After the disappointment of missing out on the Samaria Gorge in Crete, (the only negative thing we’ve experienced for being out-of-season), we were looking forward to seeing the most iconic Greek Island . . . Santorini.
First up I got majorly ripped-off on the ferry tickets paying 100 euros for Rob and I to take the fast, two-hour vomitorium-ferry, instead of the 40-euro, four-hour cruise. Let me tell you there is no room to move once they’ve printed the tickets, even before you’ve okayed them, with Superjet Ferries. Once they have your money, that’s it!
But. We got over it.
We arrived in Santorini and got a transfer to Evgenia Apartments. Evgenia is a small modern hotel with a nice moderate pool where you get a room with a bathroom and balcony for 40 euro a night. Unfortunately for the owners of the apartments, the balcony looked over the back of another amazing villa. So after a few hours of looking at the wall of the next-door villas we decided to go and sus out how much they cost.
The next day we did the dodgy and checked-out and then in to next door. Blue Sea Suites. We were given a smallish apartment with a separate small lounge-area, but . . . it comes with an awesome pool and an uninterrupted view of the old-port ocean for 50 euros a night. And still only ten-minutes walk into town.
Unlike some of the most famous places in the world, Venice, Rome, London and Paris, where they are just as you would expect, Santorini surprised me a little, in a good way. The postcard pictures of the cliffs tightly packed with white walled houses and blue domes you always see and hear about are only really found in two spots on the island, Fira and Oia. The rest of the island is undeveloped and quite desolate, which I guess is what you should expect from a volcanic island.
I also expected wall-to-wall tourists, but a plus of being late in the season is that the mobs have gone. The main town of Fira is small and pretty with lots of cool shops, restaurants and art galleries. I should never visit galleries on holiday coz I very quickly find something I love then spend the next half-hour thinking about how I can get it home.
The absolute best thing to do in Santorini is to hire a four-wheeler buggy and spend your day cruising the island. We’ve spent a few days on different islands now, cruising around on scooters, but four-wheelers are so much better. Firstly you lose that knot in your stomach that tells you at any-minute you might get knocked off by oncoming traffic and die. And secondly, they’re a hell of a lot more comfortable.
Around the island our first stop was the Red Sand Beach which has this giant red cliff with the weirdest bands of rocks and sand of different sizes layered through it. Then there’s the Black Sand Beach which is stunning and has beach bars that you can put your feet up with a cocktail and sandwich and make the most of it.
After the sun started to cool off we headed to Oia, nicknamed ‘Sunset Village’ and had the most amazing setting for the sunset.
The town itself is gorgeous, in fact, I liked it a little better that Fira.
After exploring the town we spent some time picking the perfect bar to sit and watch the sun go down, and we chose well.
We soon learned that good holiday photos are not all about the sunset you’re taking pictures of, but the glow of the unique local environment, in this case – the white buildings and the bands of orange and pink behind the islands.
Rob made a lot of people jealous by jumping down a wall and climbing along a thin beam to get onto a roof-top to get the sun setting though arches of bells. Dozens of people were all trying to take the shot, but were too high-up and not game-enough to risk getting it. That one’s going on the wall at home!
The absolute worst thing to do in Santorini seems to be to visit the volcano. After hearing from several friends and family that it’s an absolute waste of time, we almost had to stop ourselves from laughing when a tourist office tried to sell us a tour by showing us a picture of a sandpit that looked like a pile of rubble.
We spent another four fabulous days soaking up the island life, eating and drinking and hiking ourselves into oblivion. And on the last night, we visited the only Australian pub on the island, located in Fira, called the Tropical Bar. I think it’s going to be hard to match the sunset, the time we had, the people we met and these photos for the rest of our ten-month trip.
Next stop is Folegandros, a small island three hours away by ferry, which has been recommended, no . . . raved about, by my brother, Ian.
Lorna Jane is an Australian traveller.
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157625238014972″]