Friday, 17 June 2016

Santorini 2015

In June 2015, Daniel (my other half) and I hopped on a plane and ventured to Santorini, one of the many Greek islands. I cannot begin to explain how amazing Santorini is, from the food, the atmosphere to the views. Everything about this place is very special to me and I think I may have found my spirit place. Here are my thoughts on this magical place:

Sunset views from Oia

In November 2014 we both decided that we needed a long break (two weeks) from life, it had been a tough few years. After scrolling on the internet one evening, we both saw the Greek island Santorini pop up on Google, seeing the pictures we knew instantly that we need to go there! We booked our two week holiday through Thomson Travel, pleasantly surprised by the low price, we booked it immediately.

View of the pool area at Hotel Marianna
We stayed at the Hotel Marianna (I know it's cheesy to stay in a hotel with the same name as yourself) which is located south of the island in Perissa and literally it had everything we need for our two-week stay.

View from the top of the hill in Parissa
We had a very early flight from Gatwick airport, which helped as the flight was roughly 5 hours, meaning we could sleep on the flight out there. Once landed and out of the airport, we were greeted by our Thomson rep and taken to coach which would take us to our hotel. The ride to the hotel was informative as we learned a lot about Santorini, and to our surprise, we were the first hotel drop-off. When I first saw the hotel I was a bit disappointed as it didn't look like the pictures, Daniel did point out that we were both tired and it properly didn't help that the sun was hiding. We were greeted by the owner of the hotel, Marie, who showed us to our room. The room was nice and away from the sun, trust me this is a good thing as you don't want to come back to boiling hot room after a day out sightseeing. Once unpacked we hopped over to the pool area, Alex the bartender offered us some drinks (the dreaded Ouzo), we ended up chatting to him for ages. Alex was great at giving us advice, he told us all the places to avoid and where was best to eat. We noticed more people arriving at the hotel, so we decided to chill out on the sun-loungers. Needless to say with the mix of alcohol and lack of sleep we passed out on the sun-loungers, thankfully we were in the shade and didn't get sunburnt. After our nap, we got changed and ventured into Perissa, mainly for food but also to check out what Perissa had to offer.

View from Fira
The first few days we spent chilling out at the hotel pool, all we wanted to do was relax, sunbathe, eat and drink but after 4 days we got itchy feet and wanted to explore the island. We rented a quad bike for 11 days and started making plans for what we wanted to see and when. I like to be organised, so I picked up some leaflets, gathered some information from the internet and asked our new friends from the hotel what we need to see. The main area that kept being mentioned was Oia (Oia is not the capital but when you type in Santorini into Google most of the pictures are of Oia), so we knew we had to spend some time there. We also wanted to see the capital Fira, the lighthouse at the end of the island, the middle island (with active volcano), the red beach, Thirasia, and Kamari. Once we planned our activates for the two weeks we could rest assured that we didn't miss anything. We booked a boat trip for the second week which would take us to the active volcano, the hot springs, Thirasia (second largest island) and ended in Oia for the sunset.

The catamaran from the boat trip
In Perissa which is famous for its black beach, we found lots of lovely restaurants and a very cheap bar called Dorian's Pub. I'm not gonna lie the cocktails were standard but you can't complain as the cocktails cost 2-3 euros!!! Here are my top favourite restaurants from Perissa:
  • Tranquilo - it's very cheap, the salads are amazing for lunch but be warned the salads are for two people, they have gluten free meals and amazing smoothies. Highly recommend for a light lunch. Roughly 15 euros for two people
  • Apollon Restaurant - staff were super nice, the house white wine is delicious and they have everything on the menu, from Greek to English to European food. Roughly 25 - 30 euros for two people.
  • Volcano Taverna - mixed grill for two was 25 euros, not only do you get the mixed grill but you also get a greek salad and wine. I mean what more could you want? View of the sea? They have that too. Roughly 25 euros for two people 
*Please note with most Greek restaurants the portions are very big*

Donkeys in Fira
Fira is the capital of Santorini, sadly we didn't spend much time here as it was quite touristy. For one, the drinks were expensive and not really that nice. We spent a good few hours here, taking in all the views but it was so crowded you couldn't really appreciate the loveliness of Fira. If you are after some shopping I would highly recommend Fira as they had some of the best shops on the island. 

Metaxy Mas Tavern in Pyrgos
One of our favourite places to go was Pyrgos, it has a picturesque view of Santorini. We found the best restaurant on the island here, Metaxy Mas, it was so good we came here twice for a meal. The service was great and the food was authentic Greek. There is a beautiful church in the area which is also worth a visit. 

Me and a dog in Oia
One place I would not recommend visiting is the Red Beach in Akrotiri, it was a complete let down. Again it was very touristy, most people had selfie sticks and no self-control over them. Needless to say, I got hit in the head a few times by them. The beach wasn't that nice, a lot of litter and it had a funky smell. On this trip to Akrotiri, we also went to the lighthouse at the end of the Island, now that is worth visiting. It feels like your standing at the edge of the world. We did find a fish restaurant called Giorgaros, which has amazing views, great fish, and cheap wine. You might notice I like Greek wine, it's very good.

The sun setting in Oia
Kamari is on the other side of the mountain, separating Perissa from Kamari. You hike over the mountain to get there, you can drive or you can get a boat from Perissa beach to Kamari beach. Naturally we took the boat to Kamari, because why the hell not. There is a boat departing from Perissa beach ever 40 mins, but be careful of the times because we missed the last boat from Kamari and had to get a taxi back which cost us 40 euros. I wasn't overly impressed with Kamari, it was full of posers and the restaurants hassled you every few minutes to come into their restaurant. Something I am not a fan of, I preferred the laid back nature of Perissa. I did however like the mini golf in Kamari, it was so much fun and I'm a sucker for mini golf.

View from Fira
We took a boat ride on a catamaran, where we toured most of the Island. We were picked up by coach from Perissa beach which took us to the old Port in Fira, where we boarded the catamaran. There was food and drink onboard the catamaran, which was included in the price. I think the price was 40 euros, personally, I think the price was good for what you get. The first port of call was the volcanic Island, we hopped off onto the volcanic Island and were met by a tour guide who showed us round the Island. It is an active volcano, you can see the steam coming off the floor. It's very cool. The second place we went to was the hot springs, which were a bit of a let down as the springs were not that hot, more luke warm. The third place was Thirasia, which is the second largest Island in Santorini. We had a spot of lunch and were allow to have a wonder on the Island.

Side-view of the houses in the cliff in Oia
After Thirasia, the catamaran took us to Oia. We were dropped off at Oia Port and were told that we had to either take a donkey up the hill or walk. After seeing some of the people getting on the donkeys we decided to walk. It was a bloody long walk and Daniel lost his brand new Ray Ban. Not happy. We had 4 hours to spend in Oia and we mainly walked around exploring the place. Now, Oia is lovely and has the best views on the Island but I'm really glad we didn't stay there for the whole holiday. It's very hilly, very busy and there is no beach. Some of the hotels have built-in swimming pools but they are quite small. Oia is the perfect place for a day visit and I would recommend booking a restaurant before going as it can get booked up very fast. We were extremely lucky to get a spot at the restaurant with the best views of the sunset. If there is one thing everyone needs to do in their life is see the sunset from Oia. It's breathtaking. After the meal, we were picked up by the coach which took us back to Perissa. 

Sunset in Oia
Another place I would recommend, if you have a mode of transport is Profitis Ilias. It's the biggest mountain on Santorini. The drive up the mountain is wonderful, lots of photo opportunities. There is a small Monastery on top of the mountain, where you can buy a gift, honey, and wine made by the Monastery. There is a rumour that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have purchased a house on the mountain (sadly we didn't see it).

Daniel standing on the mountain of Profitis Ilias
If you are heading to the Island of Santorini, I hope you have a great time. Let me know if you have any recommendations as we are planning a trip back there next year.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...