The island of love, they say. Every honeymooner’s dream, people tell me. The perfect place to be with your other half, couples boast. They also told me, it was definitely NOT the place to enjoy alone.
Yes Santorini is definitely a couple’s paradise. I was dying to go there purely for its insanely gorgeous scenery and clear, blue sea water. No matter how everyone said that it should be spent with your other half, I was determined to have a great time with my two girl friends.
After a bumpy start of my Greece tour in Mykonos, with the jellyfish and beachophobia. I finally arrived in Thira, the Greek name for Santorini, by ferry (two hours late from Mykonos!) in the evening. I was welcomed by a near to perfect sunset and zig-zag road which seems scary at first but with the view of perfection outside, you seem to forget this long and winded road by the cliff.
The middle-aged man who picked us up was the owner of the Pension we were going to stay for the next few days. The location of the Pension was perfect, just by a junction where the main buses passed to places in Santorini. His wife was a cheerful woman who sat us down and explained us about places to visit in Santorini. She took us to a room for three people, it was not extremely lavish but it was nice and comfortable. The Pension had a small swimming pool, which was quiet and peaceful. This was perfect.
I remember the old centre, called Fira, to be amazing, filled with mischievous aisles full of unique shops and tempting gelato stands. Just a few minutes walk to the edge, I was welcomed by this perfect view that you can only dream of seeing. A volcano can also be seen from the edge of the beautiful Fira. My friends and I did the bravest thing of climbing the volcano while it was around 40°C outside. Sweating and gasping for a breath of fresh air, we did finally made it to the top!
While I was in Mykonos, I met a traveller from Australia and when I told her we were going to Santorini, she told us to search for the village of Oia. It was the place for sunset hunting. I just had to find this village. Fulfilled by the breathtaking view in Fira and exhausted from the volcano hike, we were ready to set our foot in Oia the next day. With a bus from Fira, Oia can be reached quite fast, around 20 minutes or less.
When I got there, it was already quite late, only a few hours away from sunset. I was ecstatic to see this sunset village that girl boasted to me earlier. Every sunset I’ve seen in Greece was already perfect, I didn’t think there would be any better.
One of my most amazing findings in Oia before finding a spot for sunset-watching was the blue-domed church, famous in practically every single Santorini postcard. The church itself was not full of carvings or complicated architecture, it was painted in plain white with a bright blue dome. It was so simple and yet so beautiful at the same time. I felt like I was finding surprising treasures in this village. After going around to discover this pretty village (and again more amazing view of the Aegean Sea), it was finally time for us to find the “perfect spot” for watching the sunset.
All of the sudden, this petite village was packed with people. There was actually a “traffic jam” as we walked from one place to another. Seemed that we weren’t the only one sunset hunting. Narrow streets were flooded with people covering its pretty cobbled-stone ground and cute jewelry and painting stands perfectly placed on each side of the aisle.
Finally we found a nice spot, less crowded and the countdown began. The sun, slowly but surely, sank down. Its colour turned from bright yellow to an amazing orange-tangerine colour. With no clouds in the sky, it was doing its solo performance so flawlessly. I think about the people living there all their life and enjoying this view every summer, how refreshing it must be for them. This was by far the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my whole life. As the sun was swallowed by the night, a bright moon accompanied by twinkling stars replaced the empty sky. It was just breathtaking. I would do it again and again if I could. I love seeing how nature in itself can create such amazing transformation, from sun to moon, from daylight to darkness.
I realized after this spectacular show that around me were couple hugging and kissing. Of course there was a moment when I felt “man I wish I had a boyfriend!”, but standing next to me were my friends and I already felt lucky being with them, sharing this gracious setting of the sun.
For some people a destination is only “made” for a certain type of traveller, be it a backpacker, couple traveller, luxury traveller. However for me, “destination labelling” doesn’t make sense. A destination can indeed have multiple sides which can be enjoyed by everyone. Thira was an example. I enjoyed the view, beach and sunset as a single person travelling with friends. Once you are there, you literally forget about the prejudice given to the place.
So what do you think? Do you agree with me or is there some place you think only certain people can enjoy?
Word of advice
When travelling to Santorini, you will notice that they have donkeys carrying people from the endless stairs, both up and down. Please don’t do it! Take the cable car instead, they are not expensive and so much better than torturing these poor animals in the blazing heat of summer. I just didn’t have the heart to do it, even when some people call it a cultural experience, for me it’s just plain animal cruelty.