We arrived in Santorini after two days of travel. We’d taken a train from Portland to Seattle; got on a flight to Amsterdam where we made a quick pit stop to get some vegan kroquetten and bitterballen; flew to Athens where we almost missed our connecting flight to the island due to some delays, and finally took a small commuter plane to Thira.
We arrived at about 10:30pm and had scheduled a pick up via our hotel prior to landing. Let me tell you – there’s definitely an uneasy feeling about stepping into a black, unmarked van in a foreign country but that might also be our travel newness talking.
When we got to our hotel in Kamari, called Hotel Anassa, there was a beautiful little restaurant down the street still open. We took a seat, ordered a platter of greek samples and our server surprised us with some sherry to commemorate our arrival to the island. Afterwards it was time for bed.
We initially booked our stay at Hotel Anassa because it was fairly cheap and we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time there at the night of our arrival. But the hotel was so cute! And extremely close to the beach – which we didn’t truly appreciate until we got up to Fira and beaches were a bit harder to come by. The morning after out arrival, we woke up before the sun, picked up the only good coffee we’d end up having our entire trip* at a little stand down the street, and took a bus to Fira.
*I found a note I’d written about greek coffee in self reflection as we left;
“greek coffee tastes like grounds and licorice, with a hint of olive and ass”.
But we got sunrises like this so bad coffee was forgivable.
The bus was filled with kids heading to school and locals headed, presumably, to work. This was a wonderful experience for us because it allowed us a glimpse in the lives of locals as they interact with other locals in a manner that hasn’t been alterered or subjected to tourists like myself. Greece, although part of the EU, is probably the most foreign feeling country I’ve visted – with an alphabet I haven’t learned to read and a culture of directness but incredible kindess.
Anyway, once we got to Fira, we grabbed breakfast and checked into our next hotel. Although we weren’t able to get into our room yet (it was like 9am), they let us drop our backpacks off in time for us to head to our first excursion of the trip: a Wavesports Volcano Jetski Tour.
Our experience with Wavesports was phenomenal. There was only one other couple touring with us, and our tourguide did an awesome job making our ride exciting yet manageable for newbies (Sam was experienced in this but this was my first time on a jetski! But with some guidance I was feeling comfortable racing over those beautiful blue waters).
The Volcano tour took us all the way around the island, where we stopped to feel the hot water and on our way back our tourguide showed us a shallow cave area where we dismounted our jetskis and swam in crystal clear water, saw fish, and I was able to cross off my lifelong dream of swimming in the Aegean.
After the exhilarating ride (and still suffering from some jetlag), we decided to lounge at a nearby beach bar where we got nice and toasty with some drinks and the sun and enjoyed a nap. When we finished with that, we waited forever for the next bus and headed to our hotel.
Not to be confused with the hotel we stayed in Kamari, the Kamares Apartments were in the center of Fira. This was our first attempt ever at staying in a “luxury” hotel. Although the hotel was great – it missed a few marks for our experience. First; it was too far from Oia, which is where you can get those beautiful, picturesque views of blue domes and white buildings. We didn’t really understand the distance through our research, or maybe didn’t do enough research – but it’s 10 miles to the city and the bus ride is excruciatingly long. Not only that, but if you depend on the bus to get home you’ll give yourself a curfew far before Oia closes down for the night. Beyond that, I was under the impression I was booking a room with a private little pool but ended up not getting that. I’ve learned since how to validate those details through booking sites, but at the time I was little bummed. You live and learn! But the crew here was awesome, and our mornings were peaceful and beautiful. Just words of advice in case you’re looking for a place to stay.
Once we got unpacked and changed, we took a bus to Oia. We got there as the sun set, and I kid you not, absolute mobs of tourists were rushing through the narrow, white stone streets trying to catch their pic of the sunset. There’s just a few memories I have that disgust me with myself and this is one that stands out. Nothing has made me feel more like a social media whore than rushing through streets trying to get the best shot alongside hundreds of others. We ended up getting distracted by local artist shops and spent some time admiring some incredible paintings. We decided to snap some random alleyway pics and just agreed to enjoy the night. We spent the rest of our time that evening shopping and ate an incredible dinner at a restaurant I cannot remember the name of for the life of me.
Our second day was also the day we’d be boarding a ferry to Athens. We ate breakfast served at our hotel and then checked out. We took the morning to get lost on the island, strapping up our hefty backpacks, shopping around and petting every cat we could find.
We found a beautiful piece of ceramic art that was way too big to be purchased at the beginning of a trip. But it spoke to us so much that we made the purchase and lugged it around the for rest of our trip. It hangs on our wall now, and it was well worth the effort it took to get it home.
Once we hit lunchtime, we ate our last meal in Santorini and took a bus to the port. There was an issue with our boarding pass – apparently they went ahead and moved our ferry departing time up so we missed our boat! Trying not to stress, we were trying to convince these employees who didn’t seem even slightly bothered by our predicament to book us onto the next ferry. They reprinted us some tickets but got our names wrong. We asked them to reprint them but they dismissed us. “You’re in Greece”, they joked. “You’ll be fine.”
They were right – we boarded without an issue and made our way to Athens with a bottle of wine and snacks.
I miss Santorini! We have a trip to another Greek Island coming up – Mykonos – and are so excited. Have you guys ever been to Santorini? Where did you stay? What did you think about the coffee?? Really I want to hear people’s take on Greek coffee. I don’t want to get to Mykonos and not have my morning cup!