Santorini was the island that I had most been looking forward to visiting. We booked a hotel in Thira which is one of the biggest towns on the island and in theory about a 15/20-minute journey to the port. When we first arrived we found our man waiting for us to take us to the hotel, however since he wasn´t only picking us up we had to wait for ages in the heat until the others arrived. When they eventually did, it turned out they were staying on the complete opposite end of the island and instead of 20 minutes it took almost an hour. What annoyed us more was that we were paying for this service, it wasn´t free like in some of the other hotels we had stayed at. Luckily, they forgot to charge us, and we weren´t going to bring it to their attention.
When we finally made it to our hotel we had another shock. Our hotel the Blue Sky Hotel, was fully booked, even though we had booked and paid for our room months in advance. We were shipped off to their sister hotel which was about 500 metres away. This might not seem much, but breakfast and the swimming pool were in the first hotel and we had to head there for the facilities which were shared by at least 3 different hotels. It wasn´t the luxury start that we had anticipated. The room we were given was spacious and had a nice balcony although the views were of the busy road and big industrial bins, not the sea view that they had advertised. Maybe if you squinted you could make out the water. This minor setback was not going to stop me enjoying the island.
On our first night on the island we explored the town of Thira and all the nooks and crannies and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. A typical dish of Greece is their pitta wraps which we decided to try on our first night and eat them back in our hotel on the balcony. These are similar to the ones you can get anywhere but the sauces are different and they also add chips. They also aren´t opened like in Britain but wrapped. Delicious!
One of the top things to do on the island is to visit the nearby active volcano and hot springs. There are different options that you can book, like if you only want volcano and springs or if you want Thirassia island too, there is also a dinner on board the boat option. Javi and I chose the medium sized option.
First we had to make our way to the old harbour for about 10:30 and await our boat. To get to the old harbour there are a few options, the cable car which is €5 per person, you can get a donkey down for the same price or the option that we went for which is to walk. The only issue with this is that there is donkey crap all over the 200 odd steps and if you weren´t careful the donkeys that were carrying people up the steps didn´t care you were there and would go into you if you didn´t get out of their way. When we arrived many people were waiting for the same boat and not everyone got on. I assume that those who didn´t, got on a later boat but Javi and I weren´t waiting around to find out.
The first stop on the tour was the active volcano. You must have sturdy shoes to do this walk, we saw people attempting it in flip-flops which really wasn´t ideal and even a women trying in high heels. The walk is about 45-minutes up (30 minutes back down) and if you can keep up with the guide she explains different things about it and how long it has been active and the last eruption. Afterwards we headed to the hot springs, which was a dirty patch of water where the temperature changes due to the volcanic action. We were told in advance to bring dark coloured swimwear due to darkness of the water which can stain your clothes. You have to be a confident swimmer as the boats can´t get too close due to rocks and you need to swim a fair distance to reach it, and back again obviously. Lunch was on the island of Thirassia which was nothing to write home about. Expensive and canteen styled layout where you walk in and collect your own food and pay at the end of the line was pretty much what was offered at every restaurant. We did have the option to go into the village but the walk up the steep steps would have taken about 20 minutes each way and you don´t have that long on the island. The final stop before heading back to Thira is Oia. If you disembark here, you can´t get back on the boat. Javi and I decided this was what we were going to do.
From the port of Oia to the town is a bit of a hike as well. There are over 200 steps up, there are donkeys but again, we decided to struggle up with the summer sun beating down on us. Oia is famous for its sunset. It is even more beautiful than that of Thira, however, we decided not to stick around to see it, but to walk the 10km back to the hotel whilst it was still light. Once we had looked around the town we took the path leading along the coast and up over the mountains. This is the top thing to do in Santorini on trip advisor and I understand why. Normally people walk from Thira to Oia but we did it the other way around which I think is a little more difficult.
The first issue we had was actually finding the path. You can join it in many different places but there aren´t any signs saying that you on it. Further along there are but you have to already be on the correct path to see them. There were a few moments where we weren´t on the right path, and very quickly had to retreat as we found ourselves on a very narrow cliff edge with nowhere to go. Since we did it the opposite way to everyone else there were more uphill moments than if we had done it from Thira to Oia, however, it took us about 2.5 hours with photo stops and pauses to admire where we were.
In one day, we had climbed a volcano, walked up and down over 400 steps and took a 10km hike over the mountains. We felt that a well-deserved dinner was in order once we had arrived back in Thira. We had looked at booking a table with a balcony with views but we figured since the sun had set you wouldn´t really get the views, and the prices there are extortionate. The previous day we had gone for a glass of wine and in some places they were asking for €7 a glass. You can buy a decent bottle in Spain for that. So, we ended up at a lovely restaurant in the town. Although it was expensive, it was worth it. I had white tuna which came with pitta, rice, chips and salad, enough to feed a small army.
On our last day in Santorini, we walked around Thira again, going into the church and popping into the little shops that are around. The rest of the day we hung out by the pool and relaxed before catching our next ferry. We booked a transfer back down to the port for €20 (€10 each) which took only 15 minutes, unlike on our arrival. Fourth ferry of the trip, Santorini to Crete.