We took an early morning -8 AM- ferry from Iraklion (also called Heraklion) to Santorini. Our ferry was operated by Seajet which dropped us off at Santorini by 10:20 AM.
We had booked a Club Class Seat which was in an air-conditioned cabin with good, comfortable and spacious seats. Our seats were by the window in the lower deck. There was a small cafe available inside the ferry with basic breakfast options like Coffee, Bagel, Croissant etc. The meals were not included in the ferry tickets, so one had to pay for them.
The upper deck seats in the ferry were economy seats and without air condition. And of course they had lesser fare as well. You had an open area on the upper deck where you could go and enjoy the breeze and the deep blue sea. After all that is the experience which you are there for. So we realized that it does not matter where your seats are – especially if you are gonna spend most of your time out in the open air. But yes, if you plan to rest and sleep during the journey then club class would be a good option.
While Sucharita was in the cabin for a long time, I enjoyed my time up on the deck during the entire journey. Being a sea lover I wanted to savor every moment of being with the sea. Sea was so beautiful with deep blue waters, at times turning silver with the reflection of clouds. And the white milky trail of water being left behind by the ferry, as it moved ahead, was so satisfying to the eyes.
I stood by the railing for good amount of time while the pleasant breeze rushed through my face sprinkling it with tiny droplets every now and then. And if you are lucky you might get to see a few Dolphins as well which we were lucky enough to spot. But they were far off.
After a while Sucharita joined me at the deck and believe me the feeling of standing by the deck, looking over the sea with your arms wrapped around your beloved, is a romantic moment to cherish for lifetime. Our romance didn’t have to wait for Santorini.
Finally we arrived at the port of Thira. This is the main of the island. All the interconnecting island Ferries drop and pick the visitors from here. Now we had to see, how to reach our hotel which we had booked at Oia.
We opted for Self drive option given the fact that we wanted to visit different towns and places on the Island and having car would make travelling easier for us. We wouldn’t have to depend on any further arrangements as far as travel was concerned. And I believe that was a good decision for us.
We rented Nissan Micra, the smallest car available in their fleet. It was sufficient for us and costed us 40€ a day excluding the insurance and gas. We always take the insurance whenever we rent a vehicle internationally. Though it adds a burden on your pocket but its always a safer option for any unprecedented incidents.
We really enjoyed driving in Santorini. Sucharita was so happy on the fact that I knew driving and more so so with the fact that I could drive in Greece. Afterall this was our first international self drive. She had a different smile on her face when we took the car.
Oia is a good 15km distance from the port of Thira. It takes around 30 mins to reach Oia. We were pretty excited for the drive since it was the first time that we were gonna drive in Greece. The initial part of the drive is through a steep hilly terrain with roads meandering upwards. On one side is the Aegean Sea while on the other is a mountain – quite an exciting sight.
Later the drive takes you through a very beautiful view of the island where you start seeing the typical white and blue houses. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful. Sea keeps your company throughout the drive to Oia. Driving is pretty easy in Santorini since you do not find much traffic. If at all, you might get stuck right at the start of the drive near port itself because all the crowd would be travelling into the towns.
We had booked our stay in Anemomilos Hotel which is good location wise. The hotel is on the main road that connects to the market and has a sea view at the backside. We loved its location.
There are 2 routes to reach the hotel after a point where the diversion occurs – one is a longer route -6km long- with a proper road reaching right upto the hotel gate while the other one is a small lane and only 300 m from the diversion point. Google maps always show the shortest route possible and so we took that lane. Right then a guy stopped us and told that it’s a one way and mostly used by people on foot. The cars have to take the longer route to reach the hotel 🙂 Imagine our plight. Right when we thought we had reached but actually we hadn’t.
Finally after the detour we reached our hotel. We had booked this stay option after a lot of reasearch which fit into our budget and at the same time gave us good views and comfort as well. The manager at the hotel gave us a brief of the island and the places that can be covered while we were there. He was really nice and friendly and answered all our questions patiently. Am sure he must be used to the curious travellers after all. After checking in we quickly freshened us and headed out to explore the island.
It was already noon by the time we settled and got ready. And we were starving. Our hotel had a good cafe and we decided to have a quick lunch before getting busy with the sightseeing. Placing an order was not as daunting a task as we had imagined it to be. Being vegetarians it does get a little tough at times but in Greece we were pleasantly surprised to find good Veggie options.
We were quickly offered a few veg options and we chose to go with Gemista – Stuffed Rice Tomatos and simple potato wedges (which are never going to disappoint!). And of course some wine to go along. The serving portions were pretty decent and the taste yum. We started digging in as soon as we were served and were happy with our bellies full.
Our hotel was right at the start of Oia’s main street which is the hub of all activity. All the shops, eateries, cafes, hotels, resorts are in and around that street. Right at the start of the street there is a small church called Agios Georgios. It is one of the few blue dome churches of the island with a yellow base that makes it stand-out from quite a distance.
The whole street has sea view on one side where you find the taverns, hotels and resorts while the other side has all the shops. The street is quite busy and very lively even in the scorching heat. Hordes of tourists can be seen walking past this street exploring Oia. At times it gets so crowded that the charm of the place seems lost. And that is just the effect of all the heat.
We were there in the month of October which was supposedly the onset of winters in Greece but the days were still hot and humid at that time of the day. But we relentlessly roamed around, like all other travellers stopping at a few shops looking for souvniers.
You find beautiful hats in Greece which give you a very sophisticated and touristy look. And of course they save you from the heat as well. I bought one and must say it was a good buy.
Cafes there offer beautiful views of the sea and the entire Oia town. You would want to visit most of them. Even the pathway to the taverns there were beautifully designed. Everything around seems very well thought of.
Elsewhere in Greece we find street pathways made of Pebbles and Asphalt but the streets in Oia are paved using Marble Tiles.
Ambience of the street gets lively and colorful as the evening approaches. Besides cafes, street also boasts of art galleries, antique shops, jewellery shops etc.. as well which are all very aesthetically designed. You won’t get bored roaming around in the street with all the hubbub around. And if u get tired, you can just take a break by the white wall facing the sea and enjoying the busy Ammoudi port.
As the sun goes down you start enjoying the street more. With a cool breeze blowing and a subtle music playing, we felt rejuvenated and started moving towards the other end of the street to witness the famous Oia sunset. Oia offers magnificent setting alongwith its breathtaking location for ideal wedding shoots. During this time of hour we could see many couples capturing beautiful memories of their special day. With the colors of sunset dashed across the sky, we could feel romance in the air.
If you planning on a wedding photoshoot, Oia is the ideal destination.
As the night approaches, the whole town of Oia lights up as if its jewel of the sea. It’s looks absolutely stunning with all those lights making the town sparkle. With the lights glittering on the street, with blues of the pools against the whites of the caves and the taverns and the music in the background – the frame looks right out of a scene from a movie making you fall in love with it all over again.
By now it was dinner time and we decided to have our dinner at 218 Moires, a restaurant which offered beautiful view of the town. We had a sumptuous dinner of Greek Salad, hummus with bread and some wine. I also tried a local greek drink called “Mastika” which has a unique flavor of pine and herbs and tastes very sweet. But personally I liked it.
After enjoying a delicious meal, we started to walk back to our hotel. On the way back, we found lots of stray cats lying around lazily. They were friendly and one could pet them as well. We played with them a little before reaching back.
P.S. They enjoy the fish, which is given by many restaurant staff to them (the leftovers of the meals served). Many people were trying to feed them bread on the streets which they were not very interested in.
Once we reached the hotel, we conked off for the day….