Santorini is a magical place. You know it right when you get off the ferry. When you see those white hill towns it quickly becomes clear that you could fall in love with it. So you have a choice, stay beachside and visit the cities, or stay in a city and visit the beaches. To me the choice is quite clear. While the beaches are magnificent, and the black volcanic sand is actually pretty cool, the magical part of Santorini is really Fira and Oia (pronounced Eea). These are the types of towns that you just don’t get to see very often. Similar-ish cities can be found of course, but each one is unique, and Fira where we stayed is no exception. Imagine the tiny winding European streets that you’ve seen before. Old as hell, lined with bars, shops, and restaurants. Imagine how old and amazing and quaint they were. Now imagine that on the top and side of a mountain. Hidden passageways. Up, down, left, right, for as far as you can go. You’ll be there for a week and still not see it all. Every corner hides a secret. Every step a new view. Everywhere you look you will be like, oh my god we have to go there. Oh my god we have to stay there next time.

I personally thought Fira was cooler than Oia but they were pretty similar. I felt like Fira was very touristy, but Oia was even worse. The drive to Oia is also quite perilous. And then finding parking is also a biotch. So watching the sunset is nice (the thing to do in Oia), but I didn’t need that town really. I imagine the folks staying in Oia might say the exact same thing.

Fira had an entire mountainside of tiny resorts with each room getting a private pool. I say resort because many of these places are slick and mod and sexy as all hell. Hotel doesn’t do it justice. They are built for romance. The restaurants on the caldera (volcano) side were pretty freaking rad too. Not the food, as that’s pretty much all the same, there appears to only be one menu that all the restaurants in any Greek tourist area share, but the view, the experience, the feeling. It’s wonderful. Hanging off a mountain in a table for two sipping on a drink is one of life’s most important treasures.

Now on the other side of the caldera view is the nightlife and local area. You can find a restaurant with a different menu and you can eat truly homemade food. J and I found such a place, classic European set up where the children are forced to work in the fathers restaurant pretty much for free. Those Europeans and their zany indentured servitude. On a side note it’s amazing that places like that go out of business. Don’t get me wrong, the restaurant business is really really tough, but with free family labor I could crush it. Bring on the babies!

Anyway this restaurant we found was lovely, and we chatted forever with the family. Great stuff, and amazing house pita!

On that side it also gets crushed with people every night, it’s like the pedestrian street that everyone goes to. Fira is known as a party place late night and even on week nights it gets crowded.

The beach area of Perrisa and Persivola are awesome. They are connected by a concrete boardwalk that is drive-able, especially with an ATV. The entire stretch for miles is just Restaurant after Restaurant. All with beach side lounge areas where you can chill if you meet nominal sales minimums (ours was 10 euros per adult, an easy yes). The chairs and entire areas for each restaurant were actually pretty plush. The beach itself is black which is cool but it can be rough on the feet. The women are out of this world. It’s a must visit for the day.

Driving around on that ATV was pretty perfect. At 45 euros for 24 hours it also made for an easy yes.

When going on a “cruise” (basically a tour of the immediate area with snorkeling and such) from the old port in santorini (I think they all go from there), which is kind of the thing to do, make sure you’re smart enough not to take the path that the fucking donkeys take. Yes, you have traveled the same way they did hundreds of years ago, but you also spent 45 minutes breathing horse shit and burning up in the sun. Oh they built a cable car decades ago? Oh it uses electricity and has air conditioning. Are you an f’ing wizard or something. About half way down you realize how big of a mistake you have made. This is not a nature trail, it’s uneven cobblestone at uncomfortable angles while dodging donkeys. Yup. It’s just perfect.

And on that note, choose a fucking cruise that offers some gd amenities. Our boat, offered no shade, no music, no personality, no…aw fuck it. Book a good boat. Spend the extra money. I mean at 70 euros a person you could at least throw some beers our way no? Also your buffet dinner is an exercise in American buffet gluttony. Uncomfortable was not a big enough word.
On that cruise I was like, oh you’re taking me to a volcano? That’s rad! But wait. It’s just a pile of rocks? And the walk up to the top is a million miles in the oppressive sun and choking dust with zero shade and no water stations, or bars for that matter!!! And when I get all the way up there I get to look around 360 degrees and see…rocks! Where do I sign up for your cruise?!?!
Oh and after that we get to go to a hot spring that’s really just a shit brown inlet that’s seems like it’s mostly warm from the urine of the swarms of tourists in it? I didn’t see a single bubble in your spring. A spring that does not make…it’s a toilet.

Making fun of that cruise aside, this place is as magical as it gets. I honestly cannot wait to go back, and I say that about very few places.

Notes to self:

-Ferry to santorini from Crete was 1.5 hours, the ferry from santorini to mykonos was 2.5 hours.
Yes the first class ticket is quite worth it. Much better accommodations and service.


Aressana Spa and Resort (Aug. 2017)