Santorini, Greece was on my bucket list from my school days. My wanderlust desire started the moment I first had a glimpse of Santorini in a Shahrukh Khan’s movie song. The Greek society cherishes bravery. I summed up all my courage and decided to go to Greece on my first solo trip. I landed at Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) and checked into my hotel, The Hilton, Athens. Even with such a cosy and comfortable room, I couldn’t sleep all night. It was out of sheer excitement of taking the first flight the next morning, from Athens to Santorini.
The view from the flight’s window mesmerized me as we flew above the clouds. I saw the sunrise from the flight. As we hovered over the blue Aegean Sea and the cliffs with light snow on top, I felt that this is what heaven looks like. Paying extra for the window seat was worth. I took a bus from the airport and reached Fira, the capital of Santorini, Greece. It was mid-January and extremely chilly. One can opt for Catamaran Cruise from Athens to Santorini. Definitely it is a charming experience.
I walked from the bus stand on the cobbled road, used the GPS to reach my hotel. I had to take lanes that passed through an old church. The sound of church bells and the cry of seagulls flying above my head made my heart pound. And voila! Suddenly I landed on the lane that overlooked the sea with the mouth of the volcano at the centre.
I reached my hotel ‘Aroma Suites’.
A little puppy accompanied me from the bus stop to the hotel. Yes, I have already earned a friend. I had shared some biscuits with it. Santorini, Greece, looked exactly as pretty as the postcard pictures flooding the gram. The hotels were white coloured cave hotels tucked into the edge of the cliffs overlooking the vast blue sea. My room was a cute little one, typical of the cave hotels with a private balcony to die for. I thought I could spend my entire life without moving an inch from there. There are lots of things to do and see in Santorini, Greece, besides lazing around in the buzzing colourful markets.
Exploring Santorini, Greece…
Like a professional backpacker, I started with a map from the reception. The friendly receptionist insisted that I take the 10-kilometre caldera trail from Fira to Oia, via small villages- Firostefani and Imerovigli. This was one of the best hikes in my life. The dreamy town with white box likes houses with blue doors and windows, and blue-domed churches lie on the cliffside.
The other side of the path is the deep blue sea which instantly drives away all blues from the mind. The path has bougainvillaea planted in clay urns on its sides. One will get to meet the cheeky Santorini donkeys on this path. One can take a bus or taxi from Fira to Oia. The cable car station is on the trail. It is amazing to go down to the old port (Athinos Port) from the top of the cliff. The gondola ride offers amazing views.
The essence of Greek Island is felt at this lively place with cave houses, old churches, cobbled streets, cafeterias and boutique. Fira is the centre of travelling to other spots in Santorini. The bus stop, the taxi stand, the cable car station and the port are all at Fira. Fira houses the Archaeological Museum of Thera, exhibiting items to provide insights to the history of Santorini, called Thera in the ancient days.
Pyrgos, just half a kilometre from Fira, is a place you can’t miss if you are at Santorini, Greece. It is a well preserved medieval village. Located at the foot of Mt Profitis Ilias, it is the highest spot in Santorini. The historic Castle and the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary (1660) is picturesque. Fava me Koukia (fava made out of yellow split peas), Feta cheese, amazing seafood, and delicate wines are the famous delicacies of Santorini. Taverna Kallisti at Pyrgos serves delicious food. Santo’s Winery is a great place to visit and try out different wines, cheese and olives.
Sunset at Oia
Oia, the last village at the tip of the Santorini Island, is gorgeous. It is popular for the typical Greek architecture, the buzzing eateries and lovely boutiques. It is famous for the sunset. Oia has some old churches with blue domes and huge bells. Set at the edge of the Aegean Sea they are some of the most photographed churches in the world. The village looks like originating from a painter’s canvas.
Akrotiri, The Original Atlantis
Akrotiri is famous for the iconic Lighthouse and the renowned Red Beach. The lighthouse is popular for breathtaking panoramic views. The Red Beach is noted for its unique red colour. The colour has originated from the lava and iron ore deposits. Volcanic rocks have formed coves here which make it a great dive centre. An intriguing thing to see here is the remains of the Akrotiri Prehistoric Village which dates back to Minoan times.
A volcanic eruption called Minoan Explosion or Theran eruption had destroyed The Minoan/ Cycladic settlement in the 16th century BC. It is one of the world’s largest volcanic activities that the human civilization has ever witnessed. Being buried in volcanic ashes, the remains of numerous objects were preserved. These have been excavated way back in 1967. The remains serves as a possible inspiration for Plato’s story of Atlantis.
It is this eruption that caused the middle of the island to disappear into the sea and resulted in the formation of the cliff-like caldera. You can observe and access a part of the mouth of the crater. It is an active volcano. Have you ever walked on the crater of an active volcano? Well you get a chance to do that at Santorini, Greece.
Walking on the Santorini Volcano
The Island of Nea Kameni is one of Santorini’s archipelago caldera. It is made up of black lava rock. Hence, it is uninhabited. The adventurous walk on the steep paths of the Volcanic Park pass by the smoking craters. It is created over the last few centuries, an experience in itself. You can find sulfurous hot springs and geothermal points just off the shoreline. One needs to ferry from Fira to Nea Kameni.
Black Beach at Perissa
Black Beach is a tranquil beach with black sand and the vast blue sea ahead. Chilling with amazing cocktails and rock climbing are two popular activities out there.
My solo sojourn at Santorini had been soulful and one of adventure too. I found friendly and helpful locals. This trip enhanced my confidence and made me ready for solo trips to any part of the world.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.
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