Sunsets in Santorini, Greek Islands Part 1

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Santorini. It was the island that the majority of my friends and other tourists seemed to universally love. Which to me to meant tourist hotspot and crowds. And although yes Santorini was very crowded with camera-toting pushy tourists, particularly at sunset, it still ended being my favourite island. In my opinion, it is easily the most beautiful and interesting out of the Greek Islands I stayed on.

I stepped off the ferry and felt immediately happy with the view.

Blue water and dramatic rock formations = happy Sacha

Originally I thought the villages of Santorini were only accessible by donkey or climbing a few hundred steps. Turns out that the main ferry port is a little more modernised now. The majority of ferries dock in the new port which is accessible by a steep zig-zagging road. Public buses run regularly to the port from the main village Fira. Or if you were lucky like me, the hostel you book provides a free pick-up van service.

Good bye ferry! The view just kept improving as my hostel van drove gradually upwards

I arrived in my hostel which was located away from the main drag near Perissa Beach. It seemed quite isolated at first compared to the rest of the island, but I grew to quite like it. There was regular buses connecting Perissa to the main villages, and actually the beach was the nicest and most developed one out of all the island beaches with many beach bars and restaurants. I still had access to cheap Gyros (my main food staple while in Greece), a supermarket two minutes walk from my hostel, and only six minutes walk to the beach. Which had black sand!

I elected to stay in Santorini for three nights. Looking back now I wish I’d stayed for more. Based on my research of Santorini I knew that the sunset was spectacular on this island. I decided to watch the sunset each night in a different part of the island. For the first night, I picked Fira (the main village) to watch it from. And it was most definitely spectacular.

Fira spilling over the cliff, the black shape to the right is a volcano


A group of cute donkeys suddenly came past while I was admiring the sunset

Double wow.. [mouth open]

It got dark quick after that so I headed back to my hostel. It had been a long day with the ferry and mouth-dropping Santorini views. I was pooped.

The next day I had signed up for a volcanic tour. It was an all day tour that my hostel recommended. And really cheap considering the amount of stops and sights that were covered for €20 over eleven hours in total. Pick up from the hostel was included and we headed down to the main port to hop on a traditional Greek boat.

Arriving at the volcanic island

The main crater

This photo doesn’t do the view justice. It was remarkable

 The volcano itself wasn’t hugely impressive.. there was a strong smell of sulphur and steam coming out of a crack. But the views were great and it was fun stepping through all the black crunchy rocks to explore the island.

After that we hopped back on the boat and headed towards a natural hot spring on the other side of the volcanic island for a bit of a swim. It was so refreshing to jump off the boat and swim through the water after getting so sweaty and dusty.

See the brown water? That was the hot water. It is also worth noting that any white/light-coloured togs do tend to get stained brown..

Next we headed to Thirasia which is on another island that completes the the Santorini circle for lunch.

We had the best view while eating our cheap filling €2 gyros here

A gyro consists of pita bread with meat, tomato, red onion, tzatziki cucumber yoghurt sauce and fries. This one has paprika sprinkled on it too which was a Santorini touch

Another Greek island kitty

After an amazing lunch with the best view, we headed to the final stop of the day – Oia.

To be continued…

Naxos, Greek Islands

By the time I arrived in Naxos and at my hostel, it was pretty late at night. 1am to be exact. I was just a little bit tired. I’d also taken the liberty of pre-arranging my accommodation this time. Not willing to leave it to chance again after my accidental budget blow-out on Mykonos.

I went to sleep that night and dreamed of being on the slow ferry crossing from Mykonos to Naxos. It was a cheap ferry at a mere €10 per ticket. But that made it a slow ferry which took a whole four hours to traverse the short distance between islands. Ah well. Made it in the end.

I woke up the next morning and went exploring for breakfast. Naxos is the biggest island out of the Greek Cyclades and a short way off the usual beaten tourist track although still reasonably popular. I was staying in the main port town (also called Naxos City) for just two nights. The sun was shining and hot. I was feeling much happier on this island with its much lower number of tourists and cheaper prices.

The port with the ‘city’ behind it

The Old Town with white walls and contrasting blues

Within the Old Town

Directions were basic within the Old Town and written on stones or post-it notes

The castle. Right at the top of the Old Town

One of the more wild looking beaches next to the city. That might be Mount Zeus in the distance

The main ruin on the island – Apollo Temple with the city in the background

See the Greek grandmothers having their swim and chat?

One of the beaches I went to. Pretty nice! You have to catch a bus to get here as Naxos City only has one beach close by.

It was a day of exploring and relaxing and enjoying the hot sunshine. I ate good food and sat with my feet hanging in the water watching the Greek grandmothers socialising away in the middle of the lagoon. Wandering the hillside labyrinth of lanes and shops within the Old Town and getting lost. Talking to the shop keepers who were genuinely pleased that I’d chosen to shop in their shop. Walking until my feet hurt and my skin burnt. Feeling much happier with Naxos’s simple peaceful beauty compared to the pricey and over-crowded Mykonos.

Where I stayed: Soula Hotel
Price: €15 per night in a 4 bed dorm
Overall: Nice hostel. The hostel did pick-up and drop-off guests for free from the port as a bonus. Plus the rooms were quite nice with a full kitchen, ensuite and air conditioning. It wasn’t an overwhelming place but I’d say it probably depends on the coolness of your roommates for that to happen.