Finally made it back after 4 years….Santorini!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Four years ago, we got married in the beautiful island of Santorini, at that time I made a promise to come back for our 10th anniversary. During the four years, we had been traveling to different places and so far no place can replace our number one favorite place on earth: Santorini. I have been convincing my husband that we need to go back in 5 years instead of 10 and it was last September I accidentally found a great deal on airfare to Athens and snapped it right away…..sorry hun, we are going back this year instead hahaha!

After the lovely Mykonos, I couldn’t imagined that I was on the plane back to Santorini! The moment we landed, it was like a dream come true….well it came true a second time!!! But things didn’t went smoothly, I guess life always have a challenge before reaching the goal. We were waiting out at the arrival gate for the hotel to pick us up and they never come! OMG! I have read bad ratings about the villa: Oia Collections that it overbooked and people weren’t getting the villa they paid for. I like the Grande House so much that I took the risk and booked it at a nonrefundable discounted rate. I contacted the hotel at least 5 times before someone responded (wasn’t that a hint of a bad sign?) to confirm my booking. Anyways, we waited there for at least 40 minutes and then hubby said we should call them. The problem is: finding a phone that takes coins…urg none! The only phones in the airport are international calling phones paid with credit card. I really don’t trust those with my credit card but since we have no choice, I tried but it didn’t work. I walked to the departure hall to the Aegean Airlines desk and asked the lady on how to use those kind of paid phone, she saw the number and said it’s a mobile phone number and offered to call from her office! You have no idea how thankful I was to her, it was like she saved my life!!  BUT….no one picked up the phone and she left a message.  Urg..what should we do now?

We waited another few minutes, I started to think we should just grab a cab and get to Oia then I’ll find this place!!! Hubby said try again. This time, I went up to the Hertz Rental Car desk and asked for help. The lady there offered to call with her mobile phone, people in Santorini are so kind! Someone answered the phone this time, it was a huge relief!!  I told the lady over the phone that I have arranged a transfer with the hotel through email but no one is here to pick us up! She said take a cab and she’ll reimburse the expense and she’ll have someone to meet us at the Oia Post Office. We took the cab, it was a long ride, and the driver told us Oia is the furthest of the village so it’ll cost 35 euros (later we found out it should be only 25 euros!). On the way, we passed by Fira, and then Firostefani, where we stayed 4 years ago, and saw a lot of places remained the same which bought back a lot of great memories!!!!

Finally, we arrived Oia Post Office and yet no one was there waiting for us GRRRRR! A guy passed by and asked what hotel we are staying, I showed him the booking confirmation and he offered to call!!! At least I bumped into more great people than no-so-good taxi driver!  At last, someone came to meet us, his name is Dimitri. He said we were the lucky ones today (I was thinking after all these troubles?), he said there was an error on the price when we booked but they honored it. Originally, Grande House cost 350 euros per night while we booked 3 nights for 550 euros! He called another guy to help with our luggage (we saw this guy almost everyday carrying luggage for different hotels)! Right turn and we were right in the main street of Oia, oh gosh, it’s too beautiful! We followed Dimitri and walked down the path and shortly we arrived at our home for three days!

Here’s the entrance of our “home”!!! Isn’t that gorgeous?

Dimitri showed us the house, do you think it’s worth the trouble to get there?

Mini kitchen area, right inside is the shower:

Even showering can view the Aegean Sea! We discovered that daytime it’s a one sided glass but night time…you can see from the outside!!!

The living room, love the butterfly decors on the wall and the modern design!

The closet area leading to the bedroom:

The bedroom which I saw picture on that made me want to stay in this so bad!

It looked more beautiful than in picture with the cool LED lights underneath that you can change the color! I had to take some photos, looked like I am dreaming!

Right next to the bedroom is the bathroom:

Dimitri said the toilet seat was broke by the last occupant and he had to order it from Italy … The private terrace is large with a small Jacuzzi, we never use it because the bottom of it doesn’t look clean -.-

Getting ready to go out, can’t wait to see the rest of Oia!

When I was putting my passports away in the safe, it was also locked by the previous occupant and Dimitri said he’ll manually open it later on (but never did). The cleaning lady was still cleaning the house and she’ll come twice a day (she completely didn’t show up one day!). Other than that, the house was great: perfect location very close to the main street without walking up and down hundreds of steps and big private terrace with a million-dollar view!

The view right outside of our house!!!

It was already 2 pm and we were starving! We asked Dimitri for directions, I had a list of restaurants from Trip Advisor and he basically reviewed the list and crossed out the lines he thought are not as good. With Dimitri’s direction, we found Blue Sky, it was on the back of this big church right in the middle of the main street. I remembered this church!!!

The porch of Blue Sky was so cute:

Hubby ordered the seafood spaghetti:

I ordered the shrimp spaghetti; I was expecting the big king prawns but instead I got this:

I can honestly say that this was the worst spaghetti I had in my whole trip 🙁

We ordered the grilled squid as appetizer too, it was better than my spaghetti for sure!

We were disappointed by our lunch and it cost: 42.2 euros including a Fanta.

Alright, time to explore Oia!!!

We passed this souvenir shop right next to Blue Sky, all those cute hand-painted ceramic houses, wait for me to bring you back home!

This shop has the most varieties and best prices in Oia but not the best in the island though….if you want to know why, follow me through the 6 days and I’ll show you 🙂

We walked back to the mini market and bought a huge bottle of Fanta to bring back to our place before heading to the Oia Castle. I love the location of our house!

Right turn here and go down few steps will reach our house 🙂

The view of the blue domed church and the bluest sea!!!

Right near our house is this bell church bell:

Every corner in Oia is very picturesque!!! Make sure you have a big memory card for photos! I have a 64 GB one and it was not enough (shoot in RAW)!!!

An empty abandoned house, what a waste!

Words just can’t describe how I felt at that moment (even looking at the pictures right now make me feel want to be there again), Santorini is truly magically!

Photo tips: because of all the whitewashed houses, they acted like a huge reflector, so in order to get the white to be white instead of gray, you’ll need to bump up the exposure by a little bit if you have a DSLR. However, it’s very easy to be overexposed! Same methodology as you are photographing snow 🙂 Best time of the day to photograph Santorini – when around the sun is at a 90 degrees angle (noon to 3 pm when we were there end of May and beginning of June), this will eliminate the harsh shadows on the houses and it brings out the color!!

We headed to the direction of the Oia Castle to explore the other side of Oia and then hopefully get to see the most beautiful sunset on earth! We walked by Red Bicycle which is a well rated restaurant:

There were a lot of souvenir shops and cafe along the main street of Oia, does it even have a street name?

Oia, fulfilled hubby’s vacation requirements: plenty to see and plenty to shop!

The brick area on the back is known as Oia Castle, famous for its ultimate sunset view!

The famous Kastro Restaurant, known for its sunset view! As you can see only 15 or so tables so advanced reservation is required!!! All the nights we were here, it was fully booked but I made the reservation 3 months in advanced hahaha!

Oia is not large but it took hours for us to get through from Oia Castle to the windmill because literally we stopped in every 10 steps or less!!! How can you not stop for photos like this:

I don’t know if the word “beautiful” is enough to describe Oia!

On the bottom is Ammoudi Bay. The best location to get a photo like this is in Oia Castle:

I am glad that I remembered and did a lot of panoramas there:

In the castle area, there were love locks and ribbons tied there…I have seen quite a lot like other places we went:

Another panorama:

A very cute souvenir shop called Hope right on the bottom of the castle:

Oia Castle from another view with the winding stairways down to Ammoudi Bay:

This house is for sale, I wonder how much it’ll cost to have a place like this with great view:

I preferred the area on my house facing the caldera because this side of Oia facing the sunset gets very windy at night!

We made our way to the windmill!

The stairs and the houses here looked different than when we were here 4 years ago…this is now Fanari Villas or maybe we didn’t make a note of the name 🙂

The hotel looked very nice and clean and best of all, it has the windmill!

That was almost the tip so we headed back but on a different path! There’s a cute little church near the back as well:

Oia is like digging treasure, always find hidden gems!

We walked back to our house which is really not that far away, on the way back took less than 15 minutes! We planned to wait for the sunset at Oia Castle so we grabbed the GoPro with the mini tripod and a sweater and then walked back to the castle. Sunset around 8:30 and it was only 7 when we got there but people already there…..the castle area has limited spacing so be there early to get a good view and a place to sit!

I can say I am an inpatient person but this is definitely worth the 2 hours wait! The area filled up very quickly!

No wonder this is the best spot for sunset…it’s the sun and the houses on the cliff!

As the sun sets, it turned the whitewashed houses into different colors! You have to be there to experience it, I would consider this as once in a life time experience. Two would be better off course! We didn’t get to stay for the sunset 4 years ago so we made sure we did it this time!

Sunset only lasted a few minutes but that few minutes was magically! Everyone clapped after the sunset and usually someone propose then, I really like the atmosphere! But don’t leave right after sunset because the best has yet to come as the sky will change its color and the houses will slowly turned on their lights!

There are few places on earth that look stunning day or night and Santorini is definitely one of them! I didn’t regret bringing my sweater because it’s very windy and chilly at night! We walked back to look for a place for dinner and saw Skala! Skala is the restaurant located on the top while Floga is the one underneath it.

Skala is a busy restaurant, many tables, so the wait for a table wasn’t too bad compared to other smaller restaurants. It’s very noisy though! It’s so busy that the waiter mixed what we ordered with the table in front of us. I didn’t even noticed it until later. Hubby ordered the fish fillet:

I ordered the spicy pork stew…but it was actually beef stew LOL! When I was eating it, I thought Greek food is not spicy so it’s normal that the spicy pork is not that spicy!

The spicy pork went to the table in front of us and then the lady started to question about this is not what she ordered! The food was good though, very traditional Greek style. We waited a longgggg time to get our bill because there were only like 3 waiters and tens of tables! Dinner cost: 30 euros! We found that food cost in Santorini is very reasonable considered it’s a very famous destination! I hope it stays that way! While having our dinner, hubby made a remarkable speech, he said: there are not much places he wanted to go back for the second time. Venice is one of them (we went back last year) and he liked it even more than the 1st time we visited. Santorini, he loved it even more as well and decided to make it a goal of buying a house here before we retire!!! He read my mind!!!

Our first day back to Santorini: wonderful despite all the troubles we had earlier in the day of getting here. Oia is truly my favorite village in Santorini, I am so glad that I picked Oia to spend my first three days in Santorini. Love every single second in Oia!!! Can’t wait for tomorrow!

13 thoughts on “Finally made it back after 4 years….Santorini!

  1. Wow thanks for the blog. I will save this site as I’ve just started planning a trip to UK/Europe which includes maybe only 3 nights in Santorini. I’m planning to stay in Oia too and you have totally convinced me. Unfortunately it will be winter as we will get there around early to mid January (2016 – which it was 2015!). I so hope we get some gorgeous sunsets like you did.
    I love all of your photos – hope I come home with some gorgeous shots too. What sort of camera did you use? I may have to upgrade my Canon DSLR before we go to ensure Im not sorry!

    1. Thanks! First time we visited Santorini was March and we enjoyed it although it was cold but definitely quiet and not crowded! I use Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 6D. As long as you have a decent DSLR, the photos will come out great since Santorini is such a beautiful place! Don’t forget to overexpose a bit so the whites will be white instead of gray! Enjoy!

      1. Only just got around to reading more of your Oia and Myknos blogs. Awesome. If you were going again would you stay where you did? Room looks amazing. Is the location as great as it looks? Do you know the name of any of the accommodations that have popped up near the blue dome church? would they be worth considering? I’m not going for some time obviously, but still obsessed with checking out potential accommodation options!
        I hadn’t planned on going to Myknos but after reading your blog I’m quite keen to visit – even if we only get 1 or 2 full days there. Love the look of the town centre. Maybe stay in the town and soak up that atmostphere (tho it will be winter when we travel unfortunately).
        Thanks again for your blog……going back now to see what else I might like to read……and yes your photos are stunning

        1. The place I stayed was beautiful but not the service, hum…hard choice to stay again or not. If it was the same price I paid I guess I would, if more then I’ll find some place else. The location is as amazing as it looks on picture! I think all rooms looking out the caldera in Oia will have similar breathtaking view, that’s the beauty of Santorini! Since you’ll be there during winter, not all the accommodations are open so you might be limited to a few, however, prices will be extremely low! If you want some place close to the blue dome church, check out one of their house: Island Blue is right in front of it, but I am not sure if it’s open during winter though! You can also check, I like that site because it provides a lot of photos of the room and the exterior. Have fun planning and have a great trip (I am sure you’ll)!

  2. Wow your pictures look amazing! We are planning a trip to Santorini in April and your blog has gotten me even more excited! We’re beginning our trip in Athens for 2 days and then going to Santorini for 4-5 days and ending in Venice for 2 days. We kind of just added Venice on at the last minute since we already have the vacation time and my husband has been dying to go there. Do you think this is a good plan for these 3 cities together? Thanks for your help!

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