When I think of Greece, I think of the Greek Islands: Mykonos, Ios, Naxos and the eternally glorious Santorini. It was hard to decide which island we wanted to spend our week at. So we used the best reference we could find when researching the Greek Islands: The Ceba pictures by Leonardo Da (as seen in Cathy & Graham’s bathroom). These pictures are what lead us to choose Santorini. Armed with no other information we went to Athens and bought ferry tickets to Santorini – it would take us seven hours to reach this island, almost an entire days work. Well worth it we told ourselves.
We prepared for the long trip ahead, by charging our gadgets and got some fresh reading material for the journey. I smashed out a blog, before lunch time hit and we played UNO for a two hours straight. When we were due to arrive in Santorini, the crew lead us down the stairs and into the ‘garage’ type storage area where we must have waited a further 20 minutes to exit the ship. We were excited to see the doors open – expecting to see blue skies, oceans and a sea of white, topped with blue domes, just like the Ceba’s. Instead, we were greeted with a vast, rocky desert. Gigantic brown, dusty hills – no white and definitely not blue. However, this was the port – the new port, so we knew the best was still to come.
We made our way to the local buses, as we were staying at the south-west tip of the island at a B&B in Perissa, famous for it’s black beach (black sand). The walk to the buses was hectic – trying to avoid people selling accommodation, transport, taxi’s and tours. We walked straight through them and onto the buses that took us to Perissa. We figured once we got to Perissa people would know the name of our B&B (Villa Clio) and point us in the right direction. We were wrong – people had all sorts of issues understanding us – some said it was around the corner, the information centre said it was eight km away, the lady at the bakery said it was half way down the road. We took our chances and decided to go with what the lady at the bakery told us, she seemed reasonably knowledgeable. Frustrated with our lack of preparation again, we managed to get back onto the right road and found some signs leading us to our lovely B&B.
We loved Villa Clio – it was owned by a lovely couple called Heleni and her husband Adonis. Most days consisted of lying by or swimming in the beautiful pool in the morning, Heleni whipping up one of her amazing Greek salads for lunch and then us working it back off in the pool with our awesome underwater handstands and occasional dive bomb – they were hard days. By night we’d check out the nightlife in Perissa, there was one main road by the beach – where you could have your pick of restaurants and bars. Watch the moon rise every night and listen to the countless bands playing along the shores. Just magical!
On one of our more adventurous days, we decided to hire an ATV to discover more of the island and find the Ceba pictures we had come to know as Santorini. Heleni told us we would find them in Oia – a 20 minute drive on an ATV. An ATV for the day set us back 15 euro – a bargain we thought. We drove to Oia first, we saw that it was very touristy, lots of hotels and tons of tourists – all wanting to get that picture. We realised that the blue domes were representative of a church – so we started following signs to churches. We found a couple in Oia, where we also found breathtaking views of the island.
We cruised onto Fira – a much larger town where we hoped to find some more blue domes and to be precise we were looking for two or three in a row. Gus also needed some new Havianna’s, having worn them all through Europe, he could feel they’re run was over. We stopped off at a Havianna shop and asked the owner if he could show us where we could take photos of the domes, just like they appeared in the postcards. He told us we had to walk about 500m up a hill and they would be there. And so we walked.
We walked for a good kilometre and saw nothing – we kept walking thinking there was maybe a Lost in Translation theme happening – but no. There was nothing. We finally reached a dead end with a restaurant, we went to restaurant in hope that over this dead end we’d see the Ceba. But no – it was really just a dead end. There had been one blue dome, right at the beginning of our path but nothing like what we had seen in the pictures or postcards. We would have to content ourselves with the photos we got in Oia and hope the rest were photoshopped. It wasn’t until later that day that we were told a lot of these photos are taken from a helicopter or from private residences – which would make the perfect shot for the ordinary tourist impossible. However, we did try and survived the ATV experience. Definitely happy we did that – great value for money and the only way to see the island!
We absolutely loved Santorini. We got over the barren desert qualities very quickly and just fell in love with how laid back the people are here, it’s amazing beaches and of course our pool. We thought we would get to see the other islands while we were on Santorini, but it was a two hour ferry ride to the closest one – so we flagged that idea and decided to explore the island of Santorini itself. Will definitely come back here and explore the other islands of this amazing country!
P.S. It was during our time here that we heard about the bombings in Mumbai – our next destination after Greece. While we really wanted to go to India and experience everything it had to offer, knew that it was probably not a good idea to go. Just to make sure Gus looked up the location of our hotel and found out that the second bomb had gone off only two blocks away from the hotel. We decided to change our flights to skip Mumbai and move onto somewhere else – a lot of our time probably four or five days were spent re-organising our itinerary to deal with the bombings – so we probably took it a bit easy on the sightseeing here.