What a dream; Greece was unlike any place I have ever been and probably unlike any place we will ever go again. It was truly a dream come true.
So first off let me give a shout out to my INCREDIBLE husband who booked and planned basically the entire trip. He did so much research and checked so many reviews and was basically a rockstar! He totally made my dream a reality and gosh, well he is just the best.
We were gone for about 2 weeks. Jon and I stayed at at Air BnB's and other bed and Breakfasts' throughout Greece and Italy.
Jon and I left Dayton June 29th and after about 15 hours of traveling we arrived in Athens on the afternoon of June 30th. Upon our arrival in Athens we met our taxi we had booked through Welcome Pickups Athens, and let me tell you this was the best and easiest way to get to our apartment. They met us at the airport and took us right to our Air BnB, telling us some of the best restaurants and sights in the area along the way.
After quickly dropping our luggage, changing and brushing our teeth Jon and I headed out to the Acropolis. To see the Acropolis has been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember and to be walking through Athens knowing I was about to live a dream was so surreal. Upon entering the gates to the Acropolis we walked though the Theatre of Dionysus, which is the first stone theatre ever built, cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis, and supposedly the birthplace of Greek tragedy. Jon and I walked in wonder through the seats just imagining the plays that had gone on here. As we walked out of the theater and walked up Acropolis hill we came upon Odeon of Herodes Atticus a beautiful stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. The Odeon was restored in 1950 and is now used for festivals and performances. We continued up Acropolis hill and reached the historic gateway to the Acropolis, the Propylaea. As we walked though the Propylaea, our breath was just taken away; the beauty of the architecture and the thought that this has been here for hundreds of years and the anticipation of the parthenon was unbelievable. However, when we emerged onto the other side the Propylaea we could see the dreaded scaffolding. My heart broke just a little. Scaffolding, are you serious:( But even with the scaffolding covering the front face I lost my breath when we truly came upon the Parthenon. The Parthenon is a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. With its intricate carvings and the history it carries, Jon and I were in awe. We walked the circumference of the building just in wonder of how it could have been constructed so long ago and how it has stood for so long. After a while of me just taking picture after picture, Jon pried my eyes away and we wandered over to the Old Temple of Athena. Then with a few more glances of the Parthenon, Jon and I headed back down the hill and back though the Propylaea and took a look at Temple of Athena Nike. This temple was used as a place citizens worshipped the goddess Athena in hope of a successful outcome in the long Peloponnesian War fought on land and sea against the Spartans and their allies.
The parthenon was more magical and more beautiful them I ever imagined it could be. It was truly a dream come true for me and even despite the scaffolding it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. After coming down from acropolis hill Jon and I entered the Acropolis museum where we came face to face with many of the sculptures and art that once sat on acropolis hill. We were again in awe of the detail and time that had to have gone into sculpting and carving; it was truly remarkable.
So the next morning, Jon and I were welcomed again by Welcome Pickups Athens who took us the Athens Port to catch our ferries to Santorini. There were several options as far as ferries go when trying to get to the Greek Islands; Jon and I opted for the Blue Star Ferries. We tend to get motion sick and the other best option was a high speed boat that we didn't think we would have the best luck on. Anyways, we got aboard the ferry and settled into a 7 hour ride. But before you freak out and think "Seven hours!!! That is so long!!" Let me tell you it was quite the beautiful ride and we happened to sit next to an awesome couple, Phil and Pantha. We had a blast with them on the ride, traded notes on restaurants to try in Santorini, and the time flew by.
Our ferry stopped at 4 different islands, Santorini being the last of the four. When we docked, it was no joke; they got people on and off that ship like it was a cattle drive; we only docked for about 10 minutes in each location. As we approached our port, they made a call over the announcement system and passengers would head down below deck to pile into the cargo area. As the ship approached the dock, loud alarms went off and you could hear the grinding of the boat. It kind of felt like the hunger games, where the doors would open and you didn't really know what to expect but you knew you had to make a mad dash. Jon and I made it off the ship and headed straight to the buses. In Santorini the local buses are everywhere. They are huge like tour buses and go everywhere you would need them to. So we hopped on a bus and made it to our Air BnB in Imerovigli.
Upon our arrival we were stunned by the beauty of this island, it was truly breathtaking. We sat out on our deck and just looked in wonder in every direction. I don't think there is a more beautiful place in the world. After taking in the view from out apartment, we went exploring a little. It was pretty late in the afternoon by the time we finally got to our apartment so we simple walked around Imerovigli, got some water and made a reservation for dinner. By the end of the night I don't think I have ever been so tired in my life; I was literally falling asleep at dinner (thanks jet lag!).
Jon and I spent 2 full days in Santorini, and multiple people had told us that it was very worth it to rent an ATV to get around. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made all trip. We began the day by getting some breakfast at a local bakery. We highly recommend getting spanakopita (breakfast spinach pie) and loukoumades (honey donuts). So Yummy!!!
After breakfast we made our way to the Red Beach in Akrotiri. This is a beach that beach made up of red and black volcanic pebbles and it is stunning! With deep blue clear water it is unlike any other beach we had ever seen. It took a little bit of work to get down to beach level but it was so worth it. We spent about an hour at the beach and eventually left because the tide was rising and the beach area was kind of small so we felt like there was no place we could go to just sit without the tide reaching us. But it was totally worth out time.
From the beach we took the ATV to the Ancient City of Akrotiri. This is one of the few ancient ruins on the island. It is incredibly well preserved and is inside an enclosure that was built to help preserve the site as they continue to excavate it. In the site you are able to walk in and among the city. There are multi story houses, ancient vases and original walkways that will make your mind spin in wonder as to how they were able to create such a place 7000 years ago.
Onward we went from Akrotiri to Jon's most anticipated stop, Santorini Brewing Company. SBC is the only Brewery on the island and it had such a great atmosphere. They showed us around, gave Jon samples and explained to us their dream behind opening the brewery. We walked away feeling like locals and even had a few souvenirs in hand:)
Back on the ATV we made our way to Kamari Beach. This is one of Santorini's most popular beaches. It is a black pebble beach on the east side of the island. Compared to the Red Beach, this beach had a lot more people but it also had a lot more room. Jon and I camped out here for a few hours and took in the beauty that was before us.
We left the beach in late afternoon. We had hoped to visit another ancient city of ruins but it was closed by the time we got there. So we headed back to our air BnB to get some rest and a shower before dinner. We get dinner at La Mason and it was probably the best dinner we had the whole vacation (and possibly in Jon's entire life). It was unbelievable!! Jon got John Dory (some sort of fish) and I got a chicken dish, and when I say it was incredible that is an understatement.
We ended day two by watching the sun go down from our deck and preparing for the next day.
We still had a few hours in the morning with our ATV rental, so Jon was able to take it down into Fira and get us some delicious breakfast from our favorite bakery. Upon his return, we ate breakfast and prepared for our hike from Imerovigli to Oia.
There is about a 4.5 mile trail from Imerovigli to Oia. This is a coastal trail with some of the greatest views of the island. Jon and I headed out at about 9:30. We were given advice to head out early to avoid the midday heat. Jon and I walked at a pretty good pace considering we stopped many times to just gaze at the beauty around us and to take pictures. I will warn you, this hike was no joke; it was challenging and you are often times walking along the edge of a cliff down a pebbly trail. And despite leaving early, it was still ridiculously hot! We definitely had to take time in some sections of the trail to avoid falling. But it was a great experience and I would do it again in a second.
Jon and I finally made it into Oia around lunch time. We crested the last hill and we were excited to be able to sit down and take a break. We ate a quick lunch in Oia and then explored a bit. We wanted to go down to Amoudi bay but got a bit lost and accidentally ended up in some castle ruins (not a bad mistake to make), which turned out to be pretty cool. From there we did find our way down to Amoudi Bay. After stumbling down the 218 steps down to sea level we then had to do a bit more hiking and a little rock climbing to get the the area of the bay where we could swim. But again, it was completely worth it! Jon and I quickly found a place to put our things and jumped into the clearest, bluest water I have ever seen. We spent about 30 minutes in the water, and spent most of our time trying to decide if we wanted to do some cliff jumping. We eventually chickened out when we saw the number on rocks around the base of the cliff. But we did watch other people climb up and jumped into the water. After coming out of the water Jon and I found a place to just sit and rest by the water. We watched as others jumped off the cliff and cheered on a boy names Brody for about 30 minutes as he hesitantly tried to jump off the cliff.
After leaving the bay we made our way to the steps to go back up the cliff and discovered we had zero energy to get back up... so we took a DONKEY!!!! Yes, we took one of those infamous donkeys back up to the top of the cliff and it was awesome, and so worth the 10 euros to not have to climb those 218 steps.
Since we had reservations for dinner in Oia we didn't want to take a bus back to Imerovigli. So we found a nice cafe and had a few drinks before dinner. On our way to the cafe we ran in Phil and Pantha! Yes our ferry mates that were staying in Fira; we ran into them in a random back alley and it was so crazy! We exchanged hugs and stories of what we had done so far and then parted ways. Also at this time there was a cruise ship docking and the island was getting extremely busy. We enjoyed our drinks and then did a little shopping before heading back down to the bay for dinner.
Jon and I heard great things about this restaurant called Sunset Amoudi and so we had made reservations earlier that day for dinner and we were pretty excited about it. However, once we got there we were not that impressed (La Meson had spoiled us the night before!). However, we did have a great view of the sunset. But then to make matters more disagreeable we had to walk back up the 218 steps because the donkeys were gone when we made it back to the base of the steps. UGH, so we slowly and tiredly walked ourselves back up those dreaded steps. After making it up we found a bus and took it back to Imerovigli.
Jon and I later looked at our step counter on my phone from that day and we took over 26,000 steps. But gosh, each step was so worth it.
I don't have any other way to describe Santorini other then it was like a dream. It was the most magical, beautiful and scenic place I have ever been. Everywhere you looked it was like you were looking at a piece of art. There was never a time you could not see the Mediterranean and there was never a sight not worth seeing. I would go back in a second and would encourage anyone thinking about going to go! It will be unlike anyplace you have ever been and even more magical then you think it could be.
And just like that our time in Santorini came to a close. We got up the next day and flew out of the Santorini airport to Venice ( which will get its own blog at a later date). And don't get me started on the Santorini airport, it was my nightmare...