Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Greek island of Santorini

Two years ago, I was in Santorini island, a gorgeous volcanic island off the coast of Greece. I was there on holiday as I was getting married there! We chose the island for its postcard scenery, sunny climates and relaxed atmosphere. Part of the magic of the wedding was because the island has some beautiful scenery.

As I approach my two year anniversary (where has time gone?!) I want to share with you some of the island's best it. 

classic Santorini buildings 

You will find this tiny island off Greece (I know – it sounds like it’s a place in Italy right?) and you can fly there directly with EasyJet and Thomas Cook (flights aren’t every day though so choose flights carefully). It’s a short 3 ½ hours flying and as the island is small, you’ll be from airport to hotel in no time. 

There are loads of hotels to choose from but for us, we stayed on Kamari beach at the “Boat House” and its sister apartments “Kayla studios” which was slap bang on the beach. Whilst Oia and Fira are absolutely stunning, they are both very busy thanks to their popularity with tourists, the hotels are a more expensive and you don’t have the satisfaction of having a beach on your door step.

roof top bars in Fira

Fira is the capital of the island so that is where you can expect to find the hustle and bustle. As the buildings are built into the sides of the hills, everything in Fira is compact and the narrow cobbled streets will take you through the town, which gives it a really quaint feel. 

gorgeous sunset
one of the pretty ports

There’s plenty of shopping to be done, from interiors, jewellery, holiday tat, clothes etc. If you have time, take the cable car as you’ll get some good views of the island. Take a rest at one of the many creperies or frozen yogurt stands. If you think frozen yogurt is tasty, then you’ll marvel at Greek frozen yogurt. I am salivating thinking about it.

gyros, my kind of kebab 

Whilst in Santorini, you cannot leave without have a kebab. I don't mean a dirty donner kebab, the kind you only eat at 3am after downing jagerbombs all night. These are proper kebabs called gyros. 

It can be a little pricey but the views and atmosphere from the open air bars that line the outskirts of the top of the town is worth it. It’s the perfect post dinner activity. You’ll simply melt into the ambiance of the scenery. My tipple of choice was “Visanto” the sweetest, most delicious local dessert wine.

This is your typical tourist beach, so will cater for all your wants and needs and activities. The beach is crammed with bars and restaurants so you will have plenty of choice for local cuisine. “Ya Mas” (and the one next to it) offered tasty dinners for reasonable prices. Grilled squid and meze platters were popular choices amongst my wedding guests.

black squid ink risotto!

fried puff bread pies and dips

My absolute favourite restaurant on the island though is in Perissa. “Sea side by Notos” is where we actually had the wedding reception and it’s one of my favourite places I think I have ever eaten in. The food tastes as good as its looks, the staff are lovely, and the calming vibe even managed to chill me out before the big day. The cocktails are worth a big mention too, especially there long island ice tea. A little pricier than other places but so worth it.

The restaurant “Anemos” next door is a close runner up.

there are many little churches 

This is such a cute little place but it gets crowded with bus tours and the crowds of cruise liner passengers, so go early in the morning! There isn’t that much to do here but it is very pretty and the perfect place for a brunch. Oia is also a hot spot for sunset watching but to be honest, you’ll get decent sunsets pretty much everywhere on the island. If you must, get there early, grab a good spot in a restaurant, sit back and relax. I’m not exactly a book worm but there is the most intriguing book shop I have ever seen here too.

my smug view of Ois's coast

Sea Kayaking:
If you are thinking of sea kayaking in Santorini. Don’t. 
Paddling out was fine but coming back turned into an epic mission that the Boy though resembled the training in the Royal Marines. Waves were going over my head which knocked my contacts out of alignment so I literally sat in the back of the kayak pretending to help whilst I closed my eyes and tried not to drown with all the water that I was being hit with whilst the Boy took us to shore.

clearest water on Santorini's coast

Volcano and Boat trip:
I have done this twice now but to be honest, it didn’t really do it for me. I think my aunt had the right idea who got off the boat, looked at it, then kicked back and relaxed for the two hours we were walking up the volcano. 

The all day boat trip is certainly worth it though. And if you stop at the island of Therissa, listen to the guide when he tells you to eat at “Captain John’s” as we didn’t and we regretted it. There is also an opportunity to stop off at the hot springs and soak up the mud that's meant to be great for your skin (warning - don't wear your favourite bikini). 
volcano rocks

the ships that take you to the volcano

Wine tasting:
This was a great idea of the Boy and he doesn’t even like wine! For 12 euros, "Santo Winery" will give you six (decent sample sizes) of local wine with a huge bowl of Greek cheese, a rich tomoto dip and rusks. We went at 7pm to set ourselves up for the sunset. Vino with a view. Brilliant. A camera is essential.

vino + sunset = perfection 

As an indulgence before the wedding, I was treated by the Boy to an aromatherapy massage and manicure. If you fancy being pampered I certainly can recommend the “Afrodite Venue Beach Hotel and Spa” at the end of Kamari beach with its extensive spa options. It’s a little tricky to find as it isn’t on the beach front but asking locals got us there fine.

It is a lovely place filled with the classic white buildings topped with bright blue roofs, cobbled alleys, tavernas and sunshine! Unlike normal beaches, the beaches are black sand thanks to the volcano, which makes for a dramatic coastline and pretty backdrop!

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