Santorini is a place one of a kind –as you probably know it’s a volcanically active region. The contemporary look of the island is a result of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the history. What remains after is what we call today Santorini – circular archipelago of small islands and big lagoon in the center called caldera.
We travelled by car from Sofia to Athens and then by ferry to Santorini. We chose Blue Star ferries – we have booked the tickets in advance (around 380 euro for two persons and a car, both ways).
The day finally arrived and we were heading to Athens. Half of the way, I received a call from my mom, who told me there was a ferry strike at Piraeus port. Seriously?!?! We hoped it’s a false alarm, but when we got there it turned out that the strike has already begun and it would last for three days. Well, thank God we’ve managed to change the dates of the reservation. So, the good thing was that we were going to visit properly Athens.
Athens day first – very hot (and we were there in May). It turned out the Acropolis is closed – strike of the employees. So we took a walk around Plaka – it’s the old part of the city – old buildings, narrow streets, charming coffee shops. You should definitely have a cup of coffee there or even better – cold frappe. The walk continued, so did the strike… the botanical garden was closed. What a bad luck! At least the panathenaic stadium was open! Kamen enjoyed it quite a lot – after all he’s a former athlete. There is also a museum where all the Olympic torches used through the years are displayed.
Second day – this time the strike at the Acropolis was over, so we were finally in. Very impressive site. I wonder if we can see it reconstructed one day?
The botanical garden was still striking…
All of the main boulevards around the parliament were closed because of the strike….
At least the restaurants were open…
Third day – we decided to run away from the strikes out of Athens. We headed south to find some nice beach to enjoy the hot weather. We found an interesting spot – natural mineral water pool in the rocks, the place is called Vouliagmeni lake . Since we prefer not so crowded places, we continued looking and in the end we chose Kavouri beach. I convinced Kamen to have dinner at the beach tavern instead of going back to striking Athens. Eventually the dinner turned out to be amazing, furthermore we enjoyed an incredible sunset. Spontaneous things I like the most!
Next morning we were finally at Piraeus port. So many people and cars – three days no ferry and this one was the first. The travel was terrible.
Eight hours later we arrived in Santorini.
We chose Rocabella Santorini Hotel &SPA – for our stay. I highly recommend this place – wonderful caldera view, friendly staff, and most of all – very instagramable!
I forgot about the nightmare on the ferry the moment they gave us a glass of wine and showed our room.
Our first night in Oia was magical – no matter what I say for this place it’s not enough! We rushed to see the famous sunset – there were so many people waiting to see the spectacle. The view was amazing indeed! I’ve seen many sunsets but this one is incomparable – the atmosphere of the place – its white buildings, the silhouette of the mills make it even more magical.
We spent the next day walking around the streets of Oia – this is the most picturesque place I’ve ever been to.
That night we decided to stay at the hotel to watch the sunset. It was way more romantic there – no crowds to share the experience. It was wonderful – the infinity pool, a bottle of champagne, us and the sunset!
I must say the breakfast at the hotel was the perfect one. The restaurant had beautiful view with its tables scattered on several terraces overlooking the caldera.
The same day we were going to explore the beaches on the island. If you ask me, Santorini is not the best choice as far as it concerns beaches. There are only few beaches and only one is worth a visit in my opinion – the Red beach. The landscape there is really one of a kind – it’s enclosed by steep red rocks, the sand and the pebbles are also red and the sea is like turquoise – this creates fascinating palette of colors – it’s a must-see! You can reach it by boat from Akrotiri port, Kamari or Perissa or by car – there is a parking close to the beach. Keep in mind that there is no restaurant or coffee shop on the beach, so bring your own food and drinks.
Close to the red beach is located the village of Akrotiri – historical site, destroyed by the volcanic eruption, now you have the opportunity to walk around this ancient Minoan village covered in volcanic ashes.
There are few more beaches – Kamari beach, Perissa and Perivolos (or the Black beaches) but honestly I am not impressed by neither of them – wide pebbled beaches, lots of restaurants and bars, nothing special.
What you should definitely do is visit some of the local wineries and try the famous dessert wine Vinsanto. We visited Santo Wines – I’ve heard that their Vinsanto is one of the best. In addition to the wine experience, there are also a gourmet and souvenir shop and a restaurant where you can enjoy the sunset.
Next day we visited Thira – the main city on the island. It’s similar to Oia but not as charming. the most popular attraction there is the donkey ride. Also there are many tourist offices where you can buy tickets for boat trip to Nea Kameni – the volcano island. And that was just what we did – we can’t miss the opportunity to walk around the active volcano!
On our way back to the hotel we had a minor incident – our car snapped the accessory belt. Luckily the hotel staff was very helpful and everything was resolved the next morning. But unfortunately in the evening we had to stay at the hotel, which is located in Imerovigli – not the best option for walks. So we had a dinner at the hotel. There are two more things you need to try in Santorini – Volcan beer, locally produced and Fava – traditional dish, it’s made from fava beans (yellow peas) and it’s like puree, it’s very delicious!
Next morning with our car fixed, we were headed to Thira’s old port – this is where the boat trips to the volcano departure. There are three options to go down there – by foot (a lot of steps) by cable car or by donkey.
The weather was bad – it was raining all the time but we were very enthusiastic – not every day you have the chance to go for a walk on an active volcano! It really was amazing – the landscape was surreal – almost no vegetation, only black rocks and smell of sulfur. There were hot steams coming out from the many cracks in the ground. The seismologists told us that we are safe because the volcano is under constant supervision- I hope they never go striking and stick to their job. After the volcano visit, the boat took us to the hot thermal springs. Some people went for a swim in there, but because of the bad weather we decided to skip it.
The last night we spent watching the sunset at Oia one more time, but instead of choosing the popular spots, we found a quiet place on the outskirts with amazing panorama. It’s in the very beginning of Oia next to Capitan John hotel (you will recognize it by the boat on its roof). Unfortunately it was cloudy but we still enjoyed our last sunset on Santorini island.
Before taking the ferry back to Athens the next day, we had time to visit Pirgos – another authentic village with typical landscape – white houses, churches and narrow streets.
After another eight hours ferry trip sitting next to a loud company of young Greeks singing traditional songs, at midnight we were back in Athens. Eight more hours to Sofia sleeping in the car and in the morning- straight to work! Lucky me!