I had the most amazing opportunity to take a seven-night Greek Isles cruise after dreaming about going to Greece for almost ten years. It was hopefully the first of many times I’ll be able to travel to one of the few places on Earth that I felt at home.
Truly, at home.
The cruise began in one of my other favorite places in the world, Civitavecchia, more commonly known as Rome. But that’s another story for another time. From there, we cruised to the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece. We glided across the Aegean Sea right into the open arms of the island.
As soon as the cruise ship pulled into the gentle waters, I could feel peaceful energy flowing all around the island. The water was so calm and serene that I really have no words to describe it except — pure magic.
It was a completely Zen experience.
Once the cruise ship docked just outside of the Old Port in Fira, I boarded the tender boat which ferried me to the shore. And that was when the magic of Santorini really began. . .
Now, before I get too far into my epic journey to Santorini, I do have to warn you that it is filled with tons of tourists depending on what time of the year you go. The months of May through September are known as the high-season for Santorini. I went in June 2017 and it was quite busy from the cruise ships making their rounds, not to mention the various other tourists that were embarking on the same magical journey. But it was still very enjoyable and well worth going.
So without further ado, here are some of the highlights of my trip. . .
The Village of Oia, Santorini, Greece
When you think of Santorini, more than likely the breathtaking village, pictured above, pops into your mind with its clean, white walls and bright, blue dome tops dotting the cascading landscape. For years, I had a picture of this small village set as the background image on my laptop. And I would stare at it dreamy-eyed and wishing that someday I would get to go there. And one day, I finally did. Let me just say, it was even better in person.
This enchanting village called Oia, pronounced “ee’yah”, is found in the Cyclades, Greece.
It was a magical experience filled with exotic delights for your senses at every turn. There was a flowing, peaceful energy felt throughout this town. It was more like going to a relaxing spa than visiting a busy village. I enjoyed the delightful chatter and smiles of tourists and shopkeepers alike as I wandered through the cobblestone streets of Oia. I often stopped to explore the boutique shops filled with colorful, handmade pottery, jewelry, and many other unique treasures.
The Gorgeous Caldera View
There is only one word to describe the view when looking out from Oia — Heavenly.
It is like you’ve literally died and gone to heaven. It feels like you’ve stepped into some kind of mythical land full of beauty and wonder. As I walked through the winding streets, I found myself constantly looking over the cliff towards the calm, still waters and taking in the romantic sunset. It was calling my attention like a gorgeous siren waiting for me to notice the simply magnificent view. Like it was created just for me.
The Cycladic architecture is just as picturesque as the view itself. I found myself spellbound by the simple yet absolutely perfect lines and curves of each wall and building. The citizens of Santorini built their Cycladic homes from volcanic rock right into the island’s cliffs creating one of the most spectacular views from both land and sea.
This architecture combined with the colors of white and blue added to the peaceful atmosphere of Santorini. Even as you walk up and down the steps of Oia, you find yourself relieved of any stress that existed before you entered its sacred walls. All that is left is experiencing the beauty of creation and humanity at its best.
Delicious Greek Food and Wine
While I was in Oia, I had the chance to sit down and enjoy some of Greece’s amazing traditional food and wine. I ordered a delicious array of tasty Greek dishes including Fava me Koukia, also known as Greek Fava. Contrary to its name, it is not made with fava beans. Instead, it consists of yellow split peas mashed together with garlic, onion, and olive oil then blended into a fine puree and topped with a drizzle of extra olive oil. It’s served with crusted bread or sliced vegetables to dip and enjoy. Think hummus, but better if you ask me.
Another simple yet divine dish is the traditional Greek Salad, sometimes known as Horiatiki. It’s served with fresh Santorini-grown cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, sliced cucumbers, kalamata olives, capers, feta cheese, and olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper. You have not truly tasted a tomato (unless you’ve been to Italy) until you’ve tried the cherry tomatoes grown in the volcanic rich soil of Santorini. De.lic.ious.
The Greek Salad paired exquisitely well with their famous Greek wine which is also grown in Santorini’s volcanic soil. It is common to see many grape vines growing like small bushes on the ground all around the town in open fields.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit one of the popular Santorini wineries since I was on “cruise time”. But, I was able to have a glass of wine or three while sitting down at one of the more popular Greek restaurants. Santorini is known for having amazing white wine and let me just say, it did not disappoint. Next time I go, I plan to stay a lot longer and really “soak up” every part of this fantastic place. And visiting some of their wineries is on the top of my list! But until then, I’m quite satisfied with my gastronomic experience and I look forward to going back.
I could go on and on about all of the wonders of Oia and Santorini.
And even though I visited Athens, Greece on the same trip, this was by far, my most favorite place. And I loved Athens.
So for now, I’ll leave you with this one piece of advice — Go.
Whatever you do, Go and experience the magic of Santorini.
In spite of the hustle and bustle, it was still one of the best experiences of my life.
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