So I decided to plan something relaxing, like spending 9 days in two greek islands, let's say, Santorini and Mykonos. Those were two islands that I've always wanted to visit, and this was the opportunity. I went from plan to execution already in March - United Airlines website to use part of my frequent flier miles for the flights, Booking.com for the hotels, and there it was, the vacation was on its way.
Then our good friends from other trips, Shmil and Louiza, decided to participate as well. We welcomed them happilly, this is a couple that we always like to travel with. At the last moment (around 3 weeks before we go on our way), a third couple, Amnon and Etti, asked to join us and were received in the group. Due to price differences, they took the flight to Santorini with Shmil and Louiza one day before us, and set to return half a day after Lily and me did.
The day came, and here we were ready to travel to Santorini.
This blog entry works as a trip log; I expect it to provide you not only with the opportunity to participate in our experience, but also some information about Santorini and Mykonos should you ever decide to visit there - and it is definitely worth the visit.
When we arrived at the Santorini airport, there was a van from the Smaragdi hotel waiting for us to take us to the hotel.
The Smaragdi Hotel
This hotel deserves a special chapter in this article. Placed in the Perivolos beach, one of the few flat beaches in Santorini, and 20 minutes from Thira the capitol of the island, we can say that this is a little piece of paradise in the island.
The hotel itself, with its small cabins composed of two rooms each, and the swimming pool, bar and reception at one side, was as charming as it could be.
And the team of the hotel, leaded by Maria, went every step of the way to make us have a great vacation there. They caught my heart. This is definitely one of the hotels which I can fully and quietly recommend.
Day 2: Thira
Thira (or Fira) is the capitol of the island. At the first day we travelled to Thira by bus. We took the 9:15 AM bus and half an hour later we were there, already before 10 in the morning. First thing we needed to do is to sit in one of the Terrazzos of the coffee shops there and enjoy the beautiful view from there.
The way is actually a steep downhill slope, fit only for pedestrians and horses, going round and round as a serpent from the heights of the city to the port down at the sea. Well, I said horses: you won't miss the horses in the way, and neither the smell of what they leave behind. It takes around half-an-hour to arrive to the port at the bottom, but the way is very beautiful and enjoyable (despite the smell).
At that point we were already tired and took the bus back to the hotel. At the hotel, some time at the swimming pool, and then some showers, sleep, etc. In the evening we met at 21:00 and went for a dinner in the beach.
Ok, if we thought in the beginning that we were going there to relax, very soon we understood that Santorini is an island full of attractions, full of places to go, and that it would be a waste of time to stay at the hotel or in the beach. So for the second day we had already decided that we were taking ATVs to see part of the island.
On our way we went through and visited a series of small beaches in the way to Oia. The idea was to see them all and then, on our way back, stop in one of them. We've seen Vourvoulos, Imerovigli, Kouloumbo, Ammoudi, Baxedes.... and after a short visit to Oia we decided to stop at Kouloumbo beach.
At 9:30 in the morning we got our scooters at the hotel from the rental company. This was our plan:
In the begining the girls went shopping there (how not?) while Shmil and myself went to walk around the town. Later, when the girls decided that it was time to take a walk and see the town, Shmil, Amnon and me just sat down at one taverna there, the Raki Taverna, to drink some Raki and enjoy some kalamata olives.
Kamari is another flat beach of Santorini. With much more movement than Perivolos or Perissa, it is full of bars and restaurants, and the black sand is full of chairs and umbrellas. It is a delight to walk through the beach walkway.
On our way we stopped at Santo Winery, probably the biggest (and richest) winery in the island. They have a huge visitor center for wine tasting and eating, and a shop for their wines. All this at the best possible place in the island, with the best possible view of Santorini's contour and sea. They are specially known for their desert wines. We tasted some desert wines at the shop and bought a bottle to take home with us and one day remember this vacation.
So we took the scooters and back to Megalohori. You can see below that we've had a great night there... and three more glasses of Raki...
OK, so it happened, the days passed, and it came - the day in which we had to leave that piece of heaven which is Santorini.
We had reservations for the Ferry Boat of 11:00, so at 10:00 we checked out and the hotel car took us to the Athinios Port. We arrived at 10:30, and after half-an-hour, there we were in the boat.
Well, following our experience in Santorini, we understood that we would only see all the island with a scooter, so already on our arrival to the hotel in the previous day we ordered three scooters for the following two days.
This was our program for the first day with the Scooter:
We had ordered the scooters for 10:00 in the morning, and until 10:30, nobody appeared. At that moment we decided to cancel our order with the hotel, and went out to find a scooter rental office. We found three of them at a distance of 100m to 300m of the hotel, and closed a deal with one of them. Got the scooters, filled gas, and went for the girls.
We left our hotel at 11:00 approximately, in the direction of Ano Mera. Ano Mera is a typical old and small town of Mykonos. We took our impressions about the town, and mainly the local cathedral and the restaurant plaza there (this was important for later) and continued east.
Our next beach was Kalafatis. Another nice beach with a big bar/restaurant that receives large groups of tourists for meals, and chairs and umbrellas at the seashore. We stopped at Kalafatis for around half-an-hour, between a cafe in the bar and some sitting in the sun at the seashore.
Super Paradise is a different concept. Together with Paradise Beach, it was known in the past as a beach of nudists, young people, gays, and everything that you may imagine.
Nowadays, the nudists have gone looking to other places calmer than Super Paradise Beach, and the beach was taken by a big bar and dancing club. The club is just behind the chairs and umbrellas at the seashore, there is constant very loud music, and two girls that dance on a platform.
To tell you the truth, this beach did not impress me much. Even the two gorgeous girls that were dancing seemed to do so with no enthusiasm at all.
There, Amnon and Etti decided they needed some rest for the evening, while Louiza, Shmil, Lily and myself decided to meet at 21:00 and go to Little Venice for dinner. We found in the city a place called "The Souvlaki Story". a typical greek food, fast-food restaurant. They make excellent Souvlaki and Gyros for excellent prices. They also have a two-person portion that is more than worth for the price it costs (25 Euros). We divided the "portion for two" between us four, and it was just fine.
Well, this was our plan for this day:
We passed through Mykonos New Port, then Tagou Beach, Tourlos Beach, Aghios Stephanos, and ended up at the northernmost point of the western shore, Fanari Beach. There we could see the famous Fanari Faros (or in English, Fanari Lighthouse).
From there we continued East and South, and went to visit a beach called Panormos. Panormos is a kind of a VIP beach, very near the Panormos and Aghio Sostis rich towns. There is a new project that just finished being built there, the Panormos Project (final name will be given soon). When we got there, it was open for 3 days, still in beta run, but already with most services like valet parking, bar, restaurant, beautiful toilets, and excellent food and service. The service manager is a Turkish-Israeli called Eyal, who was born in Israel but left as a baby to Turkey.
We stayed about 2.5 hours in Panormos, where we could find sun, shadow, a beautiful seashore, great service, and no wind.
Just as in Super Paradise, nudists (most of them) are already far out of there. All we found was a group of 4-8 old nudists, probably to old to change their costumes and find another beach. So they seat there at one of the extremes of the beach and nobody bothers them. At the rest of the beach, young people, tourists from all around the world, and clubs - at least two of them (I think three). We were in the biggest one, got our chairs in the seashore, and enjoyed for around two hours. At the background, music from the club and a guy shouting at the microphone with the music. Only when we left we saw that the guy was a Brazilian dancer, that together with another dancer (a gorgeous girl) taught all the people around how to dance that music. In two seconds Louiza and Lily were there in the group dancing, and getting free-shots after every 3-4 songs.
We stayed at the club for around 1 hr more, and then went back to the hotel.
We began the day by returning the scooters, and then spent some three hours at the swimming pool. After that, we went to rest a little, and met at 19:00 to go down to Little Venice. We walked a little through the small walkways, until we found a restaurant which was suitable to our closing dinner, and we ate happily there.
We went back to the icecream parlour that has seen us quite much in the last days, ate an icecream and went back in the hotel.
Lily and me woke up at 3:30 for travelling to the airport for our flight at 5:30. The other two couples still had 3/4 of a day to go. We traveled back home and arrived around 3PM, very happy but completely exhausted from our "relaxing" vacation. I think I will need a vacation to recover from this one...