“Santorini is that rare thing, a place where legend is matched by reality. One of the most spectacular islands in the world, Santorini’s cliff-faced crescent isle graces tourist brochures and posters in Greek restaurants the world over. The real wonder is that the place itself meets and exceeds all glossy picture-postcard expectations.” (Frommers 2nd edition -1999).
On day three of our Greek honeymoon, we set sail from Athens to perhaps one of the most iconic and beautiful islands in the world: Sensational Santorini. Based on everything I’d read and heard about Santorini, I could hardly wait to see the real thing.
I had heard from fellow travelers that Santorini was a place you would never forget. Twelve years later I can attest that this statement is indeed true. So true that my husband and I bought a bed-sized painting of our beloved Santorini that lies above our dresser in our bedroom, a beautiful site to see before drifting off to sleep at night and rising to the morning sun each day.
Unfortunately due to my irrational fear of flying on small planes, we opted to take the ten-hour overnight Greek ferry to Santorini. We would have saved a ton of time by flying but I didn’t want to stomach the bumpy flight over on a turbo prop. We set sail after dinner and thanks to several glasses of greek wine, we were able to sleep through the bumpy, loud cruise over to Santorini.
We woke around 6 am to catch the sunrise over the first port of call: The Greek Isle of Ios. It was worth the early wake up as the view was stunning. Two hours later, we saw a dark, rocky crescent-shaped formation off in the distance. There was no mistaking that it was Santorini who received her unusual formation after a famous volcanic eruption over 3,600 years ago that literally sunk the center of the island to the bottom of the brilliant blue waters of the Aegean Sea. A legend remains today that the once cosmopolitan city of Akrotiri which was buried under tons of ash is the lost city of Atlantis.
As we pulled in, my heart melted at the unearthly power of Santorini’s beauty. Once a circular island, the caldera surrounded by an enormous rectangular painfully blue lagoon, it is hard not to notice that the entire island is perched up over 980 feet (300 m) on top of rocky brown cliffs. Juxtaposed against the brilliant blue of the Aegean Sea and the dark brown steep cliffs are the white-washed villages dotting the top of the island. It is perhaps the most stunning sight I have ever seen.
Finding the perfect place to stay on your honeymoon was a cakewalk in Santorini. There were endless amounts of options, however, we took one look at the highly-rated Astra hotel in Imerovigli, a quaint village along the caldera rim, and were sold. Per our Frommers Guidebook (1999), the Astra hotel “is one of the nicest places to stay in all of Greece”. The book was not lying. It was so incredible that we changed our trip and skipped an island all together so we could spend more time at the Astra on Santorini.
Here are some of my favorite views from room number 1 at the Astra:
Santorini was the best part of our entire honeymoon. Our most favorite, beloved place. It was so utterly beautiful that there was no way not to smile. It is perhaps one of the most romantic places on earth.
Our days were spent lounging by the pool and touring around the island. There are actually some cool ruins, a great winery, several hiking options and finally a black sand beach. We also took a sunset cruise in the Aegean Sea and went for a swim in her refreshing waters.
We also enjoying checking out all the lovely neighboring villages with stunning views of the caldera that made you feel faint.
Each night we would walk around the serpentine rock stairs and pathway leading up and down the cliff edge of Santorini in search of an outdoor restaurant for dinner. If I close my eyes even today, I still can picture the mystical nights and all the brilliant lights and stars dotting the horizon.
By day five in Santorini, we were so relaxed that neither of us wanted to leave. But as they say, “All good things must come to an end”. It was time to leave Santorini but I made my husband promise me that we’d be back again someday.