A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Santorini

....... the perfect setting for a nautical adventure

sunny 10 °C

Summer hadn't quite arrived when we did late April and it wasn't 'high season' so not everything was available or open on the island. As it turned out, it was just PERFECT for us. We stayed at Imerovigli as against choosing Oia or Fira. Imerovigli is rightfully called “The Balcony to Santorini” for wherever you are on this part of the island, there is no escaping that view. The entire island is dotted with houses that have whitewashed walls and beautiful blue doors that overlook the Aegean and every single time you open your eyes and look out over the Caldera it never fails to bring on a smile.

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You know you are living a dream when the door to your suite opens up to one of the most breathtaking natural views in the world - a volcano outside your front door in the middle of the Mediterranean for goodness sake! I've not come to terms with that memory yet. During sunset its a common ritual for people to gather on their balconies or terraces all over the island with a glass of wine to take in one of the most magnificent sunsets in the entire world.

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When you are not lazing around and drinking in the endless view I recommend you try and explore the island a bit. We particularly enjoyed the cliff top walk to Fira one morning, which took approximately 2 hours. Fira is a port town, where all the cruise ships come in to dock and it gets very busy when they do. In my opinion - Fira, although interesting and fun to visit felt more touristy with a lot more hustle and bustle and way too many people to squeeze past in the busy narrow streets. I guess it all depends on what each person is seeking while on a holiday. Fira is a great place to explore with loads of pedestrianised alleys, lots of nice shops and taverns. I met an Australian artist who lives and paints in Santorini for 300 days in a year and goes back to Australia to exhibit her work once a year.

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NOTE OF INTEREST : Wear a pair of good walking shoes or sandals, the paths are often cobbled with very uneven steps and steep paths. Santorini is not a good destination for anyone with mobility issues.

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Spend a day on a boat trip which will take you the volcano and the hotsprings. A visit to the excavations at Akrotiri is a must as so is a visit to the beach at Perissa . You can even scuba dive off the cliffs and most hotels can set you up with diving instructors.

As I turned my head around to breathe in the view one last time during my trip, I remember thinking that this is definitely not going to be my last trip to Santorni. I would return here in a heartbeat and recommend that if you get the chance, you should do so too :)

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Catch the wind in your sails :)
- Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 12:32 Archived in Greece Tagged sunset santorini fira caldera imerovigli Comments (0)

A Greek Escape

A highlight of the few days spent in Athens before we got to the islands....

semi-overcast 9 °C

Monastiraki

An amazingly vibrant and old neighbourhood still in action after a few thousand years! Everywhere you turn from the square, there are wonderful items of every kind to find, to buy, to eat and savour. Spent almost an entire evening walking around this neighbourhood, tasting authentic Greek cuisine and shopping for trinkets and souvenirs. Spending an evening here gave me an insight into the life of a modern day Athens resident which seems to combine a heady mixture of the modern and the traditional with the ever present backdrop of the ancient. Literally!! (The Acropolis looms in the background of this old town).

I attended the evening service at a Greek Orthodox church at the entrance of the Monastiraki square which incidentally seems to be where the name of the town is derived from. It makes you feel like you are in a timeless oasis within the hustle of Athens.

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There are lots of bars and restaurants in the small streets off the square, we however found a picturesque back alley eatery and with a little help from our friends at the adjoining table who happened to be locals, ordered a rustic and delicious Greek meal.

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Acropolis - Athens

THE BIRTH PLACE OF MODERN DEMOCRACY - There are quite a few stairs to get to the top of the hill where the Acropolis is built but, the view once you reach the top is truly humbling. There’s nothing that prepares you for the feeling that comes with the realisation as to how much history lies beneath your feet and all around you. It is a definite journey back in time and is a surreal experience imagining that something of this magnitude was built by hand nearly 5000 years ago.

Visiting the Acropolis took me back to the time when I studied Greek Mythology in school and like me if you are fascinated with Greek history, Greek gods and goddesses, then this is bound to be a surreal experience. There is a lot of restoration work going on at the site and its heartening to see the Greeks doing everything they can to preserve and restore the buildings on the Acropolis.

The Parthenon that stands proud even in its ruins seems to tell stories as to how it shaped up to be the seat of modern day democracy. It must have been an unbelievable sight all those years ago when the structures were still in their original form. Even like it is today, it is an impressive sight. The carefully calculated spaces between columns, the overall symmetry of these huge marble structures built all those years ago just goes to show how advanced the ancient Greeks were. It was cloudy and windy for the greater part of the time I spent here, but just for a minute the clouds parted and bathed the entire Acropolis with bright sunlight, which if you ask me is probably the only way this wonder has to be viewed. Was lucky to get a good picture of the Parthenon before the sunlight disappeared.

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The Porch of Maidens was another sight that was just a treat to the eyes. The statues of 6 women are used as structural pillars are beautiful to say the least. I heard the guide say that the statues on the site are replicas and that 5 of the maidens are housed at the Acropolis Museum and one of them is at the British Museum in London.

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After the long trek back to the bottom of the hill lined with a zillion olive trees and fat lazy pigeons who prefer to walk after a meal instead of fly, I now know for a fact that no matter how familiar with the sight of the Acropolis you are and how much familiarity you may credit to your knowledge owing to your school work or just because you browsed through the internet and read everything possible on the subject, nothing (absolutely nothing!) prepares you for the astonishing scale of such a structure that was built millenniums ago. I strongly advise you make the effort and hike up that hill. It is an experience like no other.

NOTE : Its extremely windy atop the Acropolis. The best time to visit would be in the morning or evening. Wear sensible shoes as the path winds and is uneven.

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As you make you way down from the Acropolis you can see the fully intact Temple of Hephaestus built in honour of the Greek God of Blacksmiths and Metalworking (pictured above). Did not visit it to the Temple of Hephaestus, but instead paid a visit to the ruins of the Temple of Zeus which is at the base of the hill.

On reaching the city square we found ourselves outside the imposing structure of the Academy of Athens. Took a couple of pictures and walked on, only to find out later that that if we had taken ten steps towards the building, we could have also seen the statues of Socrates and Plato near the base of the pillars supporting the statues of Athena and Apollo.

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This city is truly MYTHOLOGICAL.

Safe Travels
Sowmya CJ

Posted by Ceej 12:12 Archived in Greece Tagged athens parthenon acropolis monastiraki porch_of_maidens Comments (0)