We hired a car so we had a bit of freedom to travel around the island and also so we could drive to the port for the ferry to Rhodes on the final night. Ensconced in a little yellow Getz much like Nick’s, we set off for Oia and the Old Oia Houses. Knowing how many steps can be involved in accommodation in Santorini we had requested an apartment with few steps and indeed our place was right in the middle of the village and right of the main walking street. Of course parking was well down the hill and the bathroom was up a 12 step spiral staircase but there were no steps to the house…ah well, all part of the adventure.
A delightful young woman named Anna bounced down to the car and took both the large suitcases to the house. She also did the maid service and delivered our morning bread with enormous charm and great good humour; an absolute treasure. At first our room was not ready and they asked would we mind waiting in the apartment next door, which was fine by us. The apartment was very traditional and a bit low feeling with several rooms opening off each other, so our own place came as an absolute delight; a wide, open bedroom with a platform bed under a white arched ceiling and doors that opened to our own balcony. There was a small kitchen area and the adventurous bathroom up the stairs, then a few further steps to a flat rooftop with sun beds.
Our bedroom in the Oia house
Of course the view was hard to take. Not!
View from the terrace
We explored the town which was impossibly pretty, with church domes and bell towers and water views everywhere, rather misty at times.
Blue domes on all the churches
Pretty bell tower
This tourist boat looks like it should fly the Jolly Roger
Church below our apartment
Port below Oia Castle
The mist meant that we didn’t get the famous Santorini sunset and the crowds came streaming back from the tip of Oia, some looking very disgruntled. We sat in a rooftop restaurant instead and enjoyed some lovely food. Nick is doing much better with restaurant choices this time.
We explored the island quite a bit, finding differences especially in the west coast seaside towns. Kamari was very orderly with black shingle beaches, the first umbrellas and loungers already out, and a road edged with nice looking hotels and bars on one side and outdoor eating spots on the other. We had a leisurely lunch and decided it was a gorgeous place but that we didn’t care for the shingle beach which was so difficult to walk on.
Kamari beach and the headland
Outdoor cafes along the beach
Around the headland was Perissa beach. This is supposed to be the lively area, with music till late at night. Here the hotels were in the town and the beach area was mainly black sand edged with a few cafes and bars. The beach was better for walking but the area looked more seedy and scruffy and the menus offered things such as “Full baked dinner on Friday” and “English Breakfast” so we guessed we were more into the group tour area and particularly British tourists. Certainly some of the tours they can get from Britain to Santorini or Rhodes seem very good value indeed, so no wonder they come in great numbers.
There were boats fishing off Perissa, surrounded by seagulls. Very picturesque!
Fishing boats pull in the nets
We also drove to the lighthouse on the tip of the harbour entrance and could see for the first time how much of a caldera this island ring really is. We watched the big liners come in and looked at the white houses like so much icing sugar on the black cliffs of the island. The soil type changes across the island and sometimes just along the roadside, from black to red to white ash with basalt rocks embedded. There is no escaping that this place is volcanic.
Santorini caldera from near the lighthouse
The big ships off Santorini harbour on a hazy day
The road down to the ferry port. Note the overburden of
ash that now forms the soil, as well as the steep road
Parts of the west coast are terraced for vines and olives. Wine is a growing industry. The vines are mostly grown at soil level and pruned back to stumps each year. Some are grown as a wreath on the soil surface. Harvest must be backbreaking. The white wines are flinty and quite like Australian wines in acidity and fruit, more so than most other Greek wines we have tasted.
You can see the terraced hillsides in the misty background of the photo. The yellow daisies are everywhere.
We visited a tiny Byzantine Church with ancient frescoes. I loved this one of Jesus saving the doubting Peter. Peter looks fat and disgruntled. From the sublime to the mundane though, the garden centre sells these nice shrines for your courtyard or roadside.
Modern day personal shrines
The ferry to Rhodes was to leave at 1.30am so we waited quite a time at the port writing the blog and having a quiet beer. We had a cabin for the trip so settled down soon after boarding. We must look old and decrepit now because kind staff assisted us with luggage and generally treated us gently. I guess there are some advantages to old age. Not many…but some.
Next: Rhodes Old Town and Lindos