Babymoon in Greece-Part II-Santorini

We woke up early to take our high-speed ferry from Piraeus to Santorini.  We made a reservation on Hellenic Seaways and booked a VIP table for extra comfort being this was a fairly long ferry ride (4 hours and 45 minutes) and we weren’t sure what to expect or how busy the rest of the ferry would be.  We found navigating our way to the Ferry Terminal to be simple however finding our exact port proved to be slightly more difficult!  We found it with time to spare and found it to be a seamless process to board however we were a little nervous to leave our luggage unattended but apparently it’s common and less of a big deal than we thought it would be.  We found our table and enjoyed our departure from the Piraeus port out on the deck while the sun rose.  The journey was relatively smooth with two stops at Sifnos and Ios before our arrival at the Athinios Santorini Port.

Two words come to mind when describing the Santorini new port… Absolute Chaos.  It was nothing like we expected whatsoever.  We were anticipating a clean and picturesque welcome, similar to pictures we had seen without realizing that those pictures showed the Old Port, not the new one.  It was loud, dirty and hectic.  There were solicitors every five feet trying to get the business of tourists whether it be purchasing souvenirs or using their taxi to get to their hotel.  We quickly haggled with a cab driver for a reasonable price to get a ride to our resort.

Now, the reviews on the El Greco Resort in Fira were somewhat mixed at the time of booking but it was where we wanted to stay and was “resort style” which was something that we wanted for this part of the trip being we would be here for 4 nights.  We had one of the few Junior Suites at the resort (totally worth it) with a large balcony on the second level. This resort was very special because it is located on a very narrow part of the island and from the balcony you could watch the sun rise out of the Aegean Sea in the morning and watch it set on the west side at night.  These sunrises and romantic sunsets  will forever be a part of our fondest memories of Greece.

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*Image taken from Google.

The pools here are lovely. There are 3 of them and although cold, were perfect and never busy.  The breakfast buffet was included in our stay and was very impressive.  Greek coffee with an expansive hot breakfast complete with Spanakopita, croissants and real Greek Yogurt were enjoyed tremendously during our stay.

The Suites are large, with a massive 2-head shower area, kitchenette, large cave-style bathroom, living room area, and bedroom.  As I already mentioned, there is also a large balcony.  Be warned, the beds are not comfortable, (this was conclusive throughout our trip) they are extremely hard and there were springs sticking in my ribs all night long.   The concierge at the resort were very helpful in making our dinner reservations for us ahead of time and making suggestions with regards to the best places to eat and with the best view of the caldera and sunset.

This resort is a pleasant 5 minute walk into the very authentic town of Fira but you have the added bonus of complete quiet at night because it isn’t located right amidst the action.  This was perfect for us as we would enjoy a morning by the pool and then head into town for lunch, exploring, and shopping for the afternoon and then return to our room to get ready for our 7:00-8:00 dinner reservation back in Fira.  There is also a grocery story between the resort and Fira where we purchased lots of bottled water and snacks, etc.  Buying water gets expensive so we found it best to buy large bottles in cases at grocery stores and bring it with us during the day rather then buying it while we were out and about.  That being said, we added up what we spent on water during our two weeks in Greece and it ended up being upwards of $500.00CAD.  Staying hydrated isn’t cheap!  Lunches ranged from 7-30 euros for both of us.  7 euros would get you takeaway style gyros and 30 euros would get you a traditional greek salad, cappuccino, water, and personal style pizza or pasta.  Dinner ranged between 50-80 euros on Santorini which would include water, bread to start, two main courses, and a dessert to share.  These dinner restaurants were all on the hillside with a sunset and ocean view.  Something to remember in Greece is that most restaurants bring items to the table that you have not ordered and leave them for you.  If you leave them untouched you will not be charged for them but if you accept and consume the items they will add the items to the bill.  These items are NOT complimentary unless they tell you that they are.  We did have complimentary bread, a dessert tray and drinks brought to us on a few occasions but typically they are not complimentary.   We enjoyed two excellent dinners at Volcano Blue where the service and food were wonderful as well as dinner at Rastoni where we had the best Baklava of our entire trip.

We spend some time at a coffee shop called Seasons in Fira where the Barista showed us how to make a proper greek coffee.  It was an educational experience and was a lot of fun for both of us! Here, they give you a tiny piece of dark chocolate when you buy a coffee or cappuccino.  Greek coffee is different than the coffee we are used to because they never put cream or milk in it. Also, it is such a fine grind that the grinds are not strained out of the coffee before drinking, rather they sit in the bottom of your cup when you are finished.  38315A70-823C-495E-A0F8-469CFCF1A752

Our last day in Santorini we decided to make the trip to Oia.  As we looked into our chosen mode of transportation for the 15km journey we realized that taxis were few and far between on Santorini with the exception of at the port so we decided to take the bus.  We walked into Fira where the {very busy} bus station was and joined the masses hoping to board one of the busses to Oia.  The bus ride was less than 2 euros each however it was not a direct bus and took us all over the countryside (literally) before arriving in Oia.  This was a less than pleasant ride and I ended up quite car-sick (winding roads, no air conditioning, lots of stop-and-go, no water and being five months pregnant likely didn’t help matters either).  Once we arrived we were quite hungry so we found a spot to sit and relax and have a snack while my stomach settled.  Our dinner reservation was at 7:30PM at Catch.  We had a lovely table with a beautiful view of the sunset but to be quite honest, we were underwhelmed.  There is a lot of hype surrounding Oia and while it is perfectly picturesque we found it to be so overly touristy that we didn’t get the same authentic Greek feel that we did in Fira.  Perhaps this is because Fira is home to the old port so it has remained more authentic while Oia has become a tourist hotzone.  That in mind, we did get some beautiful pictures in Oia with the stereotypical white buildings with their blue roofs and enjoyed the very high end main shopping street.

Our bus ride back thankfully, was a direct bus and was a great deal smoother (it was dark by now which helped I think).

Below is a photo of the stairs that lead to the Old Port.  You can take a donkey or walk them if you choose, we did neither. Because…588 stairs.C806F06F-D76F-4B52-8DF2-33E7DFF2886E.JPG

The next morning we were up early to watch the sunrise before our taxi arrived to take us back to the Port Athinios to board our ferry to Naxos. A perfect end to our time in beautiful Santorini.

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Thanks for reading! Happy Travelling.

-Julie

Babymoon in Greece-Part I-Athens

Day 1-Toronto-Athens
Day 2-Athens/Piraeus
Days 3-7-Santorini
Days 7-11-Naxos
Days 11-14-Mykonos
Day 15-Athens
Day 1 & 2
It was a very drizzly and cool day leaving Toronto September 3rd and we couldn’t wait! We went out for breakfast with Travis’ mom who then drove us to the airport. Our flight was with Air Canada who for whatever reason thought it was acceptable to not have TVs installed on the plane and “not have enough iPads for everyone.” So we slept, and slept and slept.  As much as one can sleep on a tiny airplane seat anyways. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise though as with a +7 hour time change, when we arrived at 9:20AM it actually felt like the middle of the night to us and we had been up since 6AM the day before with much anticipation and excitement so sleep was probably a wise decision on the plane! September 4th, when we arrived was actually my 24th Birthday although we kind of forgot for a good portion of the day because we were so busy and had a big day ahead of us! When we arrived it was a bit of an unsettling feeling to not know the language, not know where you’re going, and to not have someone waiting to pick you up! We navigated our way to the Taxi stand and took a Taxi to our Hotel located in Piraeus.
Piraeus Dream was conveniently located near the Ferry terminal and was a 45 minute cab ride from the airport (50 euros). When we arrived at the Hotel we were pleasantly surprised by how centrally located it was to a multitude of things including the port, a boardwalk, shopping and heaps of restaurants. We felt very overwhelmed by the culture, the language, and by how beautiful everything. We showered and got ready quickly, eager to begin our exploration of Piraeus and Athens and ignored the very strong urge to climb into the bed and take a loooong nap. We left the hotel and began searching for a spot to eat, we were starving and weren’t sure how safe it was to eat wherever (we needed to be especially conscious of this considering I was 5 nearly 5 months pregnant). We finally settled in at a spot with excellent reviews from travellers called Street Souvlaki and enjoyed a Gyro, Greek Salad and lots of bottled water!
After lunch we went back to the hotel who found us a cab and we headed to the Acropolis. I should mention that it was HOT, as in 39 degrees Celsius hot! We arrived at the Acropolis, purchased tickets (30 euros per person for 6 sites) and began the many stairs to the top. We toured the Acropolis including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena, and the Temple of Zeus.
After we were finished our afternoon of wandering, a latte or two and 10+ bottles of water, we took another cab back to our hotel and succumbed to the temptation of that nap. It was glorious! Once we woke up we walked to the pier and found a restaurant called Parmigiani Restaurant Italiano that had excellent reviews for an Italian Restaurant! Perhaps it was because we were so hungry but this was one of, if not my favourite meal in Greece! I would happily fly 11 hours for another plate of that Fettuccine Alfredo. After sharing two small gelato we headed for bed with an early morning ahead of us.
Happy Traveling!
-Julie