Sunny Days in Santorini

After my trip to Athens, I took a long, albeit comfortable ferry to Santorini. Santorini is an island with several small towns. They all have something to offer, and they’re all quite charming.

However, what you should know is to get from one town to the next, you either need to rent a vehicle or take the bus. The bus is cheaper. That’s what I did, but all buses start and end at Fira. If you’re in Oia, for example, and want to go to Akrotiri, you need to take a bus from Oia to Fira, wait at the bus station, and then get a bus from Fira to Akrotiri. You’ll need to do the same thing on the way back. As a result, you waste a lot of time just waiting for a bus, so seriously consider renting a car or ATV.

Luckily, I got a hostel in Fira, so it wasn’t too bad for me. I dropped off my stuff at the hostel and then got a bus to Akrotiri. Akrotiri is known for two things: its ruins and its beach. Greece is full of ruins of past civilizations. While in Athens, I saw plenty of ruins, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not going. The beach was calling my name.

Akrotiri’s beach is called Red Beach, and it’s no surprise why. It’s built into a stunning display of bright, red rock. Against the crystal blue waters, the beach is worthy of quite a few pictures.

After soaking in the cool ocean and warm sun, I headed into the actual town of Akrotiri. There are the remains of a small castle not too far from a quaint church with a blue roof and bronze bells. As you’ll discover, not all of Santorini’s buildings are blue, just the churches.

After exploring a bit, I made my way to Theofanis. Theofanis is a restaurant that serves classic Greek cuisine and has an incredibly friendly and helpful staff that makes you feel part of a Greek family.

For my first course, I had stuffed grape leaves served with yogurt, herbs, lemon, and olive oil. All the ingredients are grown on Santorini and you can taste it in the cooking. The grape leaves were so fresh, light, and tender.

Next I had mousaka, which is like Greek lasagna made with eggplant instead of pasta. The mousaka was a tad lighter and fresher than lasagna, but still had the same richness of the meat and bechamel sauce. It was impossible not to enjoy it.

Finally, I ate a banoffee pie with crunchy kataifi (a buttery, honeyed pastry resembling shredded wheat). The pie was delicious with its graham cracker base, soft, sweet bananas, crunchy kataifi, and thick drizzle of caramel. It was an amazing meal. While there, I saw the owner greet a couple men, who liked the place so much they had to come again. So clearly I’m not the only one who loved Theofanis.

The next morning I explored more of Fira. There is a whole line of shops if you’re interested in that. But I was looking to get my daily fix of caffeine. There are several great cafes in Fira. One of them is Enigma Cafe. It’s built right into the mountainside and has a gorgeous view of the sea. No matter where you sit, you can see the water. The coffee is yummy too.

But the best place in Fira is Volkan on the Rocks. It’s a bit of a hike, but that’s why it’ll be less crowded than Enigma, which is in a busier area. It has the most gorgeous view and a delicious menu. You can choose from lighter dishes like homemade yogurt and granola, which is a lovely way to start the day. Or you can go for these praline pancakes smothered in Nutella. You already know I chose the latter.

Having gorged myself on pancakes, I decided to take a bus to Oia. Basically all the photos of Santorini you see on Instagram are taken in Oia. As a result, there are tons of people taking pictures there, especially at sunset. But how can you resist when it looks this amazing?

In Oia, there are also plenty of shops. By now you know that’s not my thing. As always, I had food on my mind. I settled on a place called Roka. You have to go down some quiet alleyways to reach the restaurant. It doesn’t have a sea view, but you’ll appreciate the quiet. It makes for a better dining experience compared to the hustle and bustle of the rest of Oia.

I started my meal with a smoked cherry tomato soup and ravioli with creamy cheese. It’s a simple, but effective recipe. The fresh ingredients worked in unison to make a rich, savory soup with robust flavors.

Next I had lobster linguine bolognese with basil, brown butter, and truffle foam. Although there were several chunks of lobster, their flavor didn’t overpower the rest of the dish, so other flavors could shine through. The truffle foam was a fancy touch, and it was yummy. However, the flavor was as light as the foam itself. I wish it was just a bit stronger because who doesn’t love truffle?

Finally, I had a Greek coffee crème brûlée with cacao crumble, cognac froth, and dodourmas (mastiha) ice cream. Honestly, I would call it a custard and not a crème brûlée since there was no topping of torched sugar. Regardless, it was delicious. Hidden under the light foam of cognac was a strong coffee flavor accented by the crunch of the cacao crumble. Call it what you want. It was a delicious dish with a pleasant mix of textures.

Thus ended my trip in Santorini. The next day I took a bus to the airport. I got there a bit too early though, and be warned. The Santorini airport is tiny, and there is basically nothing to do once you pass security. So take as much time as you need getting there.

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