A couple of weeks ago, I went to Greece. Why Greece you say? I'm glad you asked. Back in December I went to Cairns, Australia to visit my real life bestie from Year 9, and she told me that she and her husband were going to Greece in May. Since I have no shame nor issues with being the third wheel, I invited myself along. Fast forward five months and here we are.
They were flying in from Australia but I was only coming from Vienna since I'd arrived in Europe three days earlier (another story for another day).
Shit showers and nearly missing the ferry
I arrived in Athens early afternoon and made my way to Piraeus, which is where the port is. All the ferries to the islands go from here in the mornings and we wanted to be close by (mostly so they could sleep in a wee bit more after being on a plane for 24 hours).
One side of Piraeus (where most of the hotels are) is quite nice. The other side (where the metro is) is a bit shit. If you get the bus from the airport, you go to the nice side. Plus you don't have to change metro lines and it's cheaper. An all-round win I'd say.
I stayed in a cheap hotel, which was totally fine. However, I am going to complain about Greek showers which are not dependent on how much you spend. It seems that most of the time they are those stupid hand-held showers. In normal bathrooms there's a hook thingy on the wall to make it a proper shower. Except in Greece. Here, they like to put the hook thingy in a weird spot in the corner of the shower so you can't actually stand under it. This spot is also designed to maximise the amount of water that flows out onto the bathroom floor, which then becomes a safety hazard. I suspect the root of all Greece's economic woes stem from their poor bathroom design. They're probably all frustrated they can't wash their hair properly, and from slipping on the tiles on their way out.
Since we were in different hotels I agreed to meet Sue and Pras the next morning at 6:15am on the corner. Boarding of our ferry started at 6.30am for a 7am departure. Like a normal person that likes uninterrupted sleep, I have total silence set on my phone at night except for alarms. However, changing timezones fucked this up and I never heard it. Luckily I woke up at 6.15am, however, I was now in a panic. I had repacked everything the night before so all I had to do was change after sending Sue a quick text saying "FUCK I slept through my alarm, give me 5 minutes". I had planned to take a photo of the stupid shower in the morning but that was no longer happening. Instead it was dress, rush check-out, and run to the corner. It wasn't until we were on the ferry that I could actually brush my hair and make myself look like I hadn't overslept and got ready in five minutes.
Despite being on the fast ferry, it still took about six hours and stopped at Mykonos and Naxos on the way. I assume celebrities and millionaires just take a helicopter or private jet over. You can fly there on commercial airlines but when Ryanair comes up first in google, you're better off taking the ferry.
I hate Ryanair and I also hate boats. Mostly cos I get really seasick. Luckily, I'd bought some drugs (€9!!! WTF Greece?) in Athens so there was no vomiting for me that day. Furthermore, Sue had booked us some good seats that weren't in the cheapest section of the ferry, so it wasn't actually terrible despite there being no wifi. My overpriced ginger-based drugs worked great and kept on working when we arrived. The road up from the port is very windy, which would also usually make me sick.
Mykonos and/or Naxos. I dunno. They both looked the same from the ferry.
Is it pool time yet?
We stayed at the beautiful Katharos Villas in Oia, which I highly recommend. They are very new and very nice. What I liked most is that each one has its own pool. Such luxury!
It's always bikini and wine time in Santorini!
A million dollar lunch view
By the time we had lunch on the first day, it was 3pm and we were pretty much starving. We wanted somewhere close by and Ammoudi was 10 min walk down a steep hill from our villa.
There are a bunch of tourist restaurants here that all serve the same thing for the same price so just pick the one with the best looking waiters.
There is a surprising amount of cutlery in the water here.
Meanwhile, up in Oia...
This is one of the main towns in Santorini and where I spent the most time since I did not have any transport (and the public bus is always full). You can rent quad bikes—which Pras did—but they are only suitable for two people. He did uber me up the hill a couple of times, which I appreciated.
Oia is really nice with gorgeous views everywhere you turn, at any time of the day or night.
So many pools!
My morning workout
One thing that bothered me about Santorini was the slave donkeys. These poor animals spend all day carrying lazy humans and miscellaneous items up and down the mountainside. I felt really sorry for them and obviously refused to participate in it. Plus, it meant there was a lot of donkey shit around.
I went on a bit of a hike one morning up the steep steps from Ammoudi to Oia. It only took 8 mins 30 sec according to my stopwatch, and that was stopping twice to take some photos. At less than 10 minutes, I think that demonstrates you don't need donkey transport. Plus it was a pretty good cardio workout despite the donkey shit smell everywhere.
Since it was early, there was hardly anyone in Oia so I decided to walk around the town and get my selfie on without a million other people in the background.
Ammoudi to Oia steps (on the right of the left photo) and the view from the top.
Just a typical morning in Oia filled with sleeping dogs, cats and an Asian wedding photo shoot.
Give me ALL the vegan cheese!
If you've been following for a while then you know I'm vegan. I typically eat a low fat, wholefoods diet. However, when I'm travelling I like to try new—preferably local—dishes, and low fat goes out the window. The hands-down winner for vegan food in Santorini is Katharos Lounge. This place used to serve meat but the owner went vegan two years ago and when she reopened for the 2018 season in mid-May, she made it 100% vegetarian/vegan. Woo!
I tried a bunch of things and they were all really good, but the baked vegan feta was definitely my favourite. Since I'm not a food instagrammer I forget to take photos 95% of the time. This was one of them.
Another place I ate at was at Yogi in Fira. I was attracted by the sign that said "vegetarian and more". It turns out the "more" meant meat, but they did have a good veggie burger which was vegan if you didn't get the cheese. The bun was really dark (not burnt) and it was pretty good. Plus the woman making it was vegetarian and vegan-curious and asked me lots of questions. Basically desserts were her downfall and the reason why she hasn't upgraded to vegan yet.
I also recommend Green Market in Fira. This place had a decent range of vegan snacks (good for the ferry ride) as well as vegan cheese, vegan yogurt, nut milks, tofu etc. In fact, this was the best place I went to in the whole of Greece for supplies.
Luckily Greece has a lot of naturally vegan foods but they love their olive oil on everything. Obviously you can get a Greek salad anywhere and just ask them to hold the feta and put the oil on the side. Most places also have fava and/or giant lima (gigantes) beans on the menu which are super tasty. Baked stuffed tomatoes and capsicums are another good choice. Of course, everywhere comes with fresh bread—usually for free—so you can also fill up on that as well. You might get bored eating the same things in standard restaurants, but you won't go hungry.
Is food in Santorini cheap? No. But if you can afford to stay in here, you can afford the overpriced meals.
I'm not a big sunset person but it's hard not to be impressed by them in Santorini. On our last night, Pras ubered us up the hill to a sunset lounge where we ordered drinks and watched the sun go down. It had been raining a bit earlier that afternoon so I don't think it was a 10/10 evening but I still got some nice shots.
One of the best things about Santorini is there is hardly any kids. In fact, I don't even know what kids would do here. I'm pretty sure they'd just whinge about all the hills and being dragged to wineries. There's not really any good beaches, and even the pools are designed for adults just to sit and drink in.
So if you're not into family vacation spots and/or want to ditch your own kids for a few days, Santorini is an excellent choice.
Katharos Beach. It's not like the Gold Coast.
Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Would I recommend Santorini? For sure. It's beautiful everywhere you turn, and not overcrowded in May at least. However, it's not a budget destination and getting around is a pain unless you rent something.
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Next stop, Delphi
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