The Wanderlust Diaries: Santorini
Today I'm doing something a bit different. We all have had a difficult year and a half+, living through a pandemic...there have been many things we've missed and longed for during that time. Seeing friends. Seeing family. Cafe's, restaurants, bars. Spontaneous and sometimes frivolous shop browsing. PUBLIC EVENTS. Concerts. Church. Birthday parties. Weddings. For my fellow Müncheners: biergartens and bierfests! TRAVELING.
This past week, my husband and I took our first true vacation in almost a year and it was such a breath of fresh air after everything we've grown to accept these days. We've taken the risks and dangers of COVID quite seriously and done our best to do our part to follow the rules set in place by the government, here in Germany. Even when those rules were much stricter than what our American counterparts back home are experiencing. ;) Honestly, we have tried not to complain too much and look to make the best of a hard situation. Personally, as an introvert, I had a bit of an easier time than my social butterfly husband. :P
Also, to those of you who have gone through these uncertain and restricted times alone. I feel for you too. Whether simply single or healing from a breakup...I have deep empathy for any loneliness or isolation you may have felt while the world around us was telling us all to "stay home". Here's to you getting that getaway just for yourself this year...you deserve it!!
Nonetheless, like everyone, the longing for some normalcy grew more and more as time went on. Getting together spontaneously with a group of friends. Being able to look forward to something and count on it. Listening to live music. I was just telling my husband the other day how I realized I miss going out dancing. It wasn't even something we did often, but it suddenly occurred to me how long it had been since we had gotten out and danced together. Real talk: I had this realization while listening to music as I worked one day and found myself dancing alone in my flat. ;)
The wanderlust had been brewing for some time and this vacation couldn't have come soon enough. In addition to the current state of the world, my husband's work has been exceptionally stressful and it was time for us to shift gears and enjoy a different pace of life together.
Bougainvillea and jasmine in full bloom over the walkway to our villa's pool.
So now I'd like to give you a glimpse into our 8-day trip and highlight some of our favorite experiences, as well as provide some tips for YOUR Santorini travel planning! Here are 10 of my recommendations:
- Rent an ATV and explore the island. It's a small island so the furthest you will drive in any direction is about ~30 mins. During busy seasons it can be slower and more dangerous with the traffic--be safe and take slow turns!! Be sure to wear your helmet. Although there are apparently only 2 police cars on the island, they fine for not wearing a helmet if they see you!
- Visit the wineries for some classy day drinking! 🍷🍾🥂 I have lost count of how many wineries and days we spent doing this. However, our favorites are Art Space Winery, Gavalas and Domaine Sigalas.
- Eat here. Just do it.
- Visit Kyriakos at Roza's for an ouzo experience like none other. This guy knows his ouzo and his wife knows flavors...Ask for him to bring you various small plates of dishes to munch on, alongside ouzo. He will feed you and refill your glass until you tell him to stop. We ate here twice as it was walkable from our stay (see below for our villa details) and they were some of our best meals we had on the island.
- Accommodations. Everyone says to go to Oia and yes, it's very pretty and instagrammable...but also very touristy and expensive, so personally I would recommend staying elsewhere for a better value! If you're looking for something comparable, but a bit less pricey, I've stayed in Imerovigli and it was just amazing to watch the caldera sunset from the balcony every night...I think an even more beautiful view than from Oia. You do still pay a higher price for it and may have to compromise on the quality of the room and amenities, but you get that amazing view. If you're looking for something more reasonable and especially relaxing...I highly recommend the place we stayed this time: Santorini Villas Traditional Houses. Just 5 minutes from Imerovigli, in the small town of Vourvoulos. Quieter, had an absolutely gorgeous pool and bar, everything was just lovely and best of all--the people there are amazing and took great care of us. If you go, please say hi to Effi and Xatem for me! <3
- Best caldera sunset spots: Imerovigli (the highest point on the island), from the lighthouse at Akrotiri, or from a boat on the caldera side. Or all of the above if you have time!
- Take a food Tour with the charming Aris of Eat and Walk Santorini Food Tour and have many laughs, meet other travelers and of course eat and drink the good stuff!
Cliff jumping at Ammoúdi Bay. Yes, there are dozens of beautiful restaurants along the boardwalk of Ammoúdi Bay and I can personally recommend Sunset Ammoúdi, but walk all the way along until you pass the last restaurant...and you will see that the path continues. Take this path for hardly 5 minutes and you will be taken to a quiet spot where many sunbathers and cliff jumpers are enjoying themselves. I found this the perfect spot to do a little bit of photography for my new designs: the Rust Medallion Backpack and the Bikini Wet Bag.
Take a ferry over to Thirasia, the neighboring island which used to be a part of the once-circle-shaped island of Santorini. We did a lunch and walking tour (more of a hike, FYI) with Nicole, a resident of Thirasia. She spent all of her childhood summers until the age of 17 with her grandparents on the island, so she was able to tell us stories about what it was like back then. Aside from not having electricity, one of the most shocking and funny was that until 2000, there was not running water so people were showering in buckets in the yard!! This hike was really special as she showed us cave houses from the 12th century and along the way pointed out flowers and plants growing naturally on the island (my favorites being the capers flower, pictured below, and ambrosia). We stopped for an absolutely delicious home-cooked lunch and finished off an intense downhill stairway hike to the bay with a swim and a coffee/ice cream.
Lastly, I highly recommend visiting some of the smaller, old towns. For example, Emporio, Megalochori and Pyrgos (our personal favorite). When we were exploring Pyrgos, we heard something we hadn't heard for the entire trip...MUSIC. One of the somewhat odd rules created due to COVID is that bars and restaurants are not allowed to play music. In particular, live music--leading to singing. Needless to say, we were both very pleasantly surprised to find a man playing traditional Greek music on his guitar in the shade of a passageway (see picture below of me walking up the stairs with my new favorite backpack). It's amazing how music can make you feel after being without it. 😌 Furthermore, on the last day, we went to Emporio to visit the Castello village upon a recommendation...This was so cool and a great example of the untouched Santorini beauty. Be sure to eat here.
I hope you enjoyed this little "tour" of our visit to Santorini! Please let me know in the comments if you would like to see more blog posts like this. :)
Take care, my lovely friends--near and far! I know these have been hard times for all of us in a variety of ways...but I hope that I was able to bring some light, some hope, maybe some inspiration to you today. <3