It’s all Greek to me!

When we originally started planning our last big shebang in Europe, we debated over going back to Italy or taking a trip to London.  We were fairly certain, however, that we’d take a trip to London at another point in our lives, and we knew that we’d definitely be heading back to Italy.  We needed something completely different.  Enter Greece and the island of Santorini.

Islands in the Aegean--this one's not Santorini

We took a direct flight from Nuremberg to the island, arrived at a small airport that literally only receives about 6 incoming flights a day, and hopped into a transport van.  Our driver flew around the curves of the island on the 1 1/2 car width roads, constantly beeping his horn, dodging donkeys and 4-wheelers.  We were slightly alarmed when he dropped off one of the other couples with us in the van.  He called out their hotel, “Tennis Club.”  We looked around.  Dust, brush, and a very, very old tennis court.  As we drove away, we watched the couple stand in the middle of the road, uncertain of their surroundings, and positively confused as to where they were supposed to go.  Luckily for us, when we pulled up to our hotel, I recognized it right away.

Hotel Meli Meli

Meli Meli from the back

We breathed a sigh of relief to have arrived safely and were promptly greeted by the hotel manager who showed us around and got us settled.  We spent an hour or so resting and enjoying the view into the sea.   Looking out from our hotel was amazing; only 1/3 of your field of vision was taken up by the ground and buildings.  The remaining 2/3 were filled with bright blues, either of the ocean or the sky.

The view from our terrace

Looking out from the hotel

Most visitors on the island end up renting some type of vehicle in which to get around.  Popular choices are smart cars, 4-wheelers, and scooters.  However, we knew that there was a bus stop 200 meters from our hotel.  Why rent a vehicle when the buses are that close?  We found out why.  On Santorini, the buses could be anywhere from 10 minutes early to 20 minutes late.  They only stop to pick you up when you wave to them (we found this out the hard way), and they only let you off at your stop if you tell them about it when you get on (we also found this out the hard way).  It really left us saying, “This is Greek to me!” We eventually got the hang of the system, though I think Russ always felt a little unsure. 🙂

Anyway, Santorini is one of the largest of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean sea. It is shaped like a moon with an island in the middle, the remainder of the volcanic caldera.  In the past, all of this was just one island, but after a particularly gruesome volcanic explosion, Santorini as it is today is what remains.

On the island there are really 3 main villages where tourists typically spend their time (excluding the beaches, for now): Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli.  Fira, the capital of the island, is on the western side of the island and where we headed our first night (after we figured out how to get on the bus).  Fira is the center of life on the island with shops, banks, restaurants, and an amazing view. Notable, of course, is the architecture of Santorini.  Beautiful white building hang on the sides of cliffs and blue domed churches peer out amongst them.

Church in Fira

Restaurants on the cliffs of Fira, looking out towards the caldera

Houses and hotels of Fira

After climbing higher up

view from Fira

Our view from our dinner spot

Of course one of the most popular past times on the island is watching the sunset.  I’m pretty sure we did this almost every night we were on the island; we changed vantage points, but the show was always the same.  And it was always amazing.  It’s times like these when we felt really fortunate to have been given a year abroad, when we realized that we probably never would have been able to do or see what we have been lucky enough to experience.  Watching sunsets in Greece? Not an every day event.

sunset falls

sunset in Fira

sunset from Fira

sunset over the caldera


We spent 5 wonderful days on Santorini.  Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures and for more of Russ’s beautiful photographs!

5 responses to this post.

  1. Just BEAUTIFUL! Santorini is definitely one of the top 5 places I’d like to see. My brother is actually hopping around the Greek islands in early August … and, of course, I am incredibly jealous. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!


  2. Posted by mom on July 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    So beautiful that it almost looks unreal! I am so glad that you had the chance to visit such a magical place.


  3. Posted by sarahmarie on July 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    When I first read you weren’t renting a mo-ped or 4-wheeler, I thought you were crazy. I laughed when I read the next part. Greeks are never on time and you sure can’t anticipate the bus to be either. Wish I was still there.


  4. I have never been to Santorini, but I see from photos and hear that it is beautiful. I’m happy you enjoyed Santorini.


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