mountain ridge to Oia. As I got to Imerovigli and saw how narrow and high up the path went, I got really nervous. So nervous, I chatted up a couple who had just come from Oia (I could tell because they were drenched in sweat) who told me there were a few steep slopes, but I’d be fine. So off I went. The general consensus: there were some steeper parts and I slipped a few times, but it was definitely worth it. The views were incredible and it was just really cool to be walking basically on the ridge of a volcanic mountain. Once in Oia, I wandered around until I was too tired, at which point I got some Lolita’s gelato (I was told it was a must) and took the bus back to Firostefani. I napped, showered and got ready to watch the sunset and grabbed a quick souvlaki for dinner while walking around Firostefani town.
Saturday in Santorini was a beach day for me. I took the bus to Akrotiri and a water taxi to Red Beach, a white beach and a black beach. Other people had prepared me for the ‘sand’ in Santorini, so the fact that it was actually pebbles wasn’t a surprise. The amazing part was the mountains! They changed color from white, black, red and grey. There were caves and cliffs and even a beach where the only way to get there was via boat. After lounging on a black beach for a few hours, I made my way back to Akrotiri and took the bus to Perissa, a more popular black sand beach. It was so nice! Perissa’s beach felt more sandy, as though the pebbles had been ground down further. The whole area was actually a bit Americanized in that there was kind of a boardwalk, restaurants and hotels lined the beach and each property had its own loungers on the sand. Being the beginning of low season, there weren’t many tourists around, but I could definitely see how this is popular in the summer. I had a nice lunch, lounged, read and watched the sunset before heading back to Firostefani for a souvlaki dinner.
My days in Santorini seemed incredibly long but also passed by much faster than I thought. I woke up on Sunday realizing I still hadn’t really walked the towns and hadn’t seen a proper Oia sunset. So I ambled through Fira, Firostefani and Oia’s streets for hours, popping in several shops and weaving my way up and around, trying to see as much as I could. I also had to go find Lena’s grandmother’s house from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, so I walked around until I found it, asking a local lady if the was in fact the place. They’ve painted the house but it’s still there! I picked up a drink and a snack at 5 pm and made my way to the lookout point overlooking Ammoudi Bay. You know those pictures of Santorini you see everywhere? Most of the ones we’re used to seeing are taken from this point. It tends to get crowded quickly, so I knew to go early. I was there by 5:15, in time to have found a decent spot, but the best ones were already taken by tourists with tripods. Regardless, it was really kind of nice seeing so many people gather just to watch a sunset and (despite the clouds) the sunset was breathtaking. It took from about 7 pm to 8 pm, and once it was completely gone, all the onlookers clapped. That might have been my favorite part – seeing everyone smiling these blissful smiles at the same thing. I took the bus back to Fira, grabbed a quick dinner and packed my stuff for the next morning.
Monday morning was a quick one, since I had to be checked out by 11:30. I got ready and packed, left my luggage at the hotel and went to Galini cafe (I’d been meaning to go there) for a breakfast over the caldera. Galini means serenity, so it was the perfect place to sit quietly, enjoying the view and taking some time to write. After that, I took a taxi to the port and hopped on the ferry to Athens!