Beautiful whitewashed buildings with deep blue roofs, bluest of the blue waters, a stunning volcanic Caldera, the most amazing and romantic sunset you can think of! That’s Santorini for you. The black pearl of the Aegean – Santorini is a jaw-droppingly beautiful Crescent-shaped cluster of islands in Greece, in the Aegean Sea consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in the southernmost part of Cyclades. And of course has been in our bucket list since years.
After 3 nice and relaxing days in Chania, it was time to say goodbye to Crete. We had collected our car from Chania Airport. However, our Catamaran to Santorini or Fira as it in known in Greece was from Heraklion, another part of Crete. We got up early and left for Heraklion after saying goodbye to the most wonderful hosts I had ever met. The drive from Chania to Heraklion via Rethymon was amazingly beautiful and I saw one of the most stunning sunrises against the backdrop of the long winding road and the sea.
We took the Catamaran from Heraklion to Santorini but there are of course other ways to reach Santorini. You can take the ferry from Athens to Santorini. The travel time could range from 5 hours to 8 hours depending on whether you take the high speed ferry or the conventional ferry. Most of the ferries leave in the morning time from the Piraeus Ferry Port in Athens. You can book your tickets on Bookaway or can buy them from a travel agent. It is recommended that the tickets are booked early. And also that you arrive an hour in advance and that advice I can give based on my own experience of travelling from Heraklion to Santorini wherein we had almost missed our Catamaran and had to make a dash for it.
Another way to reach is to take a flight from Athens to Santorini. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour and there are many airlines which service this route. You can find good deals on tickets on Skyscanner or Kayak .
Santorini has been on my wish list since as long as I had seen the place in the Hollywood movie Mama Mia and then the Bollywood movie Chalte Chalte. The white churches with blue roofs, the beautiful orange yellow sunset, the blue waters and the Caldera (a volcanic crater) are a photographer’s dream and even I wanted to live the dream.
We took the Catamaran from Heraklion to Santorini. The views of the sea were beautiful and most of the time we stayed on the deck instead of the plush seats which we had been given inside. A collective murmur of awe and appreciation went up when we were approaching Fir, the capital of Santorini! It looked like a picture perfect town. It was May and the weather was very pleasant, neither too hot nor too cold. May to October are the best months to visit with June to September being the busiest ones being the high season. You may wish to plan ahead for these months.
Greeks are very friendly and this was something which we observed many times. The proprietor of the apartment where we were to stay, Maria, had herself come to receive us. Unlike Crete, people in Santorini speak good English, probably due to the huge influx of tourists coming to Santorini from all over the world. A minibus had been organised which basically picks up people from the port and drops people to their respective hotels. The climb along the road was steep and we felt a lot of pressure in our ears. Thankfully, after a while, we felt comfortable. Our hotel, Villa Rose, was at a very convenient location near the central square of Fira.
We felt at home with our warm hosts and they immediately made us feel comfortable. Our room had all the amenities and the fridge even had milk, bread and yoghurt which proved to be very handy for our small kid. After resting a bit, we went to the nearby bike rental shop and hired a bike to explore Fira. You can check out bike rental rates here. We did not have a fixed itinerary for the day and decide to just drive around.
On the way, we were greeted with some stunning views.
In the night, we decided to take a walk till the central square of Fira which is also known as the Plateia Theotokopoulou. The square was vibrant with a lot of cafes and restaurants. We have a nice and filling dinner of gyros.
The famous Caldera was on our itinerary the next day. The Caldera is a large and is almost 70000 years old. It once formed a full circular ring but its shape was destroyed in a volcanic eruption.
We had booked a trip with one of the tour companies. After having a filling breakfast, we picked up our bike and drove towards the Old Port. Our boat left at around 10:45 and in ten minutes we reached the Caldera.
We got around one and a half hours to spend at the Caldera and saw some craters and the smell of Sulphur was everywhere.
Thereafter the boat proceeded to the bay of Agios Nikolaos and then stopped near the famous thermal spas of Palaia Kameni. The water was warm and beckoning. We wanted to go in but it was meant for experienced swimmers and we felt a bit sad for not being skilful swimmers. A lot of people from our boat dived in to enjoy the natural spa.
The next stop was the Island of Thirassia where the waters are beautiful and crystal clear. We had our lunch at one of the traditional tavernas there.
We returned to the old Port by evening.
The last day at Santorini. We had decided to roam around the town and places nearby without any fixed agenda on mind. The evening was to be spent at the beautiful village of Oia. After spending an idyllic day exploring the town on bike and foot, we headed to Oia village.
Its important to reach the place before sunset since it gets pretty crowded in the evening. Tourists from all over the world travel to Oia to watch the sunset. Its also a preferred wedding destination. The streets of Oia have a charm of their own lined with quaint little shops selling all kinds of stuff, from souvenirs to sculptures, soaps made of olive oil to beautiful paintings. After navigating through the many stairs of the village, we finally reached a spot at the sunset view point.
After half an hour wait, the sun slowly started setting. As the colour changed from fiery yellow to a glowing orange, I felt myself going through a plethora of emotions amazed at the power and the beauty that nature has. For those with their partners, I would say this is definitely one of the things to be done together in a life time. The setting sun at Oia against the backdrop of the Caldera is an awe inspiring sight, not to be forgotten.
After the sunset, we walked around aimlessly for a while, just absorbing the views on our last night in Santorini.
Though Santorini is a bit commercialised and crowded, I would still say that it is a place one should visit, atleast once in a life time, for its fairy tale setting.