August 11, 2016
Travel Diary | Santorini
Travel Diary: Santorini
I completely planned to have this up sooner, but a special little girlie is turned two this past weekend and I have been in full birthday planning mode since returning. However, as the saying goes, better late then never, so here it is…
I should begin with saying that Santorini is stunning. The geography of the island is honestly breathtaking. The cliff hugging towns, the caldera, the beaches made by lava, the ancient town buried by ash from the volcano that shaped much of the current landscape; it’s all absolutely surreal. It’s especially crazy to think that those cliff towns are actually perched on the ruined slopes of that ancient volcano that tragically buried an entire town, an advanced civilization. Looking out over the caldera which is filled now with the most staggering colored, crystal clear water, it’s hard to imagine that anything so serene was once so violent and tragic; and harbors the capability to be so again.
In my favorite perched town, Oia, at the top of this ruined slope, sits a hotel that I can say with extreme honesty is absolutely perfect, Canaves Oia. It’s important to note that my husband and I have traveled quite far and wide throughout this gorgeous world of ours, from the interior of Bali to the ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjaarvi, Sweden, and this hotel is an ace! The staff are always smiling, attentive and abundantly helpful. Anything we could ask for from dining reservations, car service, a yacht trip, a good art gallery recommendation (I’ll get to that later), to finding us another room when our flight was cancelled, they handled it all without the slightest hitch or inkling of annoyance. And the rooms are AMAZING! I say rooms because for the extra, unplanned night, we stayed in a different room due to the fact that our suite was booked for that extra night.
All the rooms were beautifully bathed in white, and both our rooms had living rooms, private plunge pools, and balconies overlooking the caldera. The hotel also had a great restaurant with dining by the pool, as well as a wonderful boutique featuring Greek designers and an awesome collection of sunglasses. In particular, the hotel shop carried a line of Greek Sandals that I fell in love with called Kyma Sandals. They were comfortable and easy to wear while strolling and walking up and down the stoned steps of Oia and Fira. Their sunglass collection was diverse and extensive, and included Gentle Monster sunnies, which I ended up taking home 3 pairs of.
Besides the gorgeous hotel Canaves, the town of Oia is filled with delicious restaurants serving authentic Greek cuisine and wonderful shopping!
The pedestrian walk that begins right in front of Canaves, leads you throughout the town past many of these places. A few of my favorite highlights:
Poniros Jewelers: they offer specially designed jewelry centered around the beauty of the Greek Islands, as well as brand name watches, including ROLEX. I myself scored a gorgeous rose gold beaded bracelet with blue and white diamonds designed by their house designer. A one of a kind piece.
Lolita’s Gelateria: by far the BEST gelato on the island and one of the best I have ever had! I highly recommend the hazelnut, pistachio, cheesecake and strawberry flavors! I tried all 4! They also have a lovely little sitting area outside where you can enjoy your treat!
Floga Restaurant: amazing food with a beautiful view! Their food was phenomenal! My favorite was their fried feta cheese triangles with pomegranate sauce and rose petals.
AK Asimis Kolaitou Art Galleries: Locations in Oia and Fira, with a larger gallery outside the main town of Fira. If you are looking for an authentic piece of art depicting the special iconic landscape of Santorini, THIS is the place! The artist Christoforos Asimis paints the landscape with loving detail! There is a lot of art up and down the streets, but this is the real deal, oil on canvas! And if you go to the main gallery, you might even meet the man himself, as we did when we purchased our work of art.
As far as Fira goes. We only went there for a short time one night. I found it far less charming and beautiful. It was more crowded and not nearly as clean (Oia is spotless). Much more of a party scene it appeared. Here we ate at Koukoumavlos Restaurant, which was very good. If you are looking for traditional cuisine however, this is not the place. It has a more experimental taste. More along the lines of a Michelin starred restaurant.
Now, let’s talk EXCURSIONS! If you are in Santorini, I highly recommend taking a boat trip around the island to see the landscape from the water. It’s a great day trip and Sunset Oia offers a variety of sailing excursion options as well as a few yacht trip options that operate with the aim of ending with a front seat view of the famous Oia sunset. We took a full 8hr private tour on their 69ft yacht, Alexandros, and saw the sunset from the deck. It was perfect! They provided us with two delicious fresh fish meals for lunch and dinner. The crew was extremely amiable and helpful. They gave us extensive background on the landscape of the caldera, the waters and surrounding islands. They also took us to all the desirable swimming spots and beaches, including the red, white and black beaches. Then to top off the trip we watched the sunset on the water. http://sailing-santorini.com
Finally, if you are looking for history, an absolute MUST, is the ancient village of Akrotiri. Akrotiri is a Minoan Aged settlement that was buried by the Theran eruption of 1627 BC. The volcanic ash from the eruption buried the settlement making it a Greek Pompei of sorts. Excavation of the site went underway in 1967, and was halted in 2012, and begun again this year after private funding came through to continue. Private tours of the site are available. We contacted our concierge at the hotel prior to arrival to arrange. The tour was roughly 45-1hr in length.
Other than all of this, Santorini is really a fabulous place to just relax and decompress from life! We spent a generous amount of our time just enjoying the view from our plunge pool.
While lounging out on the balcony, sitting in the plunge pool, and even on our trip with sunset Oia, my favorite sun products helped protect me from sun damage while giving me a pretty glow. La Mer’s sun line is superb. I have a tendency to lean towards their products for all skin care needs, including their eye concentrate and lightening syrum (in 34 and have a tendency to freckle, so after the sun the lightening treatment helps reduce the appearance of my freckles). But by way of prevention I use La Mer Sun products.
And we all know that a super chic, fun vacation is nothing without fun wearable fashions! My love of off-the-shoulder pieces came in handy in the dry heat, it also helped my tan along! As usual I spent a day prior to leaving trying on outfits to make certain that things worked together and that specific pieces were interchangeable to minimize excess, useless packing. I only brought two bathing suits (1 bikini, and a one piece). For details on my outfits, stay tuned.
So if you are looking for a wonderful relaxing vacation with a little history, a little water fun, great food and fun shopping, Santorini is the perfect place! Can’t wait to go back!