Friday, March 23, 2018

Santorini, Greece Part 2 of 4


Greece has been on my bucket list for almost ten years.  Specifically, Santorini.  I love to ask people I meet locally and while traveling what the most 'beautiful place' they have ever been is, and I heard "Santorini" over and over again, so I knew it was a must.  I had heard the time to travel there is in the summer b/c so much of it is closed up during winter months, but when I looked and saw the temperature was in the 70's, and there ARE hotels and restaurants and stores open, I decided this was the perfect time to go.  No heat and no crowds?  Sign me up!  I traveled there via ferry, which turned out to be a good thing b/c two of the days I was there were windy and few to no flights were able to get onto the island.  I'm going to write more about the ferry in my last post (4).  
I decided to stay in Fira b/c I had read this is where most of the things would be open at this time of the year.  We stayed in a little 6 room hotel called the Aroma Suites.  The above photo is our balcony view.  A lot of the rooms are built into the volcanic walls of the mountains.  Not only was the location gorgeous, the people at the hotel were so helpful and set up our rides to and from the ferry a private tour of the island, and a boat ride.  The staff and view can't be beat.  

Santorini hangs off the cliffs and overlooks the caldera which exploded and let the sea into the middle once upon a history.  You can see the famous town of Oia from Fira, but it looks like white stone resting along the circle of the island.

As you walk along the volcanic rock embedded roads there are all these doors that open up to restaurants with stunning views that often lead down steps to hotel rooms and pools.  I took a million pictures of all the unique doors and the view below.  



There are beaches along the shores of the island as well (though most are sheer cliff drops to the sea).  There is a black sand beach, a red sand beach, and a white sand beach.  Our guide told us the black sand beach was hopping during the summer.

There are buses and taxis, and even a 5 mile hike you can take from Fira to Oia.  We had a guide who took us to Oia and showed us the stunning views of blue domed churches and wind mills.  The truth is, each town has a view that will steal your breath, but I know this is the site that tourist flock in the summer for the sunset views.

It just so happened that in early March, our hotel had that sunset view.

One famous site around Santorini are the donkeys.  There is an old port with a cable car that will take you from port to the stores above if you come in via cruise ship, but there are also these donkeys that will make those 600 steps for you as you ride on top.  It turns out in the winter, these guys are busy hauling cement and bricks up and down the paths in Santorini to help the workers prepping the buildings for coming tourist.

I definitely hope I get to head back here some day, along with other nearby islands.  In the 'winter,' there were plenty of great restaurants to enjoy, stories to visit, and paths to travel.  Each corner had a view and a secret to reveal.
I ate a lot of great meals in the town square of Fira.
The ONLY thing I did not love the entire trip was the catamaran ride we took out to the caldera.  Let's be fair, it was so windy, but it was the most 'adventurous' boat ride I have ever taken on the largest swells I have ever encountered.  More than half the boat spent a majority of our ride throwing up.  We did find some calm in the hot springs near the bubbling volcano, and the meal was great, but I ate cautiously b/c I knew there was a ride back.  I imagine it would be great if the water was calm, but.....I'm just going to let someone else tell me about that.  My next visit I'll keep my land legs in place and take a few more hikes and enjoy the sea from the shore!
Santorini does NOT disappoint.  I hope to head back in the summer, but I'm so glad that I went this first time in March before the crowds b/c I was going for the views, and I think I loved them most in the quiet of the morning with just me and a donkey or two.

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