“See you tomorrow,” the lady at the grocery store says as she waves us goodbye. To anyone else, it might sound like a normal enough parting statement between a shopkeeper and their regular customer. But it’s day two and already we’ve visited her three times. Her statement comes across more as a promise.
Santorini is different to Mykonos. I have no idea if the islands are actually different sizes, but it feels bigger and there are separate towns marked in bold. We stayed in Perissa, a low-lying town famous for its black beach. Most mornings we frequent this beach, having breakfast at a local cafe called Tranquilo. Not only do we get amazing food and service if we eat there, but also access to deck chairs and umbrellas on the beach for the entire day. Good deal? Definitely!
A waitor runs shirtless between the umbrellas, delivering drinks and checking that we’re happy. I suspect his lack of clothing is more due to the heat than vanity.
If we don’t eat at Tranquilo, we frequent the local bakery, which for some strange reason is open 24 Hours per day. My friend questioned when the baked goods in the cabinet were made.
“An hour ago,” they replied, “but I can make you a fresh one if you want”.
Over the six nights we stay, we spend three in each accommodation. The first is the Holiday Beach Resort, where the four of us share a room. It reminds me of what a family vacation would have been like thirty or forty years ago. It’s comfortable and clean but very basic and old. We have a cute balcony and the pool is fairly large and has a bar. There isn’t much else to say.
Our second accommodation is two private rooms (two people per room) at Hostel Anna. Well, we assumed it would be at the hostel. We check in at reception and then climb into a car which drives us back up the street a bit, towards where our other hotel was. It stops at a sign with the words Villa Michalis written on it. Booking private rooms was a blessing in disguise. They are better than the actual hotel! We have access to a pool that only private rooms can use and our room on the ground floor has a balcony which looks out over the pool. Once again, it is basic but it doesn’t feel old, unlike the holiday beach resort which reminds me a bit of what I imagine a sixties vacation park would be like.
Perissa is relaxed and tourists zoom around on ATVs. Buses run twice an hour but frequently run early, something we haven’t yet experienced on our travels. We often found that we had missed the bus by turning up on time.
On our penultimate day, we rented ATVs (also known as quad bikes) to explore the island. We checked and double checked our travel insurance to make sure we were covered before heading to the Rental office.
“Have fun, see you at 11:15am tomorrow, drive on the right,” she tells us before we walk outside and another man teaches us how to work them.
We find out later in the day that as we rented the cheapest model (80cc, €15/24 hours), they don’t actually have a reverse function. We find ourselves pushing them out of parking spots frequently when they are too tight to turn normally.
But they are the best way to explore the island. We keep as far to the right as possible so that cars can overtake easily (we are slow on the hills) and zoom easily around the island; the cool wind created provides a welcome escape from the heat. Santorini is sunny and warm and there is so much to see. We do spend a lot of time lazing in partial shade, partial sun on the beach but a lot of time exploring also. This island is pure magic.
More to come!