Our friends, who live in Australia, had been planning their European holiday for ages and we were always going to meet up at some point along their travels. We settled upon island hopping in the Greek Islands – choosing Santorini, Ios and Paros. Only later did they decide that they would forgo a traditional wedding back home and instead tie the knot at an intimate ceremony in Santorini – which made this trip extra special!
We enjoyed four nights staying in the capital of Santorini, Fira. Due to it being early September we had luckily avoided the height of the tourist season, though it was still relatively busy. On our first full day, I convinced our friends that we should do the walk along the cliff edge from Fira to Oia. This is a great way to see the island as you walk through the smaller towns of Firostefani and Imerovigli before heading out to the famous sunset spot of Oia. Hot, sweaty and a bit sunburnt we relaxed in the shade and enjoyed a late lunch and cold bevvies on the outskirts of Oia town.
That evening we returned to Oia just in time to witness that famous sunset. I think most of us were quite underwhelmed by it and were a bit overwhelmed with the crowds! As soon as the sun goes down there is a mass exodus and locating a restaurant for dinner for our larger group was a bit taxing. We wound up finding two tables at the Roka restaurant which had great reviews and I enjoyed some tapas Greek style – yum!
The wedding day had arrived! Emma and Nathan booked the terrace at Villa Irini which had amazing views of the volcano and caldera. The whitewashed buildings contrast perfectly with the blue sky and water and I just couldn’t get over how pretty the setting was! We spent the afternoon eating and drinking at a restaurant in Fira overlooking the caldera. It was great because we basically had the whole place to ourselves until later in the evening after siesta time was over. We partied and drunk espresso martini’s into the sunset and danced our way into the early morning.
The next day and a half were spent exploring on our ATV’s – a great way to get around on the island. We checked out the sights in the south of the island visiting Red Beach, Black Beach and the Akrotiri Lighthouse.
Santorini is truly a unique and magical location. The landscapes were even better than I had expected and it definitely exudes romance & charm. But I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that tourism has taken a firm hold of this place. Cruise ships inundate this small island all year round, and now they have had to restrict the number of passengers disembarking to 8,000 people daily (which is still a huge number!). The mayor fears the island has reached saturation point so I am very interested to see what happens to this slice of paradise over the next decade or so.