Greece Pt 3: Santorini

Friday, September 7, 2012

Santorini: Day 1

We woke up super early to catch our taxi to the Piraeus Port where we would take a high speed ferry to Santorini! We were sad we wouldn’t get a final breakfast at the hotel but stocked up on bananas and apples the morning before.  The taxi driver dropped us of and we boarded the ferry.  The ferry employees took our luggage and put them in dispersed places around the ship.  This freaked me out of course.  We would  be making multiple stops before we reached Santorini.  I was worried someone would take our luggage when they got off at a stop {either by accident or intentionally} or we wouldn’t be able to our luggage in time and miss the stop.  Our travel agent had booked us a front row seat, which was pretty awesome.  Although the ferry wasn’t the nicest, we had plenty of foot room.  The section next to us however was the resting area for the workers I guess.  Big hairy men would come and sit in the section next to us and talk SO LOUDLY and go in and out in and out of the damn doors.  I won’t even mention how small/gross the bathrooms were.  This was going to be a long 5 hour ride. At the start of the trip the announcer came on and said something in Greek, then French and then English on the order of the stops.  Problem was, even when saying in English, my Mom and I couldn’t figure out how many stops there were before Santorini.
After a few hours, the ferry began to approach its first stop.  We knew this wasn’t our stop but the though of my luggage being stolen freaked me out.  I stared out of a window at each passenger that left to make sure they didn’t leave with our luggage bags, about a ten minute long heart attack.This happened for 2 more stops until we reached Santorini.

When the ferry docked we were to fend for ourselves.  I scrambled around to find my Mom’s and my luggage.  I started to worry but eventually found them; now the task to unload them.  Of course no one is there to help. I am throwing my 2 big bags off the side of the boat and then running back to help my mother because she cant carry hers and is holding up the line.  

Finally we get off the boat and we are met by a travel agent rep and our driver.  Our agent gets in the car with us and explains the map of the island in a heavy accent.  She then goes on about “EXCURSIONS”.  I got a chuckle out of this. “You must go on an EXCURSION to the Caldera.” “You must go on an EXCURSION to the beaches” By EXCURSIONS she meant paying an arm and a leg to go on a group tour of these places.  My Mom and I wanted to explore on our own and declined the EXCURSIONS.  I don’t think our agent rep liked this.  

The taxi ride was insane.  We went up this switchback road I swore we were going to roll down the side of the cliff based on how fast we were twisting and turning. All of the sudden our taxi stops and our agent gets out and gets on her little moped and follows us up the street to our villa. The little moped barley made it.
We stopped at a beautiful little white set of buildings and I saw the sign ‘Langas Villas”; We were here!  Once out of the taxi we were greeted by one of the owner’s , Ana.  She was Australian and very hospitable. She showed us to our little apartment and we went inside.  It was so cute! My Mom and I were not expecting a whole apartment to ourselves.  Of course Everything was painted bone white and royal blue.  The colors of Santorini!  We opened up balcony doors and were blown away by the view. Ana, the owner came out on the balcony with us and explained all of what we were seeing.  To our right we could see the town of Oia at the tip of the island, to our left we could see the town of Fira and in front of us we could see the Caldera and other little islands.  Like I said.. it was magnificent and my pictures soooo no do it justice.  
Ana then asked us what we wanted for breakfast each morning and what time, her or her husband would hand deliver our breakfast to us each morning.  We were so excited to have breakfast on our balcony.   
{Our Villa}
{In love}
{Our amazing balcony+ view}
Our little travel agent friend caught up with us finally from her mo-ped and gave us some maps, information on the Island and tried to get us to sign up for excursions again.  We politely declined.. again.  Finally she left and my Mom and I wondered down about a 1/4 of a mile to a little area of town of Imerovigli where there were a few restaurants.  We decided to eat at Anogi.  It had a very cute outside set up. I ordered the ground lamb with potato puree.  It was pretty good.  My mom ordered the chicken and mashed potatoes.  The highlight of the meal was the generous serving of white Santorini wine for 2.50 euros! It was very good.  

The weather outside was great, not too hot, and with a nice breeze.  I could not wait to do all the things on our itinerary I had put together. 

After lunch we went and spoke with the owner Ana.  She basically said to get anywhere fun we would need a car.  The plan before leaving for the trip was to take the buses from Fira {the hub of Santorini} and go to all the places we wanted to go.  Well turns out Fira was about an hour walk because of all hills and windy turns.  Ana explained how much a Taxi would be to go to all our wanted places; pretty darn expensive.  She then told us the price to rent a car; 45 euros a day.  Our travel agent who planned the trip back in DC had said it was hard to drive in Santorini and he did not recommend it.  Nonetheless, since it was still considered the Low season we decided to go for it.  My Mom refused to drive so I was the guinea pig.  We decided to rent it for two whole days and would be picked up the next afternoon by the company to take us to pick up our car.

In the mean time my Mom and I spent the rest of the day wondering around near our villa, exploring and snapping pictures.  Since we had a super late lunch we went to a local mom and pop market and picked up, bread, cheese, apples and a bottle of red Santorini Wine.  We were super excited because wine here is a lot less expensive than in Athens. We ended the mean by splitting a baklava!

We ate our snack dinner on the balcony and read our books.  Eventually the sun went down and it was beautiful. When it got dark, it became pretty chilly so we decided to head to bead early and get a good nights rest for all of our activities the next day.  Although we had been in Greece for about a week, we were still having horrible jet lag.
{Cheap, Yummy Santorini Wine!}
{Ground Lamb+ Potato puree}

 {Yummy Baklava to share}

{Loving the outside setup}
{Exploring around our villa}
{found a walking path along the edge}
{Beautiful Views}

 {Pretty flowers growing on the wall}

 {Adorable house entrance way}

{Makeshift dinner of bread, cheese, apples and wine +books+ watching the sunset}

{Beautiful Sunset}

Santorini: Day 2

We woke up bright and early the next morning.  Ana’s husband Nicolas brought our breakfast and it looked great.  Croissants, toast, homemade jams, cheese, meat, freshly squeezed orange juice, Greek coffee and Greek yogurt with honey! It was absolutely wonderful to relax and sit on the balcony with this amazing food and view. 
{Morning Greek Coffee in Hand}

{Amazing Breakfast}

We literally had to make ourselves leave the balcony to start getting ready to leave to rent the car.  Of course everyone was on Island time and the pickup guys was over an hour late getting us.  We finally made it to the car rental store.  Of course we ended up having to pay 24 euros for insurance which added to our costs but was still cheaper than taking taxis everywhere.  Not to mention the extra time we would save not waiting around for the taxis. We got a little Nissan car.  I had never seen a Nissan like this before, it was microscopic, almost like a smart car. We had to take pictures of all the dents and scratches on it so we didn’t get charged. We signed some paperwork and we were on our way! First stop, Santo Winery!
Santo Winery:
Driving in Santorini is indeed a challenge.  The streets are either switchback and steep or so narrow you think you are going to take off the side mirrors of your car. Also streets all the sudden turn into one way out of nowhere.  It took us a while to find Santo Winery. A lot of streets do not have signs on them let alone the maps we had.  Although we got lost several times, it was an adventure and we saw some pretty cool stuff.  I couldn’t take picutres of course because I was driving but there were goats, pure white churches on cliffs and huge old windmills.  It was beautiful.  When we stumbled upon Santo Winery there were barely any cars in the parking lot.  We walked in and were seated in the perfect spot overlooking the ocean. Once again amazing.  My mom and I decided to get the 6 wine tasting with food pairing option for 12 euros.  Although this option was for only one person we asked for another glass and shared.  It turned out to be perfect and some of the wines were incredibly unique.  Of course they gave us little description cards to tell us what each of the wines were, how they were made and what types of food go best with each. As for the food, there were grapes, cheese and hard bread with a spicy tomato paste for dipping. 

{In front of the entrance to Santo Winery}
{Wine Tasting Spread}
{Look at that view}
{Indoor area}
{Happy as a clam}

After tasting we wondered around the grounds to explore.  The views were non stop.  We saw a few tour buses pull up; which we had heard would happen.  We decided to turn around and head to the gift shop to buy our favorite wine {and I a memento wine glass} and get the heck out of there before it got to crowded. 

{Exploring around Santo Winery}
{Beautiful view + Cruise Ship Coming In}
{Tourist Pic}
{Views keep coming}
{Trying to be artsy}

Fira + Donkey Ride

We found our way to Fira fairly easily.  We found parking which proved to more difficult and stressful than we though.  We walked up a steep hill to a little strip overlooking the ocean all aligned with unique shops, restaurants and a huge church.  We went inside the church which was beautiful, we were not allowed to take pictures πŸ™

{Fira}
{Fira}
 [Beautiful Huge Church in Fira}
 {Entrance to the Church}
 {Another side of the church}

We started walking down steps and wondered into random shops.  We kept asking people where the donkey rides were and everyone kept saying, “keep going down.” Finally we saw some donkeys and a little man.  He kept pressuring us to pay and ride the donkeys down.  We had heard to just walk down the 600+ steps to the Old Port and pay the 5 euros to come back up to Fira on the donkeys.  It seems like everyone must do that and the men end up having too many donkeys left at the top of the steps.  

Let me tell you. It took about an hour to walk down all these steps! All of the flights of steps were switchback and they lead all the way down to the water of the Old Port.  As soon as we started on our journey we see hundreds and hundreds of donkeys lining the stairs.  It was pretty cool, but also stinky and kind of scary because you literally had to push some donkeys away so you could walk through.  I was afraid I was going to get kicked.

 {Trying to convince us to pay to go down}
  {Adorable donkeys}
{Hello there}
{Switchback paths down}
{Never ending donkeys}
{Donkey Lovin’}
{Never ending steps}
{Decorations on the donkeys}
{Walking down the famous 500+ Fira steps}
{Fuzzy little guy}
We finally got to the bottom of the steps to the old port.  My mom was mad when I didn’t want to look around and found the men to give them my 5 euros.  I was beyond excited. I was happy when I saw the man bring a big sturdy donkey.. but it may have been a horse.  I hopped on and the man didn’t give my Mom any time to take a picture of me.  I was expecting someone, like a donkey expert or something, to be walking us or riding with us. NOPE they just let you get on the donkey, no instructions, and off you go.  I began to worry when I didn’t see my Mom behind me.  My donkey stopped to eat some grass and wouldn’t start back up when I yelled giddy up.  Finally I saw my Mom coming up the hill.  My donkey still wouldn’t move and my Mom started to pass me.  I guess my donkey finally decided to move and off I went again.  It was about a 20 minute ride to the top and let me tell you what, it was one of the coolest things ever.  I mean, I used to ride horses, but riding this donkey up these switchback paths overlooking the ocean was spectacular. I was snapping pictures left and right; not holding on with any hands, while my mother is holding on for dear life the whole ride up. Needless to say, I figured I was not going to get any pictures of me on the donkey.  That is why when I started to pass another group of donkey riders, I handed one of them my camera and ordered them to snap away.  My donkey continued to stop and sniff poop and eat grass off the wall, I guess it is true what they say, donkeys are stubborn
{At the bottom of the steps}
{Off I go}
{Holding on for dear life}
{Trying to get through all the donkeys}
{Having so much fun!}
{Hi Mom!}
{Trying to get the background}
{Pretty view}
{Tired little guy}
 {Amazing experience}
Towards the top, all of the other donkeys lined the path again.  This was scary because I was worried my donkey, or my leg, would get kicked.  some of them kicked, but luckily not hard enough to make my donkey/horse freak out and throw me off. I was sad when we reached the top and I had to get off.  The donkey man at the top basically had to carry my mom off of the donkey because she didn’t know how to get off. Oh Mother.
After the donkey rides we were dying of thirst.  We stopped by a little resturarnt and ordered 2 huge bottoles of water then went on our merry way to shop.  I ended up buying a little handmade toy donkey, 2 santorini oil paintings {5 euros each!} and a sterling silver donkey charm to remember my wonderful donkey ride.
We noticed I had a dark stain on the side of my dress.  It must have been donkey poo from when we were passing the other donkeys and they were kicking.  We went back to the villa to change/freshen up and head to Amoundi Bay and Oia to watch the sunset!

Amoundi Bay

After changing and freshening up we headed to the other side of the island.  Ana, had made reservations at this recommended restaurant called Ambroshia.  We had originally wanted to eat at this place called ‘1800’ in this old mansion, but they were closed because it wasn’t high season yet. Ana the owner found all of this our for us and and made reservations at Ambroshia.  She had told us that this place was pretty expensive.  My Mom and I were fine with this, we figured it would be our one expensive meal we would have.

We found our way towards Oia fairly easily. We saw signs for Amoundi Bay which was on our to do list.  We pulled into a tiny parrell parking spot on the steepest hill ever and got out of the car to explore. After asking a store owner where the best place in Oia was to watch the sunset, we found out Oia was actually right above us.  She pointed at the windmill and the old castle and told us to go to one of those places to watch the sunset.

{Amoundi Bay}

{More Donkeys!}
{Posing in front of the Bay}  
{Stairs yet again-leading from Amoundi Bay to the town of Oia}

 {Beautiful}
 {Clear water}

{Looking up to the town of Oia}

Oia

After walking around the bay for a bit we decided we better head to Oia to get a good spot at either the castle or windmill.  We drove up the ‘mountain’ and found a perfect parking spot.  Oia is the part of Santorini you see in all the postcards.  Where everything is bone white with royal blue roofs.  Right off the bat, getting out of the car we were amazed by all the pretty buildings.

{Pretty church}
{Cute restaurant}

 {Picturesque Church}
{Adorable blue gate}
We walked up a little hill to the top of Oia where all the action is.  It was pretty busy with people but plenty of room to wonder around and explore. It was amazing, you would just walk in between two little buildings and all of the sudden you would be overlooking beautiful buildings and the ocean. My Mom and I went crazy for about an hour walking around frantically and taking pictures. 
A little shop was selling sterling silver Greek key earrings for on 14 euros and I of course bought them.  The man had a very nice store with antiques and everything and my Mom was chatting up a storm with the guy about an old map he had.  I noticed as he was wrapping my earrings, he got out two small earring boxes.  For some reason I thought this was odd and as he was talking I couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to give me the box with the earrings in it.  When he finished wrapping the tiny box with tape and ribbon he put it in a little bag and stapled it closed. When he handed it to me he was still talking to my Mom and I booked it outside.  I ripped off the tape and opened the box.  Low and behold there weren’t any earrings in it.  I was pissed.  I ran back inside and cleared my throat very loudly with the empty box open.  He looked so shocked and of course tried to play it off as if it was a mistake and handed me the correct box with my earrings in it that was still on his desk. I opened up that box right in front of him and low and behold there were my earrings.
Needless to say I waited outside for my Mom to finish.

After the attempt to pull a fast one on me we stumbled upon the castle everyone had  been talking about,{one of the best places to watch the sunset in Oia} but in the distance we saw the windmill which was not crowded at all.  We decided to book it over to the windmill to find a good spot and wait.  We waited forever {literally an hour and a half for the sun to set.  We were entertained by what looked to be a European woman and man model posing near us with about 20 photographers taking pictures of them.  The women was dressed in a see through white dress with just a white thong underneath and a huge white hat.  The photographers were going so nuts that they would stand on the edge of walls with nothing but a long deathly drop below, JUST to get a good view of the models.  Then we had this little asian couple on their honeymoon that were staying in a little villa right near where we were sitting.  The husband seemed to think we would like him to blast “Empire State of Mind” literally over and over again on his iPad while shouting something cheerful in his native language.  Needless to say we were over it.
Finally the sun started to go down and everyone went camera crazy. It was beautiful. 
{Far away view of the old castle}
{Doggie taking a nap on the edge of the castle}
{Posing on the castle}
{Part of the old castle}

{The castle}

{The windmill!}

{And down she goes}
When the sun had set we couldn’t wait for dinner.  Since we couldn’t find the actual Ambroshia restaurant, but we had passed their less fancy sister restaurant Ambroshia Nectar we decided to eat there.  Also we were sweaty from walking around all day and since we were already slacking in the fancy dress requirement adding stinky to the mix may not have been the best idea.

When we sat down to eat at the sister restaurant we asked the waiter to call the mother restaurant to cancel our reservations. We sat right along a walk way path and could see the ocean as well as people watch.  It was nice.

{Cute table candles at Ambroshia}
{Pretty View from our seats}
Soon we realized this was a gay establishment. (Gay pride flags everywhere) Which obviously I don’t care about.  I will eat anywhere with anyone.  But the customers coming in one by one seemed to look at my Mom like we were crazy. The looks we were getting were hilarious.  Our waiter was the more handsome gay man I had ever seen.  Absolutely gorgeous!

My Mom and I shared a Greek salad of course followed by the best kabobs I have ever had with roasted veggies and 3 different sauces to choose from for dipping. It was a very nice and relaxing dinner.

The walls along the paths in Oia had built in little lights so it wasn’t as scary as I thought walking back to the car.  We made the 30 min drive back home and went to bed, excited for another fun filled day!

 {Greek Salad}
{Kabobs+Veggies}

Santorini: Day 3

The next day we once again enjoyed the wonderful homemade breakfast on the balcony. Our plan today was to hit the Black, Red and White beaches and visit Ancient Thira. The owner Ana had recommended a little Mom and Pop fish taverna near the Red Beach, that has fresh fish brought to the taverna every morning, handmade bread and fresh veggies+greens from their garden.  I was all in!

Kamari Beach {Black Beach}

We hopped in the car and found Kamari Beach (the black beach) fairly easily.  On the way there we saw this beautiful church and hopped out to take a few pictures.
There really isn’t sand in Santorni, mostly pebbles and rocks.  Kamaria Beach had all black smooth river typle pebbles but man did they hurt when walking on them.  I had to keep my flip flops on the whole time.
My Mom and I found a nice little spot to camp.  Our villa owner had let us borrow an umbrella so my Mom could stay out of the sun as much as possible.  Around us I saw a few topless old women.  I don’t know why this shocked me, I was in Europe afterall.
After about a million people had come up to us trying to sell us movies and perfume we decided to hit the road to find Ancient Thira.
{Cool church on the way to the beaches}
{Sculpture of the church}
{Black Pebbles instead of sand}

{Little row boat on the beach}

Ancient Thira- BUST!

We started up the mountain when we saw the signs for Ancient Thira. (PS no one could really tell us what the heck Ancient Thira was. Other than an old artifact.  Even my travel books.}  Our plan was to literally drive by Ancient Thira and continue on our way to the Red beach. 
This was the steepest mountain I have ever seen in our little mimic smart car.  The poor thing could hardly make it it. The whole road up the mountain was switchback because it was so steep.  Some parts did not have rails which scared my mother even more.  We would pray going around each corner that another car wasn’t coming.  The road was only big enough for one car at a time.  
When we finally got to the top we were told we couldn’t go down the mountain and that the road we had come up stopped at the top.  We were pretty mad about this.  So skipped Ancient Thira all together and held our breaths as we drove down the mountain. I was riding the breaks the whole time.

Red Beach

Getting lost was an understatement.  When we finally actually saw signs for the Red Beach and couldn’t find it we decided to park and stop and ask for directions.  This ended up us sitting down for a nice cold Cafe Freddo.
After finsihing our drink and getting thorough directions we walked back to our car.  A little dog came up to us and was following us around.  My mom let me pick him up. {she had screamed at me all the times previously since we had been here in fear I would be bitten or catch rabies} This little guy was adorable.  He looked so upset when we drove away.

{Doggies taking a nap}
{Following us around everywhere}
{My new best friend}

We finally made it to the entrance of the red beach. We soon found you you would have to hike to get there.  Once again I was in flip flops and my Mom was concerned.

Hiking up the rocky hill wasn’t too bad.  We had some other tourists take a picture of us at the top.  The view was amazing.

{Pretty church in the parking lot}
{On top of the hill near the red beach}
{Boat near shore}

 We then had to walk down this steep hill with loose sharp volcanic red rocks.  I almost fell a few times.  When we made it down to the beach we decided to not set up camp.  We spent our time there looking for cool rocks and walking to the other side of the beach.  On our walk, we noticed these old doors covering holes that were in the side of the mountain.  I was too afraid to peak and see what was inside.  It reminded me of the hills have eyes.

At the end of the red beach we could see parts of the white beach. But you have to take a boat to reach that beach.  We saw some of the white rocks though and grabbed some to add to our collection. They were bone white and light as a feather!

{Eerie!}

{Momma posin’}
{These doors were so neat}
{Posing in front of the blue doors}
{Cool stone wall}
{Red Beach}
{The start of the white beach}

 Lighthouse

Our tummies said it was time for lunch so it was time to search for this fish taverna that we had heard about.  All the direction we had was that it was up the mountain next to the red beach near a light house.

We drove forever and found the light house.  Instead of turning around we decided to park the car and take in the views.  As we were walking from the car we heard little bells. I looked over the side of the cliff and there were about a dozen billy goats grazing on the side of the mountain.  It was the cutest thing.

My Mom and I wanted to get a better view of everything so we started to climb these big boulders of rocks. {once again in flippy floppys}

The view was amazing.  The wind was blowing something crazy but the air felt amazing being misty from the waves.

I know it sounds nerdy but being on top of those rocks with the waves crashing below and the wind blowing was one of the best feelings I have ever had.  I do not know if it was just adrenaline considering I almost plumited to my death a few times, or the fact I was here climbing on these rocks I probably wasn’t supposed to be climbing on with my Mother on a mountain in Sanotrin.  Probably a combination of a bunch of things.

After we hung out on the cliffs for a while we decided to find the fish taverna that was must have missed on the way up.

{Cute goats grazing}
{Hi there!}
{About to hike up to the lighthouse}
 {Look how Blue the Water is!}
 {Pretty View + Cool Rock}
 {Happy as a Clam}
 {Closeup of Lighthouse}
 {What a great view}

 Fish Taverna

We only went about a 1/4 mile down the road when we saw the Fish Taverna.  We walked in and were the only ones there.  We were quickly seated by what appeared to be the daughter.  The views were amazing. We decided on the fish special for 2 that came with fresh bread, a Greek salad to spit and two Mythos beers. Literally like 8 euros for all of this! The fresh bread, beers and Greek salad came out first of course.  Everything was amazing.  We saw what the Dad/Husband out feeding the chickens right below where we were eating.  When our Rockfish came out we were shocked.  It was literally fried fish, eyes, bones and all! I decided to still eat it and squeezed some fresh lemon on it.  It was pretty good but after a few of them I had to stop.  I just couldn’t get past picking a whole fish.

After, we went home and relaxed we were exhausted from all of our adventures from the day.

{Outside the Taverna}
{Entrance to Taverna}
{Yummy Homemade Bread+ Greek Salad+ Mythos}
 {Feeding the chickens}
 {Mommy+ View}
 {What a great seat we had huh?}
 {Surprisingly Good Fried Whole Rockfish+Lemon}

 Santorini: Day 4

We were sad to be leaving Santorini.  We slept in a bit, ate our last breakfast on our amazing balcony and backed up our things.


We filled the car back up with gas and returned it.  Thank goodness I didn’t hurt it.

Our boat ride to Crete got pushed back until 4:00pm so we did not really have much to do since we had to leave our villa at noon for the new people to arrive. 

My Mom and I read on the rooftop of the villa for a bit before decided to walk down and have lunch at the other restaurant we had seen on the first day called Esteria. We ordered some appetizers and sat there as long as we could stand.

We walked back to the Villa and waited for what it seemed to be hours for our taxi.  He finally came and drove like a mad man down to the port.  he literally just dropped us off and we had no idea where to go or what to do. Finally I asked the cops their and they said we had to be at a totally different place than where our taxi driver told us to wait. and we boarded the ‘Flying Catamaran’ for Crete

 {Reading on the rooftop}
 {Rooftop pool on our villa}
 {Pretty flowers on our walk down to lunch}
{Restaurant Esteria}
{Hanging by a tree waiting to go}

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  • Andrew Petcher Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Good story – great pictures! I enjoyed reading the post.

  • Lace and Grace Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you Andrew!