The Magic of Santorini (ANHS89tapok2021)

 “There is an unspoken bond you create with the friends you travel with.” – Kristen Sarah

Arriving Athens

   After almost 2 years of  not flying due to the pandemic travel restrictions  , It is again  about time to explore .

  For the last three years my highschool batchmates and myself  have agreed to try to have a yearly reunion in form of travelling .

Exploring a specific country of our choice .. This year was the much anticipated scenic island of Santorini .

The Preparation

  While almost all of us have anticipated to see each other , to have some  kind of  bonding . Still a cloud of uncertainties  hang around our  minds as the travel restrictions and travel advisory  changes every week .

  I have  cancelled 3  accomodations as the participants of this travel reunion were very uncertain and were depending on the travel advisory .

It was not until the last week before the agreed date that I have the final  list of the attendees of this  adventure .

  The souvenirs were finally finalized and ready to travel with me .

The souvenirs

  Six of us took the leap of faith and decided to have a good time in Santorini .

The Arrival

We were arriving into 2 groups . The early birds arrived  on the 26th of  november while the Mighty Three  will arrived on the 27th of November  at 22 hrs ( 10 pm )

26th of November ( the D-day)

Ralla left  Texas  on the 25th  she had a 19 hrs flight and  will be waiting for us in Athens (Jen and myself)

  Jen  have to take the train from Sweden going to Denmark as she will take her  flight to Santorini in Denmark. It was an exciting adventure  as I call it while Jen refers it as one of her stressful trip .. Stressful in the sense that we were already boarding and Jen was still battling with the security checked in . She was one of the last 3 people who boarded the transit bus ..  Ralla and myself were sooo relieved to see her and   she was wearing a smile that says ” I made it “ 

  

Just in time
The early birds

My journey … well it was very laid back arrived at Brussels  National Airport  super early . That I have time to take pictures ( what else to do 🙂) . My connecting  flight from Athens to Santorini have a 30 mins  time so I just ran and got there in time .

At Brussels National Airport

  Ralla was our gate  informer since she was there ahead of us .

She said I look good while I thought she looks fab after that 19 hrs flight .

The Early Birds arrived in Santorini

We have a mixed feeling once we were landed in Santorini. We were ecstatic and the same time hungry ( 🙂🙂).

  Santorini airport is a small airport and I could imagine that during peak season this airport could be very crowded ..but tonight  it is just us  , it took Ralla less than 5 mins to pick up her bagage .  As we went outside a handsome greek  ( He was soooo Greek handsome that Ralla almost forgot her orange lugage😆) with Jen’s name  waited for us  . He took us to our accomodation which was located at the heart of Fira / Thera( capital of  Santorini) .

CENTRO HOUSES  APARTMENT  our
home for the next 6 days

Our house has 2 bedrooms  and a sofa bed ( this will be Sim’s cave ) . Alexandra  will come and  clean the place every 2 days . It has a huge terrace that would give you a chance to enjoy the sunrise every morning , the back terrace is facing the Aegean Ocean . Our host Lila was very accomodating she gave us some suggestions and provide us a good transfer transportation .

The majestic Santorini sunrise

After we had our important house rules we explore our place decided which room will be ours  .. ahhh the perks of  being the early birds🙂.

The Roomies

Seattled and Hungry … so we went and explore square which was just  a couple minutes away from our house . We were still in our dreamy mode , can’t believe state of mind ( we are in Santorini after almost 2 years of not flying) like little girls again we were giggling and just happy to able to have this trip.

  We had our 1st dinner at El Greco. The food was just okey . Actually it is enough to feed a hungry stomach that  has   an excited soul . We have choosen the table outside , it was windy outside but this didn’t stop us .   Jen and Ralla both ordered  Risotto with seafoods while I had a stuffed vegetables , some tzatziki ,  greek salad and some wine .

El Greco gave us a welcome some bread while waiting for our orders and they were very nice to offer us some  OuZo . A typical apperatief dry anised flavored drink ..  our food arrived , the serving were gigantic that both Ralla and Jen failed to finish thier  risotto.

After dinner we decided to have a late walk around the square of Fira .. the streets was quite aside from the fact that it is the end of the season already the Covid restrictions also played a huge  role in the nightlife of Santorini .  Tonight the streets was ours to explore ..

Drinks , chats at El greco
Tzatziki , risotto with seafoods , stuffed veggies , greek salad and more
First night ..the streets was ours to explore

27th of November : The  Akrotiri -Emporeio hike, Metaxi Mas  and the arrival of  Sim, Viv and Liv

I started the day with a short trip to the bakery , I actually love it since it gives me this feeling that I am from Santorini ( except I dont speak greeks 😜) and not just a tourist … I love walking through this empty streets , admiring the houses and saying good morning to every person that I met ( I hope they understood what I said ) . What I have observed was the breads were mostly with sesame seeds and a little bit dry.  I bought some bagels and a bread with chocolates  filling topped with sesame seeds

Sesame bread with choco filling
The first glance of Fira

Meanwhile back at Centro Houses  Jen and Ralla were doing what they have agreed to do the night before … a picture of them having coffee at our  terrace ..

My Roomies

After breakfast , Nikos our  designated driver for the next 6 days picked us up and dropped us at  The Red Beach of Akrotiri . He will then picked us up in Empereio  and dropped us in Metaxi Mas in Exo Gonia and from there he will picked us up and bring us back to our house 

Today , we will be having the 5km( 4.8 km to be exact)  walk from the Village of Akrotiri -Emporeio . I will talk about the Red Beach later since we will be revisiting the place again together with the rest of the gang.

   On our way to Akrotiri , Nikos was kind enough to stopped at the Caldera   for some pictures , He also told us about the products of Santorini which were cherry tomatoes and the Santo wines . He explained why the grapevines were being weaved instead of letting grow they way in France. We learned everyday some new facts about Santorini thanks to Nikos .

The Caldera

 

The Hike Akrotiri -Emporio ( the hike of revealation)

  This was a 4.8 hike , for Jen who is a first timer with long hikes this is very far. The weather was warm while the hiking path was not that scenenic  .

  I would refer this hike as the “Hike of Revealation “. It is in this  hike that I grew more fond of Jen . I  admire her calmness  even if google took us several times to the  out of nowhere  path.  Her determination ,  to the point  that she breaks her limits .  Jen surprises me in so many ways ..

  Ralla, I know how she love dogs but I was still surprise when she gave up her water for Georgie  ( our adopted dog for this hike) who was obviously  very thirsty . To me, that was an epitome of selfless love  this  is a huge contrast with Her hard , super independent  personality .

The scenic view
We rest every now and then the sun was warm and the wind was refreshing
Us with Georgie ( not his real name)

Georgie (not his real name ) as Ralla baptize him  was a street dog from Akrotiri who have decided to follow us  through our hike in Emporeio.. He was so attached to Ralla that when we enter into a small coffeeshop after  we have  reached Emporeio he panicked and frantically retracing Ralla’s scent.   He even walked in the middle of the road  luckily the drivers were nice and stopped at a confused dog who have again lost his friend .  The Georgie -Ralla  bond had its bitter sweet ending .. and it breaks our heart that we can only offer him water .

The instant bond between the two

  After an hour or so hike we have reached Emporeio .

She made it !! We were all very happy!!

Metaxi Mas

I have read about Metaxi Mas when I was reading and planning out our Santorini trip . Both  bloggers and food reviews named Metaxi Mas as the Best Restaurant in Santorini.

So, I booked a table for 3,  Arriving there quite hungry ( we had a light lunch and we had a death march remember ). The moment  I sat and started talking to the friendly  waitress I began my Fangirling moment .. you can tell that I have been reading about their Taverne  and before the menu was given I already knew  what should I eat.

As expected , Metaxi mas holds its “Best Restaurant” title from the starter till  dessert  everything was perfect .

After we ordered they have offered us  a tray of meze  ( cheese , olives and bread ) and Raki ( an anais  flavored alcoholic drink that is popular in the islands of Greece ) . Our shared starter came  it was the famous oven -baked asperagus ( its really very delicous  creamy  yet crunchy ) and the Santorian baked white aubergine , we didn’t have the white aubergine since it was almost  w the end of  their session but I think its only the color of the auberhine that was different  the taste … well I think it is the same

The  tray of Meze  and yes Raki should also be documented

Ralla, who have been telling me she would have an octupus  cuisine in Greece  eversince this trip was planned . So it was no surprise that she ordered Grilled Octupus served with Santorian Fava , this  the first time I tasted a fava . It looks like hummus but has a finer texture . Jen got the grilled lamb with fried potatoes and me Grilled pork belly with sweet and  spicy glazed served with fried potatoes. After our main course we had a complimentary cheesecake dessert .

What a foodiexperience !

So , you may wonder if we have broke the  bank with all these  food … the answer is No! We paid around 27 euros each which is very affordable given  the quality of food that they have served .

  If you are looking for a Santorian – Cretan cuisine  experience then you must visit Metaxi mas in Exo Gonia .

The mighty 3 have finally arrived

The mighty 3

  Jen and I waited for  The mighty 3 to arrived home .. Sim initiated a video call to asked which door was our house But instead of talking with I was talking with Jen who sat across me .. and was also saying Helloooo?Hellooo ..

  We realized they are downstairs !! Faster than the heartbeat I openned the door and there they are !!! I have bonded with Viv and Liv recently but  Sim … it was almost 2 years since the last time I saw him. He deserve this long overdue hug!  The six of us exchanged  the warm greetings a fast updates … Tomorrow will be the official start of our reunion !!!

 

Here, there and everywhere

  Our mornings  was always hectic  taking turns to the bathroom .. until its time for us to gather around for breakfast . We chatted almost anything and everything .  We always start with where to go ,  covid  updates and disperse … I would always say ” omg its 9:30 Nikos will be here in 30mins “ and we disperse ourselves do all the last minute “thing” 🤣😊

Breakfast , dinners and in betweens we love having that moment

We have started our walked in Fira ,Firostefano  ,Imerovigli where you can hike around the Skaros Rock Viv whom I didn’t expect to join , Alvaro a Spaniard that I randomly chatted asked to talk one of our group picture , I then learned that he will be hiking around Skaros rock , So I decided to invite myself and tagged along . We werd chatting about running and hiking we were surprise by a voice ” wait for me” … And there she is so sexy as a vamp Viv! . Like Jen , I was also surprise by Viv”s strength . She walked , took some pictures and that happy positive spirit never died down even during the steep walks ..Here laughter is very infectious …. With her lighthearted spirit the hike around Skaros became more fun .

Alas ! We have reached the back of the Skaros Rock ,we paid social media homage by taking couple of picture on top of the chapel that you will find at the end of skaros hike . The chapel is facing in front the Aegean Ocean and I should say it is worth a hike 

It was a wonderful hike !

  Oia , as we.all expected was very white and  quite after all it is the end of the tourist session.. One of my fun memories in Oia were the Silly dogs of  Sim ,not really his dogs but like Georgie the silly dogs bonded well with him . They were playful , friendly and daring . At one point they saw a black cat , chased him up to the edge of the rooftop …Sim’s reaction when he saw how these dogs ” fly ” and stop on time so they won’t fall still makes me laugh to date .

Felix and the silly dogs
Sim and his silly dogs

The Sunset in Oia has a different charm in the summer ( the sky turns orange ) and in the winter but it is still as pretty as what they describe it

A quite Oia nikos said that it is very different during summer time when all the shops are open and you would walked shoulder to shoulder with people
Taking advantage of that winter sunset view
As darkness embraces Oia

oooh I should say one of the perks during low session is that you can buy souvenirs half a price .  In one of our walks around  Fira for our quest of  finding the Three bells of Fira  we went in a jewelry shop Ralla , Liv and Viv would like to buy some  gifts for christmas . The store owner who was a very friendy woman at her late 60’s asked when are we  heading back home . Ralla answered the dates of our flights, to our surprise she gave 5 of us ( sim was …I dont where ) an evil eye  pendant to give us protection on our upcoming trip …ahhh Greek hospitality

Ahhhh a token from Santorini

We continued to explore Santorini with Nikos from Pyrgos the second capital of Santorini after the people transfered from Skaros to Pyrgos and now in Thera or Fira . Nikos , showed us the traditional houses and explained why is it on some part of the streets (uphill) in cobble stones . He said it was for the villagers protection against the pirates who have horses .

Apparently Horses cannot ran on cobblestones . It is more easier to catch the thieves .

Went up to Profitis Ilias in hope that the monastry was opened . The Monastry was close but the view on top of the mountain is worthwhle to take some pictures . According to Nikos all the small churches on the mountaintop in Greece is called Profitis Ilias church . The reason is that prophet Elijah or Ilias is often associated with mountains. He was said to have lived in a mountain grotto.

Then the magnificient volcanic sands from Akrotiri ‘s Red beach , Perissa’s Black sand and the Natural sculpture designed cliffs of the Vlychada beach .  The overwhelming carved cliffs that resemble a sculptor’s work but is, in fact, a natural process owed to the volcano, the wind and the sea.

Pyrgos and everywhere
Nature’s at his best the overwhelming carved cliffs of Vlychada beach .

On a stormy day we explored the caldera of Fira ..It was soooo windy that Jen was afraid that the wind might blew her away ( literally) . We tried to go down to old port of Fira but it was too windy and too many stairs. We manages to witness the sunset there which is basically the same with the sunset view in Oia only cheaper . Oia is known for the posh hotels and shops.

We don”t let the weather dedictate our fun
It took us 2 days to understand google .. Thanks to Viv who would do everything to find The Three bells of Fira . Oh at some point we have stopped using the maps beacause it confuses us 🤣🤣

Declaration of Love

What makes Santorini Iconic ? Is it the white washed houses ? The tanquility of the Caldera? The amazing sunset ?

All that I have mentioned above are just the cherry of the cake . What makes Santorini magical is the people that you have spent your time with.

It was the early morning walks to the bakery , the evenning visit to the grocery . That moment that I sat next to an old Greek man who was talking in Greeks while I was hold my milk waiting for the store owner who was chasing her garbage bag that was blown away by the wind on the stormy morning … learning that it is wiser and safe to used 6 clothes clips when your hanging your clothes in the evenning because the your house is facing the ocean .

And lastly , it was living with these 5 beautiful souls . To be able to be vulnerable with trust . To feel their compassion on every story that has been told .. To share that laughters on every funny stories and events that happened . To accept and respect the shortcomings of the other . These makes our Santorini experience magically for it has created this unspoken bond of friendship between us .

To Ralla, Sim, Viv , Liv and my Jen I only cook for those I love … 😘

This was ANHS89 tapok 2021

 

2 responses to “The Magic of Santorini (ANHS89tapok2021)”

  1. Absolutely loved your narrative. I agree- the best thing about Santorini are the people. Here is my take on Santorini and aAthens:http://oftravelfarandnear.travel.blog/2022/09/20/grecian-diaries/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much

    The way you have talked about Greece makes want to go to the island ..
    I love it !!

    Like

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