To travel to Greece without visiting at least one island is a mistake, and it was a mistake we were close to making. This trip I didn’t take much of a part in planning the destinations, my brother and mom had strong ideas of where they wanted to go and for just how much time. I didn’t ask to many questions.
The original plan was to stay in Greece for only a couple of days. Impossible. There is no way to see a fraction of things one should witness while visiting Greece in just two days. No way. Thankfully we all agreed on this after arriving and immediately made a change of plans. Because why fly all the way there and not see what needs to be seen
We took a ferry boat from the port in Athens to Santorini. There are two different kinds of ferries, the ‘fast’ boats and the regular speed. We opted for the fast one and the ride lasted I think around 5-6 hours. The inside of the boat resembled an airplane, with the rows and rows of assigned seating. It was a pretty comfortable ride.
What different experience it was, getting off of that huge boat in a strange place. Much different than arriving at the airport. After orienting ourselves a bit, we found a reasonably priced shared taxi shuttle and shuttled around the island to our hotel. We were the last to be dropped off, and after seeing everyone else’s hotels we were a bit nervous to see what ours would look like. But wow, we were not disappointed.
Welcome to Kamari
Our cute little family owned hotel was called the ‘Karidis’ hotel. It was just a few minutes walk down to the beach, located on the part of the island called Kamari. An all white building with blue accents, it was beautiful. Free breakfast in the morning, it felt like a home away from home. The owner even lent us some of her own beach towels.
There were restaurants all around. Which of course is great, the only thing is that at each one there was someone outside trying to convince people to eat there. Kind of a turn off… I get it though, especially in Greece now, times are hard, but still.
The first night my brother was reeled into one restaurant with the promise of some free things off the menu. The food was okay, mom was definitely not happy with hers. Me, being vegan, my meals are pretty consistent and hard to mess up…salad. But the owner, true to his word, laid out a shot of Uzo for each of us. Uzo is Grecian vodka, gross. So my brother ended up taking all three. The owner then so graciously brought us another round which my brother reluctantly put away. Luckily the walk back to our hotel across the street was not a long one.
We tried eating at a couple other mediocre places before the last night when we found a gem of a restaurant. Literally directly across the street from our hotel was a family owned taverna. There was no one outside hawking at tourists, but by dinner time the place was packed. That speaks volumes I think. We had been waiting for the place to open so we were the first ones to get there, but quickly it started filling up. Finally the family was happy with a meal.
Vegan in Greece
As a vegan traveling in Greece, my main dishes were: Greek salad hold the feta, stuffed wine leaves, stuffed vegetables, and potatoes. Not the most vegan friendly country I’ve been too. The Greeks really love their meat and cheese. Luckily they have perfected the salad.
Volcano Boat Tour
We were sold right away at the word ‘volcano’. Our first night and we were already booked for an all day tour in the morning. We walked down the street to the travel agency and the bus picked us and the rest of the group up.
We boarded a huge sail boat and motored away 15 minutes towards the volcano. I guess I had been expected a little excursion around the volcano, I hadn’t really envisioned a trek up it. Yet we found ourselves hiking up this huge black rock. It was worth it. Surrounded by sparkling blue water and the the beautiful classic Santorini-esque buildings stacked on the island, white and blue, taking this all in while standing on a volcano!
The volcano’s last eruption had happened in 1950, a mere 65 years ago. It is now dormant. At some spots sulphur could be smelled and seen.
Back on the boat and the next stop was to the hot springs. At this point the entire group jumped off the side of the boat and swam a few minutes to the spot of the hot springs. And it was awesome. How often does one get to jump off a pirate-like ship and swim to some natural spa on the side of a volcano? It was definitely a first for me.
We arrived next in a tiny little port at the disconnected part of Santorini, I think something to do with the volcano caused the separation.. It was lovely. We had a couple hours to spend there so we grabbed a bit to eat and enjoyed the view. Since it was so extremely picturesque, here are ton of pictures to set the scene. 🙂
The tour was wonderful up until this point. After disembarking the ship we were given little directions as to where to go or what the plan was. Our once peppy and friendly tour guide turned terse and rude once we were off, becoming angry when asking questions like “Where do we go?” or “What time do we catch the bus?”. Half the boat would return to where we started and the other half of us were staying on the opposite side of the island to watch the famous Santorini sunset some hours later.
So off the boat we went and into the unknown. Or I went into the unknown while my mom and brother rode up the side of the island on a couple of donkeys. Yep, donkeys. What a sight that was.
When I reached the top I was greeted by my family and then this incredible view. It’s the scene that I think everyone has in mind when they think of the Greek islands, clean white and deep blue. Stunning. We stopped for a water break at some fancy café all sweaty and red from the sun.
We had a few hours to kill before the sun was going to set so we explored the fancy little city and shops, only briefly though, Aaron had found the perfect spot to watch the sunset so he wanted us to lay claim to it. So we sat, and sat, and sat. For hours and hours. Our space was becoming more and more crowded by the minute, luckily we had our seats…I must say I was not thrilled about all of the waiting around. Especially at the end, at the moment we had all been waiting for, this fantastic, glorious sunset that we had been expecting was…pretty disappointing. Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a let down if we hadn’t been sitting for hours on a hard rock surrounded by people taking pictures and selfies. Oh well, I guess that it is still something to check off of the list. In the end it was a beautiful day.
The other two days we spent Santorini were spent relaxing. Traveling gets exhausting after awhile and we were already over a month into it at this point. So we ate, drank some wine, sat by the beach, went to the movies, and enjoyed our time until we were off to our next adventure. 🙂