The next stop on our Greek isle hopping adventure was the beautiful beautiful Santorini! (somewhat shockingly, this was almost a year ago to the day – wow this year has gone by fast!).
Santorini was probably my favourite Greek island overall. Between the amazing scenery, the donkey rides, the lovely shopping, the awesome day trips, the incredible sunsets and the delicious food, this place is a winner!
So, firstly – the scenery. Santorini was by far the most beautiful of the Greek islands we visited. It has breathtaking views both from Oia town and the cliffs of Fira town. Add to this the island’s famous sunsets and you have a perfect combo.
We watched the sunset twice from Oia – the best place to watch is from the abandoned type castle. This spot gives you amazing views of the sunset on the sea, and also the reflection of the sunset on the white buildings of Oia (think Santorini’s famous pink sunsets). Be sure to go a bit early to get a good spot (preferably up on the raised section) and stay until the sun is completely set, so you can watch all of the buildings light up. It is so beautiful. And to top off the wonderful experience, everyone claps at the end of the sunset.
The other viewpoint that I’d recommend to watch the sunset from is Franco’s Bar in Fira town (or a similarly located bar). We went at about 5pm and booked the comfy hammock-type chairs overlooking the cliffs of Fira town. This is an awesome place to relax and watch the sunset, enjoying some cheeky beverages at the same time. We got there at about 6pm and sat there for the next 2 hours in absolute heaven. I’d definitely recommend!
The donkey rides. Well…
I had a love hate relationship with the donkey rides. That is, I hated the donkey ride while on the donkey, but I loved the donkey ride as soon as I had landed back on safe ground. The donkey rides typically take you either from the sea level up the cliff to Fira town or from Fira town down to sea level. Our hotel reception told us it can be quite dangerous to go down, as the poor donkeys can slip. So we decided we would go up instead.
We got to the donkey station and the gruff Greek man told me to get on the donkey. I got on, somewhat nervously, and waited patiently for the BF to embark his donkey. All of a sudden, my donkey was OFF! I turned around screaming for the Greek man and the BF, before realizing that my expectation of a nice, relaxing man-led donkey ride (picture: a young child’s ride on a donkey walking in circles) was horridly incorrect. This was not going to be anything at all like that. I got over my initial anxiety of this alone time with me and Mr. Donkey, noting that Mr. Donkey seemed to know exactly what he was supposed to do. This was a simple case of follow the leader.
My donkey was obviously bored of this frequent routine of walking up the cliff, most likely sick and tired of us tourists coming along and making him carry our heavy selves up the cliff (I mean, how lazy are these tourists anyway?). My donkey obviously liked to add some variety to his day by misbehaving. You see, unlike the other donkeys who walked up the cliff in a straight line, MY donkey (who I appropriately nicknamed “Wonky Donkey”) walked in diagonal lines. This meant that a) it took twice as long to get up the cliff (the BF, who got onto his donkey a long time after me, arrived at the top of the cliff long before me) and b) it was shit scarey (Mr. Wonky Donkey was essentially walking towards the cliff end with no muss, no fuss). Wonky Donkey also did not follow the ordinary etiquette of stopping when other donkeys were in his way. It’s far easier to walk right through a roadblock of donkeys – right?
In conclusion, I’d like to formally apologise to all those who were within a 10km distance of my donkey ride on 16 September 2014 who had to listen to my screams. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my donkey ride and quality time spent with Mr. Wonky Donkey, but only once I was back on safe ground. So if you are brave enough, I would definitely recommend a donkey ride in Santorini.. but maybe not with Mr. Wonky Donkey. Here is a photo of him, so you know who to look out for.
Santorini also has some great shopping, both in Fira town and Oia. There are heaps of beautiful jewellery and clothing stores, as well as touristey and other non-touristey shops. It is great to get lost wandering the weaving streets through each of these towns.
Finally, the awesome day trips.. As opposed to Mykonos and Ios, where our days pretty much involved lazing by the pool/beach, there is heaps to do and see in Santorini.
On our first day, we went on a (pirate ship) tour, which we really enjoyed. We first went to the natural hot springs. These were awesome! I had read mixed reviews about this online, but I really liked it. Problematically, you have to swim quite a distance from the ship to the hot spring area, however some people on our tour were given a floatation ring if they weren’t good swimmers. Alternatively, if you don’t have such forethought (like me) or are simply a daredevil, you can (like me) swim there on your own, but then make the BF swim back to the ship to get you a floatation ring, to then swim back to you to bring you said floatation ring, so that you can safely make it back alive.
You go from the cold, deep bright blue water into the muggy brown ‘warm’ shallow water that comprises the hot springs. It was an awesome experience. If you do this, keep a look out for the cute mountain goats that jump around the mountains above!
The tour then took us to the active volcano. It is a bit of a distance to walk to the top (but really only because we had done nothing but eat gyros, lie by the pool, party and drink alcohol for the past week or so), but worth it for the incredible views at the top. There are 2 spots on the island to look (or smell and feel) out for – the first is where you can smell the sulphur from the volcano, the second is the hole in which you put your hand in to feel the immense heat of the volcano. It’s really awesome. Ask your tour guide to point these out!
Another must do in Santorini is to visit the beaches, of which there are all shapes and sizes (or, more importantly, colours). There are the white beaches, the black beaches and the red beaches. We visited both Kamari and Perissa beaches, which are both black beaches. I loved these as the contrast between the black sand and the bright blue water is beautiful. We also went to Red beach, which is also fantastic.
Tip: DO NOT take the water taxi to Red beach. This water taxi is the most illogical taxi – it goes from Perissa beach, but only lets people ON and not OFF. You then have to travel to white beach and black beach, before returning to Red beach when you are allowed to disembark from the captive water taxi. This was a massive waste of 40 minutes (and was relatively expensive) when instead we could have walked 10 minutes from the bus stop (unfortunately, we did not know this at the time of embarking). The walk also has stunning views.
I promise I’m not paid by the Santorini tourist department to write such glorifying reviews – I really do just love this place. And don’t even get me started on the food.. stay tuned for my next post on everything FOOD related in Santorini.
Ελπίζω να σας δούμε το επόμενο έτος στη Σαντορίνη
Until next time…
The Allergian Abroad