The first day we visited the more authentic, less touristy part of Santorini. Today we are heading north to Thira (or Fira) and Ia, the second largest city. We began our day stopping at a Greek bakery to buy a diabetic-preferred breakfast. Some Loukoumades and a Kataifi, basically sugar on top of more sugar soaked with sugary syrup. Delicious but very salty as you might expect…..
We drove straight to Fira. It is the modern capital of Santorini and it is basically a city of white-washed houses built on the edge of the 400 metres (1,312 feet) high caldera on the western edge of the semi-circular island of Thera.
From Fira there is a panoramic view of the 18 kilometres (11 miles) long caldera from southern Cape Akrotiri to the northern Cape Ag. Nikolaos, plus the volcanic island Nea Kameni at the center with the island of Thirassia.
Large cruise ships anchor in the small harbor between Nea Kameni and Fira. Instantly when we arrived we could tell we would like it less as it was packed with swarms of tourists from the cruise ships. Despite the crowds, the views and Greek style architecture are stunning and the shopping great.
Sarah discovered how much she loves the jewelry here so as a belated birthday gift from Eitan she splurged and bought all sorts of nice items.
They also have stores filled with white Grecian style dresses (a style Eitan loves on Sarah) so of course Sarah left one store wearing a new white dress!
We walked around the narrow streets where all the fancy hotels are located. A room here on high season can easily cost you $400 a night.
We tried to escape the overpriced and overcrowded touristy restaurants for lunch and went to a less crowded one which was still delicious. We have discovered that every restaurant here offers red house wine for very cheap or you have to buy a bottle but for about 4 bucks you can get half a liter (more than two glasses of wine) so that is basically what we order at every meal!
We then drove around 30 minutes to the town of Oia, another touristy area known for its incredible sunset. This town had a bit more charm and more incredible views.
Here the prices at restaurants were much higher so we walked a bit further and found the perfect spot. We sat on the roof for a snack, had a great view, some wine and Greek salad. We sat next to this really nice German couple and chatted with them as we enjoyed the pleasant view.
Oia reached the peak of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its economic prosperity was based on its merchant fleet, which plied trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially from Alexandria to Russia. The two-story captains’ houses built on the highest part of the village are a reminder of the village’s former affluence. Part of the town was destroyed by the 1956 earthquake
For the actual sunset we went to the VERY popular view point that we had researched before. We got there about an hour before sunset and it was already packed, people kept coming so we decided to jump the wall and sit on the fortress roof.
People watching was amazing, from wannabe models taking thousands of selfies with different face expressions thinking they look hot, chinese tourists taking photos of unimportant objects and the typical guy trying to set up his huge tripod into the middle of the crowd.
The sunset was beautiful:
Leaving the sunset spot was hard because of the amount of people. Our friend Anna Lena, came to the rescue and she guided us to the postcard famous view point with the blue domes. It was getting dark fast so we were only able to take a couple of photos here.
The night view is also spectacular! We drove back to Perissa to return our ATV and for a very late dinner at a nice restaurant near out hotel. Tomorrow, we sail to the island of Paros.
Bonus Pic of the Day:
Santorini ( where some examples are preserved till today ) was colorful and vivid. Strong red, warm ochre, cyan, a little white, light blue, brown etc. Colour has become a stylistic issue in Santorini, rather than a practicality. Unfortunately all this changed in Santorini in the 1967 – 1974, when military government was in power in Greece. For clearly political reasons (red was bringing in mind some certain political think concepts. . . ) all houses had to be painted white, like other islands houses were. In contradiction, church domes were already painted blue in most of the cases.
Nowadays, since 1974, all new houses had to be painted white. Good or not, the blue and white combination, along with the preexisting colors of the Greek flag, has become the strongest “trademark” of the Greek Cycladic islands.