Now I know where everyone was headed in all of Greece. This is Greece's version of Las Vegas!
Whenever I mentioned that I was headed to Greece for vacation, people always asked, "are you going to Santorini?" Well, we did it. As much as the stunning white buildings toppling over cliffs impressed, the whole scene of Santorini left me slightly disappointed. I knew there would be hordes of tourists both from cruise ships, tour companies, and ordinary folks checking off a bucket list destination. And I knew it was nearly mid-July when crowds were nearing the worst. After feeling like we had Greece nearly all to ourselves for 3+ weeks, it was a little hard to share Santorini with the masses. We were only on Santorini for two nights so more time would have surely lead to more discoveries.
We opted to stay about 10 minutes from Fira (the largest town) at Villa Danae. It was a peaceful oasis away from the busy streets of Fira. I am very glad we did not rent a car on Santorini. The roads seemed particularly narrow and clogged with buses, 4-wheelers, motorcycles and more! We rode buses around the island which was an adventure! The drivers managed many switchbacks, loads of traffic, and tourists without a bead of sweat or frustration. One driver played classic rock on the drive between Fira and Oia. It was memorable to hear folks from around the world singing along to "Bye Bye Miss America Pie".
When we arrived at the new port, we rode a harrowing bus drive up a steep cliff made passable with many switchbacks. There was a lot of construction going on at the port so I imagine it will be even better at managing the masses of tourists in the future.
We were happy with our room at Villa Danae. We cooled off in the pool before heading into Fira for lunch.
We found cheap gyros pita at Lucky's Souvlakis. Recommended. A reasonable and tasty lunch right near the main square.
We headed to the ridge of the town for our first glimpse of the white building dripping off the cliff. Wow. Just wow.
We had a somewhat expensive drink at Tropical bar - an Aussie joint, while we watched the sunset.
It was also fun watching tons of tourists watching the sunset. Geesh.
Here are the controversial donkeys who haul tourists up a steep hill from their cruise ships.
We enjoyed shopping and gawking before heading back for sleep. The big plan for tomorrow is the hike between Fira and Oia.
Hiking Between Fira & Oia
After an American style breakfast at Mamas, we began the 12 kilometer hike to Oia. This was no easy task. It was windy and hot at the same time and the path took us over every surface imaginable. Cobbled streets, loose stones, dirt, roadways, coarse sand, etc... The path ascended and descended and the crescent shape of Santorini made Oia look close and extremely far away at the same time. But we made it! It was fascinating walking past luxury hotels, many with private pools. Sadly, it made the cascading white buildings almost less impressive when realizing they are basically fancy hotels for the rich. Most real Santorini folk live on other parts of the island. Still, we enjoyed the hike and all the commanding views.
We were especially thankful to find a pool that I had researched in Oia for a rewarding swim.
After another gyros pita lunch in Oia, we took the bus back to Fira. Santorini is expensive but gyros pitas are a pretty good deal throughout Greece. Somehow we still weren't sick of them!
We ended our day with a little more shopping in Fira. We found the main grocery store and bought a few items to have a picnic dinner in our hotel room. After another swim, we called it a day!
Last day in Santorini. More Oia
Here are the pictures like Greek calendars sold around the world.
We had coffee and bougatsa. Mmmm- bougatsa! It's a flaky pastry with custard in the middle. A Greek standard. I can't begin to explain the pink concoction DD#1 picked.
Our goal was to head back to Oia for more photographs. When we hiked to Oia yesterday, we were both sweaty and slightly cranky. Today was the day to get those beautiful pictures everyone thinks of when you say Greece. Oia is the most photographed town in all of Greece. It really is stunning.
We rode the bus to and from Oia, checked out of our hotel, and bused to the port for our final ferry to Crete. A lovely sunset on the way to Crete.
Let the adventure continue!