Santorini & Anafi, Greece

By , July 16, 2010 8:00 pm

Ahhh . . . Santorini – can you say “amazing”. I’ve seen the photos for years and let me tell you, it is ten times prettier in real life. But, it’s funny because when we arrived in Santorini on our ferry, we were expecting to be greeted by the famous white buildings with the blue domes and we were met with a dingy port and people trying to get to us stay in their accommodations. Are we on the right island? where are the buildings in the photos? Well, as it turned out, it took a a day or two until we actually saw them as we were staying on the other side of the island in a cool beach area called Perissa.

Perissa Beach, as it turns out, was a pretty happening place–the sand is pitch black and very fine which means it gets scorching hot during the day. It is also lined with tavernas and cafes on one side of the street and beach with chairs and umbrellas on the other. So, if you eat or drink at one of the establishments, you are most likely able to strike up a deal with a free chair and umbrella.

Our first day there we took a 12 hour boat tour on a sailboat. Santorini is a collection of islands that create the rim of an inactive volcano and it’s main towns are perched hundreds of feet up on the rim of the caldera. No wonder we couldn’t see them when we arrived on the ferry. So, our first stop was on one of the islands that was actually the active part of the volcano and we got to hike to the top of the volcano and see the steam vents that had stained the rocks with their sulfur gases, not to mention see a 360 degree view of the area which was pretty cool as well.

The next stop were some hot springs/warm mud baths which we got to and found them to be maybe luke warm at best. Then, we went to another little island for some lovely seafood and a quick dip before heading over to the famous sunset sight of Oia. We had to walk up almost 600 steps to get there and the entire time I kept thinking “for 5 Euro I could have ridden a cute little donkey up these stupid steps” but we made it and it was definitely worth it.

Finally, we saw the famous buildings in the postcards. It was great fun walking around the little lanes, looking into shops and elbowing our way through crowds. We are learning we are not much into the big tourist scene and/or crowds so we found a nice spot on the side of the mountain, grabbed some gyros and Mythos beer and watched the lovely sunset.

The next couple of days we rented a scooter and had a great time zooming around the island. We checked out the main town, Thira, which also had many lovely white buildings with blue domes on top. Picture perfect. We ate the most amazing Greek food, checked out the lighthouse, swam at different beaches, looked at churches, admired jewelry and crafts at the different galleries around town, and we even found a water park for a day of fun. Each morning started at the same bakery on the side of the road where we people-watched and enjoyed the spanikopita which was shaped in a spiral and every evening ended with wine and a picnic in a grape orchard (just us) on the caldera for the lovely sunsets. It was really cool.

Then, it was back to the rowdy hostel that was loud and full of 20 somethings drinking 2 Euro bottles of wine until the wee hours of the morning. I’m learning that I am really getting a bit old for dorm life although I do enjoy meeting people from around the world.

After five nights on Santorini, we were off to Anafi. No reservations, no expectations. We were told Anafi was Santorini 30 years ago and very slow (less than 300 people live there). We arrived at the port and I saw some domatias peddling their rooms–most of which were in the Lonely Planet. Their vans were filling up so I approached a nice man who barely knew a word of English. But he had photos of his room, said he was in the main city and it was only 30 Euros per night. We heard stories about them saying they are ‘in town’ when really they weren’t or that the photos weren’t entirely true. But, we were out of options, the public bus was bursting at the seams and all the other vans were full as well so we went with him. His place was right on the side of the mountain–gorgeous Greek architecture with white walls and a domed ceiling.

Our room was beautiful and had a lovely veranda that overlooked the Aegean Sea and we were right in town. Town being a group of wiggly walking paths through the white buildings with one ‘main’ lane. We weren’t too sure exactly which one was the main lane at first but figured it out the first night when the town came alive. See, this is the cool part about Anafi, only a few places open in the morning for breakfast and even they are limiting but thank goodness they had a lovely bakery with spiral spanikopita. Nothing is open mid day–the entire island shuts down, even the one and only gas station. It isn’t until after 6 p.m. when the town becomes alive again. Another interesting thing about the island is that there are many nudist beaches here and people are allowed to set up their tents and stay for a while for free. In fact, there is one beach where people have stayed for a very long time–we met a nice young couple who decided to camp for a couple of days and they were shocked to see all the hippies there walking around nude and as Paul says, ” . . . it’s always the ones you don’t want to see naked that are naked”. So, for the next three days we lounged around on our veranda, strolled around town, zoomed around the island, and found some cool beaches.

One day we even found a monastery with nuns dressed in black from head to toe who were offering candy to all the visitors. What a peaceful life they must live perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea, tidying up the church, gardening and greeting tourists who make it all the way out to the end of the road. The sunsets were lovely on Anafi and it wasn’t difficult to find a secluded spot to see them. Afterward, we would head into town and join in with the Greeks and other tourists at the cafes and tavernas to enjoy the amazing food, music, and local wine. It was really a wonderful few days. We most certainly didn’t want to leave.

Then, it was back to Santorini for two more days where we stayed at Santorini Camping in one of the fancy canvas bungalows. The campground was close to Thira, had a wonderful swimming pool and was just a great place to spend some time. I know we will be back but for now, we are heading to Crete. My how time flies when you are having fun.

One Response to “Santorini & Anafi, Greece”

  1. […] We explored Athens: “Strike Four: We’re Out”, Mykonos, Santorini, Anafi: “Santorini and Anafi”, and Crete and had an absolute ball. I was able to spend my birthday whizzing around on a scooter, […]

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