Hello Big House followers! I have been receiving a lot of questions and inquiries about our recent trip to Greece, so I thought it may be easier to share a more in depth walk-through, here. Please feel free to shoot me a note if you have additional questions, I am happy to answer!
We left October 8th, the day after our wedding. Kenny and I had to make a sudden change of travel plans about 3 weeks before due to inclement weather where we were originally heading. As of late, I have been booking my travel plans through Tripmasters. They were introduced to me through a friend and have always made international travel to multiple locations a breeze.
We flew Air Canada and some of their sister airlines for the travel.
* Call the airline and request seating with more legroom (exit rows, front rows etc.), especially if your flight exceeds 6 hours. Air Canada gave us the front row and exit rows for all of our flights, which definitely helps if you have a tall travel companion like I do!
We landed in Santorini and took a cab from the airport to Perissa (southeastern side of the Island). Taxis in Greece are flat rate no matter where you go, usually 30-38 euro.
We stayed in Meltemi Village, within walking distance of the black sand beaches. This quaint hotel is stunning and very peaceful. There are 50 or so "rooms", although, they are more like private villas.
At check-in for your hotel, ask if there are any available room upgrades. Depending on the hotel, you can get amazing upgrades (for instance, an ocean view or bigger bed) at a cheaper per day cost than if you had originally requested that room at booking.
We were welcomed at the front desk by Katerina. She was so sweet and extremely helpful. She gave us a bottle of Greek wine and walked us back to our room.
We stayed in a 'Junior Excelsior Suite', which included the fancy schmancy patio/whirlpool you see in the photos above.
I felt like this hotel was a great deal. We weren't in the center of the tourist areas, which kept costs down but were only a short drive away.
This is Messavouno. It was within walking distance of our hotel. We didn't think we would actually be scaling a mountain on the first day of the trip...but there was only one way up from Perissa to Ancient Thera.
If you are looking for a little adventure and a challenge, I highly recommend hiking up the mountain vs. taking a car from the other side. It definitely makes you value your view from the top!
One of the best parts about Ancient Thera is that it is essentially untouched but also, isn't guarded like a museum. There is no one to really monitor as you scope it out, which allows you to better picture what life was back in those times.
Our walking buddy. This little pup met us halfway up the mountain. We never saw an owner but he definitely calmed my spirits when some of the pathways got extra narrow.
Black Sand Beach
We spent some time on Perissa Beach. As you can see from the photos above, that the black 'sand' is actually fine pebbles. Little to no shells on this beach and beautiful blue waters with a rock edge to walk out on. I was a huge fan because you can see the bottom and NO seaweed!
One of our favorite spots was a small beachfront restaurant called Tranquilo. The energy was very lax + reggae and local. Drinks here are STRONG and salads here are HUGE. You can't tell from the photo above but this XL salad was literally probably 2 pounds of lettuce. We ate it for 2.5 meals.
All beach restaurants here are lounge areas, hammocks, tables to eat and small cushions to sit up on elevated platforms. They also include chairs/umbrellas out on the beach that you can utilize for the whole day if you ate there.
Right down the street from Tranquilo, is THE best corn you could ever eat, along with the nicest man making it. Only 2.50 euro per cob. We ate 8 throughout the 5 days we were there...aka more corn than I have ever eaten in my life.
Santa Irini Bakery
Small little bakery about a 5 minute walk from our hotel on the main road. The owner (seen in photo) is so sweet and proud of his delicious treats- the moment we walked in the first words out of his mouth were, "everything is good".
That was true.
Huge donuts, pastries, pizzas and breads are freshly baked the same day. Bonus: the bakery is open 24 hours and is a great alternative for those with a late night sweet tooth.
Akrotiri, is an incredibly advanced city which was dated as early as 5000 BC. The city was abandoned in 1627 BC due to a volcanic eruption which froze it in time. Here is a photo from the excavation site.
These 3 story tall buildings had plumbing and other extremely advanced/modern conveniences which definitely had us scratching our heads at what kind of geniuses built this town.
Akrotiri was incredible to see in person but is much more of a museum than Ancient Thera. It was much more expensive and is highly monitored (for good reason). If you are choosing between ruins to explore and are wanting the more organic experience, we would recommend Thera.
Red Sand Beach
This is right down the road from Akrotiri. It is a quick stop because it isn't exactly the "safest" spot to hang out. This beach is not one for sun bathing. It is made from volcanic stone but was much more crumbly than the black sand beach. This area is only unsafe due to potential for rock/land slides.
This is the place that Santorini is known for. It is about a 30 minute drive from where we stayed, the drive is certainly not for the faint of heart. There are not many guard-rails (per-say), however, there are a lot of cliff edges. Incredibly stunning views, which I started to enjoy when my heart stopped racing.
We chose not to stay here due to the high tourism and high cost of this area. It is INCREDIBLY gorgeous.
They have many options of small places to eat and some higher end shops. Expect to pay additional for your sunset views here! We were about a week after the busy season ended and it was still packed.
Originally, we were going to travel up via tour bus to Oia, however, Kenny suggested it might be better to rent a side-by-side and drive up. He was right. The busses on these tight curved roads were something to watch out for. 2 large busses passing each other in certain areas could barely squeeze by (I'm talking mere inches between them). It felt safer to be in a smaller vehicle, closer to the road and able to avoid tough situations. Choose one with a roll cage, if you are paranoid like me.
Beach days, another dog pal, delicious smoothies on the beach from a place with great service called Visanto.
One of our favorite lunches in Perissa.
On our final two days we traveled back to Athens. We went a little ritzy with our stay since we would only be here for a shorter period. We stayed within walking distance of the Acropolis at the newly built, Electra Metropolis Hotel. We splurged for the Acropolis view room and it was WORTH IT. Having coffee overlooking the city and mountain-top ruins, was life changing.
I shouldn't even have to tell you. Go. Just. Go.
After heading through the museum, walk back through the tiny winding alleys to find delicious cafes, quaint shops and as usual, super nice people. Ps. this pork gyro, rocked my world.
We had a great time heading to Greece in early October. This is about a week after the season "ends". We aren't huge night club people so those being closed when we got there was no problem in comparison to having less crowds. They are extending the season through the end of October now, due to increased tourist interest. The weather the entire time was perfect, sunny and anywhere from 65-75 every day.
NERD BONUS: We love astronomy and the best time to view an arm of the Milky Way is in October over Greece.
Ps. Go here and go soon, before it becomes a crazy tourist place.