After we had explored the island of Paros, Daniel and I were looking forward to spending the night in a hotel in Santorini (and escaping the tent where we had been crashing for the past two nights). We crawled aboard the two-hour ferry that would take us to the much-visited and most famous island of the Cyclades. After seeing so many photos on Instagram and social media, I was looking forward to seeing whether or not it lived up to the filtered and doctored images I had scrolled through.
What I was not expecting was the steep climb up the side of the island after popping on the local bus that would take us to our hotel. I’m used to steep drops—as a frequent visitor to the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park, even I was feeling a little woozy by the time we made it all the way up to the top.
It also took us a few tries to find our small, family-run hotel where we would be staying. We even had to knock on locals’ doors, who would give us vague directions in Greek. Even they seemed to be a little confused about where exactly everything was. It took at least an hour to find our hotel and we called it a day after hauling our stuff up and down hills.
We were determined to see what Santorini was all about the next day, though, and we decided to rent an ATV in order to properly explore the island. It cost around 30 euro (plus a 10 euro insurance fee) to rent, but as we soon found out, there really is no better way to experience the Greek lifestyle. We went from one end to the other of the island, stopping at the black sand beach and climbing up to the highest point where we took pictures of a peaceful church.
If you hate traffic, driving an ATV in Greek traffic might not be the best way to go. It is extremely stressful, and having a hand on the brake at all times is necessary in order to avoid a wreck (which is why it’s smart to opt for insurance on your ATV if you can). After stressing enjoyably for a few hours, we made a stop for lunch and ordered, of course, a plate of seafood.
The next day we returned the ATV but were at a loss of what to do. We had seen most the major neighborhoods like Oia, and we had an entire day before we had to catch a flight to Egypt. We don’t usually choose to take a tour when you can get around easily yourself, but it actually ended up being the perfect way to see some of those Instagram-worthy shots I was curious about.
What we were really interested in, however, was the ruins of Thira. As history lovers, we were excited to experience this part of the tour. The city is still being uncovered by archeologists, and you are allowed to walk through as though you were once part of the ancient culture. Like Pompeii, this was one of the highlights of Santorini for me—even though this is an attraction you might not think of when visiting the Cyclades.
The tour ended with a wine tasting overlooking the ocean. While the wine was a little bitter for me (except the dessert wine—yum), it helped me to relax after a hectic past few days of snorkeling in Paros, taking the ferry and getting lost finding the hotel, and trying to navigate Greek traffic. I was ready to take on the next part of our journey in Cairo.
We’re headed back to Santorini in a few weeks—any recommendations on things we missed?