Even the first glimpse of Santorini is stunning. As the ferry glides into the caldera the cliffs rise sharply out of the water and you can see the white buildings clinging along the top edges below sky almost as blue as the sea.
It's a steep bus ride zig zagging up those cliffs to the top, and from then on you're looking at the sea and surrounding islands from above, a view you would normally have to climb a mountain yourself to get.
After finding our accommodation (apparently 60m from the bus station, but more like 200...I'm learning the Greek meaning of things!) we set out to explore Fira. It's the biggest town on Santorini, and subsequently very touristy. We decided to stay there rather than at the cheaper beach towns so that we could walk around as we wanted. Santorini is actually a pretty big island!
The shops and restaurants are all along the lane ways overlooking the caldera. For our first night we ducked into the store just by our accommodation and ended up coming out with olives, cheese, tomato, wine and some free bread courtesy of the nicest shop man on Santorini. The amount of free samples we got meant I almost could have foregone dinner! Plus I was in heaven with the cheapest olives in my life.
Day two we set up a big plan for ourselves, wanting to cram in as much to our short stay as possible. We planned to hire a quad bike to explore the islands beaches before heading to another town on the cliffs further north, Oia, famed for it's fantastic sunsets.
When we hired the quad bike they asked if we had any experience and I almost considered saying yes in the fear they wouldn't give us one otherwise, but since I wasn't even sure how to turn it on I don't think I would have been very convincing. I had to have a mini test driving the bike up and down the lane way zigzagging from side to side. I thought I did awfully but apparently I passed and we were handed over the keys! At that point we asked if Jess could drive also and they just said sure...no test needed apparently! I was now a fully qualified instructor as well.
We set off north first and visited Jess's friends who were on the island but leaving that day. They had rented a house in a tiny town, population 3 according to Wikipedia, and we caught up with them before heading south to Kamari Beach and Red Beach. Both nice but not the experience we had necessarily come to Santorini for.
The winding and windy road along the cliffs to Oia wasn't my favourite drive. It was so packed there with tour bus and cruise ship groups everywhere and we didn't really know where the best spot was to actually see the sunset. In all the pictures you see it looks like there are blue rooves everywhere, which is what makes the stunning views and the Greek feeling, but really there are only two or three. We perched ourselves on top of an old ruined building wall that seemed to cover the views of the whole town and sat there waiting. In the meantime we saw two weddings and a proposal. So afterwards we kept things romantic and had a delicious dinner out ourselves. Driving the quad bike back in the dark was fairly exhilarating to say the least.
The next day we realised we had done all the main things we wanted so we could just wonder around. First up we had the most delicious breakfast with probably one of the best views of my life. We looked into riding the donkeys from the old port, but weren't entirely convinced about their conditions so instead we walked down and took the cable car up before exploring some more of the out of he way bits of town and watching the sunset from Fira.
I almost think this was more impressive in terms of views, and maybe also because it was a lot less crowded! Of course we followed this up with another romantic dinner. The Greek food is so amazing and varied we still had things on our list to try!
The following morning was relaxing by the pool time before heading on the ferry to Naxos. None of the pictures even do this amazing place justice. It is stunningly beautiful and the views are hard to beat!