“There is an unspoken bond you create with the friends you travel with.” – Kristen Sarah
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 .
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 .
Six of us took the leap of faith and decided to have a good time in Santorini .
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 “
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 .
Ralla was our gate informer since she was there ahead of us .
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) .
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 .
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🙂.
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 ..
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
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 ..
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 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 .
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 .
After an hour or so hike we have reached Emporeio .
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
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 .
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
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” 🤣😊
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
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 .
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
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
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.
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.
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 … 😘