Santorini was like a flawless movie set. The sunsets glowed immaculately day after day and the white washed buildings were ever so impeccable. A panoramic view from any angle was breathtaking. I was sold as soon as I saw a travel brochure of this Greek island, but to see it in person was something different altogether.
So, to the start of it.
We hopped onto this tiny Olympic Airways plane where my fear of heights and sensitivity to G-force had me gripping onto the arm rest.
Zen in front of the teeny Olympic Airways plane we were about to board
Here I am beside the astonishingly compact Smart car. The norm would have been to rent a quad-bike or scooter but we didn't want to be one of those annoying tourists! Besides, we had way too much luggage and wanted to explore the whole island from Oia to Akrotiri to Perissa. We soon learnt that the bonus of forking out a little more for a car was the shade it provided from the scorching heat and the strength it had to pull us up and around mountains.
Me next to the rental Smart car
We stayed at the Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites which was tucked away behind the busy streets of Fira but still in walkable distance to the shops, restaurants and views -I thought it was well deserved luxury. We read beneath the outdoor four-poster day beds, sun-baked on Milano wicker pool chairs, dipped in the pool and ate up big. The buffet breakfast was grandeur, featuring traditional Greek items, homemade Santorinian jams and treats, fresh fruits, juices, breads and so much more. The serviced poolside bar was so convenient, the service was top-notch and the food did not disappoint. Eating by the pool with a background of jazz music in a spectacular retreat like this is an unforgettable experience.
Lunch of fried meatballs with housemade French fries, bread with tsatsiki and grilled chicken with basmati rice and mastic white sauce at Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites
On another day, we ate at Ouzerie which serves up traditional Greek dishes. The moussaka (lasagna with eggplant and potato), Greek salad and chicken souvlaki were scrumptious! It was a hearty and satisfying lunch.
Homemade style Greek food of salad, moussaka and chicken souvlaki from Ouzerie Greek Mezedes
I couldn't resist getting a massage at the beach. The black pebbled sand wasn't very exciting to rest on but I did love the widely available chaise lounges. This is me getting a foot and leg massage ;)
Getting a foot and leg massage on Kamari Beach in Santorini
Santorini is truly a honeymooner's playground. I witnessed several weddings and lovebirds flourished the streets, adding more demand to the stunning sunset views. Many restaurants had amazing terraces on the cliff, offering gorgeous caldera views. One of them was Spinx Restaurant...
Dinner over sunset at Spinx Restaurant in Santorini, Greece
Fine dining in Santorini was interesting. Koukoumavlos Restaurant was experimentally creative with introducing Asian flavours to traditional Greek cuisine. I started with the Santorinian fava which is a delectable local bean, served with smoked trout and salmon tartar in mandarin sauce and roasted almonds. And for mains, I had the fresh papardelle with scampi and shrimp sauteed in ouzo and anise with fresh tomato and light cream flavoured with orange zest. The view of course was beautiful but once the sun has set, you're left in a nice but average restaurant with pitch black views of the sea.
Santorinian fava from Koukoumavlos Restaurant
I think I much preferred the cheap and cheeful, such as this grilled seafood platter of freshly caught calamari, gilt-head bream, octopus, shrimps, mussels, fried potatoes, rice and salad from Argo.
Seafood platter from Argo
Me at the south of Santorini with volcanic caldera view
Shores of Santorini near Fira
Now, where do I start with traditional Santorinian delicacies? Well... there were the fried tomato balls which taste exactly as it sounds and are totally addictive; zucchini fritters, fried salted cod served with skordalia (dip made of garlic, potato, vinegar and nuts), grilled squid or calamari or bream, gyros (the kebabs we're all used to eating at 2am after a night out) and keftedes, which are meatballs with parsley. Creme caramels, baklava, kataefi and panna cotta were also popular desserts across Santorinian menus.
Tomatokeftedes (Santorini tomato balls)
Zucchini fritters / fried baby marrows
Creme caramel from Atlantis Island Restaurant
Dinner of meatballs and fresh bream at Naoussa Restaurant
Seafood marinara spaghetti at Thalami Restaurant, Oia
Deep fried salted cod from Thalami Restaurant in Oia
Oia in Santorini
Overall? Santorini definitely sits within the top 2 of my favourite places visited during this trip to Europe. I was lucky to see its real deal, right before it would be flooded with summer tourists.