This morning, we woke up to church bells outside at around 8. Conner and I decided that meant it was time to get going, so first thing I did was open our balcony door and there was the most beautiful view of the ocean! After getting ready, we walked into the town (which is all up hill to get to by the way) and went straight to a rent a bike shop. Conner and I are official proud owners of a rental quad for the next two days in Santorini. Many people here get around the island be either scooter or quad, so we figured we should do it! It gives us much more flexibility to go wherever we want on the island at whatever time. So naturally we traversed the whole Island today!
First, we went to the red sand beach in the southwestern tip of the Island. We got to the edge of the water and then had to hike up a rocky path to cross over to get to the beach. Its red because of the volcano that is right near the coast of the island. We got in up to our calves in the Mediterranean and spent a long time soaking it all in (and this time literally!) We hiked up along the beach for a while before going back to our vehicle. (And did I mention that on the island there are cats literally everywhere? I’ve made cat friends everywhere I went today and here at our parking spot near the beach was my favorite. She was orange and loved to cuddle up with me!)
Then, we visited the prehistoric city of Akrotiri. As we arrived, we got off the quad and I turned to walk inside. Behind me I heard Conner fall and turned to see him standing with blood gushing out of his knee. I will leave this here, but it does become important later on in the day! Akrotiri is an incredible archaeological site in the southern part of the island. The city started being excavated in 1967 and it is still being worked on. The settlement that dates back to the 1600s BC was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, burying it in volcanic ash, which actually worked as a preservative of the architecture. It was such an amazing thing to see! There were three story houses, buildings holding ancient pottery, and roads throughout the ruins. It was just as amazing to see the shelter that was put in place as a protection for this site. It is a bioclimatic shelter that changes and protects based on the natural environment!
We left the site a little after noon and made our way back to Fira, stopping many times along the journey to appreciate the incredible views. (The weather is so nice, nearly 70 degrees, so I even got a little burnt from the riding around all day!) In Fira, we had gyros again for lunch. They are delicious and I want to eat as much Greek food as I can while I’m here! We spent a while walking around the town before stopping to get some coffee at a little place called Coffee Island. The workers were so nice! The man working at the counter even gave me a free Christmas ornament that was a little coffee scoop, and I had the best cappuccino! As Conner enjoyed his tea and I enjoyed my cappuccino out on the patio, a couple of men and the worker from the counter came out to the table beside us. Conner and I were just talking and I noticed there was a first aid kit on the table and that the men were rummaging through it. I thought in my head to maybe ask for a couple bandaids because Conner’s knee was still pretty bloody, but just let it slide because he made it a point to tell me he was fine about 100 times. Then the man came over and made Conner prop his leg up on a chair before proceeding to clean out his wound and wrapping it for him. It was so kind of them, first to notice, but then to do that all for him without even being asked! We were shocked in such a good way. We thanked them many times before leaving and even tried to give them something in exchange, but they refused. What an exceptionally kind gesture that reminds me there are so many good people in the world and to pass on the kindness!
After leaving we went to the hotel to grab our jackets before going to Oia, which is at the very northern tip of the Island, to watch the sunset. We have heard that Santorini, Greece is one of the best places in the world to watch a sunset, and after seeing it tonight I couldn’t agree more! We followed the main road all down the coast and barely made it up several hills before making it to Oia. There are all sorts of paths throughout the town through buildings that are houses, shops, restaurants, and windmills. From the tip of the city we could look back and see its entirety with the white terraced buildings and churches with blue domed roofs. It is the most spectacular city, and then we could turn the other way and we were overlooking the ocean and another island (Thirasia). We found a perfect place to watch the sunset and waited and watched for over a half hour as the sky changed colors, repainting the landscape all around us as the time passed. It is no lie, this is the most beautiful place I’ve seen a sunset. There was not one cloud in the sky all day and that made for the perfect view as the glowing sun disappeared over the edge of the earth.
After sunset, we rode our quad the 30 minutes back to Fira. It was the coolest drive as the moon lit up the entire island and the stars were coming out with the deep red and orange sky fading behind us. We went up and over the mountain to get back to our town where we were going back to for dinner. I had a traditional meal called Tourlou, which was an eggplant with tomato sauce baked with feta cheese accompanied by a glass of Santorini made red wine. The food has been absolutely spectacular! After dinner, Conner and I filled up on gas for our Christmas excursions tomorrow before stopping by our mini mart to grab some homemade baklava for dessert. We are spending Christmas Eve nestled in at our hotel overlooking the stars and the ocean. I just was able to facetime my family who are celebrating Christmas Eve at home in Indiana! I’m so grateful for the ability to contact my family from thousands of miles away! I miss them very much and hope they all have as good as a holiday as I am having here.
Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas from Santorini and can’t wait to share my last few days of my trip with you!