Santorini

Our arrival on Santorini was kind of crazy. The ferry goes into a port that only has tourist cafes, car rental agencies, and travel agents. If you know where you’re going, they sweep you up and your luggage gets whisked away, and off you go. If you don’t know where you’re going, they sweep you up and your luggage gets whisked away and you’re left not knowing what’s going on or even if you were just mugged. We’re used to dealing with that kind of stuff where we live, but it still took us by surprise after not having to worry about that at all in Athens.

We ended up where we needed to go eventually, but it turned out that our Airbnb was significantly further away from the main parts of Santorini than we thought, all the way at the bottom of the island in Akrotiri. And also, it was cold! We were expecting some cold, just not that much. We arrived shortly before dinner, and killed some time by walking to the very tip of the caldera to find a lighthouse, and then found a fish restaurant that our host had recommended.

We thought we could ride the bus and/or rent 4-wheelers to get around the island, but decided it was too cold and rented a car instead, which was very easy to do through our host. Turns out it was the right choice because it rained the entire first day we were there! We bundled up with all of the clothes we could and left Akrotiri to see the sights.

It was surprising to me how much of Santorini is farm land. The photos you see are just of the beaches and the white buildings and churches. Turns out there’s a whole lot more to the island than that — mostly wine! We took a tour at the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Wuseum in the center of the island. It was quite interesting, but their animatronic scarecrows-like figures demonstrating the process of wine-making were terrifying. It turns out that Santorini used to be a major port between Russia and Egypt. This helped the wine industry take off. It’s a shame that isn’t the case anymore. The tour concluded with a free tasting, and we bought a bottle of Vinsanto, Santorini’s P.D.O. wine. (Supposedly each island has its own particular wine and cheese that only they produce.)

Later, we took the steps down to the old port and saw the famous donkeys sitting there in the rain. It was a beautiful, scenic hike. I imagine that place is crammed during the summer but due to the rain and the off-season, it was like a ghost town. We took the cable car back up.

Day 6 was amazingly beautiful. Blue skies and lots of sun. We visited the Red Beach first. It was a gorgeous place. Next, we went to find a Black Beach. Google Maps was less than helpful and, after driving down a gravel road down the cliff, we found a beach with blackish rocks.  We ate a lunch of tzatziki, feta, pork, fresh bread, and wine before heading back up the cliff in our tiny European car.

We headed back to Fira and began to walk the trail from Fira to Oia. We didn’t make it very far because we got distracted by Skaros rock. After a quick stop on the way back to try the Volkan beers, we drove to the other end of the island to see Oia.

It was so full of tourists! Asian tourists. We wandered a bit, then watched the famous sunset. On the way back to our Airbnb, we stopped to try a bit of night photography in Thira. It was quite cold so we didn’t stay long.

The last day, we drove down to see one more beach before returning the rental car and heading down to the port to catch our ferry to Naxos.

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