Throughout our travels in Santorini, members of our travel group would ask one another what our favourite moments so far were. Now that the trip is over, I can safely say that there is no one moment that is superlative to the rest, although a few (that you’ll be reading more about) were exceptional. For me, the best “part” of the trip was the group that it drew together. We are an unlikely mix: two Americans, one outgoing and Southern (not me), the other brash and notably not Southern (yours truly), one Czech “bro”, two Italians, one of which lives in France and speaks no English and, of course, our Greek host. From all backgrounds and walks for live we converged on Santorini for a week together. Not only did I get to practice my French, I experienced what I moved to Europe to experience: creating relationships with people who are a lot more similar to me than I’d ever imagined. Although we ate out quite a few times, there were also several intimate dinners that lasted long into the wee hours of the morning under the grape and bougionvilla arbour, laughing and drinking and enjoying great food cooked up by one member of the group or the other. Inside jokes and closer friendships were the result. OK, OK. Now to the interesting stuff that we actually did!
I think the best part about having a local tour guide is that he knows all the spots. This especially applies to beaches. One morning, he brought us to Koloumpos Beach. There were exactly three other people (and two dogs) on it.
I was a little startled to see that two of the three people were naked, but when in Europe and all that. To get to the beach, you have to hike through a field and across a few rocky outcroppings, but then you get to a beach with black sand and an amazing wall of rock to keep you shaded through the hottest hours of the day. The water is very deep, so you don’t have to touch the rocky bottom, which can hurt. I swam for hours. I would only recommend Koloumpos if you come prepared with water and food. There’s a snack bar opposite the field by the car park, but nothing else for you; no beach chairs, no umbrellas, nothing. It is pure nature at its salty, sandiest best.
A more commercial beach is Perivolos, at the other end of the island. Its at one of the few places on the island that slopes gracefully into the sea rather than being a few feet of sand before a huge cliff. The view is pretty amazing, with the southern tip of the island and a huge mountain with Ancient Thira perched above you. The sand is black from volcanic ash, which means it is HOT to run across to get to the ocean, but that was the only slightly bad detail. There are beach chairs, umbrellas, snack bars and the ocean is clear, so you can see all the way to the bottom as you swim.
After a day at Perivolos, in the south, it was only right to explore the rest of the southern end of the island. We stopped at Pyrgos, a picturesque little village at the highest point on the island. At the top of the town, there’s an ancient Venetian castle. We roamed the curving, hilly streets (much like Finikia, no cars are coming up these tiny, very steep walkways!) taking in the view.
And as you might expect, the higher you go, the better the view becomes!
On our way home, we stopped at Santos Wines, one of the local wineries on the island. It is smack dab in the middle of the island, but on the coast, facing the caledera.
It has a pretty phenomenal view, making it a very popular place to take loads of photos…
…watch the sunset…
…and sample wine (or water, if you’re the DD/host with the most).
Happy and full of wine (except poor A., who had to drive!) we got back to Finikia quite late. Us girls decided to have a bottle of wine we’d bought at Santo and eat pasta, while the boys went out in Fira. Us girls were all too sunburned, and groggy from the wine, and wanting to enjoy each other’s company in the quiet of our villa. Wouldn’t you want to stay in such a perfect paradise, too?!