As a gift for my birthday, Mike planned a trip for us to somewhere special. But he didn’t tell me where we were going. I tried to get him to talk about it; I was too curious, you see, but he wouldn’t let out a word. Now I kept wondering what kind of clothes to buy- coats and jackets for somewhere cold? or maxis and skirts for someplace sunny? Ugh! I was driving myself crazy!
I only knew that it was going to be a 5 day trip. Mike gave out the surprise (Or should I say I forced him to? Guilty!) just a couple of days before the trip. We were going to… drum-rolls please… SANTORINI… in Greece!!! You might have seen its exotic locales in a lot of movies! I had. And I’d always wanted to go there! Now my dream was about to come true! Thanks Mike!!
We took an early morning flight to Santorini and landed in Thera Airport at about 10 am. Though the airport is tiny, the number of incoming flights is large, because a lot of tourists come here from all over the World everyday. So, yes, it took us quite sometime to get our luggage.
We finally got into a taxi at the airport to our hotel. The taxi had no billing meter and its interior looked old and dusty. As it drove us to our resort, to be frank, my first impression of the place was quite disappointing. I was hoping to see a beautiful landscape covered with whitewashed buildings, as I had seen in the movies and posters, but it looked nothing close to that. This impression gradually changed as we got closer to our resort.
Mike had booked our stay at a 5- star resort called Hotel Kastelli. As soon as we arrived, we were taken from the entrance to the reception in a golf cart by an attendant. After the formalities at the reception, where we were served complimentary Orange juice, we were led to our room by the receptionist, who gave us a tour of all the facilities available at the hotel. The resort has 4 pools, a restaurant and a spa. The folks at Kastelli have cultivated many plants and trees including Hibiscus and Pomegranate in the hotel premises.
After settling into our room, we decided to take a walk around the Kamari beach, which is located close to the resort. Santorini is famous for its beaches. There are more than 10 beaches on this island and the Kamari is one of them.
Kamari is a famous black-sand beach resort of Santorini. It offers a wide range of facilities like sunbeds, umbrellas and various types of water sports. The presence of a variety of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs makes it quite popular with tourists during the peak season.
We ate lunch at Taverna Saliveros (Taverna means Restaurant in Greek), a family-owned restaurant like most around here. Food was OK and costed us around €40 (approx. 45 USD).
After resting by the pool at Kastelli, we took a walk around the beach again. Kamari is extremely attractive, especially at night when the rock beside the beach, called the Mesa Vouno, glows in the dark.
On the second day of our trip, we decided to explore the main cities of Santorini- Fira and Oia. After checking with our Hotel Receptionist about the modes of transport available, we rented a 125 CC scooter for 4 days to get around. (€40 for 2 days and €25 per day). Apparently, a scooter is the best way to travel on the narrow streets of Santorini.
Santorini is the largest of a small, circular group of islands in the Aegean Sea, formed after an enormous volcanic eruption destroyed a formerly single island (Source- Wikipedia). Fira is the modern capital of Santorini (ancient name of Fira is Thera). It is perched on the edge of a cliff, at a height of about 260 meters.
Fira is a busy place with its central streets buzzing with tourists and all kinds of souvenir shops, jewelry stores, restaurants and cafes. People who visit Santorini choose to stay here and enjoy the views of the Mediterranean Sea below.
After a long walk around the cliff, we went down to the old port. One can choose to go up and down the cliff via a cable car (€4 one-way) or a donkey-ride (€5 per person, plus a €5 “tip” for the guide). At the port there are boats to ferry people around the island.
Next, we went to Oia, about 12 km away from Fira. Oia (Ee-ah) is another popular destination with the tourists. It is a very picturesque city. dotted with whitewashed buildings decorated with sea-blue domes, doors and windows. We spent most of our time there, meandering up and down its busy streets. Interesting architecture, breathtaking views of the caldera (cauldron-like volcanic feature) and the sea are the highlights of a visit to Oia.
Perched at the edges of cliffs are old wind-mills which have been preserved as tourist attractions. Another thing Oia is renowned for is its spectacular sunsets. Apparently, one needs to reserve a table at least a day before, to spend an evening at a sea-side restaurant in Oia. Since we hadn’t, we headed back to our hotel.
After a long day visiting the beautiful cities of Fira and Oia, we had our dinner at a great restaurant called Taverna Zorbas on the Kamari beach, where we tried a special Greek food called Moussaka, an eggplant (aubergine)- based dish famous around the Mediterranean region (which costed us about €40).
Delicious food coupled with breathtaking views of the beach created an evening so romantic, Mike and I will be cherishing it for a long long time…
P.S- more about our trip in my next post.