Our fast ferry catamaran had us docked in Santorini (also known as Thira) in less than 4 hours. We lucked out with the weather and skipped along the smooth Mediterranean waters, a significant contrast from the previous choppy voyage to Mykonos.
Santorini is arguably the most admired Greek Island, mainly due to its rugged, volcanic landscape and steep cliffs that drop into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.
It is famous for its white buildings and blue bulbed churches that line the top of the never-ending lava-layered cliffs. The dramatic setting is unforgettable and had us all awestruck.
We stayed in a great apartment hotel named Santorini's Balcony, located between the towns of Fira and Oia in a small village named Imerovigli. We had stunning views of the sea from both sides of our patio because our hotel was fittingly located on the top of the island's spine, giving us 360 degree panoramic views. We had sunrise views behind us and sunset views in front of us!
Our cute little apartment was perfect for three and it had a living room and kitchenette, although the Greek food was far too good for us to stay in. We had a great traditional Taverna right next door that served up some of the sharpest garlic tsatsiki you've ever tasted (it took us about two days to detoxify!).
Most of our time was spent hiking, sightseeing, eating, drinking, shopping and strolling through the tight cluster of white stone buildings. The island landscape is beyond words, it has a fairy tale vibe that makes you feel like you've stepped backwards in time to a much simpler period.
We spent one afternoon hiking from our hotel to the glamorous town of Oia, about a two-hour hike through volcanic countryside. The loose lava gravel reminded us of our hike up Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador eight months ago. At one moment you are high above the towns without a person in sight, admiring the stunning Mediterranean views while standing beside an old white church that seems to be abandoned.
The next moment you're traveling through a slim network of apartments, restaurants and hotels that are literally built into the side of the volcanic cliffs. The hotels are fabulous with small infinity pools and private patios that give unobstructed views of the neighbouring islands and the sea.
Oia has some of the most amazing architecture and landscapes that we've ever seen. We're probably starting to sound like a broken record but it's an incredible place that you really have to experience at some point in your life.
We spent another afternoon exploring the town of Fira, the capital of Santorini. Like pretty much every cliff-top town on the island, it boasts spectacular views, too many restaurants to choose from and endless retail stores and boutique shops. Fira, as well as Oia and the rest of Santorini, seems to have a charming little white church every few meters, adding to the islands uniqueness and magnetism.
To sum it up - it's just a really peaceful and enjoyable place to be!
We spent three nights in Santorini before boarding our quick Aegean Air flight back to Athens. Unfortunately our week in the Greek Islands seemed to fly by. It is a captivating place and we can see how it gets the reputation it does.
We spent another two days in Athens doing much of the same - exploring, walking, eating, drinking, shopping and marveling the city's history and character. It was great sharing our Greek experience with my mother. We've missed family during our remarkable journey and it's not every day that you get to share these extraordinary moments with close family.
Thanks again for everything mom… we had a great time!
September 30th, 2009