I know, not the photo you expected for the cover photo. It's Santorini. How could I not use one of the classic Oia landscapes of cascading white roofed homes at sunset? To be honest, (this might be controversial), Santorini island left me, underwhelmed. It's the "must-see" island. I think it's been over hyped. The beautiful aspects were isolated to certain areas. There was the different beaches, then Thira, and Oia. I stayed down in the southern region right next to Perissa beach. The black sand. . .Oooo! But, it was still noisy and high trafficked. I think it's a true sign you're a seasoned traveler when you don't enjoy the tourist hotspots.
*Travel Tip* While I have your attention, let me pass on a little secret to "cheap" ferry tickets. There is a website called viva.gr, select the "Student Fare Discount" with Blue Star Ferries (the newest and most reliable fleet), and then once you've paid, you pick up the ticket at a nearby office. The only person who asked to see any ID was in Thira, only to prove my identity, but nobody ever asked to see my Student ID. #winning. I remembered the website after my first ferry from Athens to Naxos, and thereafter, paid only 50% of the normal fare for all of the trips. Ferries are expensive! From Santorini to Athens, the 8-9 hour ride in Economy seating is 40 Euro. Business Class is 56. I paid 28 (Half of 56) for Business, and had a super empty and relaxing ride back to the mainland. It's worth it, even if you're paying full fare.
The first full day on the island, I took the bus to Thira to connect to Oia. There were so many people on the narrow inner paths, it's a constant battle to weave through without being bumped into. They weren't as visually appealing as Paros like I had hoped, but perhaps it was the amount of people that made it nearly impossible. When you're looking out to the Aegean, naturally every angle was stunning heaven. I think Greece is definitely one of the most photogenic countries I've visited.
I heard that you have to get to the sunset spot early if you want a good view. Since I explored the public access areas and couldn't find more secret stairs downward, I decided to spend the afternoon hanging out in my sunset spot. I don't know why I committed to the 4 hours, but I had THE spot.
While I waited, I watched too many people getting donkey rides up the winding ancient port by the outlook. . . please don't be one of those people. Those poor donkeys. Will your Santorini experience really cease to be it's fullest potential if you don't sit on a smelly donkey while it carries you up steep mountainside stairs?
The sunset of Oia was a huge event each day. Aside from drinking poolside in your private suites, eating overpriced greek salads, and beating through the crowded streets, the sunset was the only other "activity" available in Oia. Here we are. . . other people in their spots. . .
And, MY view.
This too . . . my wide angle is deceiving the distance. It looks like I have plenty of space, no, they were literally standing over me. It doesn't show the millimeter of space between their legs and mine, nor the two inches of personal space before elbows hit my face.
Consequently, from the unplanned 4 hours in the hot open sun, I got severely sunburned, and forwent the Thira to Oia hike the following day. I hear the views were spectacular, and the hike would have been epic exercise, but I was in pain. Instead, I went to Thira. . .
Nothing much aside from more narrow streets of shopping . . but I still got these bad boys!