We arrived at Santorini by a high speed ferry, and it sure was a bumpy ride. However, we arrived after 6pm, and did not have a full day to look around; but we did enjoy the view from our hotel in the capital of Fira (in the middle of the island), called The El Greco Hotel, and there, right in front of us, was the volcano!
The next day we went to Kamari Beach, thinking that we would be going to Ancient Thira that day – and I had forgotten that all archaeological sites and museums were closed on Mondays! Luckily, Plan B after visiting the site (if we had gone) was to enjoy the black beach of Kamari. Little tiny black pebbles were the carpet you walked on, even when you entered the sea, but there were bigger rocks – not sharp, just bigger. There were richly colourful and decorated shops reflecting Santorini’s Minoan Bronze age from the frescoes found at Akrotiri, which I will talk about in my next blog post. There were restaurants everywhere along the boardwalk, selling seafood, take away, ice cream, clothes, jewellery, books, souvenirs – everything!
That night, we went to the north part of Santorini, to Oia (pronounced eye-a) by a bus – you could either walk the long way there, I’ve heard that it’s beautiful, but you need to start heading out early because the sunset starts at 8:40pm on the dot. Unlike in Australia, the sun is already going down when it’s only a couple of minutes past 5! That was one of the things I missed about Greece, the late sunsets.
So at Oia, there were marble built houses and pathways crowded with tourists, and bombarded with so many fascinating shops – there was just so much to look at!
Finally, you follow people to the main spot where everyone takes those famous Santorini photos and purchase paintings of Oia’s sunset – very well known for honeymooners and couples. But I will also reveal, you can watch the same sunset on any Greek island, you just don’t get the beautiful blue and white washed houses. I saw the same sunset on my family’s island, Lesvos at the Molyvos castle – I will show this in another post.
The sun goes down, and these gorgeous red and orange colours are spread throughout the sky with smears of yellow. As the sun goes down, it is engulfed into these beautiful colours and turns a shade of pinky-red – it is hard to capture the changing moments of the sun, and I recommend to anyone, you have to be there to see it, the camera does not do it justice.
After the sunset, you’re in a mass of tourists leaving, and you walk along the marble pathways and head to the huge marble broadway where shops and restaurants are spread along, giving walker-bys the beautiful view of the island and its active volcano.
Perhaps the reason why Santorini captured my heart was the romanticised setting, but also the richness and history of the island – the sun’s brightness is so different there. Or maybe it was because I studied the island’s history all the way back in year 11 (it was one of the first case studies we did in class) and I was there, finally, experiencing what I had studied, taking the vast view of what the ancient world had seen. Or perhaps it was the fact, that the island had undergone such a massive volcanic eruption in ancient times, and yet it was still here, still luxurious, still prosperous, still waiting to be studied and visited from the outside world.
I will talk more about the archaeological sites I visited in my next post – for now, enjoy the pictures.