There are a few things which I have really learned to enjoy in life and one of them is travel.
I love traveling to new places.
I love getting a feel for new terrains, cultures, and people.
I say that this is a learned skill because traveling to other countries often throws you outside of your comfort zone. Not knowing the place, the people, the language, are all things which I have learned to become comfortable with.
So, in an attempt to find some peace and to learn about new cultures and things in life, I decided to travel to Greece. I had thought that taking a trip to Greece would be worth it a few months ago and finally decided to use my savings to make it to this part of the world. Specifically, I decided to come to Santorini.
So what makes Santorini special? When I first got here, I honestly did not know. It was something that a friend had mentioned as a nice place to visit and I took their word for it. I think it paid off just because Santorini has proved itself to be both busy and beautiful.
Even though I have been busy most of the time I’ve been here, I have had some moments to reflect on life post graduate school and to think about what is coming next.
There have been moments when sitting atop cliffs or visiting old churches have made me feel incredibly greatful for how privileged I am to be able to travel the world, to have a voice in my own life, and to be able to interact with people all over the world. This to me makes it all worth it. Knowing that I am not the center of the universe and that, at our core, people are very similar, makes me realize that no matter where I am in the world, I will never be alone.
There have also been moments when sitting atop different cliffs, I have become really overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with all the changes that will manifest themselves in my life in a few months. Overwhelmed by the things that still need to be wrapped up in the next few weeks so I can publish my PhD work. I am trying to actively not live in these places because I cannot anticipate what will happen next. I realize that I have given it my all, have tried my best, and cannot do anything other than be grateful for where life is taking me. I think that being an overachiever will always make me be hard on myself and I am trying to be kinder to myself specially during those moments of deep clarity and reflection.
I guess taking time away from the city is really opening me up. As uncomfortable as this is, I am grateful for this time of rest.
So, now that I have shared feelings, what about Santorini?
It is beautiful here.
Even though it is a bit touristy-which is both good and bad- it is beautiful and the people are genuinely nice.
I’ve split up my journey into two parts. For the first part of this journey, I stayed in Finikia, which is half way between Oia (the major tourist attraction) and Fira, the city’s capital. For the second part, I stayed in Kamari where the beaches and Old City Thira are located.
All I can say about Oia is that you MUST visit it. It caters towards tourists, which means it is expensive, but the views are worth it. Walk around as much as you can in the city and get lost. You will find nooks which will take your breath away. I would go to the city either really early in the morning, when there are less tourists there, or later in the day for sunset. I never made it to sunset, but my friend did, and the photos she took were amazing. Either way, the photos and views here are always amazing.
After seeing Oia, I decided to take the bus to Fira. Serendipitously, though, I stumbled upon a Chinese traveler who was planning on hiking from Imerovigli to Fira. If you have the chance, do this. The hike is safe, you will see many more beautiful houses, the islands which used to be attached to Santorini housing the volcano, and get some spectacular shots. There really is no way to get lost. Just make sure that you have Google maps, a map that you can get at any of the tourist spots, or ask anyone. There are a lot of tourists around, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Along this hike, you’ll be able to see Imerovigli, Firostefani and Fira. The views are truly breathtaking.
You’ll know when you arrive at Fira because there are people and shops everywhere.
I spent my first three days walking around and getting to know these places. I think this was enough time because I had to get used to the time change and it allowed me to really understand how to get around. This also will give you plenty of time to actually vacation. I often feel that when vacationing I want to see everything, so I turn my vacation into a non-vacation. Three days allowed me to just chill and enjoy what I was seeing….and revisit places that I thought were beautiful.
I also made a few rookie traveler mistakes, which I will share with you.
– Taking a cab to my hotel from the airport and taking a tour from Oia to the older towns in Santorini. I do not regret the tour, but it was expensive. The alternative to both is to take public transportation. Since Santorini is a tourist town, their bus system was quite organized, on time, and efficient. You can take a bus to the center of the island, Fira, and then take a connecting bus to where your hotel is. Buses run to most of the cities on the island. Based on the bus schedule you can create an itinerary for yourself and pay less to see the island. If you like the comfort of being driven around, there are also taxis and tours available…but they are a bit expensive. The bus is anywhere from 1.80 to 2.30 euros.
– Eating out. I may have been picking the wrong places to eat but I wasn’t impressed by the food. I tend to eat clean and tried to maintain this while in Santorini, but when I tried is at restaurants I wasn’t impressed. What I started doing after a few days was just finding a local store or supermarket and buying a few essentials which would help me get through. I would recommend doing this rather than paying close to NY prices for dishes that weren’t satisfying.
So, my time in the northern part of the island was quite nice to be honest. I enjoyed the amazing views, had a great time meeting new people, and liked the place where I was staying, Villa Agnadi. Villa Agnadi is located in Finikia, there is a bus stop right across the street from it going to Oia or Fira. Walking to Oia is about a 15-20 minute walk depending on how fast you walk. It isn’t a five star hotel, but it is comfortable, clean, a mom and pop hotel of sorts, the staff are incredibly nice, and breakfast is included. Having breakfast included was great for me because it allowed me to just stay at the hotel, stare at their view of the Aegean Sea, and eat some amazing Greek yogurt and the organic eggs. This I did enjoy and now I have a new appreciation for how hard the people of Santorini work, how good their Greek yogurt and organic eggs are, and just how warm this island is.
I will write more about my visit to Santorini soon.