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A European Engagement: Santorini

It was pretty apparent from the journey to get there that Santorini was going be an amazing part of our adventure. 

We had booked our tickets on the Blue Star Ferry about 3 months prior to our trip for about 30 euros per person, and if you are headed to Santorini, I cannot encourage you enough to take this ferry as your source of transportation as well. It was like a mini cruise before we actually got to the island. The boat was high luxury, where we spent most of the time sunbathing on the deck, and watching the turquoise water go by. We had a few small stops along the way to other islands and the journey in total was about six hours, but it absolutely did not seem like it because we were too busy enjoying it.

 Once we arrived in Santorini, it was about 3pm and very, very hot. We had asked our air bnb host to arrange a taxi pick up for us, however, there was much confusion. Apparently our driver had gone to the wrong port so he was not there when we arrived and we had a very stressful 30 minutes of running around bartering with taxi drivers to take us to Oia, when finally, our driver showed up with our name in his hands. Other than this little mishap, most of the touristy transportation and tours on this island are a well oiled machine. Everyone knows everyone and works together to make sure the tourists get to where they needed to go.

The drive to our air bnb was about an hour and 15 minutes since we had to drop a few other people off as well. We were the last to get dropped off, and we were only taken to a certain point that a car could go, and the rest had to be done on foot. The porter met us at the taxi drop off point and (very quickly!) walked with us to the air bnb site (I was literally running with my super heavy pack on just to keep up... not to mention, hoping I wouldn't fall down the stairs). 

The air bnb location and view could not be more breath taking! 

(We were the flat upstairs)

And it's just a short walk (all uphill) away from the beautiful city center.

Pretty much what I constantly looked like here because I was panting heavily climbing up all the stairs...

With the city being on a cliff, it's a little challenging to get to the bottom when you want to actually get to the water. Many, many stairs and small walkways packed with tourists are what lead you there. We were so hot from running all those stairs, we decided to go down to "the beach" (mostly just water access area) and go for a swim. 

We walked down the very steep 250 stairs(the zig zag line on the right side of the picture above) passing some donkeys, and navigated our way through the rocks and rubble to get there. 

Literally thinking "this is just like the balance beam at kids club" since you can't see the big drop under the rocks I'm standing on and I'm terrified I'm going to fall.

The water was perfectly chilly and we enjoyed splashing around. Mike decided to go cliff jumping for the first time too and loved it! 

Loving this Mediterranean Sea!

After we cooled down, we decided we should start the long walk back up all 250 stairs in the 90 degree weather. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty awful. I was pretty afraid I was going to have an asthma attack on the way back up. 

But alas, we made it to the top, which was the islands castle and where all the tourist go every night to watch the sunset. 

We were starving and went in search of some food instead and decided to watch the sunset on the following night. Most of the food options in Santorini are pretty expensive, so we were pretty happy when we stumbled upon a more local place (sign listed below because I couldn't figure out how to spell the actual name) near the town center and ordered some gyros. We didn't realize how big these gyros were going to be since they were only about 3 euros, so we ordered 2 veggie, 1 pork, and 1 chicken gyro. What we ended up with were four, full sized gyros, so we ended up with quite a few snacks for later.

The rest of the first night consisted mainly of sitting on our balcony, enjoying the beautiful scene in front of us (and eating more of our gyros). 

We had spoken to our host about helping us set up a tour of the island and she was great help. We signed up for a tour about 30 euros each, beginning our day with a 9am shuttle pick up, where they drove us back to the boat dock we had come in on the day before. We both got quite a laugh out of the fact that the boat we were on was named Princess.

(Princess in Greek)

Our first stop on the tour was to Nea Kameni, or "new burn" volcano, which is an active volcano. The entrance fee ($2.50 euros) is not included in the fee, and you are welcome to stay on the ship for a small tour around the island instead of hiking to the volcano. Now that I have gone, I wished I would have chosen to stay, or at least wore my gym shoes over my sandals. There was not much to see besides many small rocks in a few craters, and many, many tour groups around. Mike loved it, and the view from the top was beautiful, I am just not a fan of hiking when it's 94 degrees and jet lagged, so if that's something you feel up for, absolutely check it out. I also decided this is probably what the planet Mars is like, hot and rocky.

Everyone on board was so ready for a swim since we were all so sweaty after the hike up and down the volcano. The next stop was Zestes Piges Hot springs, located on Palei Kameni, or "old burn" island. The hot springs water was a murky brown color because the minerals from the volcano floating beneath it. Most people chose to spread the mineral mud all over their faces and body, however, we found out later it doesn't come off as easily as it goes on, and most had slightly stained faces the rest of the day. The hot springs were so nice and warm though and probably my favorite part of the day (also there are sadly like no photos because we had to swim to get there and couldn't bring the camera in the water).

For lunch, we stopped on Thirasian island, where there were about six different sea side meal options, and two different ones had Ariel! 

We decided to grab some gelato because it was so hot, and we had previously eaten our gyros on the ship. After our sweet treat, we spent some time dipping our toes in the water and enjoying the sunshine.

The boat tour dropped us back off to the port of Oia, where I realized that we were going to have to climb those 275 steps again. Before I had a panic attack, we saw that there were donkeys waiting for us to take for 5 euros back to the top of Oia. Of course we took the donkeys, and what an experience it was! As someone who doesn't love being near a cliff side, I was slightly freaking out but it was an amazing Greek experience we just had to have.

Hot and sweaty, yet again, and still having about 5 hours til we had to head to the airport, we chose to go to the public swimming pool at the edge of the island. Lioyerma Pool where is a great place to have a little snack and swim. 

We ended up camping out at the pool until it was time for the sunset since Oia is known for them and we were in the perfect spot. If you're heading to Oia for the sunset, I'd highly recommend checking it out here instead of fighting off the massive crowds at the castle.

It seemed quite a few other people had the same idea…

Pretty immediately after the sunset it was time for us to take a taxi to the airport.

Thank you Greece for sharing your incredible beauty with us. Opa! 
You are truly one of a kind, but now we're off to Italy! 

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1 comment

Unknown said...

Loved reading about your time in Santorini!!! Can't wait to see you so we can trade stories about our trips!!


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