Santorini, Greece, May 2021
After a wonderful week in Athens, we left for Santorini island, the famous Greek island. We took a short 45 minute Aegean Airways flight from Athens direct to Santorini. There, we were picked at the airport up by the car rental company we had booked a car with, taken to their offices nearby, filled out all the paperwork, and off we went to Oia pronounced (EEya).
Santorini, officially called Thira, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from the Greek mainland. It is the largest island of a small circular archipelago (formed as a cauldron of a volcano). The island was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred about 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of meters deep. Several sides of the crater collapsed into the sea many years later, and the caldera is now part of the Aegean Sea. Santorini forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550.
We had booked to stay at the Marriott hotel on Oia, and at that time, it was reasonably priced as Greece was just opening up for tourism. We drove to Oia, which is located at the north end of the island, and since Oia is a town perched on the steep volcanic rim, roads were narrow and parking was valet only. Also, it was steps, steps, and more steps to get to wherever you wanted to go, due to the steep hillsides. We checked in and got prepared to check out the island.
First impressions: The towns of Oia and Imerovigli (Fira) on Santorini and its other inhabited volcanic island of Therasia are simply spectacular sights. These towns are all built on steep hillsides of the volcanic crater, and are all whitewashed, and church tops/dome/spires are all painted light blue. They look like they are clinging on for dear life onto the clifftops 😊 . And the Aegean sea is deep aqua blue, the skies are clear blue. It is truly a beautiful landscape, and I have to agree with the waiter in Athens who told us everyone should visit Santorini once in their lifetimes.
Some scenes below from Oia, and Imerovigli (Fira), the town just south of Oia.
Oia from our hotel
The hotel staff had known that it was Dilshad’s birthday a few days before (while we were in Athens); and they kindly prepared a nice surprise for her regardless
One evening, we drove down a steep road down to the sea for dinner at Ammoudi Bay near Oia, There are several restaurants that were all quite full for sunset dining. The setting sun produced interesting colors on the cliffs of Oia.
Not sure how they sustain such building on the steep volcanic crater sides in the event of earthquakes or storms/landslides. But they seem to have managed well. Since the “desirable” part of the towns is on the cliffside, there are no roads there, just footpaths and plenty of steps to get to all the whitewashed houses and boutique hotels. Parking is on the other side of the cliff, where the land is flatter.
We travelled to several different parts of Santorini and it is only the western edge of crescent shaped Santorini island that is we saw the steep cliffs plunging into the aqua-blue crater waters. This is also where most of the tourists go as it is the most beautiful part of Santorini. The other (eastern) side of the island is relatively flat and gentle slopes to the sea. The island is fairly small (12 miles long and ~2.5 miles wide) so its easy to get around. Some of those sights are below:
Views of Santorini
Fresh seafood was always the best on the island; but about 2-3x as expensive as in Athens. Since this is a heavily touristed place, a volcanic island and not enough food is grown locally, most food and all supplies are imported into the island; hence the cost. And this was just the beginning of the tourist season ☹. We stuck mostly to seafood
One day, we took a drive to the eastern end of the island, and checked out Perissa town; seafood on the beach was great with far fewer tourists and more of a local dining experience
We then drove via Prygos to Prophet Elias Monastery from Perissa
The monastery is built on a hilltop that is the highest point (567meters above sea level) on Santorini, so great views and of course, the sunset. Unfortunately, this monastery was closed by the time we got there, but the beautiful sunset was the prize
We drove by the windmills of Santorini, but did not see any activity there so not sure if they were active or not. I suspect is that many of them have been converted from the original flour mills (using wind power) to hotels and B&B’s.
After several days on Santorini, it was time to leave to go to Mykonos. We had planned to take a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos, the 2nd island on our trip. We drove to the ferry terminal in central Santorini west coast.
All the car rental companies had offices here at the ferry port, so we dropped off the rental car, and took the ferry (prebooked a day earlier) to Mykonos.
Santorini is jaw droppingly beautiful, and definitely worth visiting once in a lifetime. But it is a tourist trap, so be prepared. We had excellent weather and even hot at times. Well worth visiting.
Our trip so farThis entry was posted in Greece, Santorini