I didn’t LOVE Santorini, Greece

Dare I say it – I didn’t love Santorini. I know that makes me the one in a million and I’ll probably go down in a few people’s opinion but really – it wasn’t for me. Let me explain…

My first impression of Santorini: Why are there so many hawkers? Why so much yelling? So many questions! ‘How many days?’ ‘Where are you from?’ ‘You want car? Drop off at airport no extra charge’. It wasn’t love at first sight, put it that way.

Getting to Santorini from Milos was an easy three hour ferry ride – what’s bizarre is that I took a ferry to and from work for the last year and these measly three hours are making me feeling worse than swigging from a bottle of Retsina.

We disregarded all the touts and caught the local bus for a few euro from the port to Thira (we dodged the thirty euro transfer the ‘local’ Aussie girl was selling and were only too glad knowing we had a seat on the local bus – half the battle was already won, once again I’m thankful we only have carry-on luggage.)

We stayed in Finikia, a twenty minute bus from the hustle of Thira and a fifteen minute walk from the hustle of Oia. Needless to say, we were so grateful to be hustle free. We arrived in the afternoon to our cave-like apartment (rented via airbnb.)

I was horrified to hear that our musty, yet pleasant enough apartment was being rented out for $190AUD a night in high season and we were paying $90AUD. We knew it would be pricey in Santo – but for what it’s worth – it’s not worth it!

In Finika, I can recommend the Santorini Moy Greek tavern for authentic food and top notch live music – even Jennifer Aniston visited – so it must be good.

winery, Santorini

Visit a Winery

After settling in, we decided to walk to the nearest winery (Domaine Sigalas), I’d heard good things about Santorini wines (the volcanic soil and mineral dense vines {from the caldera} means they withhold moisture all summer long giving the wine varieties a complex character) we thought we might as well taste it from the makers themselves. We walked the fifteen minutes down hill (in the hot afternoon sun) past rows and rows of wild dill. At least it was a beautifully scented path, which we were thankful for despite our sweaty arrival.

The cellar door experience was, how do I say it: obnoxious – and not in a good way – not in a way that exudes excellence, or prestige or even finesse. In Santorini, a cellar door can charge what they like for tastings, the experience and the service. I thought the bulshy Yank behind me said it best when he said: “the wine is good but the service sucks”.

Having to pay for a wine tasting is something I’m slowly (read: begrudgingly) coming around to in Europe, but it just doesn’t feel right. Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed with the wines or the experience, but hey, it was an experience none the less. As for the wines, out of the three I blindly picked, the Assyrtiko was passable, the Am palatable and the Ean pleasant, I only wish they’d let me try the Vinsanto. Before buying a glass of ‘meh’ rose.

Note to self: Nothing is free in Santo, not even a wine tasting.

sunset, Santorini

See a sunset in Oia

Next up – we walked to Oia to see the infamous ‘sunset’ (as if it ONLY happens here.)

Thankfully and I don’t know how, we spotted an empty seat at a bar with front row seats. It was unreal to find a vacant table! It would have been painful to wait hours without refreshments, an option many take.

How to describe the sunset in Oia: hmmmm, it’s just a sunset to be honest. I couldn’t really see what the fuss was about. I’ve definitely seen better, and even then I didn’t have to share it with thousands, yes thousands of others.

Being squished like sardines walking through those narrow lanes I spare a thought for the local merchants having to fix their wares as yet another mindless tourist brushes past their display, messing it up or knocking it over.

I’m sure I sound like a grumpy tourist, but in all honesty: the best part of the sunset was watching everyone leave early – before the good bit – before the sky turned pink!

First impressions of Santorini – I just can’t seem to fathom what the fuss is about. Alas, we still have two more days, so I’m hoping to find out!

I can recommend a good restaurant in Oia though! Melitini serves up mouth watering meze from solely Greek products. Cosy, friendly, fresh and local.

Walk to Amoudi Bay

Amoudi Bay, Santorini
Amoudi Bay from above

Amoudi Bay was a real treat, I had low expectations and figured it would be busy down there – but actually, it was really pleasant and a real highlight of the trip.

We opted to walk down (rather than drive or donkey) which provided stunning uphill views of Oia at every turn. Once at the port, we headed left and followed the walking path as far as possible to find some swimming spots.

Moo decided he wasn’t done jumping off things and swam out to the small island and bombed into the crystal waters, I opted for a smaller rock to jump off and we sun bathed over the volcanic rock people watching and dipping into the refreshing blue every now and then.

Time for lunch, we ate at: Ammoudi Bay Fish Tavern. Seafood fans; you’re in for a treat. The octopus was heavenly and cooked to perfection. As a side, the eggplant salad was a stand out. The red wine was also tops.

Walk from Imerovigli to Finika or Oia!

In total the distance from Thira to Oia is a good fourteen kilometres (one way). We opted to walk one way from Finika to Imerovigli (opting to avoid Thira) which was approx six kilometres. The walk is uneven, steep and provided a constant (and admittedly beautiful) view of the caldera. We had some meatballs and beers in Imeroviglia before getting the bus back home.

Caldera, Santorini

Thira old town

Thira in two words = full on. I can’t imagine what it’s like in high season. Foul.

Lots of cheap souvenirs and a lot of narrow streets to fill them with. We tried to escape the Main Street to get away from the noise of busy traffic, only to get into the alleyways of tourists and find we’re swerving around people now instead of cars, our ears wince at all the chatter.

The old port, is it worth it for a look? No.
The cable car, is it worth it? No idea, probably not.
I spare a thought for those poor donkeys – without a field to roam in at night, all I can think is how sad a life they must lead.

How do I define the bus depot in Thira = an endless display of organized chaos. A great definition of a mess – but at least they do run, and they’re cheap and if you get a seat, you’ve already won.

As a side note: There are beaches you can visit (red and black ones), and I’ve heard they’re nice, we just couldn’t muster the excitement for them by hiring a ATV or bothering with the sweat and mess of the bus.

Oia, Santorini
Oia, Santorini

So, Santorini:
Beautiful? Yes
Dramatic scenery? Yes
Would we have preferred to visit somewhere else? Yes. (we had to stop over here to get to Crete, so it was a means to getting there.)

Staying in Finikia at least provided quiet from the hustle. The food was good, but you’re paying for it, handsomely if you eat out for every meal! Mostly though, it was the people watching that I found unbearable, truly it was eye watering – absurd posing in absurd positions along the rock facing facade. What has the world come to?

Overall impression: A beautiful spot for pure luxury where your agenda is to eat and sleep. If it’s adventure you’re after and (dare I say it) culture then perhaps this isn’t the island to for you. Visiting without private transfers would be fairly exhausting, hence why we didn’t venture to more of the island, but where’s the fun in private transfers?

Just remember: Nothing is free in Santorini.

Next, we were off to Crete!

Until then xo


6 thoughts on “I didn’t LOVE Santorini, Greece

  1. We spent 3 days in Santorini a couple of years back – we did hire a car and see the whole island and yes those beaches are less crowded but you pay for a chair/umbrella – also stayed in Thira (down the hill so always a steep walk up) – hated the use of the poor donkeys who were trailed past our place each morning and evening. We also loved most Amoudi Bay (by cable car) – good food and cheap beer – watched the cruise ship people coming and going by tenders. We were amused by the number of Asian brides having photo shots in precarious locations. Like you though didn’t really enjoy the experience- much preferred Naxos. PS you pay for wine tasting in a majority of cellar doors in Victoria these days too, not so much in Hunter but it will come. Rae (mums friend).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rae!
      Sounds like you had a much more adventurous three days than us, but pleased to hear you echo my comments (I was beginning to think I had missed something? What was all the fuss about?) ahhh Naxos, I would have loved to go there!
      I think you’re probably right about the wine tastings… hopefully the majority of cellar doors can find a better solution than making you pick three from twelve blindly ! At the very least, we shall enjoy it while it lasts! Take care xo

      Like

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