|Right before the sunset in Oia|
|A church right by Villa Manos|
There are two ways to get to Greece from Italy. You can fly (which I did and highly recommend) or you can take a ferry. From Fiumicino airport in Rome to Athens, Greece is only two hours. I found a great deal on www.edreams.net, however, you can always try www.skyscanner.com. With cheap tickets there is a little bit of a sacrifice. My flight landed in Athens at midnight. I must admit I was a bit intimidated with the idea of flying into a foreign country in the middle of the night, not to mention being a female, but it all worked out. I had scheduled a ticket for the next morning, or rather six hours after I landed in Santorini. All the ferries dock in the port of Piraeus. The hotel I stayed at, Hotel Delfini, is right across the street from the ferries—very close. To get to the hotel you take a bus from the airport to Piraeus. It’s only 3.50 Euros and it runs 24 hours a day and leaves every 20 minutes.
I wouldn’t say Hotel Delfini is a four star hotel, but it was affordable and I didn’t get bed bugs. So if you’re a college student looking for a safe and clean place to spend the night before the ferry departs, Hotel Delfini is the place to go. Just remember that the hotel rooms are not like what you find in the United States. The rooms are small and smelled like cigarette smoke, but you need to compromise on some standards.
|Getting ready to board|
In the early morning I woke up with only a few hours of sleep and walked onto the ferry. There are a number of ferry options. There is the slow ferry, Blue Star Ferries, and the high speed ferries. I bought tickets with Blue Star Ferries. It took a little longer compared to the high speed, but in the end, I saved money and I wasn’t in a hurry to get to Santorini. The ferry is HUGE and also transports cars. It took eight hours to reach Santorini. I am glad I brought a good book. On the ferry there are small TV’s that are attached to the ceiling. Although the programs are in Greek, or rather dubbed into Greek, it was entertaining when I needed a break from my book. The ferry makes a few stops to the other islands on the way, but it doesn’t take long before we were sailing again.
I arrived at the port around 3ish and I was warmly greeted by Poppy the owner of the Villa Manos. If you are going to stay in Santorini, I highly recommend Villa Manos. Villa Manos is a fifteen-minute walk to Fira. Poppy is the definition of hospitality. She was extremely sweet and upon arrival gave me a piece of cake. I guess she knew I had a sweet tooth.
|The pool at Villa Manos. At night it had neon lights|
The first night I went to Mamma’s House with my new friend David from Argentina who was also staying in the hotel. It was completely necessary to order a Greek Salad—Delicious!! In Italy it is expensive to order salads, so I haven’t had any, but in Greece it is affordable on a college budget. After dinner we walked back. There are busses on the island and for 1.40 you can pretty much travel anywhere on the island. But they run every hour so you have to be conscious of the time and planning.
|My new friend at Mama's House|
The next day I went to Kamari. The beaches there are known for its black sand. I am really glad I went to the beach that day for a number of reasons. First, it was the last day of the beach season. In the afternoon the owners of the beaches took down their umbrellas and collected their beach chairs. I’m glad I got to witness what a Greek beach looked like before it was all taken down. Second, the very next day there was a small storm. One day it was sunny and beautiful and the next I’m stuck inside my hotel room waiting for the storm to pass. But at least I got one sun bathing day at the beach. I did absolutely nothing, well I got up and got lunch and postcards, but it was nice to do nothing but listen to the waves. Peaceful bliss.
In short I have a few recommendations if you’re going to Santorini. In Fira there is a restaurant called Naoussa. It would be a shame not to go. It is family owned, the mother is the head waitress and her sons help out serving. Her youngest son is probably 15 years old and by far one of the best waiters I have ever had. We were the first customers of the night but within minutes the entire place was packed around 6:30. So get there early. I ordered the chicken with lemon sauce and potatoes. Very good! Plus their bread is divine. This kind of local owned restaurant makes traveling much more enjoyable and memorable. Plus while I was eating, a bunch of donkeys and their owner came walking down the street. How many places can you say that happens?
|Only in Santorini|
Another recommendation, if you are a hiker, do yourself a favor and hike up to the Ancient City. From Fira take the bus to Perissa. It’s impossible not to find the trail. Look at the biggest mountain go to the bottom and start walking up. It takes about an hour and a half and once you get to the top it totally pays off. The view is the most spectacular view I have ever seen while on the island. I went with two Aussies and a Texan who I met the previous night while watching the sunset at Oia.
(Don’t miss the sunset at Oia either)
|Made it to the top!|
Lucky for me the Aussies had rented two ATVs and so there I was on the back holding onto an (attractive) Aussie on our way to Kamari beach with a mission—cliff jumping! I would never do it in a million years, but something about being in Greece I couldn’t resist. I had a lot of support and pressure from one of the Aussies, and after 20 minutes of trying to find a valid excuse not to jump, I did it . No regrets!