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Greek Travel Diaries 2 – A weekend in Santorini

Early on Friday morning, Sox and I caught the metro train and travelled to the port Pireaus. We got onto the ferry and left Athens for Santorini.

One thing I have been surprised at is how big Greece is. This may sound extremely blonde, but bear with me. When you look at the map, Greece really looks tiny in comparison to other countries and the islands all look close to one another. I never assumed everything was so far away. In my head I had imagined we would just hope onto ferries and travel an hour or so away. We took the super fast ferry and 5 hours later, we arrived in Santorini.

Santorini has been my idea of what Greece is like. When I was a little girl I remember flipping through one of my mom and dad’s National Geographic Magazines and coming across pictures of Santorini. I knew then that it was a place I had to visit.

We had been trying to get accommodation whilst planning our trip, but most places were full. A lot of places also say they are full but keep a few rooms open for those who arrive on the ferry – only the locals really know this. It was risky, but we arrived with no accommodation and hope that there would be a place for us to stay. Sox and I both have the same mantra that what is meant to be will be and we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Even if this meant we’d be sleeping under the stars.

It has been fantastic traveling with someone who is not only Greek, but 100% fluent in the language. As we got off the ferry, we were in a crowd of people rushing towards their buses and men holding up their names to be taken to their various accommodations. Luckily, we found accommodation pretty quickly and before we knew it we were being whisked away to the Olympia Hotel in the main town, Fira. We arrived unsure of what to expect, but it was fantastic. A huge pool, a lovely, simplistic room and a breakfast included. Happiness.

I must be honest; at first Santorini just wasn’t what I was expecting. Sox kept asking me what I thought and I just kept saying with some uncertainty: “It’s um, different to what I had imagined!”

He just had this little knowing grin but never said a word.

I didn’t think Santorini was so flat or so open… I was expecting tight knitted white and blue shuttered buildings everywhere with cobbled streets, but that just wasn’t the case.

It’s also really strange to be on an island that isn’t tropical. The terrain is rocky and dry but still absolutely beautiful. We settled in and Sox set off to hire us a scooter for the weekend. He returned on this black and yellow 50cc bike. Sadly they wouldn’t give us anything faster/stronger. I called her the Bumble Bee and we set off for Oia, which boasts the best sunset in the world.

On our way, we stopped off at a black-pebbled beach for our first dip in the ocean. It felt so good to feel the warm salty water on my skin and in my hair and we dried quite quickly as we scooted along.

We arrived in Oia and I was suddenly transported into the very magazine pages I had seen as a little girl. It was everything and more that I had hoped for. The cobbled streets, the white walls, blue shutters and doors, the beautiful churches with their blue rounded roofs, the contrast of bright pink bougainvillea flowers and grape vines winding around. Sox just kept grinning at me and suddenly that knowing grin made sense. “I knew this was what you were hoping for! I just didn’t want to ruin the moment for you; when you see it for the first time!”

Gem.

We stopped at a Taverna for a Gyro – not in line with my normal diet guidelines, but when in Greece… You can’t not sample all that Greece has to offer. It was oh so good.

We headed to the castle, which had the best views of Oia and even though it was quite windy, it was a welcome break from the heat.

We wandered around and I had to stop myself from living the experience through my camera lens and GoPro and just breathe it all in. The sounds, smells, sights… Magical.

We found a spot to watch the sunset and as we looked back towards the castle, you could just see every street and the castle wall, lined with people all in position for the setting sun.

The boats below all appeared for their spot to sunset watch and as it set for the day, everyone cheered and gave a round of applause. It was an incredible moment.

I’m going to say it though and it’s completely unbiased. I think SA has the best sunsets in terms of beauty and colours. However, we don’t all applaud when it goes down, so I think it’s more the experience that is momentous.

After the sunset, the streets were gridlocked with people either making their way to their hotels or restaurants or to the parking area to go back to their parts of the island.

We headed back to our hotel, changed and headed out for Fira, which was alive and bustling. We sat down to eat the delicious Greek food and wander the streets.

Now what I hadn’t mentioned is, that from the flying and the heat changes in Dubai into air-conditioning a few times over, I got a head cold. How annoying? I hadn’t been sick the entire Winter in South Africa. I now fly into Summer, ready for a wonderful holiday and I get sick. It had started in Athens but I refused to let it get me down. I got some meds and carried on, sniffling and swallowing a sore throat.

Oh and on Friday night as I swung my leg over to get onto The Bumble Bee, I didn’t realise how close we had parked to a thin-wired fence. I ended up hooking my baby toe and felt pain sear up my foot. It was swollen and blue and I didn’t know for sure, but I was convinced it was broken. I was just one clumsy, snotty mess.

On Saturday morning, after a quick hotel breakfast, we headed to the Red Beach. We walked all the way down this steep red rocky cliff until we made it onto the dark reddish pebbles, which made the water an unbelievable blue. I refused to get burned so I was the girl reapplying SPF often and it worked. I started turning brown rather than red and sorry.

A boat made a few stops at the red beach and we decided to get on and explore the white beach and the black beach. They all get their names from the pebbles you lie on. I got asked on Facebook and Instagram if they were uncomfortable. They surprisingly weren’t. They were bloody hot though and you either ran really fast into the water or went right to the waters edge in your Havaiana’s.

At the Black beach, there was a cave in the ocean where you could swim all the way through. Sox and I decided to explore and I’m so glad we did. It was amazing and a little scary at first in the dark…but seeing the light at the end opening into brilliant turquoise clear water was incredible. I can’t wait to show you the GoPro footage we got in the Greece YouTube video’s I’m busy editing. Coming soon.

On our way back, we stopped to take a photograph of this beautiful church – they are everywhere and very special.

Our stomachs were grumbling so much, that we stopped at a Taverna that had a Panoramic View of the cliffs and ocean.

The food in Greece will not disappoint you and it’s organic, fresh, unprocessed and packed with deliciousness! You can taste that every dish, everywhere you go, is made with love and a Greek mama’s secret recipe.

We came back in the early evening – the sun only sets after 8pm, we swam in our hotel pool, relaxed with the most delicious vitamin water, Vita Max and then headed back into Fira for dinner. Watermelon is just so sweet and juicy here. My favourite summer fruit. The Greek word is Karpouzi (Kar-poo-zee)

We came back in the early evening – the sun only sets after 8pm, we swam in our hotel pool, relaxed with the most delicious vitamin water, Vita Max and then headed back into Fira for dinner.

We wandered the cobbled streets and I had decided to be a little more fancy by braiding my hair and adding comfortable wedges to my coral summer dress. Mistake. Whilst they are my most comfortable and not very high at all, on cobbled streets they are a mare. Oh and um, really Schneider? Your pinky toe is blue and swollen. Lets add wedges and cobbles into the mix.

I really suggest you avoid any heels or wedges. Leave the wedges for Athens.

Oh and I found a Greek “Duke” … the only bulldog in Santorini. It really made me laugh… Dogs are also “different nationalities” if you think about it. There I was speaking to her in English and she had no response. The minute, her owner started speaking in Greek she listened.

Socrates found his namesake fridge magnet… I’m still trying to convince him that he doesn’t need to grow his beard like the old Socrates!

Don’t you just want to see where this leads you? Almost every street is this enticing.

We found a gorgeous Taverna with a roof garden where we indulged in Greek salads (you will eat this at almost every single meal) and I had the beftekia (Greek hamburger) stuffed with feta and vegetables.

On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling horrid. The meds I had been taking had helped a little but not enough to clear it. My chest felt tight and heavy, my head felt like it may explode and I succumbed into realising I needed a doctor, especially as I didn’t want to feel horrible for another week of my Greek holiday. We headed into the medical centre, where a lovely doctor examined me (for free!) and she told me that I was basically getting better, but it was the classic, get worse before getting better symptoms and that I should continue on the meds I had been taking. If I wasn’t better by Tuesday, when we would be in Amorgos, I should visit a doctor there to ensure it wasn’t Bronchitis.

Sox took a sneaky photo of me describing how tight and sore my chest was.

I still refused to let it get me down. We got an immune booster and Echinae force and whilst Sox really wanted me to stay in, I suggested we take a relaxing wander and Sox knew just the place. We would take the cable car down to the old port. Santorini really is breathtakingly beautiful and I actually started to feel a bit better.

We headed to where the donkeys are kept. I know there is a lot of controversy around them, and I’m the biggest animal lover… At first I felt so sorry for them, but on further inspection… These donkeys are so well looked after and there is a rule on weight and how much each donkey is allowed to carry. The money made on riding these donkeys helps to keep them well fed and well looked after and if not, they would be sold off to who knows where and to who knows what fate.

Sox and I decided to have the Santorini experience and we took a Donkey ride up and I’m so glad we did. It was amazing. Sox was convinced his donkey was the donkey from Shrek. I was just secretly (not so secretly) thrilled when my donkey kept moving into 1st position. Competitive? Me?

Sox kept telling me it wasn’t a race… That’s what all people coming last say! Ha!

Sox decided that we should head to the other side of the island to Perivolos, where there was a beach bar called “Wet Stories” with plenty of deck chairs and leafy umbrellas.

We ate a lunch of fresh octopus drenched in lemon and a Greek salad.

Afterwards we lay down, but I was feeling horrible again, so I stayed in the shade feeling sorry for myself, reading, drinking Frappes (iced coffee… you will drink these and Freddo Cappuccino’s – iced cappuccino’s all. the. time and you will get addicted. I know!? This coming from a tea lover, which by the way I’m missing. Their tea is not the same or readily available, so I’m missing a good cup very much!)

We went straight back to the hotel where I slept. I felt so much better after that sleep and taking more medicine. It was our last night in Santorini, though and I really didn’t want that to be spent indoors. We headed into the town for a late dinner – erm, early dinner for the Greeks.

I am so not used to eating after 10pm (10pm is considered early) and another romantic stroll.

It was absolutely gorgeous, a travel must and Sox and I had the best time!

We came back to pack that evening because the next morning we had an early bus ride back to the port and a 7am ferry ride to the island Amorgos where we would be meeting Sox’s nephews, Johnny (Yianni) and George (Yiorgos) and Johnny’s girlfriend Amvrosia and her friend Angelici.

As soon as I’m in another Wi-Fi spot I’ll do my best to get Part 1 of Amorgos posted. The photos take ages to upload, so I really can only do these in sections! Thanks for bearing with me… In the meantime, you can see a little peephole into our trip on Instagram and Twitter.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Dennis Theunissen

    Yet another fantastic read about Santorini – sorry you got ill at that point – but it happens – ask Sox about the name George (Yiorgos) – they have a festival I think to St George or is it Peter – remember it when I visit my Greek friends – ok let me read on

    June 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm
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