I don't have many words for Santorini - mostly because I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it.
I honestly thought that I would fall head over heels in love and it would be THE most amazing place i've ever been - which is partly why we left it until last to visit, however, the reality is quite the opposite - as far as "experience" goes, it's probably the bottom of my Greece list.
Yes, Santorini is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places you will ever go to, the views are out of this world and the blue & white villages hanging on to the top of the cliffs are magical.
However, Santorini is just one big island totally geared to the tourist and their money. Accommodation is expensive, food is expensive and quite low quality (and restaurant touts abound, hassling you to eat their "very delicious" food), the beaches pale in comparison to anything we saw on Mykonos and Naxos and there's not a great deal to do other than perch yourself on your hotel terrace.
So, I can say i'm very glad that i've been, although i'm still not sure if I would go back. If I did, I would do things slightly differently.
- Most importantly I would splash my cash and stay at a luxury resort (like here, here, or here) that had it's own swimming pool and was more geared to you not really needing to leave (the hotel we stayed, whilst it had probably the best view on the island of sunset, was quite shabby inside, had the most hideously tiny bathroom i've EVER seen, was twice the price of our gorgeous hotels in Mykonos and Naxos, and didn't have a pool, hence we just felt like we wanted to sleep and then get the hell out of there).
- I would most certainly stay in Oia village again - not as tacky as Fira and not as quiet as Imerovigli, and also some half-decent restaurants - Thalami and Skala were the best we found.
- Do a winery tour (we fell in love with Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko).
We did spend a day on a boat cruise, which took us to the Volcano (which I didn't realise we were actually going to hike up!), took us to swim in the mineral hot springs (albeit very briefly), and then over to Thirassia (the part of Santorini that was essentially "cut off"). Again this was a very touristy trip - herded on and off different boats, tour guides forced upon you wanting tips, taken to buffet style tourist trap restaurant... but in saying that i'm glad we did it, it was nice to see the Islands from a different perspective - I might just go with a different company next time...
I'm probably not painting a very attractive picture, so what I will say is that i'm glad that i've been, I do think it's worth seeing, but I just wouldn't put it at the centre of my wish list and I wouldn't spend too much time there - we were there for 3 full days which was enough.
|Oia Castle and the path down to Ammoudi|
|Views of the Caldera|
|Little restaurants like this everywhere|
|One of the best restaurants we found|
|Looking back up the village of Oia|
|Why walk when a teeny tiny donkey can carry you up 400 steps - poor donkeys :(|
|Donkeys coming up from a hard days work - poor donkeys :(|
|Oia - looking back toward the windmill where we stayed|
|Looking down Oia village from the Castle|
|Ammoudi - for 95 euro lobster pasta anyone?|
|Pretty much anywhere on the island for this|
|From the highest point - Oia is the white in the very distance|
|Red Beach - didn't swim here, too much of a hike to get down to it...|
|Leaving Ammoudi Bay with Oia on the cliffs|
|Our boats at the Volcano|
|We made it to the top - Thirassia in the background|
|The path - like a moonscape - with Fira in the background|
|The view from our balcony at sunset - all these people had to scramble for a good spot|
|we had our own private viewing terrace (can you see the bride?? there were a lot of asians having photos in wedding get-up, not really sure what that was all about)|