Greece, Part Four: Santorini with Busabout
It was towards the end of the tour, so of course a sickness had begun to spread throughout the group like wildfire (seems to be a common occurrence in travel groups). The morning that we were to depart to Santorini, we all woke up with complaints of funny, sore throats. Despite the sickliness and the sleep deprivation, the three hour ferry ride from Paros to Santorini wasn’t too bad. Probably because by this time most of the group had bonded, so chatting and gossiping helped pass the time.
Once arriving in Santorini, we made our way to our accommodation, Blue Horizon. It was conveniently located down the road from where most of the Busabout group were staying so no long treks to meet up with them, like we had in Mykonos. Once again, despite booking the cheapest accommodation we could find, we were spoilt with a huge room that included our own bathroom and sitting area.
We then finally got to explore the beautiful Santorini, we did a walking tour and our tour guide pointed out a jewellery store where Busabouters got a discount. A lot of the girls, including myself, couldn’t resist a look and I ended up purchasing some sweet, delicate rose gold and silver rings. A little piece of Santorini for me to wear back home.
The tour was followed by a lovely dinner at a restaurant with a stunning view of infamous white and blue buildings nestled amongst the cliffs. I took in the views, enhanced by the setting sun as I enjoyed my delicious stuffed squid. After dinner a small group of us went on a baklava hunt and then headed our separate ways, hoping an early night would mean a miraculous recovery.
The next day, and our last day with this Busabout group, we did Busabout’s Bucket List tour. The first stop of the tour was a monastery, Profitis Ilias, which sits upon the highest point of Santorini. For those that had a fear of heights, the drive up there was truly a free form of exposure therapy! At the monastery gift shop (yup, gift shop), we were told the story behind the 33 knot bracelets they had for sale. The bracelets, which are also known as prayer bracelets, are supposed to ward off evil and you must wear it without removing it (to do so is bad luck). We were also informed that you cannot buy it for yourself to wear, and that if you wanted one someone else would have to buy it for you. A few members of the group who were ready to make a commitment to wear it until it fell off (or until they didn’t believe in the story) purchased them for each other.
After the monastery we headed to Perissa Beach a.k.a black beach. I had pictured black sand, but it’s actually volcanic pebbles. We enjoyed two hours on this beach feeling like total V.I.Ps. Besides swimming, we also enjoyed taking in the views and basking in the sun on the lounges, free as part of the Bucket List tour. The lounges each had a little buzzer on them that would summon a waiter. In addition to this, there was also free Wi-Fi. Needless to say, we lapped up this decadence as we lay out, enjoying the free Wi-Fi and ordering food and drinks straight to our lounges.
Feeling relaxed and spoilt, we then headed to Akrotiki, a Minoan settlement that had been destroyed in a volcanic eruption and then buried in ash. We were told that what we saw is believed to be only 5% of the city and they have yet to discover any bodies. It was also explained to us that a big thing in Greek culture is leaving something for the next generation to discover, which is why they haven’t continued the excavation. I thought that was such a lovely sentiment. It was pretty interesting to walk through the old city and surprising to see what had survived after all this time and exposure.
Because the group had voted to go to Akrotiki, it meant we only had a short time at the Red Beach. Literally, enough time to walk up, observe and take a few pictures. But I did manage to fit in a sneaky swim, and the water was so lovely and refreshing.
|Quick happy snap at Red Beach|
Next stop on the tour was Santo Winery for a wine tasting. The winery sits on the edge of a cliff, so we sampled the different wines with a backdrop of crystal blue water.
After the winery we were dropped back “home” to get ready for part two of the Bucket List tour- the sunset picnic in Oia. On the drive up to Oia, we passed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Greek Island mansion, a cold looking circular black house sitting in isolation.
When we arrived in Oia, I could quickly tell this was the spot where all those pictures were taken that had tempted me to the Greek Islands in the first place. Here we had the best views of the water and the cliffs full of white and blue houses. We made our way to the picnic spot, which was definitely not the isolated spot I had pictured. In fact, it was probably the most popular viewing spot for the sunset, so quickly filled up. Picnic may not have been the right word for it, but we did get Gyros delivered to us and we enjoyed our dinner and drinks while we waited for probably one of the most famous sunsets in the world. And it not disappoint (well aside from that fact that we didn’t get to witness any proposals, which apparently is very common place at an Oia sunset), and I got to recreate my own Greek Island postcard style photos.
After the sunset, we headed back “home” and spent the night dancing it up at the Highlander. A bit of an emotional night as we had to say goodbye to the friends we had made that were continuing on with the Busabout tour, while we stayed behind in Santorini a few more days.
It was such a fun, packed day and I’m really glad we did the Bucket List tour. We were especially grateful as we soon discovered that travelling through Santorini on our own was a real pain, but more on that in my next post!