SAILING INTO THE SUNSET IN SANTORINIIt takes about 90 minutes by ferry to get from Mykonos Island to Santorini. Along the way the ferry navigates through spectacular mountainous coastlines dotted with bays and inlets, giving the feeling that you’re sailing into a mystical battle scene from Game of Thrones or a classic viking movie.
As you get closer to Santorini, white specks begin to appear, scattered on the cliff tops like a fresh dump of snow. These are the renowned villages perched on some of the most glorious real estate in the world.
After disembarking from our ferry and negotiating the hoards of hawkers trying to sell us last minute hotels deals and other holiday packages, we were soon sitting in the comfort of a prearranged bus and on my way to the town of Fira, the capital of Santorini.
To get to the hotel we drove up the most incredibly steep hill. If you suffer from vertigo, I wouldn’t suggest looking down, though I must say the views on display are mesmerising, so if you can overcome your fear of heights, it’s well worth it.
Every road driven and corner turned presented us with yet another beautiful vista, the likes you expect from a heavily photoshopped travel brochure.
From the first time I saw photos of Santorini and its whitewashed houses and churches with classic famous blue domes, they have been etched into my mind. When I sighted in the flesh for the first time, I was far from disappointed.
Fira is situated above the old port on the western side of the island. We stayed in a classic multi-level whitewashed hotel perched on the top of a cliff, which offered exquisite views of the Aegean Sea and the volcanic islands surrounding Santorini.
To get to our hotel we had to walk through a narrow cobblestone lane, passing a multitude of dazzling plumes of bougainvillea on the way.
We could’ve easily spent our entire time in Santorini holed up in our gorgeous hotel room and patio, such were the views that confronted us, but we had much to see and do in our short four-day sojourn. As such, not long after settling in we were getting a scooter delivered to our front door. It would be our transport for the duration of our stay.
As well as a famous museum and cable car, Fira has the island’s largest shopping selection and the greatest choice of dining, cafes, and late night entertainment.
Our first tour of the island took us to Oia, which is the most famous of all the villages in Santorini and is only about 20 minutes by scooter from Fira. It is known throughout the world for its dazzling sunsets and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages on the island. Oia is located on top of an awe-inspiring cliff and the views are exceptional. Get there early to grab the best vantage point as it gets insanely crowded.
Another highlight of Oia is the famous blue domed and whitewashed churches. There are also many shops, taverns cafés located on the main pedestrian path that runs along the whole length of town.
There are also some outstanding walks in Oia. One of the standouts takes you down a few hundred steps to Amoundi Bay, which is most one of the most quaint and beautiful places to visit. It’s a little fishing port and it boasts a number of waterfront seafood restaurants. Colourful little fishing boats bob up and down on the waterfront, and freshly caught octopus is stretched out on racks to dry in the sun outside the restaurants. It is also great place to dive off the rocks and go for a swim.
To further enhance this magical bay, donkeys are lined up at the bottom of the cliff ready to transport overfed tourists back up the 300 steps to their motorized transport. Donkeys and mules are located all over the island due to the many steep walks and steps.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a beach holiday Mykonos is the place to go. In saying that, we did go and checkout some of Santorini’s most popular beaches and they didn’t disappoint. The beaches are unique due to their red and black sand.
The most famous of Santorini’s beaches is Red Beach, which has a dramatic red cliff backdrop and stunning aquamarine coloured water. Other popular beaches feature the unusual black sand, including Perissa, Kamari and Perivolos. A warning though, in the middle of the day that dark sand gets bloody hot – pack your thongs!
Santorini is definitely an island I highly recommend putting on your bucket list.
Where to stay:
Tzekos Villas – www.tzekosvillas.gr
How to get there:
Vicki Gilden at Rose Bay Travel (02) 9371 8166
WHERE TO EAT:
Everywhere. Greek food is sensational.