Start off by saying, “Can’t believe it’s already been a month!”
Santorini was a gem – Beautiful views, great food, and friendly people.
We stayed in the town of Oia (pronounced ‘Ia’ – ‘O’ is silent), which I completely fell in love with. The town is at the northern part of the island, which is where you get all those beautiful pictures of the white buildings with blue rooftops (in case you’re wondering, yes, I did take all of these pics). The town of Oia is not very big, but it is filled with restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores.
There is one main strip (pic above, me on the main strip the evening we landed, pardon the face). This is where you’ll find a variety of restaurants, retail shops, ice cream shops, etc. This path will also take you to the spot where you will see the most beautiful sunsets. Picture below is from our hotel pointing north, in the direction of the sunset spot; you can see lighting from the sunset peering through the side of the island.
Along the main strip, there are plenty of side streets or stairs that will lead you to hotels, more restaurants, and/or retail.
Now I’ll get a bit more personal and share what we did on a day-to-day basis…
Travel because that plays a huge roll…Left our condo (me, crying after saying ‘see you later’ to my baby) on Wednesday morning (9 a.m.) headed to OHR in Chicago via train since our travel time to the airport was off peak hours, and we would have the train to ourselves.
Boarded at 11:20 a.m. headed to JFK, we landed at approximate 3 p.m. – not too bad. Had a few hours of nothing to do at the airport – then finally the long haul. Boarded in JFK at 6:35 p.m. (red-eye) to arrive in Athens on Thursday @ 12 p.m (Athens time- they are 8hrs ahead). Flight time was actually 10hrs, nonetheless, LONG. I watched a lot of movies.
In Athens a little more waiting for our next flight to Santorini, which was scheduled to depart around 4 p.m. An hour later finally landed in paradise. Took a cab from the airport to Oia, which was approximately 30 minutes away.
The streets are narrow in Santorini, and the drivers need to be great. The streets might be narrow, but you will see everything on these streets – lots of fourwheelers, big tourist appeal to get to the other towns in Santorini; lots of basic cars, of course; and then you see these huge tour buses and I honestly don’t know how they do it.
Made it to our hotel at approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday (10 a.m. Chicago time). With a lighter load, my checked bag didn’t make it – it was cool tho, I always carry a little of everything in my carry-on…really paid off this time.
Kima Villas did not disappoint and actually exceeded my expectation. It was simple, yet cozy.
A great view and a pool, which were a must for me for our stay in Santorini.
The view from our room…beautiful! In case you’re wondering, my checked bag did make it (pictured below).
The entrance to our bathroom, which was also very nice – I might add.
Enjoying my frapee, pool-side made by Georgia. The staff at Kima Villas are truly what makes this place amazing. Georgia and Aris are the friendliest people I meet in Santorini, and people are friendly here. Georgia really made sure we were comfortable and satisfied with the accommodations. She was great at guiding us on what to do around the island and any questions- she was our go-to lady. She helped us work with the airline and staff at the Athens airport to get my lost bag to the hotel.
Back to the day-to-day activities…Thursday night, we were pretty tired, managed to walk a bit around in Oia. Grabbed some gyros from this great little spot. Back to the hotel to get some zzzz’s.
Saturday morning got some crepes and greek coffee for breakfast.
Then off to explore more of this beautiful town. I made a note to check the weather a few days before we were scheduled to arrive; forecast, 70’s and extra sunny – beautiful. Packed plenty of beautiful, long, flowy dresses. I was hot with these long, flowy dresses. It felt more like 90’s at peak sun time. Sun is seriously hot there.
After some walking around to get our barrings, it was pool time to cool down.
Glad I insisted on our hotel having a pool! We got to enjoy it every single day. After pool time, grabbed a shower and headed to dinner.
Saturday plans were to get up early and make the hike from Oia to Fira, just over 6 miles. Wellll, we over-slept (dame jet-leg), and woke up at 11 a.m. Determined to stick to our plan, we dressed lightly and purchased plenty of water for the hike. Started the hike at the worst time ever, noon. It was tough, walking uphill with the sun beating down on you. The course of the path isn’t well layed out, we took a few wrong turns throughout the process that sometimes had us walking along the side of the road, right next to a steep cliff, or hitting dead ends.
Picture below was taken about half way. Oia is the white cluster located at the tip of the island.
Finally, about 3 hours of hiking, we made it to Fira and we were starving. Came across this restaurant called Avocado, so of course we had to eat here. It was delicious!
After our well-deserved, late lunch, we continued to the downtown of Fira. There is definitely much more in Fira, but there’s also a lot more people. Maybe it was the exhaustion of the hike and the heat, but I wasn’t impressed by Fira. There are A LOT of the same shops that sell the same stuff (knick-knacks, souveniers, etc.). Glad we did the hike and got to see Fira for a bit, but I was ready to get back to Oia (Oia is a bit more classy).
We took the bus back to Oia, and that was an experience on its own. The bus is a huge tour bus, we got packed in there at max capacity – all seats were taken, standing room only and every inch of this bus was occupied. As the bus starts moving, there is a gentleman walking up the aisle (which is filled with people), charging every one. Really don’t know why this isn’t done prior to every one getting on the bus. So, every one including myself is re-adjusting and their belongings, to make room for this guy to make it to the back of the bus to charge. Finally, he’s done, you’ve paid and he gave you a ticket. Well, then you have another guy walking from the front to the back of the bus, wanting to see every ones tickets ensuring every one has paid. 30 minutes later, we’re back in Oia and in the pool. We head to dinner and then some ice cream for dessert.
Sunday, we went on a boat tour that took us along the side of the island making a few stops to swim. Had a delicious lunch on the boat with unlimited drinks. Such a great experience, got to see the island from a different angle and mingle with other tourist. Definitely recommend visitors to take the boat tour.
The beaches are nothing special in Santorini. Glad we didn’t take time from our trip to go see them. This picture was taken from the boat. Rocky not sandy.
On Monday we were scheduled to fly back to Athens late in the afternoon, so we packed our bags in the morning. Had some breakfast and then gave Oia one last walk through.
We landed in Athens in the evening, went across the street to have dinner along the ocean.
The next day Tuesday, we got to be tourist again and went to see The Acropolis and Parthenon.
We did the majority of the touristy things in one day. We were in Athens a day too long. Our last full day in Athens (Wednesday), we were running out of things to do, we did some shopping and walked around the city. Athens isn’t a very impressive city, yes, it has it pretty streets, but the majority of it looks runned down. There’s trash on many of it’s corners, and the buildings look a bit beat up and old.
Thursday, get up early because it is time to head back to the states.