Friday, November 18, 2011

santorini

I've been traveling around Greece for more than two months now and I think I can safely say that Santorini is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It's an island reachable by both ferry and plane (just an hour flight from Athens!) and I would guess it's the most photographed place in Greece as far as calendars and books are concerned. It's also where they shot those gorgeous scenes in "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." If you ever have the chance to go to Greece, I would definitely put it at the top of your list!

The balcony outside our hotel room in Fira.

Friday, November 4th

After an early ferry and bus ride to the Athens airport, my mom and I flew to Santorini. Although the flight is technically an hour, you're only in the air maybe forty minutes. Definitely the shortest amount of time I've ever spent on a plane! We sat down, looked through the in-flight magazine, got our complimentary beverages, downed them, and then landed in Santorini. Amazingly quick!

Funnily enough too, when you land, you walk down steps to get from the plane to the landing and then they make you take a bus to the airport. The bus ride length? Twenty seconds. And it probably would have taken forty seconds to walk there :)


Oia at Sunset
When we first got there, we went straight to our hotel. It was a bit difficult getting my mom's suitcase down all the narrow stairs, but we finally made it. Because November is off-season for Greece, there were very few people staying at the hotel. We got our room for a great price and it had an amazing view of Fira as well as a nice little balcony outside the room with chairs and a table for relaxing. The room itself was built into the land, like so many houses in Santorini, with a rounded, cave-like roof, whitewashed walls, and a little window built into the door. So cute!


Oia Again, at Sunset.
When we were all checked in, we walked around Fira a bit. There seemed to be a good amount of shops open and we stopped in a few before finding a place to eat lunch. The restaurant was beautiful, very green with lots of outdoor seating and trellises and grapes growing. After eating some delicious sandwiches, we walked around Fira more. Strangely, some shops had already closed. So after a little while, we took the bus to Oia, the most picturesque town in Santorini. It's just a short bus ride away from Fira. We took a million pictures there before and after the sun set. The town is beautiful and there were tons of cute, silly dogs running around while we took pictures :)


One of the Pups in Oia.
As we were wandering around Oia, going in shops and looking for restaurants for dinner, we passed by a cute little bookshop that looked a lot like the Greek version of Paris's Shakespeare & Co., a quirky little store with books everywhere, writing on the walls, and a distinctive personality. Their storefront was unique too, with steps going down to the main store and steps going up to a little balcony. As we peered in the shop from the street, an American girl called to us from the balcony saying they were having a famous Greek chef/author cook food upstairs and everyone was welcome.

As we were debating it, one of the store owners popped up and told us the chef was the Greek Martha Stewart and she was there for the literary festival they were having all weekend. Naturally, we couldn't pass up the opportunity. We went upstairs, where maybe 30 people were crowded into the cozy space, watching Vefa Alexandiou cook recipes from her cookbooks. They gave us complimentary wine and we got to try some yummy food as well. We only stayed about 30-45 minutes, but we had a great time and ended up buying one of the cookbooks (and had it signed by the author!).

My mom in Oia.
Saturday, November 5th

We started our second day with a bus ride to Perissa, another town on the island. It's known for it's black sand beach, which was beautiful and soft, much better than a regular sandy beach. There were lots of dogs there too, running around the beach and napping in the sand. So cute!

Only two restaurants were open, but luckily one of them was perfect. We got to sit on a little deck above the beach, eat yummy crepes (mine had bananas, nutella, walnuts, and almonds!), drink strawberry juice, and they even had internet access! Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to do in town. We wandered around and took some pictures and thankfully, just when we'd finished, the bus arrived and we took it back to Fira.


The bookstore, Atlantis Books.
There was a cruise boat anchored near the island on Saturday, which might have been annoying during Santorini's busy season, but in November, we really welcomed it. Because there was a cruise boat, almost all the shops were open in both Fira and Oia. We meant to walk around Fira just a bit after getting back from Perissa (because we were thinking of how it had been the day before, fairly calm and mostly closed), but we ended up stumbling on a lot of really great shops. I bought a bunch of gifts, which I'd been meaning to do for awhile. We were so busy shopping, we decided to take the later bus to Oia.

Black Sand at Perissa.
We took the bus back to Oia again, because the sunset is just too pretty to pass up. The cruise boat had left by this point, so we had lots of room and opportunity to take the photos we wanted. I've heard from other people who visited Santorini back in September that when they visited Oia near sunset, the streets were packed. They could barely even move around and all the great locations were full of tourists, the streets completely lined.

So while I was sad we couldn't swim at the beach while we were there (it was definitely too cold for that), I still think Santorini is a great spot to visit in the off-season. It's not too chilly and definitely not over-run by tourists. However, it is best if there's at least one cruise boat around to keep the stores and restaurants up and running.

Crepes & Strawberry Juice at the Restaurant in Perissa.
After pictures, we found one of the few restaurants open in Oia. We split some delicious "Oia Spaghetti," which was basically just spaghetti with a yummy tomato garlic sauce and lots of vegetables. We finished quickly though because the literary festival was still happening at Atlantis Books and we didn't want to miss the author readings they'd scheduled for that night.

Outside our hotel in Fira.
We were a bit late to the book readings, so we only made it in time to hear the end of Joe Dunthorne's reading (author of Submarine, which was recently made into a movie). We did get to hear Ross Sutherland, Dimitris Sotakis, Alexis Stamatis, and Thanassis Heimonas. So there were two Englishmen and three Greeks. And luckily for us, all but one of the authors read in English, and the one who didn't was still able to make us laugh with the little songs he incorporated into his work. I really enjoyed all of their work. And I'm really thankful the event was happening too because if not for that, we might have been getting bored at night. There isn't much to see or do once it gets dark and the shops close.


Oia.

So that was the end to our second day in Santorini. We only took a taxi to Fira, walked around a couple shops, and went back to the hotel after that, to pack and get some sleep. We woke early the next morning, got some breakfast at a bakery, and flew back to Athens, where my mom stayed until Monday morning and where I flew out of again later that afternoon, to meet my classmates in Thessaloniki for our trip to Northern Greece!

2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! By the way, I promise to respond to your facebook message today. :) Santorini looks colder than the rest of Greece for some reason. I LOVE that picture of the pup! Miss you.

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  2. OHMYGOSH love that puppy pic. And now I'm also adding crepes to the list of things you can make me when you get back.

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