Athens and Santorini

We arrived in Athens mid day, and found an awesome parking spot in a restaurant parking lot at a marina. Free showers, toilets, water, etc.. really a great spot! We decided to spend the next day getting our ferry tickets sorted out and checking out Athens. Interestingly, the area around the Piraeus port reminded us strongly of Hong Kong! Small shops stuffed full of goods selling dedicated wares. Even little pet shops with birds in cages hung along the sidewalk. Funny how half a world away, it somehow feels exactly the same.

We ended up going into the downtown area of Athens via train where Phil got a pretty fancy haircut for only 15 euros (he really needed it), and wandered around the shopping streets while stuffing our faces with kebabs and ogling the Acropolis from afar.

The famous Acropolis

Fancy barber shop, Sir

Getting a long overdue haircut

Both of us have always wanted to go to Santorini. To see those white and blue houses with the expanse of the sea and the sun in the background. Hence, we had decided long ago that we would spend a few precious days in our one week in Greece to explore the island of Santorini.

For our little vacation from our vacation to Santorini, we decided to park our van in a lot near the port run by the most wonderful multilingual woman, Marie. She was so incredibly kind, giving us water, wifi, and a guarantee that she would wait up for us when we would return around midnight in 3 days time (she had to let us into the lot so we could get back to our van).

We pre-booked our ferry (maybe it wasn’t the best idea going the ferry route considering our short time line… one way takes 8 hours vs. a 2 hr flight) and picked up our tickets from the office with no issues. Our ferry was scheduled to leave at 7am the next morning. Unfortunately, our parking lot was located nearest to the ports of E6/E7 while our departure port was E1. And while we thought that this must mean it would only be a 15 minute walk away, we were way off. It took us 40 minutes to walk there the next morning. Good thing we left that morning with more than enough time, though we were running to the ship by the end, and the ferry was already packed by the time we got on.

The Blue Star Ferry as seen from the Port in Santorini

This Blue Star ferry was miles better than the one we’d taken from Brindisi (thank goodness), but it was also packed to the gills and was quite slow as it made 3 or 4 other stops on other islands on our way to Santorini.

When we arrived, we were quick to hop on a local bus (which looked like a coach bus and not at all like a local one!) that brought us to the main town on Santorini, Fira. From there, we caught another bus to the northernmost town of Oia (pronounced Aiya).
It turns out that all of the buses come to and from Fira, so regardless of where you want to go, you always have to come back to Fira to catch a bus elsewhere anyway.

Main bus stop in Fira

The famous sunsets of Oia are, as our wonderful parking attendant described, the most beautiful in the world, and make you feel like you are in the womb again. With that kind of description, we knew we wanted to maximize our time in this place and booked an AirBnb for 2 nights in Oia. Our place was located in a maze of tiny streets that crowded up, down and across the steep and hilly caldera side of the island. Without our guide, we definitely would have been lost. In the end, we made it just in time to catch the sunset and check out a few of the interesting shops in Oia.

The many dwellings of Oia as the sun begins to set

The best bookstore on Santorini!
Santorini turned out to be a lot larger than we'd expected, so we decided we'd rent a car to explore the entire island on our second day in. Car rental in Oia was 35 Euros for the day (pretty reasonable!) and we started from the southern most tip and worked our way up. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so the following are pictures of our adventures around the island.

First stop, the lighthouse at the tip of the island.

2nd stop: the Red Beach. It was ok. 

3rd stop, Akrotiri, the excavated site of an ash covered city. Santorini's Pompeii

The black sand beaches... again... meh

Lunch stop of Moussaka at Dmitri's Tavern

The view from the road up Profitis Ilius

Another church, in the town of Pyrgos (very cool place)

Wandering in the quiet walkways of Pyrgos

Erotokritos, the best bakery on the island

Baklava... MMMMMM

Back to Oia for sunset

Cats reign supreme on Santorini

When the city lights up is when Oia really looks amazing



Our last day was only a half day, so we decided to do the TripAdvisor #1 Thing To Do in Santorini. As it was free, and active, we decided it was worth doing! A hike from Fira to Oia. We were a bit confused since many people had commented on it with wildly varying opinions on the hike. Some said it took 2 hrs, some said 6, some said it was very difficult others said it was a piece of cake. We had 4.5 hours to get it done before we had to be back to check out of our AirBnB. So we got on the first bus in the morning at 7:30am to Fira. Following a few directions from a website (SantoriniDave), we started at the Atlantis Hotel and worked our way back towards Oia, always taking the route closest to the water, and heading uphill. Outside of the city, it was well marked for the most part with red dots or arrows, and we didn't have too much difficulty finding our way along the hike.

Looking back at Fira

One of the many churches we passed by

Phil's stupid smiley face

One of the funner parts of the hike

Everything was closed! No snack or rest stops along the way

The trail varied from paved cobblestones, to shale, to dirt and rocky paths

Decent paths

Nobody on the trail but us!

A view of Oia from a church on a hill

The home stretch
Overall, it was a great hike! The views were best at the beginning and end, but it was a great way to spend our last day in Santorini. We finished it in 2.5 hours, and had enough time to clean up, pack up and check out before catching our bus into Fira, having lunch and then getting back on the ferry to Athens.

Sunset at one of the stops on our ferry back to Athens

We spent our last day in Athens checking out the Acropolis, the Acropolis museum

Inside the Acropolis Museum

The excavation going on below the new Acropolis Museum

Love me my cheap donairs

The amphitheatre

The temple of Nike
The entrance to the top of the Acropolis

The Pantheon

Phil getting bored 

With that our visit to the Greek capital came to end, we were now looking to head north towards Albania!

As usual, our video version of events is found below. Enjoy!


Comments

  1. It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us.Helpful travel ideas .

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hiking in Montenegro: Mrtvica Canyon - A Picture Guide

How to buy a campervan in the UK as a foreigner

A week in Hokkaido, Japan (Video)