September 19, 2017 – Our flight to Santorini was at 10:15 am so we planned to be extra early in order to take advantage of the lounge for breakfast like we did in Naples. While we knew the Athens airport was pretty big, we had no idea where the lounge would be located. So we added time for walking between the lounge and our gate.
We checked out of the Divani Palace Acropolis Hotel around 6:00 am and started walking to the Acropolis metro station. It was still dark, so we were a little weary. The walk wasn’t very far, but I would get so nervous whenever we passed someone because I knew that they knew that we had passports and money in our possession.
We reached the well-lit metro and went to the platform. We were catching the metro with all the Greeks headed to work so we knew it would be packed. Packed metro + tourists with luggage = pickpocket magnets. We weren’t the only tourists on there, but still… it was a fish in barrel situation. I’m probably a little over cautious to the point where I’m very obviously staring everyone down that is within arm’s reach of me. I was basically saying, “I know you’re there. Don’t touch me. I’ll punch you” with my eyes.
Once we switched to the train going to the airport, the crowds died down until eventually, it was just us and every other air traveler headed to the airport. We still had to stand the entire hour-long ride and we both wore our packs the entire time.
For this flight, we were trying out another discount European airline: Aegean Airways. Our experience with EasyJet calmed my nerves so I wasn’t as anxious about this flight. Also, I heard that Aegean was actually a leg up from EasyJet so that comforted me more.
The line to check our bags was so long. We had to wait about 30 minutes so I was glad we left extra early from the hotel. But once we checked our bags, it was smooth sailing.
We lucked out with the Athens airport lounge because it was directly across from our gate. We had an hour before our boarding time, so we settled in and went to check out what they had for breakfast.
The answer: nothing! Ok, it was more than nothing, but it was not a substantial breakfast in the least bit. They had bread and cookies. For breakfast. The cookies were very delicious, but we were both starving. I was hoping they would at least have some Greek yogurt! They did have 2 fancy coffee machines like the lounge in Naples so at least I could wake up a bit.
Comparing the two lounges, Athens was much bigger and had windows, but Naples had way more food options.
It was finally time to board, so we gathered our things and walked the 30 feet to our gate. There was already a line forming by the gate agent desk, but we knew they would be calling groups up by which section they were in so we just sat tight.
Again, we were in a row of three seats. This time I took middle because we had the middle and aisle seats. Our seatmate was already there when we arrived. She was a nice lady from the US. We talked for the whole 30-minute flight. She and her husband were essentially digital nomads (work from wherever they want to in the world). The consulting firm that she owned (I forget what exactly she consulted), allowed her to help her clients no matter where she was so she and her husband chose to travel the world! She said the only issue she ever had was with the time difference in India (she was from Florida).
Back to Aegean Airlines, I was blown away. They were fantastic! It was less than a 30-minute flight and they came around and first gave everyone candy. Then came by again and gave everyone chocolate filled cookies. We took off right on time and landed early which is kind of amazing for such a short flight.
I knew the Santorini airport would be tiny, but I still didn’t really know what to expect. We deplaned on to the tarmac and boarded a bus that took us to the airport. We walked in the Arrivals entrance to baggage claim which was a whopping one carousel. Our bags arrived unscathed!
The Santorini airport was in Thira, but we were staying in Oia. So to get there we decided to let our Airbnb host arrange a car for us. We assumed it would just be a taxi. So we continued on from the baggage claim room to the arrivals room (they were that small, I’ve seen post offices bigger than this airport). Our Airbnb host let us know ahead of time that our driver would be holding a sign with our name. We found our guy, but we’re a little confused. He had 4 other names listed with ours.
Once everyone from the list was accounted for, we followed our driver outside. He offered to carry my bag and I gladly handed it over. There were two older ladies with rolling bags in our group and they were so mad he didn’t offer to carry their bags. They were being so dramatic on the walk up, I almost asked if they wanted me to roll their small suitcases for them.
We reached our van and climbed in. It was so fancy and looked brand new! I think it probably sat 20 people and had these super nice leather seats. I was so glad we decided to do that, I was pretty tired of being stressed about trying to figure out where to go every new place we went.
The ride to Oia was about 40 minutes. We dropped a few people off in different parts of Santorini, which was cool because we got to see some other parts of the island.
Once we reached Oia, our driver pulled up to the drop off point and let us out. We would have to walk the rest of the way since cars couldn’t drive through the narrow alleyways in the main part of town. Eric got out his phone and figured out where we needed to go to meet our Airbnb host. It was at their family restaurant which was just a few hundred feet from where we currently were.
We walked from the drop off point under an archway and into total chaos. There were people EVERYWHERE. Weaving our way through to get to the restaurant was a challenge especially with our bags, but we made it. We walked inside and were immediately greeted by a young Greek guy who didn’t even hesitate asking, “Are you here to check in to your Airbnb?” We said yes and he told us to have a seat and his mom would be right with us.
When we booked the Airbnb, the host’s name was Vasilis, we hadn’t had any communication with his wife which we assumed was the “mom” we would be meeting. We already had experiences with Airbnb hosts barely speaking any English so we were ready for this one to be the same. The mom, Gill (pronounced Jill), appeared and she was this adorable little British lady. We were both kind of shocked since we were expecting an older Greek lady (we were in Greece after all).
She was quick on her feet and told us to brace ourselves for the walk since it was going to be crowded. She explained that their home was located in a very popular picture taking area so we just needed to be assertive. I would have been nervous, but she was so quick I had no time to even think. We followed her lead and zipped through the crowd most likely smacking people with our bags; it was unavoidable.
We reached some stairs where we were met with an iconic blue domed church with the most gorgeous backdrop of the caldera. This was where we had to be extremely rude and nearly push people out of our way to get through. The looks we received were so awful, but people were standing on the stairs completely oblivious to all the people trying to get up and down them. I didn’t feel bad.
After going down one more flight of stairs, we turned right and reached a wooden door going into the side of a cave home. It was one of those double doors that opens at the top and bottom. Gill opened the door and gave us a quick tour. The pièce de résistance was the balcony where we were met with a view I can’t describe with words.
After our quick tour, Gill was off and we were left to our cozy little home for the next 2 days.
It was around 2:00 pm when we arrived, so we were both starving. We decided to change clothes and head out to find a place to eat.
We stumbled upon a little restaurant with a rooftop area (aka VIEW). The sun was excruciatingly hot next to the ledge, so we opted for a table under the shade. We ordered a sandwich and some pizza bread which is apparently all the rage in Europe (it’s basically just bread with sauce and a few toppings).
After lunch, we just wandered a bit to get our bearings. The crowds had died down a bit so the walkways were much more manageable.
We had a good chunk of the day left after lunch so we decided it would be a good idea to check out Amoudi Bay. Our Airbnb host told us there was a great place to swim once we reached the bottom of the stairs leading to Amoudi Bay. With the crazy heat, we thought that would be a great activity to attempt.
We made our way to the stairs to Amoudi Bay. We kind of got lost, but stumbled upon a great viewpoint of town!
We finally found the stairs and realized our choice in footwear was not ideal. The stairs were very steep and so slippery! Both of us were wearing our flip-flops and it was not an easy walk. I wanted to just take them off, but there was so much donkey poop on the trail I was faced with a hard decision: risk falling on my face or walk barefoot through donkey droppings. I risked it with my flip-flops.
By the time we reached to bottom we were soaked in sweat. It was technically cooler on Santorini that it was in Athens, but it felt hotter. We seriously felt like we were in an oven.
We saw some people walking in bathing suits so we followed them. We had to walk through a restaurant and then followed an unpaved path covered in lava rock to get to the swimming spot. There was one point where you had to walk along this skinny wall with the ocean crashing against the rocks below you. I found another way because I couldn’t do it. My way was difficult and involved me climbing on the big lava rocks to get over a giant hill to the other side. But I made it! Let’s just say, this swimming spot was not easy to reach.
We finally made it and then realized we couldn’t swim together because of our bag. No matter where we went when we were in Europe, we always had our passports with us. So this time was no different. We just had to take turns swimming and it was fine. Not ideal, but fine.
The water was so refreshing and super salty! There were no stairs or anything to get in or out of the water so you basically had to climb on lava rocks to get in or out. We stayed for about an hour and then decided it was time to head back up to town.
We were bracing ourselves for the walk back up. The walk down was difficult so the walk up was obviously going to be worse. We knew they had the donkeys, but they looked so pitiful and sad I couldn’t bring myself to ride one.
We thought we were sweaty on the walk down but the walk up was whole other level of hot. Our legs were burning from the climb and our skin was burning from the setting sun. We had to take some breaks on the way up to keep from passing out, but the scenery all around us eased our pain a bit.
It was a victorious feeling once we reached the top and decided to head back to the Airbnb to rinse off and cool down before wandering around town again.
I had read about an incredible ice cream place in Oia called Lolita’s. We had worked so hard on that walk to and from Amoudi Bay, so we decided to go find it and reward ourselves. Oh my gosh, it was so good! I knew that wouldn’t be the only time we went there.
We were close by the tiny grocery store so we bought some waters, yogurt, a few little snacks, and some local wine to bring back to the Airbnb with us. Our hosts had given us a small bottle of wine as a welcome, but we knew we’d want more. Our view from our place was so incredible there was no reason for us to pay triple the price for a glass of wine at a bar.
We returned to our place and decided to open the wine our hosts gave us and enjoy on our balcony. It was so relaxing!
As we were sitting there enjoying our wine, we had some visitors!!
As we were sitting on our balcony we were also researching places to eat for dinner. We were both still in our bathing suits so we weren’t dressed for anything fancy. Eric found a gyro place with amazing reviews. We both absolutely love gyros, so that sounded great to us!
We left our Airbnb for dinner as the sun was setting to go get some delicious food. I guess it was the cat hour because all the little furry friends were wandering about outside our place.
As we walked to the gyro place, we discovered the most perfect back way to get through the crowded walkways. Everyone was out now that it was dinner time, but we took this little back way and got through quickly passing almost no one along the way.
We reached Pito Gyros and it was packed! The place was tiny with just enough room inside for a few people to stand. They had bar space outside with some stools to sit on. Eric went to go order and I was put in charge of stalking people for their spot at one of the bars. I got one!
Eric returned with our food and I was so excited!! This street food was a bit more expensive than what we encountered in Athens, but that was to be expected being on an island known for luxury. It was was less expensive than any restaurant we would have gone to.
The food was so good and Eric got us two beers from the local brewery! This Greek beer was actually good! We were in Greek food heaven again.
After dinner, we just walked around again. I wanted to go back to that viewpoint we had seen by accident earlier in the day to see the pretty village at night.
We were both wiped out from our day, so after our walk, we went back to the room, took showers, and headed to bed. We would be going on a catamaran tour the next day so we wanted to make sure we got some good sleep!
If you’re interested in staying in this lovely Airbnb, here’s the link: Pano Meria Studio 3
If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before, use this link to get $40 off your stay!
Continue reading the Travel Diary here: Day 22: Exploring Oia and Santorini Sunset Catamaran Tour