September 8 – 11
With a big hike planned for the morning, we were eager to get over to the breakfast room to see what was in store for us; upon arrival we weren’t disappointed, encountering an array of pastries, yoghurt, fruit and different egg based dishes each day of our stay.
We loaded up and having completed preparation for a day out, walked down to Bakery Gregory for another quick snack and boarded the bus.
After arriving at the central bus terminal in Fira, we began walking through town, constantly ascending as we passed through the suburb of Firostefani on the way to the trailhead for the Caldera Path, the six-mile cliff-top trail that would take us out to the northern most tip of the island and the picaresque town of Oia.
We would do a lot of hiking on this trip through a great deal of fantastic scenery, but without a doubt, this one was a highlight.
Relatively taxing, it was a workout and yet each time you stopped to catch your breath, there was another postcard view of the Caldera, or the hillside, or a white washed town in the distance.
About an hour in we stopped at Cafe Monopati for a drink and a snack, then pushed on rounding the narrowest part of the Caldera and moving up to another summit that overlooked Oia.
We stopped at a small chapel like structure with no identifying feature to it, a place I still can’t find mentioned anywhere. We asked someone to take our picture with Oia in the background.
From there we dropped down into town.
We picked up a big bottle of Coke Zero (we had thought we’d brought enough water for the hike which was not the case) at a small market on the outskirts and consumed it in one go.
From there we worked our way into the heart of OIa, traversing its narrow streets and finding our way as far as we could go before turning back to find a place to eat. Having noted a number of possible choices, we settled on Skala with its outdoor patio and view of the Caldera.
We ordered a beer apiece (it would eventually get to two) and an order calamari, which came lightly breaded and fresh from the sea. There are moments in any trip when you find yourself in the right spot at the right time and this was one of those. That combination of a hike well done, cold beers, good food and a beautiful view struck us full force, reminding us of why we love to travel.
We hopped on the bus back to Caldera View (switching in Fira). After disembarking at Bakey Gregory, we walked back the equivalent of a couple of blocks on the busy narrow two-lane road to stop in at Cash and Carry, a good sized local market.
There we picked up some wine and the makings of a picnic dinner, which we’d enjoy later that day after a nice swim in the pool. We’d switched rooms because of the unscheduled third night and enjoyed a slightly more spacious accommodation.
With an extra day at our disposal and having accomplished the hike to Oia, we decided to rent a four-wheel ATV the next day and explore the island, which we arranged through the helpful guy at the front desk.
After breakfast, we caught a ride down the road to Diamantis Team Rentals where we selected one with a 310-cc engine, adequate enough power to enable us to navigate the roads of the island, for 63 euros, including a storage box, two helmets and full insurance.
This would be my first exposure to riding on an ATV and it would provide us not only with transportation for the day and evening (we’d return it the following morning) but a ton of fun to boot. Our first stop was at the western most tip of the south side of the island, just outside the town of Akrotiri, where we parked and walked out to its red sand beach (not Santorini’s famous Red Sand Beach), a sheltered cove, snapped a couple of pictures and then returned to head out to the eastern side of the island.
We gassed up the ATV with 10 euros worth of fuel, which would last us for the entire rental period and stopped at Bakery Gregory to pick up a sandwich, an assortment of baklava and some drinks for lunch, then drove north a bit before turning east to the town of Pyrgos where we took the road to the east coast and Kamari Beach.
Too early to hit the water, we found the road out of town that took us up Messavouno mountain to Ancient Thira (Thera), ascending 1,000 feet on a steep and winding road to a parking lot with great views of both sides of the island.
Given all of the historical sites we’d seen up to that time, we elected not to visit the ruins, named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD.
Instead we drove down and pack out to Pyrgos, stopping briefly at Yellow Donkey Brewing to confirm, disappointingly, that it being Sunday they were closed. Undeterred, we pushed on to stop just off the main road for a glass of wine at one of Santorini’s best-known wineries, Santo.
We parked the ATV and walked into the complex, which is large and modern and could match up with any of Napa’s finest. We sat outside on the patio and ordered a glass apiece, one white and one red and while soaking up the sun and the spectacular view of the Caldera, drank some really nice wine.
We stopped in the gift shop for a bottle white wine and their Vin Santo, bringing our total tab to 22.70 euros, not bad for two good quality glasses of wine and some to take with us. To complete our afternoon, we continued east on the road past Bakery Gregory to the beach at Perissa. One of the best known on Santorini, it stretched for a long distance in each direction and was crowded, even though summer was but afading memory.
Joanna took a dip while I sat in a beach side bar to enjoy a beer and reflect on the distance I’d traveled since my last trip to Greece in 1979. More often than not, it is a time like this when a song comes on the speakers and triggers a strong memory; for me it was Bob Marley’s One Love. I jotted this note as I sat there, soaking in the moment:
Santorini. Sunday afternoon, Joanna at the beach and I’m at the bar. One Love comes on and I’m briefly transported to Corfu in 79 and spending so much time with Bob Marley. How far I’ve traveled.
Joanna re-joined me and we soon departed, riding up the beach’s frontage road for quite some distance before turning inland and winding our way on two lane roads back to the Caldera View. With the ATV at our disposal for one more night we made plans to eat out and after some research on Trip Advisor settled on a place just outside of Akrotiri, Aeolos, which seemed to garner nothing but positive reviews.
We arrived just before the sun went down and were seated at a table with a view of the caldera. Unfortunately, it was overcast so the sunset was disappointing but that didn’t detract from what would be a very nice meal. As with most of our meals so far in Greece, the food was solidly good, nothing amazing but well prepared and seasoned ingredients whose freshness spoke loudly.
I had pork in a cream sauce while Joanna enjoyed rabbit in a tomato and onion mixture. Our tab for dinner with a bottle of wine included was 26.40 euros, yet another very good and complete meal for roughly 30 dollars.
We drove back to the Caldera View, the warm air holding us in its grip as we sped along through the night, glad to have had to extend our stay in Santorini by one more day and to have rented the ATV giving us the freedom to explore.
Sometimes when things go wrong, they end up going right, proving once again that it’s better to be lucky than good.
Diamantis Rentals: https://www.diamantisteam.com/
Ancient Thira: https://www.santorini.com/archaeology/ancient_thira.htm
Yellow Donkey: https://www.santorinibrewingcompany.gr/