Santorini

Bookworm book count: 20 including a new one purchased at the world’s cutest bookstore today

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I have no words.  Literally no words.  Oia, the famous little town at the tip of Santorini has been on my bucket list for almost 30 years.  As we pulled into the bay just below Fira on the island of Santorini at dawn, with Mumma Mia playing full bore (thanks Simon) I had that horrible feeling of a dream about to smash into reality and just not stack up.  What if it was all a postcard image that didn’t really exist?

IMG_0961But it does – it absolutely delivered.  Oia is that course is the degustation menu that you just want to go back and eat all over again, no matter how full you are.

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If you arrive by cruise ship – generally you will pull up at the port of Fira and they recommend that you take the funicular (cable car), donkey or stairs (623 of them) to the top and grab a taxi or a tour from there.  Don’t.  Our wonderful concierge Boogie (not his real name – but he always says it is with a very cheeky grin) told us a much better way.

IMG_1016Go ashore and jump straight on another boat.  There is a fabulous shuttle service that for just 15 Euros per person, whisks you by boat to the Port at the base of Oia, then you jump onto a bus and they shuttle you to the top.  It takes less time than a taxi from Fira and it is much more fun.

After you have filled up on the magic of Oia, you jump on another bus and head to Fira, where you can descend to the boat again by cable car, by walking down or by donkey.  Please don’t go by donkey.  The poor things bake in the sun all day just to lug up humans who ought to know better.

IMG_0978But back to Oia.  If you only have a day go straight there – early (yet again) and explore its tiny streets and beautiful views.  It is everything a magical Greek Island is meant to be.  The locals take huge pride in their little town and it is beautifully maintained.  The crowds tend to build after 11am.  In the morning it is delightfully quiet.

IMG_0946We wandered and watched and wandered again.  The husband checked out the hotels and needless to say – we’ll be back.  It was just how we felt when we first wandered into Taormina and we are headed there later in the trip for 5 nights.  I suspect we will do the same with Oia in a few years time.

Charlotte found the most wonderful little book store, so of course, immediately purchased a book on Greek gods, which turned out to be a godsend on the journey home.

Getting out (or into Oia) by road is not easy.  The streets are tiny and unforgiving.  Literally hundreds of buses and cars are all trying to get through a tiny, one lane road at the top.  The bottleneck took us 45minutes to navigate.  I hate to think how busy it would have gotten later in the day.  Apparently we were lucky as there were only 3 cruise ships in port and two were considerably smaller than ours.  Some days there are as many as 7.  Those days must be insane.  The queues for the funicular were not bad when we returned around 2pm, but later in the day – the wait can be over an hour, with a tender ride back to the boat to follow.  The crew go to great lengths to warn you that they can’t wait for stragglers.

IMG_0918Once again the top tip is go early, but also – go in the reverse order (Oia first).  Its where you really want to spend your time.  In fact, you’ll never want to leave.

The husband suggested we ditch the boat, book into a hotel and spend 5 nights there, catching up with the rest of the holiday in Malta.  I was very tempted!  I know him well enough to know, that with just a tiny bit of encouragement, he’d of done it, so I bit my tongue.

Oia should be on everyone’s bucket list.  Do it, stay in a white cliff top hotel with a pool and forget the world.  You won’t regret it.

Highlights from small heights

I must say Mum having no words is a once in a thousand-year experience. Shame she started chatting straight afterward.

Oia (pronounced e-a) was VERY hard to get to. We first took a boat ride through hugely choppy waters and parents decided to sit outside, on the top of the boat – weirdoes.  It was windy and revolting. We then took a bus up the hill and finally (finally!) arrived at Oia. When we did get there well its sorta hard to describe.

IMG_1001There was an astonishingly cute and quirky little bookstore called Atlantis Books. There I got a new book on Greek mythology.

IMG_0921Another place that stood out to me was the bell area Mum took a photo of and put on the blog.  It was just a sweet little place. On the subject of sweet, there were lots of cats and dogs lying around on the side of the street – so watch your step! We didn’t do much in Fira apart from the cable car ride and really that was just transport to the place so I can’t give you much on that. Sorry!

Fun rating: 9 and three quarters.

Improvement tip: Make transport easier (get it? Transport nine and three quarters? – Harry Potter.  Come on people!) Anyway.

Charlotte’s two top tips: Check out the bookstore and visit Belltown (Oia.)

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