Opa! Greetings from Greece! Our first week was spent on the miraculous island of Santorini and our hearts were broken when it was time to leave. Santorini is a crescent shaped island with steep caldera cliff side, traditional white Greek buildings, and blue domed churches on the inner side. In contrast, on the outer side there are black sand beaches with rolling hills and sprinkled in between are wineries, breweries, and ancient ruins. On our way to the island, because of ferry schedules, we luckily got an afternoon stop over on the Greek island of Kos. Here we quickly got our palates used to traditional Greek food such as Mousaka and Souvlaki. Waiting at the port for our ferry we were amazed when the Blue Star Ferry pulled up with car-loading decks with semi-trucks, this thing was huge!
Traveling in shoulder season once again we were able to benefit from discounts and landed a lovely hotel with a balcony and pool (though it wasn’t filled until our last day!) called Hotel Anatoli in Fira. Our days were spent visiting red sand and black sand beaches. The red rocks were such an attractive contrast to the turquoise water. The black sand was so hot on the feet but was perfect under our towels to keep us warm from the chilly spring wind. Renting an ATV for more freedom for a couple of day we were able to easily visit the village of Oia and discover the best frozen yogurt shop in Perissa. Finding our favorite gyro shops while chatting with the locals over a shot of ‘ouzo’ made us feel at home!
Vineyards and wineries cover the island and we visited Santo Wines as it has the best view being located at the top of the calderas right in the middle of the inner crescent. Sampling many wines paired with olives and cheese, we witnessed one of the most perfect sunsets on our trip. To our surprise there is also one local microbrewery on the island. If you know us well you can guess how excited we were about this! Visiting the brewery, we sampled one of the best IPAs, bought some swag and chatted with the Serbian brewer about their unfiltered, simple technic.
One morning we took a half-day tour to the volcanic island and hot springs on a pirate-looking boat, which left from the ‘Old Port’. To get to this port we walked a switchbacked stone path down the mountain that is taken over by donkeys and their dung! The view of Santorini from the volcano was great but the tour itself was strange. They overload the boat with way too many tourists and half of them don’t climb the volcano or go into the hot springs. Hot springs, let’s rephrase this as a muddy inlet with heavy iron content that is luke-warm at best. After anchoring the boat our jumps off the boat were entertainment for the majority of people who stayed on the boat. They cheered and clapped as we jumped in like they had never witnessed this before, again strange tour and in our opinion could have been skipped.
Finding a gem of a place like this and having the luxury of staying a week makes the long, tiring travel days worth it. You know those “I ‘heart’ ‘insert town name’” shirts, the ones that used to be famous only in NYC? Well, this logo is now on swag everywhere and has always annoyed us but we loved this place SO much we were tempted everyday to purchase one. Katie loved this place SO much that she is already planning her 40th birthday here. Santorini……we have left pieces of our hearts with you and will return someday to retrieve them. Until then….