Here are a bunch of long, drawn out stories about why I loved Santorini:
After our stint in Athens, we hopped on a plane the day before my birthday and landed in the breezy, volcanic island of Santorini. For our flight to Santorini, we flew with Aegean Airlines and this was our first time flying with them, so you never really know what kind of service you’re going to get; but, I was so impressed with their level of hospitality! Aegean Airlines qualifies as a discount air service, but they really embodied the whole Greek-hospitality vibe up in the air. We received a little candy when we first got on the plane (which I was already amped about), and then a complimentary warm meal! Luckily, our hotel was only ten minutes from the airport so we were able to grab a cab at a pretty affordable rate. We stayed at the La Bellezza Eco Boutique hotel in Santorini, it was super conveniently located being close to the airport, to the main city and the black sand beach. This place was honestly a dream to stay at! When booking our accommodations for Santorini, I just wanted something nicer than the places we had been staying at previously, something with a little more space and the place we ended up getting more than exceeded those needs. As we were checking in, the woman working the front desk, Mary, was walking us to our room and she said that we had a really nice place for our stay, and I was a clueless idiot and was like, “Oh really?”. But, when she opened the door to our place, my jaw literally hit the ground. I don’t know how I didn’t realize what I was booking when I made the reservation, but I literally couldn’t have asked for a better place to ring in my 24th birthday. The accommodation was literally the nicest place I’ve ever stayed; it was so clean, modern and comfortable. All of the staff at La Bellezza were accommodating and friendly, and Mary was always willing to offer suggestions or help us organize something for our stay. My only genuine regret with booking at La Bellezza, is that I didn’t book a longer stay — I loved it that much. Beyond all of the greatness that came with our personal accommodation, they also offered complimentary breakfast every morning that they delivered to your room. The night prior, you would receive a menu with the available breakfast options for the next day, select what you’d like and how large of a portion and choose what time you’d like it delivered in the morning! Then, in the mornings someone would come with a giant tray of breakfast goodness, and set you up with a little picnic wherever you desired; we usually had ours on the patio and it made me feel very fancy. Things like eggs, pastries, fresh fruit salad, toast and more were the usual offerings for the breakfast. Oddly enough, my favourite menu item wasn’t a food option, but the freshly squeezed orange-juice. I still crave it! Besides giddily running around the hotel suite in disbelief that it was all mine, we also got up to quite a few activities during our short time in Santorini! Our first night was pretty relaxed, we went for a walk around the area we were staying in and got familiarized with what was available to us. We did a little shopping to grab the essentials, walked along the beach and found ourselves a restaurant to grab some dinner. We ended up picking this restaurant that had tables directly on the beach; we were able to eat our dinner watching the sunset and see the moonrise. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of this place, but we ate there our first night and our last night in Santorini because we loved the staff there. They were all so friendly, they remembered who we were our second time there and gave us free Raki. The food was great, Nick ate nothing but Gyros again. I was able to try an assortment of fresh caught seafood and a Yellow Donkey beer! As it’s Santorini, and this place was literally right on the beach, it wasn’t the cheapest dining experience. But, I would totally go back there! After dinner, we walked along the beach some more before heading back to the hotel for some wine, and jacuzzi time!
Our first full day in Santorini also brought us my birthday; we woke up nice and early to have breakfast, and figure out what we were gonna do with our lives on that very sacred day. Besides travel and accommodations, I hadn’t pre-booked anything for our Greece trip. So, our plan was to waltz into Thira, head into a tourist shop and see what they had on offer that day because there was no way I was just gonna have some ordinary-ass day when I was living my life, freshly 24 in Santorini. The birthday Gods were on my side, they had both attractions available that I was interested in. We booked a boat tour for my birthday, and then a wine tour for the following day. Before we hopped on the bus to take us to the port for our boat tour, we had a couple of hours to kill in Thira. We walked around the city a little bit (it reminded me of a large Grand Bend Strip), and randomly decided to get those strange fish-pedicures. It was such an odd experience, as there are so many little fishies nibbling on your feet, your feet literally start to vibrate. After the pedicure, we grabbed some lunch and were on our way. The boat tour took us from Thira, to a volcano hike, to the hot springs, a detour to a little fishing village for lunch and then we ended the day watching the famous Oîa sunset from the back of the boat. It was such a cool day! I think one of my favourite stops we made was the little fishing village we stopped off at, it was honestly the tiniest place, there was like seven different shops and restaurants, and no cars! They only had boats! Wild! We went here for a late lunch/early dinner, and following our tour guides recommendation, we went to Los Lobos. It was a small, family run restaurant where the patio was overhanging the water. Their menu consisted of traditional Greek food; fresh seafood, gyros, moussaka, the works! Everything on the menu was fresh caught, and grilled right at the front of the restaurant where the patrons could see. I had the freshest shrimp that I will probably ever eat in my entire life at this restaurant. After exploring the island, we made our way back to the hotel and walked around the area we were staying in. We decided to pop into a little bakery that was open late, and grab a slice of cake to celebrate the end of my birthday! We took the cake home, I FaceTimed my family and had them sing me happy birthday to wrap up my day!
Our last full day in Santorini brought us to our wine tour that we had booked for our afternoon. We had a lazy morning sitting in the sun and lounging about before heading into Thira again for an afternoon of boozing. The tour we booked ended up being a really small group of people, so we had a little tiny bus to take us around to the three different wineries we were tasting at. We were able to try ten different wines in total. Each winery gave us a little spiel about the history of their winery, the different ways of making their red and white wines, and some interesting facts about wine in general. I’ve never been a huge wine drinker myself, so it was cool being able to try a bunch of different kinds that I would probably never try on my own, and learn about the kind of work that goes into making wine. After our wine tour came to a close, the bus brought us back to Santorini and we made our way to the beach to sort out some dinner. It wasn’t long before we went to the restaurant we checked out on our first night; we grabbed the same table we had before and watched the water as we ate our last dinner on the beach!
Far too quickly, our last day in Santorini arrived and we had to pack our bags and head back to a very rainy Berlin. I’ve done a lot of traveling this year, but my trip to Greece was by far my favourite place. Greece had always been such a bucket-list destination for me, and I never thought I’d be able to get there since it’s approximately a million miles away from Canada. But, I made it! And I’m so glad I did. I can’t wait to come back to this beautiful little country again one day.