In May of 2009 my girlfriend Holly and I traveled to Greece and visited Athens and the Cyclades Islands of Santorini and Milos. I will split this blog post into three parts by destination. You can view all photos of the trip here (my photos) and here (Holly’s Photos). This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here
So we arrive at the port of Athens, buy our Ferry tickets and board the Ferry. We got tickets on the “slow” ferry instead of the premium fast ferry. It was fairly relaxing to be on this type of Ferry. Provided it is not super cold, you can hang out on the deck watching the sea go by, and the Ferry usually stops at various other Greek Islands al0ng the Cyclades so you get a mini-tour.
I forgot how long the Ferry ride from Athens to Santorini was, but it felt fairly long. There was all sorts of snacks available for purchase on the Ferry which was nice.
Arriving in Santorini
Once we dock in Santorini it organized chaos. People trying to find their Hotel ride, or catch a cab. We walked a bit further away from the crowd to a less-populated area and found a cab that was happy to take our bags and knew exactly where we were going once we said the hotel name. Villa Lukas.
On Santorini I would recommend getting around by cab as much as possible. Parking can be difficult and confusing and if you rent a scooter or 4-wheeler you will infuriate everyone else since your speed will be severely capped. The cabs are ultra modern, many times luxury cars so they are super comfy. I felt they were quite affordable. We also took a bus once and were very pleased. The buses were very new and clean and large.
Villa Lukas is absolutely beautiful. It is located in one of the highest points in Santorini, Imerovigli. This is a small town located near Fira (capital of Santorini) but a bit further from the picturesque town of Oia. The price per night at that time of year was around 80 Euros or so. The view is unbeatable for the price. We were able to watch so many stunning sunsets right from our Balcony. I can’t recommend this hotel enough if you want a more quiet place to stay. There is a pedestrian pathway alongside the Caldera that allows you to travel to Fira by foot. Most roads in Santorini have no sidewalk so this is extremely useful and safe.
We would have dinner at night in Fira and walk along the Caldera at night, enjoying the exceptional air along the way.
Imerovigli has a very authentic feel. People live here and you can tell. Fira and Oia are far more tourist-oriented, with Oia at times feeling more like an Epcot Center World Showcase than Greece, especially with all the souvenir shops.
Not to take away from the beauty of any of these places of course. Santorini as a whole was stunning and breath taking.
One of the things that blew me away was the Santorini beaches. I read several travel forums that stated Santorini has few good beaches. I think they must have gone to a different island because I visited several beautiful beaches: Red Beach, Perissa Beach, Kamari Beach, and Perivolos beach
I think my favorite beach was Red Beach, but the path to walk there is very perilous. I would not recommended this beach if you are not fairly spry and have some sturdy shoes. Flip flops will not cut it there. Steep drops are everywhere and the volcanic rock and easily scratch you. There is often an older Greek gentleman there selling Santorini grapes to tourists.
The other beaches mentioned are much more tourist-friendly with rows and rows of beach chairs and umbrellas, with beer and food service right to your sitting area. We had a bucket of ice cold coronas delivered straight to your chairs, it was just like being in a Corona commercial! There was many food options and interesting and fun bars.
So don’t believe what others say, Santorini not only has beaches, they are varied and beautiful and amazing.
One of the biggest reasons people come to Santorini is arguably all of the beautiful photos of Oia. Oia as I mentioned before, did not impress me as much as the lesser visited portions of Santorini but I think your average tourist will be delighted by it. It has plethora of Restaurants and bars.
One little secret is that if you take a path away from Oia towards the ocean, you will enter Amoudi Bay. It is a small fishing port at the base of Oia with fresh fish and beautiful views. It can be a great place to watch the sunset. It may be fun to travel down to it, but getting back up to Oia can be a chore. Beware!
We didn’t really eat anything in Oia other than snacks and of course the delightful Frappes due to the very “touristy” feel of the place. We ate in Amoudi Bay but left slightly dissapointed.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. As I said earlier, it was a fun walk from Imerovigli to Fira via a cliff side path. This is the place to go party if your into college type bars. One notable exception was Casablanca Soul, which offered a more laid back lounge feel and great live soul music. The drinks were steep at 15 euros each, but there was no cover and the drinks were large and heavily poured.
There are a lot of good places to eat here. One of the best was Dionysos. It had a large outdoor patio with attentive service and excellent Greek food.
In addition, in between Fira and Imerovigli was Il Cantuccio in Firostefani. This was one of the best restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of dining in. Their specialty is Italian food and the space itself is small and charming.
In the final part of my trip report, I will focus on the beautiful island of Milos. Home of the Venus De Milo, and the most stunning beachscapes on earth.
p.s. You must visit the beautiful Boutari winery in Santorini for a wine tasting and bring back some Santorini wine as a souvenir.