Last week I focused on another more obscure island called Zante or Zakynthos as it was such a special place that Rene and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about and were thrilled with being there.
This week, even though I’ve written about it previously, I thought I’d talk about Santorini again with a new spin since we stayed on the island vs. just visiting it ‘off-ship’. I spoke extensively about this last week in that you really don’t get as good an impression about any place if you just see it in a cruise port visit. Don’t get me wrong, I love cruising and it’s an incredibly valuable experience cruising to get a taste for places you may like and want to re-visit to stay awhile and that’s what we truly discovered with Santorini when we stayed there for 3 nights a couple of weeks ago.
I reflect on an article I wrote back on June 15th, 2019 when Rene and I visited Santorini off-ship for a second time with his sister and brother-in-law. At that time, it was not as great as previously since there were many ships in port at the same time as we were. Here’s the link for this past blog if you want to read about it: Have you been to Santorini?! (millsroyluxurytravel.com)
Interestingly, usually the place that most people end up staying is overlooking the Caldera near Oia, preferably and it truly is a lovely place. We were fortunate to have ended up, still in magical Oia, but not overlooking the Caldera, but rather getting the most awesome sunsets instead at a stunning property called Canaves Oia Epitome.
This place is still equally as expensive as the places overlooking the Caldera but a little more private and a much larger property. It also happens to be very family friendly with both an upper and lower pool area, a special children’s pool area and each suite also has its own plunge pool as well. They also have a full spa and fitness area as well. It’s definitely a very special place and we loved it immensely.
The service at Canaves Oia Epitome was impeccable. We had the most delightful ‘welcome’ treats upon arrival. This stiletto heel is entirely made of chocolate and was delicious! The breakfasts and all meals here were also delightful with such an outstanding view.
They have a shuttle that runs on an as-needed basis up to Oia or down to Ammoudi Bay. We had a fabulous dinner at a great little local restaurant called Roka in Oia with an outstanding reasonably priced meal that was lovingly prepared.
We also had a great visit and dinner down at the Ammoudi Tavern in Ammoudi Bay during sunset and the food and service there was also excellent. It’s a very cool little spot where you can also get charters and boat tours out to explore the Caldera and surrounding areas of Santorini. It has an immense amount of character.
One of our primary tours that we took enabled us to get out and see a little more of the island than we’d seen in the past. We finally ended up getting to the southern part of the island where Akrotiri is located. This is Santorini’s famous prehistoric archaeological site that was destroyed sometime in the 16th century B.C. when they had a huge volcano eruption and the place was covered in volcanic ash. The site has been excavated since 1967 and is still being worked on.
We also visited Santorini’s largest and most traditionally Greek village called Emporio, also located in the southern part of the island. It’s home to a medieval castle that has withstood 5 earthquakes including the largest one measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale back in 1956. The Venetians built this particular village and this is very evident from the architecture and design of the alleyways and streets as well. This particular design was used to provide refuge from frequent pirate raids.
Of course, the other wonderful touring option on Santorini is to experience wine tasting. Each time that we’ve been there, we’ve visited different wineries, tasted different wines and had completely different experiences. There are over 20 wineries in Santorini and for the tiny island that it is, this is pretty special. The other very interesting technique in their wine industry is the way they grow their grapes on the island. This method protects the vines them from the winds and the sun. It’s called koulara and has the vines use what’s called a ‘bush-training system’ where the vines are woven into a basket with the grapes and leaves facing inwards to protect them from the climate.
Of course, another day we did get to spend some time looking at other properties located overlooking the Caldera and these places have an absolutely stunning view. In fact, one of the wineries we visited in the past, was overlooking the Caldera and it was a wonderful spot.
There are many beautiful properties to stay at here with plunge pools, some fabulous restaurants with not a bad seat in the place, and breathtaking views all around. Shopping is nearby and plenty of other great places to eat as well.
It’s always tough leaving such a fabulous place as Santorini but our next stop was Mykonos via the ferry. I was very impressed with the ferry and we were fortunate to have a very smooth ride across to Mykonos. Along the way, we stopped at Naxos to drop off some folks and then onto Mykonos after. The final stop before they turn around and return is Athens. It’s certainly an option for traveling between the Cycladic islands of Greece if you’d rather forgo flying.
All in all, Santorini is a wonderful place to visit and stay for at least a few days to get a better feel for the people, the culture, and the history. There’s more to the island then just Oia and Fira where most cruise ship passengers tend to gravitate towards. It’s also more pleasant when you’re not with a gaggle of cruise passengers making their way through the streets of either one of these locations in Santorini. Not to take anything away from these spots though because they’re still incredibly fabulous, of course! There's just a lot to be said for staying for a while on the island of Santorini if you can take the time to do it!