This is a very rushed post as I try finish up a trip that I did in 2015. Compiled almost 7 years to the day!
Here we are back on Santorini where we first began our island hopping trip to Naxos, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissi and Amorgos – the latter being added in at the last minute.
I’ve been to Santorini on several occasions before this trip. A bit like Mykonos, it has become overly touristic and at times unbearable due to the hoards that spill out from the cruise liners – hence us only staying for a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, Santorini is a truly spectacular island with many unique assets. However, I don’t do the luxury thing and I don’t do crowds. I have to think hard about how to enjoy this island without it feeling too overwhelming.
We are staying at a budget place in Fira booked at the very last minute. It’s located very close to the shopping centre and restaurants so it’s quite a handy location. We are on a ground floor room which is quite spacious though quite dark and reliant on awful fluorescent lighting. Once the shutter are open, the room is a bit brighter but the window opens onto a shared courtyard which isn’t very private. Nonetheless, this is perfectly adequate for our short stay and we don’t intent to spend much time in the room. We’ve got things to do and places to see!
For our first evening here we take a stroll around Fira. It is busy and to be honest we are exhausted and hungry. We decide to treat ourselves and splash out on a nice meal at the Michelin star rate Restaurant 1500. I much prefer spending less on the accommodation and more on the finer things in life! A lovely end to the day!
Apologies for the grainy photographs
Today is our last day on Santorini and we are going to pack it in. Before we leave Santorini for home I want to see that spectacular sunset – one of things that the island is known for. I really can’t face the thought of going over to Oia and trying to fight my way through the hoards to get a view. This I know would tip me over the edge. Instead we have booked a boat trip on the Aphrodite which will take us to the volcano, an offshore view of the island of Thirassia and culminating in a view of the sunset from the boat.
The boat trip departs in the afternoon so we have time to visit Akrotiri first. After a breakfast of a cheese and ham toastie and cake we begin walking out of Fira. We pass several vineyards until we are on the main road. Here we catch the bus directly to Akrotiri.
It is well worth a visit here. I think we would have benefited from being on a guided tour but it is an excellent place to spend a couple of hours.
We don’t want to be late for the boat trip so head back to Fira and then catch the bus down to the new port of Athionios. There are 2 places to board the boat – the new port or the old port. The only way to get down to the old port is by cable car. Peter is keen on this option but I’m definitely not. The new port it is.
Once we have boarded we take our places on the boat. We share a table with a gregarious couple from Yorkshire. The Aphrodite sets sail to the old port where we pick up more guests. The view of Santorini itself is spectacular from here.
The first stop on the itinerary is the volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Here you can literally walk on hot coals. I attempt it but return back to the boat after being overcome with the sweltering temperatures. The heat is incredible and way too much for me. Peter continues on and comes back frazzled – and it takes a lot to frazzle an Egyptian!
The next item on the itinerary is an optional swim in the thermal springs. Word of warning – do not go into these waters wearing white – they will not come out of the waters the same colour that they went in. The waters have high levels of iron and manganese said to be very therapeutic but will turn your clothes an orangey brown colour and the stains will never come out (I speak from experience having visited quite a few thermal springs in Grecce).
Once everyone is back on board we set sail until we reach the small island of Thirasia. Here we drop anchor and lunch and drinks are served!
It’s a shame that we don’t get time on Thirasia itself. I’m intrigued by it and would like to have seen it up close. All along the water’s edge are small, brightly coloured doors set into the rocks. A place to haul in fishing boats at the end of a productive say’s fishing. The layers of rock formation are fascinating
We spend the rest of our time here, eating, drinking and listening to a little bit of music until the early evening.
Just before the sun begins to set we pull up anchor and head off to the coast below Oia.
Finally the star of the show is revealed! No heaving crowds jostling for position trying to get that perfect Instagram snap. Just a group of friendly people enjoying the spectacle of the sunset from the comfort of their seats. This as far as I’m concerned is the ‘only’ way to observe the Santorini Sunset!
As the night sky descends, the music on the boat is cranked up and the drink is flowing freely. Everyone is invited to get up and take part in some Greek dance and even some belly dancing as the boat sails back to the old port. Here we wave goodbye to some of our fellow travellers as if they were life long friends. Next we head to the new port where we disembark and then head back to Fira for a good night’s sleep!
We fly home later on today so just have time to have a final walk around Fira
This has been a fabulous trip around the Cyclades. Despite my preference to be further off the beaten track I’ve really enjoyed each of the islands. Santorini, Naxos, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissi and Amorgos couldn’t be more different than each other and each have their own unique charms.
Until the next time!