ORIGIN OF SANTORINI
Did you know that, the official name of Santorini is, Thera? If you knew then good for you. I didn’t, until we visited Santorini ourselves. Santorini is the largest of the Cyclades group of Islands and our third island after Paros and Naxos. Also the fourth and the final stop in Greece including Athens. Santorini is a volcanic island. The origin of the name Santorini derived from the name Santa Irini. Which was given by the Venetians. Santa Irini is the Italian name for the Church of Saint Irene.
WHAT SANTORINI IS FAMOUS FOR?
Santorini is famous for it’s stunning views which was featured in countless Instagram posts ( with hashtag ‘ nofilter‘….argh!). Santorini is also known to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world (although, it’s a very objective opinion. Too hyped by travel agencies and travel magazine). Santorini has a very good production of local wines. Beaches of Santorini have various colors such as red, white and black sands because of volcanic activities. Santorini has a reputation for being one of the most romantic islands in the world. Therefore, it is a great location for weddings, pre-wedding photoshoots and engagements.
We took a 3 hours ferry ride by Bluestar Ferries from Naxos. Just prior to the arrival at the Santorini port, we could see some of the famous villages at the edge of the hills. At glance, one might confuse them with snows on the mountain top.
Upon arrival at the Port, there were local buses, taxis and other types of private transportation. We took the local bus of course. Buses are only available during the time of the ferry arrival and departure time. (Click here, to see the bus timetables of Santorini) . Bus ride was quite memoral and scary. Because the road is on the edge of the volcanic hills. Therefore we could see the bottom of the hills. And the height was increasing more and more as we were going up. The road was not really on a straight line. More zigzag style. This ride is definitely not made for those who have the fear of heights.
We were staying in an hotel this time. With breakfast included. The hotel is located in Fira. And we was fortunately not far from one of the best spots of Fira. Fira is The main Town of Santorini, 400 meters high. So, understandably we climbed a lot to reach the hotel. We walked through the Cathedral of the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral. The Cathedral is beautiful Baroque church with the combination of cream, grey and white color. It’s beautiful. The streets were narrow.
On one side, we could see the whitewashed beautiful village of Fira, on the edge of the cliff and different small Islands far on the Aegean Sea. Other sides of the narrow streets, there were many hotels and restaurants under construction. Potentially preparing for the summer season. The view from the hotel was Devine. Fairly quiet location. Majority top parts of Fira was very visible from the hotel balcony and little bit from our room. For instance, sea view on the east side. And the mountains on the far north. The rest of the village, cathedral and church top are visible on the North West side. Also as a bonus, 5 minutes walk from the hotel there was a spot from where, the majority of Fira is visible.
We went back to that very location after dropping our baggages in the room. Thanks to our adrenaline flowing through our veins with excitement. We took our time to give our eyes as much pleasures as we possibly could. It was a magnificent view. From there we were searching for a safe place to fly our drone from distance. Objective was to capture good photos and videos without breaking law and violating privacy. We were not very successful with the wouah effect but we were still happy with the footages. It’s more for our eyes and hearts than our cameras. We ended our day with greasy and fatty Pita : Gyros. A traditional Greek dish in the evening.
Our 2nd days objective was to go to another world famous location of Santorini. It’s called Oia. If you are wondering what Oia is famous for, then Google image search will tell you all lot. It is a very very picturistic village. Millions of photographs are taken there for weddings, couples photoshoots, Instagram, calendars or postcards. Oia is a classic Cyclades style village, whitewashed walls, mostly skyblue windows and roofs. But also, there are roofs, doors and windows with other colors such as red, yellow and orange. We could take a bus to get there. But instead, we choosed to walk for 3 hours to get there. That way, we could get to see the actual landscape of Santorini. Well, not all of it but at least a part of it.
3 hours of walk from Fira to Oia.
Thanks to the beautiful weather, the 3 hours of walk from Fira to Oia was not that bad. As a matter of fact, it was enjoyable. And we felt active. The Zigzag road was a little scary because there were moments when we could not see vehicles approaching. Time to time there were signs of small or big rocks falling. Trees, wildflowers were peaking through the lavas. Sometimes the color of the lavas were black, red or mixed. We were walking as an appropriate height of 200 meters.
It was clear that we were really high when we noticed all the roads, houses and trees seemed very small. Everything was a pure joy for our bodies and eyes. However, the walk supposed to be on the cliff with an ocean view. And definitely not on a “highway” for . It turned out, that we missed a spot to take our turn. Well, rookie human errors. Eventually we arrived at the famous Oia. Then immediately looked for some place to eat. Can not believe that we actually managed to walk about 10 kilometers. Well, the pictures speak for themselves, explaining the beauty of Oia. Such a magnificent village.
I rather interested to talk about the warning signs. Those warning signs were pretty much every corner of the area. Some says, “Respect. It’s your Holiday. But it’s our Home” ,”Drone are not allowed. Violators will be prosecuted.” And of course, “Private Property” signs. It’s true, that the unique Cyclades architectures can be confusing a little bit. If you don’t pay attention you can easily walk through a property. But, those were the clear signs of how much the tourists have been giving the locals very hard times. Not cool.
On the way back to Fira, we took the local bus of Santorini (Click here for timetables). We enjoyed the long walk to come in Oia. But we had enough walking for the day. We were inside the bus and looking at the same road that we walked on to arrive, through the bus window we were asking ourselves that how the hell we have managed to walk that far!
After all our awesome activities, we had only one thing to do in order to complete our Santorini visit. Witnessing the famous sunset of Santorini! And we made it. Oh the pure joy. Such a wander to witness. The orange sun was rapidly setting on the horizon.
And guess what! We also managed to see the moonrise too! Wooohooo! Yes please! A big ball of orange was rising from the North West. We were on our hotel roof top to experience that.
Is Santorini Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Santorini is a gorgeous island. But, it is a beautiful island when it’s quiet. We were visiting during the low season. So, there weren’t many people. However, later in the evening we went to a local restaurant to grad some dinner. The waiter was a lovely woman. she is from another Aegean island, Naxos. According to her, during summer season, Santorini is over crowded. She wants to run away from Santorini during that period. To her, There are many other Greek islands, which are as beautiful or better than Santorini. Santorini is overrated. Etc. Given by the warning signs that we have seen in Oia, we believe her.
And with Santorini, we have ended our Greek visites. Overall, traveling in Greece was a formidable experience. History, food, landscape, people of Greece were exceptional. We will never forget that. Who knows, we might come back again in a very far future.
Our next stop in order : Barcelona, Spain.