Santorini: Paradise built on top of a Cliff

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Hopping on the next ferry, we left Paros and headed towards Santorini. This was it. The Island I had come to Greece for. The place that had been my desktop background for months to get me through boring days at work. I almost couldn’t believe that it was actually coming true that I would be seeing those famous blue dome churches atop a vantage point looking out over the ocean and the famous volcano.

Approaching port, first glimpses of Santorini showed me an unexpected sight. Like a lot of the Cycladic Islands, Santorini is very barren and only the white houses that make up the small towns of the island create a break in the brown rock. The towns of Santorini are built high up on the caldera and as such two things are certain – everywhere you walk is slanted, steep and somewhat slippery. The other is that, there are endless beautiful views to be found. Donkey rides are a common tourist attraction so a big warning when you’re looking for a great scenic restaurant, make sure to pick one that isn’t near a donkey trail or station as it will stink and probably ruin the taste of your food. This happened to us as our recommended group restaurant was situated directly next to the Santorini Donkey Station entrance. Let’s just say, any breeze and we were on the verge of gagging. Beautiful sunset though, once our eyes stopped watering from the smell. After dinner, our Busabout group sampled a taste of Santorini night life at a Scottish bar.

Since we arrived at 4pm to Santorini and were only staying for 2 nights, the next day was my only full day on the island. I chose to join the Busabout “Santorini Bucket List” as it was suggested this would be the best way to see and experience the most of Santorini. Handing over a fairly hefty 37 euros, I had high hopes that I would be able to get a lot in and leave Santorini feeling like I had managed to see a lot despite the less than ideal amount of time spent on the island. Few times have I been so mistaken, the entire tour was such a waste of time and it essentially felt as though I spent $60 to go to a beach. A beach which if I had gone my own way to, I would have paid 1.60 euros. Understandably most of our group was pretty pissed off and wanted more time to spend on Santorini and actually get a chance to experience walking around and getting lost in the beautiful cobbled streets without just rushing around on a bus to a couple different beaches. The positives to this tour though were both the Red Beach and also the picnic during sunset which we had in Oia – the area of Santorini that contains the famous blue domed churches. Though I believe it is possible to only do the picnic, which may be a better choice. Friends in the group who had done the other optional of the Volcano Trek seemed to be pretty pleased with how their day was spent as it involved a hike up the volcano and then a swim to hot springs. The Red Beach was incredibly unique and its most striking feature is by far the remote location as it is only a small beach but it is backed by a soaring red volcanic cliff face that soars up and provides one hell of a striking backdrop. The stuff that photo opportunists dream of.

I don’t feel that I was in Santorini long enough to get a good feeling for the Island. It is so much larger than the others we visited and I truly think you need at least four days to explore it, if not more. Guess I’ve got an excuse to get back to Greece next year!

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