For my 50th birthday I decided I wanted to finally go to the very first spot that went onto my travel bucket list. Of course it wasn't called a bucket list at the time and I had no idea when I watched the movie Summer Lovers that my lifelong love of travel would begin. But that movie made me fall in love with Santorini and the idea of traveling and experiencing all the amazing and radically different cultures and places around the world. The movie itself was just ok, but the depiction of the romantic life of Santorini was breathtaking and unforgettable. I've travelled to a lot of places around the world but had yet to visit my first love! ...until now, and it didn't disappoint. :)
I will say, though, that growing up in California and experiencing the pacific coast and the gorgeous sunsets probably took some of the "wow" out of the whole experience, but I didn't go to Santorini for the sunsets or the beaches (which aren't great), I went there for the history, the sun-bleached and white-washed architecture, the twisting, steep pathways and the romantic cave houses tucked away in the cliff-side. That's exactly what I got and it was amazing.
We rented a cute Airbnb cave house (that used to be a wine cellar) right on the cliffside in Oia. We were right next to the iconic blue roofed church that's in just about every postcard of Oia, Santorini you see (which was also, unfortunately, where most of the tourists congregated for photos, lol, and we had to fight our way through crowds every time a cruise ship bus let out!). The house wasn't luxurious but it was authentic and we felt like locals while we sat on the patio in the morning drinking coffee. I LOVED every minute of it.
We spent our days cruising around the town, we ate at cafe's, watched sunsets, and of course took lots of photos. We also spent one day renting an ATV and rode around the island visiting all the other sites like the Black Beach, Ancient Thera, the Akrotori Archaeological site, Fira, and more.
I hope you enjoy the photos, I tried to capture the essence of Santorini beyond the standard cliff-side houses shot (I do have those too though! lol)
1st Day - Arrival and venturing out.
|Our Balcony view in Oia, Santorini|
|Another shot of our view! These are the blue rooftops in so many Santorini photos you see.|
|Our cave house.|
|First time venturing out on the town after settling in. Yay.|
|Whoa! These pathways are steep.|
|I love panoramic shots. They distort the landscape but manage to capture the vibe of a place.|
|Funny, this could totally be a street in Portugal, funny how some places are so similar.|
|I wanted to sit on this balcony and drink wine while watching the sunset.|
|Oia sunsets are legendary. They were beautiful, but I think I'm spoiled by California sunsets, lol.|
|Nice romantic sunset shot.|
|I do really love the architecture at sunset, all the light in the crooks and crevices of the buildings is gorgeous.|
2nd Day - ATVing around the island.
We started out the 2nd day with the idea of hiking on the Oia-Fira trail. It's a gorgeous hike along the caldera with amazing views... and NO shade! We left early and got just to the start of the trail outside of Oia when the thought of roasting for the next 3 hours in the scorching heat and sun started to outweigh the prospect of all the beautiful views we would have while hiking. Suddenly renting an ATV and cruising around the island was soooo much more appealing. lol. It ended up being an awesome decision, not only did we have the literal wind in our hair all day, we got to go places around the island we wouldn't have otherwise AND still got amazing views of the caldera and other parts of the island.
We went almost completely around the island, hitting Kamari and the black beach, Ancient Thera (which involves either a huge walk up a rather large hill or a car/atv ride up), the Akrotiri Archaeological site, and lots of rest stops with amazing views. We ended the day riding down to Ammoudi Bay in Oia (which would otherwise be another huge walk down and up hundreds of steps in the sun) where we had dinner, making it back to the house just in time for sunset.
|This is what it looks like when a Cruise bus lets out. Ugh! Tons of people.|
|At the top of Ancient Thera looking down onto Kamari and the black beach.|
|The black beach, which is more of a black stone ground cover beach, ouch!|
|Inside the Akrotiri Archaeological site.|
|The other side of the island. That's Oia waaaaay off in the distance.|
|Ammoudi Bay. I wanted to stick my toes in the water to test the temp... pretty nice!|
|Ammoudi Bay with Oia perched at the top of the cliffs.|
Day 3 - Morning in Oia, Afternoon in Fira
We spent the morning lazily walking around Oia, taking photos and the visiting the Byzantine Castle ruins where we were lucky enough to catch a traditional bouzouki player. It was so breezy and cool up here I didn't want to leave, it was a perfect moment with the views and the breeze and the music and my favorite person (hubby Tiago) in the world. :D
We spent the afternoon in Fira, which is quite a contrast to Oia. It's super packed with shop-lined streets and fast food souvlaki places, tons of tourists, and a bit more trash and dirt than it should be. Good for shopping but not the romantic Santorini fantasy that Oia is.
|Oia, or Ia as it's called in Greek|
|Church bells in Oia, Santorini|
|One of the many cats of Oia, Santorini|
|So many photo ops! :)|
|There is bougainvillea everywhere and it's gorgeous against the white-washed buildings.|
|A small taste of the charm of Oia.|
|The houses have small windows to help keep them cool in the summer and keep out the elements in the winter.|
|Just another great photo-op in Oia.|
|Santorini door with trees.|
|Santorini wooden door|
|Bouzouki player at the top of the Byzantine castle ruins. See the video below to hear him play and see the view!|
|Locks of love in Oia Santorini|
|Fira has it's share of quaint places.|
|Walkway in Fira Santorini|
|"Blue dress". I love this shot my husband took of me taking a photo of him. :D|
|Sunset in Fira, Santorini|
Day 4 - Last day and a quest to find my inspiration.
I suddenly remembered, on our last day, that I should look up where the house from the movie Summer Lovers is located. A quick Google search (gotta love that even the most remote places have wifi now!) showed that it was right inside of Oia and fairly accessible. ...fairly, lol, it took some serious hunting and looking at Google images for reference to the location, but I found it. :) It's a private residence, but I managed to get some good shots, it looks a bit different now than in the movie, but it was still cool to see the amazing house from the movie that inspired my wanderlust.
|House from the movie Summer Lovers. Really cool house and amazing location!|
|Summer Lovers House in Oia, Santorini|
|There are donkey's everywhere in Santorini! This one was acting as delivery truck, delivering cases of water to this shop.|
|Leaving the house for the last time. Very sad, I still miss that view and the people watching. This is one place I would seriously consider owning a vacation home, I could easily spend a couple months in spring or fall here!!!|
|On our way out. We had to bus into Fira to catch the bus to the airport and decided to spend a couple of hours visiting the history museum in Fira and lingering cliffside to soak up the last few minutes of views before heading home.|
A few videos for fun.
Amazing trip and a definitely must visit for anyone from history lovers to sun worshippers.