Destination 2: Santorini – 5 Nights

Timeline: August 27 – September 01

Day 5: Arrived at Santorini Thira airport around sunset of August 27th. Got a taxi to hotel Petit Palace in Fira (or Thira), Santorini, taxi fare was about 20 Euro. It was dark outside and taxi stopped by a door with short open walls and no sign of any building behind the walls, very strange! Driver unloaded the luggage by the door and left. Bell boy showed up and opened “the Door” to heaven! White rooms were located down the hill, on different levels and connected by stairs. the first level was the hotel reception, very nice and friendly people. They even upgraded our room (unfortunately only for 1 night) to one with it’s own swimming pool on it’s balcony with sea view, very luxury. Had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, on a very white and Mediterranean balcony. The table had a little olive tree as a center piece with actual olives on its little branches! The first night left us amused and excited for the morning.

Petit Palace hotel entrance

Day 6: Woke up mesmerized by the view from the room’s balcony, glittering water, whitewashed cave like buildings and shining sun, nothing else to complete a dream! Had a great Mediterranean breakfast at hotel and went to hotel’s reception to get some information about excursions. They suggested an all day boat ride with a small group of 6 and booked a few restaurants which ended up being amazing experiences. They also suggested renting a ATV to commute within the island which was super fun and very convenient. ATV could ride all Santorini, from Oia to Akrotiri, in 1 hour. After doing all the bookings, left the hotel to the first beach destination, Perissa, which was famous for its black lava sand and pebble and was located on the east side of the island. Transportation to the black beach was very convenient. Public bus was available every 15 to 20 minutes from Fira’s main station which stopped at multiple stations all the way to the east side of the island. Rented an umbrella and beds and spent all afternoon by the beach. Sand was completely black and very hot and made the glittering salt water so tempting to go for a dip. Had a refreshing Greek salad and souvlaki chicken sandwich for lunch, and headed back to hotel with the same bus.  Spent the night inside the hotel, where had a table booked at the restaurant, relaxed and had drinks at the lounge where the heavenly Mediterranean breeze danced the curtains around and embraced our souls. It was an unrealistic night…

A tranquil night at Petit Palace hotel

Day 7: Started the day by riding the thrilling ATV and explored the island. The ATV ride was an unforgettable experience through the entire stay at Santorini, it couldn’t get any better! The bike took us every where and since it was small size, it could easily pass the narrow streets. Visited Fira town center, had amazing grilled fish and gyro for lunch, took picture with a mule statue in the middle of the square and returned to out best friend, ATV, to discover more of Santorini. Next, headed to Pyrgos village  and checked out the Santo Wines winery for some wine tasting, great wine!

Hubby posing on the ATV
Beautiful village of Pyrgos

Next destination was Red Beach, which was on the South West coast, in Akrotiri region. The beach was a little rocky and all red sand and pebbles. Parked the ATV at a parking lot close to beach and walked a rocky trail to get to the beach. Spent the afternoon on the red sand and dipped in the calm water and headed back to hotel to refresh for the rest of the day.

Red Beach, Santorini

When arrived to hotel sun was still bright and decided to sunbathe by the turquoise pool for an hour. Had frappe, Greek chilled coffee with milk, dipped in the pool to remove the salt from our skins and return to the room to get ready for dinner. Hotel reception had booked Ammoudi Fish Tavern for us that was very popular for seafood and it’s spectacular view of sunset. Ammoudi was located at Oia, the northern region of the island. the ride with ATV was one of a kind! Very thrilling on a coastal narrow road on top of a cliff, first uphill then super down hill as Ammoudi was right by the beach, on the very top tip of the island. Finally reached the destination, after watching the beautiful sunset checked in to the restaurant. Our table was on a deck by the sea, with a view of octopuses hung on a rope to get sun dried. It was an incredible experience enhanced by the Mediterranean breeze from the sea. Ammoudi had a fish display that worked as a menu, ordered grilled sea brim whole fish along with tomato fritters, Greek salad, and grilled octopus. It was a heavenly meal and very filling. After dinner, walked around the Ammoudi port and headed back to Fira. The ride back was quite an experience, even more thrilling as the night was absolutely dark and ATV was a little weak for the steep hill ride. Spent the rest of the evening in Fira town center where night clubs and shops were open until passed midnight, very lively. Ended the adventurous day by another gyro and zucchini fritters before returning to hotel and calling it a night.

Ammoudi Tavern Santorini and the sun dried Octopuses
Sunset from Ammoudi Beach, Oia Santorini

Day 8: Boat tour day! Started the day early and after breakfast lounged by the hotel’s pool. Boat tour was booked for the afternoon until sunset. There was a pick up service right from the hotel to the port that boat departed from. It was a medium size catamaran with a cabin, deck, and nets on the front and back.  Package was for a group of 6 people and it included lunch and drinks. The ride was a surrealistic experience, definitely the highlight of entire vacation (highly recommended)! it was a slow pace ride by different beaches of the island, Red/Black/White beaches. Lunch was a feast of fresh seafood and wine, prepared on the boat. After lunch, the boat stopped in the middle of the sea where people could jump in the water from the boat’s deck, so much fun! After that, captain drove to another section of the island that was close to volcanic water springs, it was recommended for people with high swimming skills only to swim to the water as the boat couldn’t drive close to the springs and it required about 15 minutes of swimming to get to the springs. Closer to the sunset, captain accelerated the speed and some waves splashed people on the deck, very refreshing. View of sunset along with the chill music on the boat was unbelievably beautiful. The ride ended when sun disappeared to brighten another part of the world.

View of sunset form the boat

Same van dropped people to their hotels from the port. Spent the evening at Fira town center, had dinner at Ellinikon restaurant and headed back to relax at hotel’s lounge for the rest of the evening.

Lunch on the boat

Day 9: Last day of stay in beautiful Santorini! On the last day our hotel staff were so nice to upgrade our room to a stunning suit with a private plunge pool on it’s balcony, facing the lustrous Aegean Sea . Moving to the new room was seamless, hotel staff were so nice to move the bags and stuff while we got ready to visit Oia.

View from private balcony, Hotel Petit Palace

In the morning, drove the ATV to Oia, the northwestern tip of the island. Oia is a glamorous and luxury part village of the island, which can get super crowded with tourists specially when cruise ships stop for half day visits. It’s main street is surrounded by pretty little shops and art galleries on one side and luxury cave hotels on another. Walked the street for an hour, checked out few shops and art galleries, bought jewelry and head back to hotel to spend the rest of the day in the private pool.

A ceramic shop in Oia Santorini

 

Cave hotels in Oia Santorini

Spent the afternoon lounging by the private pool. After watching the sunset from our balcony, headed to the village of Fria to spend the last night in the crowded streets of Fira center. Sunday night in Fira was as busy and live as Saturday night, visited a few souvenir stores, and enjoyed a folkloric dance by a group of local boys and girls in the main square before saying adios to the island.

Day 10: Spent the morning at the hotel and by the pool after checking out. Took a taxi from hotel to the Port of Athinios to depart to the next destination, Crete, with fast ferry.

Some tips for traveling to Santorini:

  1. Santorini is a small island, one can get from one end to the other within 1 hour with an ATV
  2. Renting an ATV is highly recommended, it’s so much fun and makes it very easy to access any part of the island
  3. Santorini is situated on high rocks and some parts can get very steep. Be cautious while driving/riding specially at night
  4. Santorini nights tend to be cool and windy at times, pack a sweater or pashmina (some restaurants offer blanket don’t be shy to ask for one)
  5. Center of villages get busy and lively at nights and shops are open late, it’s work taking a nap during the day to save some energy for nightly scrolls around the main squares  such as Fira center
  6. Public transportation is available on the island with small fare, they stop at the popular red and black beaches

Continue reading our next post on the Turkey and Greece Itinerary:

Destination 3: Crete – 3 Nights