The contrasting colours of Santorini: a dream destination
White. Before I went to Santorini
, the first thing that came to mind when I thought of this place was a scene with beautiful white villas. I imagined Santorini as a big resort island (like the Maldives) but with more hotels close to each other thus forming those charming white towns that we see on Pinterest. Maybe I should have done better research before we went, or maybe it was good that I didn’t, but the first sight of Santorini was nothing like what I had in mind. I was simply blown away by its natural beauty.
The familiar chant from the Blue Star ferry announced that we had reached our destination, Santorini (Thira). I have never been on a cruise ship, but the 8 hour ride from Athens (Piraeus) to Santorini is probably the closest I’ve got. Apart from the cold wind from the Aegean sea, it was a wonderful trip which passed along some stunning Greek Islands – Ios, Naxos and Paros, which were on the latter part of our itinerary. Excitement overflowed me. I was finally in one of my dream destinations.
First Impressions of the Volcanic Island
Enormous. The massive rock front of Santorini was striking and intimidating at the same time. The colours range from rust red to deep black. From what I read on the place, (8 hours was enough time to get a brief on this destination), apparently Santorini, along with some other Greek islands, were formed due to a volcanic eruption ages ago. This volcano still sits on the caldera close to Santorini. Everything here is clearly an impressive work of nature. From where I stood, I felt tiny, I felt like I was but a piece of this gorgeous scene. Overwhelmed, I couldn’t wait to explore the rest of Santorini. I saw some white structures along the hillside, but how do we get up there?
It was a good decision to contact the owner of the hotel before we left Athens. The port of Santorini is a long way from the main towns and it can be a bit difficult to find your hotel. From the port, we drove uphill along a windy road and reached the main streets of Santorini. I was glad I didn’t get motion sickness from the ferry earlier or from the drive. The hotel owner talked about the location of the different towns and beaches as she drove.
Fira: The Island’s Capital
Fira is one of the most popular towns in Santorini, and is considered the island’s capital. The photos you see of Santorini on social media are most likely taken from here. White painted houses sit side by side overlooking the caldera. It’s quite pleasing just walking along the grey footpath which contrasts perfectly with the white walls and blue roofs of the villas. Cozy cafés, fancy restaurants and artisan shops fill the area with the resort holiday feel that most tourists want. It was low season when we were there so some of the shops and hotels were closed. It was quiet but I appreciated the solitude – I cannot imagine how busy this place would be during the summer.
Oia: The Sunset Town
Sunsets in Santorini are not overrated. Although we were only there for few days we got to see beautiful sunset colours in the village of Oia. The red, pink and orange hues cast over the familiar white walls were simply captivating. This village, further north from Fira, is known as the best place to witness the sunset in Santorini. There are also some hotels in this village but they didn’t seem to be in business during the low season. To get here, you can either take a bus or do a scenic walk from Fira.
Scenic Walk from Fira to Oia
This is probably one of the best walks we’ve done on this trip. We walked through the towns overlooking the caldera, starting from the island capital Fira towards the sunset point of Oia. The views are breath-taking! If you have plans to go to Oia, I highly recommend doing this 3-hour walk and then take the bus on the way back. It is definitely a great way to see gorgeous views of picturesque scenery in this Greek island.
Red. Red Beach is located in the southernmost part of Santorini. The unique scenery is simply captivating. It was like being in another world. The place was enclosed by huge red rocks which stood out from the rest of the sights along the way. We walked further along the rocks and down along a path which led us to the stunning red pebble beach. As we walked along, the foamy waves splashed on my feet. It felt cold, this wasn’t a dream. Nothing I had ever seen before compares to this spectacular sight. It’s one natural wonder that Santorini should very well be known for. Why had I never seen photos of this place before? It’s one of the best beaches we’ve seen on this trip, and I totally loved it.
Apparently there is a white beach which is accessible by boat from the Red Beach but we didn’t get the chance to see it since the boats only go from the Red Beach during peak season.
You can reach the Red Beach by bus from the town of Fira. There is also an archaeological site close to this beach – Ancient Akrotiri.
Perissa Beach (Black Beach)
Black. There are a few black beaches in the island of Santorini. We went to Perissa Beach, considered as one of the best ones, which is located in a village close to the Red Beach. There are some accommodation options along this village, which are more for backpackers, and there are a few restaurants along the beach front. The black sand was beautiful and the water was clear. We probably would have tried to swim there if it wasn’t so cold. The scenery, like the other parts of Santorini, did not fail to impress us. Close to this beach is Ancient Thira, a huge hill that overlooks this side of the island. We didn’t have time to see this area but it looks pretty interesting from below.
Can You Do Santorini on a Backpacker’s Budget?
Most couples will wait for their honeymoon or a big bonus to go on a trip to Santorini. I thought I’d have to wait awhile before I get there but there we were as part of our big trip around the world.
article by mismatchedpassports.com
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