This summer I finally visited a place that had been very high up on my travel bucket list – Santorini. I don’t think I need to tell you why I wanted to visit, the question rather is, why wouldn’t you – it is absolutely gorgeous. So after sailing in Greece for a week and visiting many small islands, my dad and me took the ferry from Athens to Thira. My first thought upon arrival was about the weather (I guess living in the UK is rubbing off on me) but the heat literally hit me in the face and I felt like I was melting away. Not finding a direct bus to Kamari, we took a taxi to the hotel which took longer than expected since we were stuck in traffic. But after 40 minutes, we finally arrived and directly got the keys to our room since it was 2pm by the time that we got there. The room was spacious and comfortable but the best thing was the view from the balcony for sure – we could see the beach and the promenade. Speaking of the beach – the black beach in Kamari is simply stunning. It is located in front of a mountain that leads up all the way to Ancient Thira and that separates Kamari and Perissa, another town located at the seaside. Kamari turned out to be the perfect place to stay at in Santorini – it is home to many great shops and restaurants, the beautiful promenade and buses are running to Fira all day from where you can go further north or south.
But on our first day, we did not take the bus anywhere and instead explored Kamari itself. Our first stop was the beach of course and after a long walk and exhausting walk of about 30 seconds to get there we were ready to dive into the water. Getting in was actually quite a challenge since the rocks that led into the sea were very slippery – it felt like walking on ice. But the struggle was worth it since the sea was absolutely beautiful. The water was so clear that you could just stand there and watch the fish swim by. I bought a snorkelling set to see even more of the marine life but you could already see plenty of fish by just looking down from above the surface. I remember being in the sea and feeling an overwhelming sense of freedom that first afternoon. I always thought that the sea made me feel this way but comparing this experience to the week of sailing, I concluded that it was the beach rather than just the sea itself. Whilst I find underwater life incredibly fascinating, I find it equally as scary and prefer being closer to the land. Plus I think that it’s the realisation that there is a massive ocean stretching out in front of you that gives you the feeling of endless freedom, the ability to overcome whatever obstacle life throws at you. After spending a few hours at the beach, we got ready and then had dinner at one of the restaurants at the promenade. I had stuffed vegetables and fava (which you might or might not remember from my last post about Greece, it is mashed up beans) and a glass of white wine. Let me just point out that Santorini and especially Kamari is one of the most vegan-friendly places I have come across. The restaurant we dined at had a separate vegan menu and most restaurants had plenty of vegan options and were willing to veganise meals that included dairy. In Santorini I had the best starters ranging from aubergine crisps to fava with capers and dolmadakia, stuffed grape leaves. I only knew dolmadakia as a veggie dish and had them multiple times in Athens. Weirdly, I couldn’t find any meat-free dolmadakia on most of the small islands that we visited but when we came to Santorini they were all vegan again. Someone explain that to me.
But before I go on talking about food, let me talk about the different places that we visited. We first visited Fira, the capital of the island which is portrayed in the first photos of the blog post. What I liked about Fira was the little shops, the view over the coastline and the little streets and alleyways. We spent our time wandering around, trying on sun hats and white dresses (although I have to admit, that was just me) and watching people eat dinner at fancy restaurants basically hanging above the water (that sounds creepier and scarier than intended). We stopped at a beautiful spot from where you could see Fira in the setting sun and spent a good 30 minutes there, unable to walk away from a view that beautiful. Some say that Santorini is the most beautiful place in the world and I don’t think I can argue with that. The next day we got to know the island from a different side – we took the bus to Akrotiri where we visited the excavation site and the red beach. The excavation site is home to the remains of prehistoric settlements allowing you to imagine life many centuries ago. The remains of an elaborate drainage system, wall paintings and multi-storey buildings point to a prosperous life of our ancestors. In the 17th century BC the inhabitants of the early settlement were forced to leave due to earthquakes. Shortly after, a volcano eruption covered the island and therefore this town as well. In the 20th century, the remains of the village were uncovered and can now be visited and admired. What struck me most was the sight of the damaged stairs since small details like that truly let you imagine life back then – I closed my eyes and a pictured a woman walking running down these stairs to escape the collapsing house. In the evening, my dad and me visited the red beach, a pebble beach that is surrounded by massive red rocks, hence the name. Getting down to the beach wasn’t easy, it required climbing and looking back, flip flops weren’t the best choice of footwear. But hey, I made it. I could comment on this beach but I think that pictures speak more than a 1000 words in this case.
Last but (definitely) not least, we visited Oia, aka blogger’s paradise. If you’re wondering, that’s where all bloggers’ pictures are taken. And the reason is obvious, Oia is the most stunning town of the island, beating even Fira. Plus there is a book shop that allows you to rent a cat, do I need to say more? I spent most of my time in Oia again just wandering around, taking in the beautiful scenery, looking at souvenirs and clothes and getting a freshly squeezed orange juice for 6(!) Euros. I also made my way down to Ammoudi Bay, a stunning little harbour with a few restaurants. I nearly collapsed walking back up in the heat (workout done for the week) but the photos were worth it. When I came back up, I was time to experience what Santorini is most famous for – its stunning sunsets. I decided to do the ‘touristy thing’ and watch it from the castle. And although it was crowded, an Italian man let me stand in front of him (benefits of being a short person) and I managed to watch the sunset from the ‘front row’. Whilst watching the sun disappear into the sea, I had to pinch myself multiple times to remind myself that this was real and not photoshopped, it was hands down the most beautiful experience of my life. Seeing the town submerged in orange and then pink light was magical and I was absolutely swept away by what was in front of me. When the sun finally disappeared in the sea, everyone started to clap, awaking from a state of trance after being completely immersed in the moment.
How can you not love the planet that holds such beauty? How can you not love the little island with the windmills, the blue roofs and the tiny alleyways? After visiting Santorini, I understand why every second blogger is raving about it and I understand that they aren’t exaggerating. So needless to say, Santorini should be on your travel bucket list.
Have you visited Santorini? Or any other Greek islands? xx