In it’s simplest of forms, Santorini is luxurious. I’m slightly convinced that it is probably the most accurate representation of heaven that this planet has to offer us.
Located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, it is the most popular Greek island and just a short 30 minute flight from Athens. Life in Santorini has been around for thousands of years, with some archeological sites dating back to the 9th Century BC. This just confirms that the people of Santorini have had many years to perfect the art of living.
The culture in Santorini is relaxed. People are warm, friendly and in no hurry to do anything but make you feel right at home during your stay on the island. It’s safe to say that the economy in Santorini is ruled by tourism.
The crescent-shaped Caldera was once the rim of an ancient volcano. At one point in time, the island was a single landmass. Over thousands of years, volcanic activity changed the landscape of the entire island and destroyed the earliest settlements. One of the largest eruptions sent ash into the stratosphere and caused darkness for two weeks and a winter that lasted two years. It’s hard to believe that something as destructive as a volcano can create such beauty.
The island is known for it’s colorful beaches. Some have volcanic black or grey sands. Other beaches are backed by colorful dramatic cliffs such as White Beach or Red Beach in Akitori. On one of our days in the Santorini sun, we chartered a catamaran that took us around the coastline of the island. It was on this boat trip that we visited Red Beach, White Beach, and of course, swam in natural volcanic hot springs that the Caldera is known for. Our catamaran finished it’s voyage it anchored in front of Oia, for one of the sought after sunsets in the world.
Most everyone has seen photos of this wonderful (not-so-typical) paradise at some point in time. The owner of the hotel we stayed at told me that Santorini is the most photographed destination in the world. There is something so visually and aesthetically appealing about the simplicity of Santorini. Perhaps it is the way that the whitewashed villages climb and stack their way up the sheer cliffs from the beautiful blue caldera below.
Greece is also known for the freshness of its food. The olives, the greek salads, the Santorini wine, and of course the feta cheese. We probably ate our weight in feta. Fresh feta, baked feta, fried feta. One of my favorite dishes came from the oldest restaurant on Santorini: Aktaion. For over 90 years, they have been serving up the best Moussaka on the island. Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish in which layers of juicy minced lamb are cooked in a tomato based sauce, layered with sweet eggplants and creamy béchamel sauce and baked together until golden perfection. Of course, anytime you are on an island, seafood is prominent. So, it’s safe to say we also had our fair share of fresh seafood, eating a variety of fish, octopus and squid.
The hotels in Santorini are more like houses that have been turned into mini-resorts. The white cubiform buildings cling to the side of the steep cliffs, pretty much guaranteeing visitors an ocean view from just about anywhere on the island. We stayed at the Santorini Princess Spa Hotel and it was fantastic. Situated in the middle of Fira and Oia, we avoided much of the infamous sunset traffic and had beautiful views of the caldera right from our hotel room.
Cameron and I are constantly prioritizing our travel, finding the right balance between adventuring to new destinations and traveling back to favorites. As much as I love exploring new places, Santorini is headed right back to the top of our must-see list.