We made it on our early flight to Santorini after spending the night at the Athens airport. It was a very short flight and we landed at this tiny little airport. You could literally sit at your gate and see the airport entrance just across the room from security.
We hopped on the bus into Fira for just €1.60 each. Our hotel was just on the border between one of big villages on the island, Fira, and a smaller one called Firostefani. Once we got off the bus in Fira, we got on another bus that was going towards Oia, the biggest and most famous village on the island, and stopped in Firostefani. After riding on that bus for approximately one full minute, we got off at Firostefani. The bus took us up a hill that we definitely could have walked up. We didn't need to take a bus from Fira but at first we didn't know how far Firostefani was from Fira.
We made it to our hotel but the room wasn't ready yet since we got there by about 9am. We were able to drop off our bags and connect to the wifi. Before the flight o told my parents that had to stay up until midnight their time so I could FaceTime them from the hotel in Santorini. Santorini is probably first of their list of dream vacations so I had to show them. The hotel was very small, only about 10 room. The manager was very nice and super helpful! The hotel was also incredibly well maintained, unlike some of the buildings around us. Our hotel wasn't in the middle of the famous picturesque towns but still felt like it when we were inside the hotel! We were just a 5-10 minute walk from the middle of Fira.
We had already decided we wanted to rent scooters or something while we were in Santorini to make it easy to get around the island. The rental place we went to had scooters and atvs. I really wanted to rent a scooter and it was cheaper than the atv so I was excited. Turns out that in Santorini you have to have an international drivers license to rent a scooter so our only option was the atv. We decided to rent it for all 3 days we were there.
We took the atv and rode north along the coast into Oia, the village you see on postcards with all the blue domes and white buildings.
We went to a little rooftop cafe and got some yogurt and coffee for a late breakfast. The yogurt was amazing and so was my iced cappuccino. I was so excited to finally have an iced drink!! The view was ok too I guess...
We headed back to Fira to explore the area near us. We noticed a lot of dogs all over the island, both strays and people just walking with their dogs off leash. Sometimes it was hard to tell if they had a person or were a stray because a lot of the strays had collars or other things around their necks. On the road back to Fira we saw a lost Doberman just running in circles on the highway frantically. Several cars almost hit him! I really wanted to stop and at least help him get into town so he didn't get hit but we couldn't really stop on the busy road. I'm still sad and hope he made it off the road ok!! All the stray dogs here broke my heart and I wanted to take all of them home.
When we got back to Fira we booked a boating outing for the next day. It started at 3pm and went until about 9pm. For €50 each we went to the volcano just off the island and got a guided tour, then to the hot springs behind the volcano, then dinner on the boat in the cove, and finally sailing over to Oia to watch the sun go down with unlimited Santorini red and white wines. We knew we would sleep in the next day and then leave for the pier to our boat trip around 2, so we wouldn't use the atv much. We went back to talk to our guy and he very nicely gave us the money back for one day and agreed to let us use the atv for the first and third day of our stay in Santorini.
We went back to the hotel and we were able to actually check in to our room. Each room had its own little balcony but our shutter doors opened up to the little plaza in the front of the hotel and the pool. No one else at the hotel really used the pool so it was like we could walk out to our own private pool.
While I showered, Luke went to go pick up our tickets for the next day. He said he should be back in no more than 30 minutes. More than 30 minutes had passed so I started to get worried, and we had no way of communicating without wifi.
Luke finally came back - out of breath and not happy at all. The atv had broken down on him near the ticket office but he had no way of calling our rental shop. A guy from another atv shop helped him push it off the road and called our shop. He told Luke "oh I know who you rented this from. This happens all the time, that guy doesn't take care of his bikes". Our rental guy brought Luke a new atv but as he quickly drove off, he told him he needed to fill it up with gas. Luke stopped and just put a little bit of gas in because the shop had told us earlier that we didn't need to fill the tank or pay for gas at all. Luke started back towards the hotel and the second atv broke down.... Luke just left it where it was and walked all the way back to our hotel. He came in and told me all this then went over to the shop to tell them we wanted our money back and didn't want the rental for the other day anymore.
The rental guy was not happy and refused to give us any money back. After a while, he convinced Luke to come back for another one on the other day we had reserved. We decided that since we weren't going to get our money back we might as well. The rental guy promised us there would be no problems with it and that the tank would be full.
Since we didn't have the atv anymore, we spent the rest of the day in Fira. We walked around all the shops and restaurants.
We stopped into a kitchen and food place and got some free samples of wine, olive oil, and balsamic. The olive oil was infused with oregano and some other spices. The lady mixed a little batch of olive oil and balsamic for us and it was amazing. I would just drink that straight it was so good!
There are also a lot of stray cats all over the island, and in Athens. I made friends with a little kitty sitting on a ledge.
We went back to the hotel so Luke could shower before heading back into Fira for dinner. My little kitten friend was still hanging out on the ledge.
We had dinner at a place overlooking the water and waited for the sun to set. While at dinner I decided that Greece had the second best food of the trip. Only in second because of how great the food markets were in Spain. They love pork, yogurt, feta cheese, honey, nuts, olive oil, and wine - I think I'd fit in pretty well. We've also noticed throughout the trip that waiters expect you to order right away once you sit down and get a little annoyed if you aren't ready to order right away. But then you sit and eat your meal for hours and they won't bring you the check until you ask for it. I understand taking your time with your meal and enjoying it and not rushing, so it seems strange to me that they rush you so much to sit down and order right away.
We decided to sleep in and not do much of anything this morning since we had our boat outing for the whole rest of the day. We got had look into doing laundry while here since we haven't done any for a while. Our only option was a place where we dropped off our clothes and picked them up later in the day. On our way in to breakfast we dropped off our clothes and they would be ready before we went on the boat for the afternoon. The laundry place had their own little pet bunny that just hung out on top of the washers all day.
We went and got a great breakfast for fairly cheap. We paid about €7 each and got 3 pieces of toast with butter and an assortment of jelly, a big serving of Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, and fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee.
After breakfast we walked back to the hotel and just hung out at our pool for a few hours.
We went to pick up our laundry at 2 in order to be at the port by 3. We dropped our laundry off at the room and walked into town. Santorini is all cliff on the west side of the inside, called the caldera side. The east side is more rural and has a few beaches to the south. The port was on the caldera side so we had to make our way down to the bottom of the cliffs. There are a few options for getting up and down the caldera. You can walk up/down the steps that zig zag, take a donkey up/down the steps, or take the cable car. I felt really bad for the donkeys carrying all the people! Some of them were having a hard time going down the steps even without people on their backs. They were also getting whipped and many had rusted metal muzzles covering their whole mouths.
Obviously we weren't taking the donkeys down the caldera. I wasn't about to allow that. We were going to take the cable car but I misread the sign and thought it said it only ran every 20 minutes. It was already 2:40 so we decided we would just go down the steps and run. We had read that it takes 20 minutes to go down the steps but we figured that was for the average slow walker, not us speed demons. We started down the hill and everything was fine at first. Until we ran into the donkeys coming up hill. They were so desensitized to human contact and being in such close quarters with other donkeys and humans that they would just walk straight at me! I got cornered by a few and had to try to stand up on the rocks and gently pushed their big bellies off me so they wouldn't step on my toes as they tried to squeeze through! We also ran into a herd on donkeys just waiting with their handler to give people rides. They took up the entire width of the stairs and I was terrified to walk behind all donkeys. I mean RIGHT behind them. I touched some of their tails and butts as I squeezed past them - that's how close we were behind them. I hated it and was convinced I was going to get kicked.
We made it down to the port with about 5 minutes to spare and our boat wasn't even there yet! We took this opportunity for some pictures.
Our boat pulled into the port and we hopped on. We got off at the volcano only about 15 minutes later. We just walked up through the area at our own pace and took lots of pictures of the island and the water. We got to GoPro out and tried to extend the pole only to find out that it was broken. It's been a good run selfie stick.
We got back on the boat and went around the volcano to the other side and the hot springs. We didn't know what to expect with the hot springs. We thought we would dock and get off and walk so we were surprised when people just started jumping off the boat. We got our swimsuits on, the GoPro out, and jumped.
The water was freezing so we tried to swim quickly over to the hot springs. The hot springs turned out to be more like warm-ish springs with really cold patches.
We swam back to the boat and climbed up to dry off and have dinner. The color of the water from the hot springs dyed our white towels and even the white inside of my swimsuit top!
The boat went over to a little cove across from Santorini and hung out there while we ate dinner. Dinner was served buffet style and included unlimited wine. The food was really great!! After they cleaned up the dinner food, they announced, "waterman was on the bar, good appetite". We figured since she said "good appetite" that meant some other food, maybe dessert, was on the bar. We couldn't figure out what "waterman" could possibly be. We went down to see and it was watermelon on the bar for dessert!
After dinner, the ship crew let down all the sails and sailed over to Oia to catch the sunset. The sunset was incredible, as was the view of Oia!
After sunset they announced that they were going to "turn up the music and get the party started" as we headed back to the port. A few people were dancing as some fun throwback tunes were playing. They finally played ABBA's Mamma Mia, I had been waiting to hear it somewhere the whole time in Greece!
We got off the boat and at least 3 different guys tried to get us to ride their donkeys up the caldera steps. We took the cable car up and it took less than 5 minutes. We definitely would've made it to the port in time if we had taken the cable car down. We got some great views of Fira all lit up from the cable car.
Before heading to the hotel, we stopped and got a bottle of champagne to celebrate our anniversary! We also got a pack of honey-roasted peanuts rolled in sesame seeds that are sold all over the island. They were too good to pass up; we nearly finished the whole bag before we got back to the hotel!
We got up and went to go pick up our atv from the same shop. We made sure it was full of gas and our rental guy was very happy we came back and kept apologizing about what had happened before.
We went to breakfast at the same place we went yesterday morning because it was so good.
While walking to breakfast we saw a little boy with a CU shirt and the dad had. Bronco's shirt on. We talked to them briefly. I still can't believe how many Colorado connections we've found!
Our first stop of the day was the black sand beaches. We went to Perissa beach on the south east side of the island. We laid out the blanket that we bought in Lido to lay in the sand. The black sand was so hot it was literally burning our feet and we had to run to the water. The water was really nice and not too cold!
After a little while, the sand got so hot we could feel it through the blanket. And sitting right in the sun wasn't helping Luke's sunburn! We asked one of the restaurants how much umbrella rentals were and they said free, just requires service - meaning we just had to order a drink or something. Twist my arm a little and make me order a cold drink on the beach...
We moved to the umbrella and I ordered a watermelon daiquiri and Luke got a large beer.
We hung out at Perissa beach a while longer and got in the water a few more times.
Then we decided to make moves and go to our next stop, the red beach. The red beach was really pretty, a little less busy and not quite so hot.
We made our way home to shower and then into Oia to walk around. I ran out of conditioner a while ago and we haven't been able to find any travel size bottles anywhere. My hair hates me.
We got to Oia, parked the atv, and right by the parking lot steps there was a guy selling corn on the cob. We had to buy some, it smelled so good and would hold us over until dinnertime.
We walked through Oia as far as we could all the way to the northern tip of the island. We found the remains of an old castle along with tons of cool resorts along the caldera side. All the resorts were just suites built into the rock in the side of the cliff. Many had their own private pools and hot tubs. We found where we're staying next time we come here!
There were lots of stray dogs in Oia but luckily they got a lot of love and food from all the tourists!
We had to return our atv by 8pm so went back to Fira. We turned in the atv and sat down for dinner just in time to catch the sunset. I logged onto the restaurant wifi just in time to FaceTime both my parents and my grandma and show them a little bit of the sunset before it was gone!
I started to get an awful cough so bought some cough drops on the walk home. Now is not the time to get sick!
We saw lots of stray dogs on the way back and found a little family of three adults and three puppies. It looked like a lot of the restaurant put out water all day and even food at night for all the strays, so at least they had something to eat!
We got back to the hotel and started to pack for our morning flight. We were off to Budapest with a layover in Athens. I wasn't ready to leave Santorini!
We hopped in a cab to airport at 5am and were so surprised to see the main street still full of people finally going home for the night.
We were in line for security in this teenie tiny airport when all of a sudden the line just stopped moving. We looked around after a few minutes to find that all of the security personnel were gone and none of the machines were on or working. We still have no idea what happened but after about 10 minutes they all came back and security was up and running again.
We've realized that a lot people in Europe use the word "please" to mean a lot of different things. They just say "please" without saying anything else and you kind of have to guess by the tone of voice and context what exactly they mean. It can mean let me take your order, move out of my way, hurry up, open your bag, and really anything else they want it to mean. I think it's just an English word that most people will understand and it seems polite enough that they can tell anyone to do whatever it is they want, just by saying please.
We boarded the flight and I slept from before we even took off until after we landed and people were getting off the plane!
We were able to print our boarding pass from Athens to Budapest for free at the airport, which was nice. We stored our bags for a small fee and took the train into Athens back to the Placa neighborhood.
We walked around the area a little bit and had a great lunch. We had our last Tzatziki and gyros meal of the trip. These gyros were definitely the best we've had to far!
After lunch we were so exhausted. We headed back to the airport on Athens a little earlier than we needed to because we were too tired to keep walking around in the sun.
We boarded our flight and were off to Budapest!