Like most people I know, I have dreamed of holidaying on the Greek islands; walking through white washed villages, swimming in turquoise water and dining on freshly caught seafood. I have high expectations for Santorini as we board the ferry from Crete.
In the distance, jagged cliffs rise out of the ocean and little white dots start to appear. As we get closer you can make out a solitary church sitting isolated on a point, glistening in the morning sun. Then, into view come the cliff top villages, like icing sugar sitting atop a layer cake, dripping down the side. So far, so good!
The port is busy with the eager to arrive and not so ready to leave passengers, jostling to get on and off ferries. The Greek ferries are rarely on time, running an hour or so late is not unusual, but they work to precision the moment they dock; within minutes people, luggage and island supplies are offloaded, followed by the reverse reloads and the ferry departs. Our transport is waiting and is eager to pack us into the car, so as to escape the port ahead of the buses. It is a dramatic ascend traversing the cliff side into Fira, the main town of Santorini.
Fira, is the best known town of Santorini, perched up high on the clifftop, Firostefani is its close neighbour and then Imerovigli, where we are staying. The small towns are all connected by a 6km path ringing the cliff and passing through the plethora of hotels built like Lego blocks down the steep sides, the majority of which include a swimming pool, precariously balanced as well.
Our hotel, Ilioperato meets all our expectations, this is everything you would expect of Santorini. In traditional style, it is white washed with blue trim and grey floors to contrast and our room was previously a wine cellar (yes, how very apt). It’s lovely and cool, with ample room for the three of us. The pool is glistening and beckoning, though we later discover, on the chilly side. The view; simply spectacular – Don had chosen well.
We dump our luggage and head out to explore the surrounds and grab some lunch. Our choice is a restaurant called Mezza. Sitting on the patio looking out across the ocean, we are living the greek holiday dream! We all had a superb lunch, but Don and I had food envy over Katrina’s choice of stuffed Squid. So much so, we went back the following night just so we could have it – and they didn’t let us down.
Now, you have probably noticed a strong theme evolving around eating and drinking. Let me assure you, we think we get our fair share of exercise in as well. On our first morning we embark early (7:30am) to walk the caldera to Oia (ee-a) on the far northern tip of the Island. The 8km trek (I checked with google maps), provides spectacular views along the cliffs and gets our heart rate up. Oia is the Paris end of Santorini. White washed boutique hotel after another line the pathway, each with a private swimming pool, of course. I don’t know how they balanced some of them on the cliffs. Designer shops and restaurants make-up the rest of the village. It is picture perfect.
We are amused by the number of weddings we witness of Asian couples; the amusement is that there are no guests. Apparently, the thing to do is go to an exotic location, get dressed up and fake the day. Go home, have the official wedding and share the photos. I guess these days you can even photo shop your guests in!
Santorini is the chosen destination for Don the loose the greek fisherman look (yippee), but I will give than an entry all of its own!
Santorini is our final destination with Katrina. After 6 weeks of traveling with us, she returns to Australia and back to work (a very foreign concept for us). We could not have asked for a better travel companion. Katrina has a natural happy and positive demeanor, even early in the morning (unlike me who needs coffee first). She has a passion to explore everything, which I think was good for Don and I. We may have given up on a few ruins if it hadn’t been for Katrina. Katrina is generally not funny, but we did on occasion find she could be quick witted and came up with a few jokes all on her own! She did extremely well to put up with us. We thank you for joining us Katrina and look forward to you joining the tour again in October at Mexico.
For our final dinner we have all acquired a white shirt. I should say a traditional greek shirt, you can buy one on every corner, but we had noticed that many are made in India! We enjoy the sunset from our balcony sipping a local sparkling; we are all looking relaxed and I have to say rather tanned dressed in white. But of course, we highly recommend and support sun smart principles.