For my final stretch in Greece I went to visit Santorini, one of the more popular Greek islands. It was winter season there, which meant that many of the shops and restaurants were closed for the next few months, and there were virtually none of the crowds of tourists that you'd normally see during peak season. This could be a bad thing, but it was exactly what I needed. It gave me a chance to meet more people who actually lived on the island, and enjoy some peace and quiet. I was advised against taking my bicycle, but I decided to do it anyways. It was a pretty good experience, most of the cars were respectful and gave me space. I think it helped that it was a lot slower than normal, and having my bike let me explore all around the island while getting some good exercise biking up and down the very steep and winding roads. I have tons of photos to share, so get comfortable!
Here's the view from near the hotel I was staying at. This was in Thera, the most popular city on the island. These are classic Cycladic homes, where most the interior is built into the cliffside. Another photo capturing some of the architecture around Santorini. The city itself is formed around a caldera, with two active volcanoes on either side! The last eruption was in the 1950s, and scientist warn that it's getting ready to erupt again soon. I found myself doing some weird hybrid of hiking and biking a lot on the island. Many times I'd find myself on the side of a cliff, where I can either spend an hour cycling around it or an hour going up and over. Up and over meant new and better views. Plus a good workout carrying my bike! Santorini is perhaps most well known for its blue-capped chapels. Here's one of the more pretty ones. The caretakers all seemed to live either on-premise or in tiny little shacks on the cliffside. There was not a single night during my stay where the sunset wasn't breaktaking. Sunset photos unfortunately never do full justice, but here's a good one! In one corner of the island is the ruins of ancient Thera. Believe it or not, the earliest known inhabitants of the island are from the 15th century BC! Wild to look and think of all the history here. After visiting the ruins of ancient Thera, I decided to hike down the cliffside with my bike. It was great views, but ended up being a lot more challenging of a hike than I expected. Enjoying my hot tub and the sunset alongside a glass of a wine and some light reading. One of the popular attractions is the volcano, which also gives rise to these hot springs. I traveled here on a chartered catamaran day trip. The water is brown due to the sulfur from the volcano. Despite it being absolutely frigid, I still swam from the boat to the hot springs and back. Very cold, and my clothes got stained brown...but worth it! The catamaran I was on docked outside Therasia, a neighboring island. I wish I had the chance to explore here. There are no motor vehicles on this island, and the only way on or off is up that massive winding staircase. It presents a problem for the older folks who live there, as the only doctor is near the port and those stairs are quite the trip for someone if there were to fall ill. A few other catamarans enjoying the sunset as well. I was exploring some different camera angles and modes, and liked the way these lava rocks turned out. I got in the habit of finding small restaurants and nooks to read and relax. This restaurant in particular was really nice. Despite it being winter, the whole restaurant was essentially a greenhouse with tons of live plants around. Santorini, similar to Therasia, has a huge winding staircase down the cliffside to the port. 589 steps, if I counted correctly! It's traditional to ride donkeys up and down the staircase. But given the slow winter season, these animals were enjoying some much deserved rest. This is a view from the port of Santorini, and also a good view of how dramatic some of the cliffside buildings can be. From the port, I saw this particularly cool looking sailboat shuttling folks to and from the nearby island. Lots of food to share, since a lot of my meals were out and about. Here's a collection of appetizers I enjoyed while in Santorina. And here's a few of the main courses. The charred squid on the top right and dry aged t-bone steak in the bottom center were some of my favorites. There were a few photos of dishes that I particularly liked. This was some fresh grilled fish. Stuffed pepper from a cool little cafe I found tucked away in the mountain.
And some stuffed and grilled squid, with a local aged bourbon to accompany it.