Last stop on our Greece trip was the island of Santorini. Honestly after always seeing gorgeous pictures of this place while scrolling through the amazing travel destinations categories on Instagram, I wanted to add this stop to our trip. I hadn’t played with my camera pretty much at all so far, so I was determined to set up my tripod at least one or two times on this last island, while at the same time trying not to piss off my girlfriend. True to form, we didn’t worry too much about specific itinerary planning for our short stay on Santorini. Figured we would visit a winery, restaurant or two, and see the sights. Nevertheless, true to Instagram influenced form, we insisted on staying in one of those cliffside places in the city of Oia that we had read so much about.
After getting to the port way too early (freely admit I’m a terrible traveler) and waiting in line, the Seajets ferry pulled up about a half hour late and we boarded with no issues. This ferry was a little more upscale than the previous one we took. Full bar with drinks, snacks, and even a race car replica in the lobby.
I was a little worried about getting to our next AirBNB “base of operations”, as the only thing I had really read before arriving in Oia is that there were no roads and that you had to be prepared to walk up and down a lot of stairs. So when the host offered to pick us up from the airport and bring us and our luggage to our apartment for a fee, I gladly accepted. 30 pounds of useless camera gear gets heavy when traveling. Once we arrived, we found our shuttle waiting for us, who drove us and a group of others up a long winding road from the port, over to our stop in Oia. Once we arrived, we handed off our luggage to a linebacker who rushed us through tiny streets and a maze of stairs down the cliffside to our place.
First impression of the cave house we booked was the view. We had seen pictures on the Airbnb site showing a small terrace with a table and a view, but assumed it had been shot to make it out to be better than it actually was. The view was perfect. Our place overlooked the southern side of the island, off a dead end walking cliffside street with almost no foot traffic. Full kitchen and table, couch, and even a washer / dryer. Exactly what we had hoped for a Santorini “cave house.”
Plan for the rest of the day was to get our bearings and relax on our terrace. We picked up gyros from one of the popular take out places in Oia, Pitogyros, then headed over to a grocery store to pick up some snacks for the afternoon. Great way to let the view settle in before planning our next moves. I charged a few camera batteries, while others recharged.
Did some wandering to see the city at night, and had dinner at Roka before heading back home for the night. Even broke out the tripod and got a few shots of the town at night before going to sleep.
Some clips from the first day.
Plan for this morning was to make the hike from Oia to Thera, following the cliff side paths. Typically the hike is done in the opposite direction, as most people make their way into Oia for the afternoon and sunset, so we had the path to ourselves most of the time. Very windy, but pleasant and nice to walk around.
Passed Skaros rock along the way and decided to appreciate it from a distance, rather than add an hour to the walk.
Passing a few little villages and towns, we made it to Thera. After more quick gyros at Meat Corner, we caught a bus over to one of the wineries on our planning map. Venetsanos Winery is right on the side of the cliffs, and is one of the smaller but more popular ones on the island. Tried a flight of wines, saw the distillery, and enjoyed the windy view. Known for their white wines made from assyrtiko grapes, we picked up a bottle of Santorini 2017 (100% assyrtiko) to bring back home to the U.S., and made our way back to Oia via the bus.
As it was getting later in the afternoon, we headed back to a spot we had checked out the day before to set up for the sunset. First time I really brought out my tripod and grabbed a sunset spot early. Why my girlfriend put up with this, I have no idea. It may have been because we got an excellent spot on the wall in the castle ruins. She ended up having a much better vantage point for the sunset. The whole area got packed pretty quickly with everyone trying to view the sunset, including the harbor with boats giving sunset tours. It was worth the wait as checking off a sunset in Oia should be on everyone’s list.
We had gotten a restaurant recommendation from friends who previously visited Oia. First issue was that it was a seafood place, and the second issue was that it was located in the Ammoudi harbor. Nevertheless, we went for it. Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna. Local fava bean dip, fish, and baklava, along with a small jug of wine, as the waves crashed on the harbor as we ate. I loved it, and had no regrets, but I knew my knees would have some regrets the next morning as we hiked the 300+ stairs all the way back home.
Took a few more tripod shots from our area then called it a night.
Some windy clips from day 2 on Santorini
Since we had been around Oia for the past two days, and walked around most of Thera the previous day, the plan for our last day was to check out one of Santorini’s beaches. We had not been disappointed with any of the beaches on Mykonos or Naxos, so we figured there was something to see here on Santorini.
My last day in Oia, I woke up pre-sunrise to get some shots while the streets were empty, and find a composition that I could get with the city and sunrise in the background. Set up while it was still dark, and the city was silent. Think I got a few keepers.
Once it was light out, but still very early, the Instagramers came out. Lots of girls in dresses with their boyfriends running around behind them with iphones, trying to get "flowy" motion shots. It was entertaining at first. Then they all stepped up their game and started crossing barriers, jumping on roofs, walking into private homes and courtyards, to get the shot. Once they started jumping in front of my tripod setup, I gave up and went home to make myself coffee. I can see this place getting out of control in the future, if it's not already. Still, I think I was happy with the shots that I got. I could spend days here just taking pictures.
Once we were both up, we had some Greek yogurt and honey on our terrace, and made our way to the bus stop in Oia. We must have passed 30-40 groups of tourist groups coming in for the day to Oia from the 5 or so cruise ships docked in the harbor. Our plan coincidentally had us missing all of the Oia turmoil for the day as we grabbed a bus from Oia to Thera, then picked up another bus headed south over to Parissa, Santorini’s black sand beach.
My last experience with a black sand beach (non-winter time) was Honokalani Beach, a small stretch of sand located on the east side of Maui. Parissa Beach wasn’t anything like we had seen yet. It stretched for miles and was this coarse pebble sand that was super hot from baking in the sun. Much bigger. We spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon lounging on the beach before heading back to Thera. As with all the beaches we had visited on this trip, the water was a perfect temperature and crystal clear.
Picked up an afternoon coffee at Zotos Cafe in Thera and wandered the town for a while. Since we had done a dinner and a sunset in Oia already, we decided to make our last dinner in Greece somewhere in Thera overlooking the sunset. We tried a few places who were already booked up, and finally reserved a table at Fanari on the edge overlooking the Thólos Naftílos volcano.
We had some time before dinner, so we grabbed some wine at Katrin Bar up the road. Mingled with a very drunk British tourist couple who were about to depart on one of the cruise ships before we headed back to the restaurant to catch the sunset. After a little trouble getting a table, since the staff didn’t really understand what a reservation meant, we were happily eating fried cheese and Octopus while watching our last Greek sunset for the trip.
Video from our last day. I'm getting used to working with Shotcut.
Next morning, the AirBnb host arranged for our bags to be picked up and we were on our way to Santorini airport. No issues getting out, and dosed up on coffee and snacks at the Athens airport lounge before heading home.
This trip came together sort of last minute for us. Since we didn’t have a lot of vacation left for the year, we wanted to pick a destination that involved more or less a direct flight from the NYC area, so we didn’t have to use up vacation days traveling. Looking back at how we “compromised” on this destination, I wouldn't have planned anything differently. The itinerary worked out perfectly.
I’ll eventually go through the pictures from my camera and post them to my travel gallery, but seeing as how I’m about 2 years behind on posting pictures, I have a lot of catching up to do first.