Santorini- These are the things that dreams are made of.

Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy! This is a long one.

When I was selecting where I would spend my holiday, I wanted to be somewhere that was off season. Avoiding the crowds and being able to actually take photos without people. That’s just what I got. I arrived at the port in Santorini at the bottom of a cliff. All I will say is I’m positive the guy took advantage of me because he knew I had no way of getting into town from the port. I’ll never share how much I paid. That’s another lesson learned.

I arrived at Pelican Hotel in about 15 minutes. Upon entering it had this fresh, clean smell. I was greeted by the daughter of the owner. What I loved most was the time she took to pull out a map and point out every sight I needed to see during my stay. The archeological sights, wine tastings, red and black sand beaches, restaurants and many other attractions. My head was definitely spinning trying to figure out how I would conquer this is 3 days. She was amazing at getting me settled in room 16 on the first floor. The room was quaint with an entrance that separates the bathroom and storage area from the living space. It wasn’t my favorite bathroom, but it would make due. There was a small TV mounted to the wall, desk, chair, full size bed with nightstands on both sides. Oh and plenty of outlets.

I dropped my items and went over to the restaurant next door as she suggested this place for dinner. Remember Pelican Kipos. They have a great patio area and seating for maybe 50 inside. It was decorated for the season with lights and poinsettia’s on the tables. I tried the wine tray (assortment of cheese, vegetables, meat and crackers) as an appetizer. I followed this with a Greek salad. Just know that I will never eat a Greek salad from another restaurant. It started with a bed of cucumbers, green peppers, olives, red onions and two large triangles of feta cheese. The waitress suggested I drizzle it with olive oil. As my main course I had the Four Cheese Rigitoni. I was very pleased with my meal. Before leaving they brought me a complimentary desert. No idea what it was, but I ate it all.

Friday morning the lady at the hotel suggested I change my rental car to a place right across the street where she could get me a better deal than Budget. I picked up my Skoda that reminded me of a toaster box. I took a couple of loops around the center of town to get a feel for driving. I stopped for breakfast at Graffiti Cafe. I had an omelette with cheese and veggies and a side of potatoes. The Cafe is very cute, bustling with people and good music. I asked for an iced coffee to go, but ended up with an Irish Coffee (I see how she could have mixed those up, but you gave me an alcoholic beverage to go!).

After leaving there I stopped for gas and then headed out to search for some of the sights. Michalis (seems to be a common name) at the rental car place adviced me that GPS is not really a thing in Santorini. However, I was able to get Google Maps to work.

I somehow found my way to the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum. I’ve never been to a wine museum. It’s supposedly one of the top ten in the world. I would say that it’s quite interesting. They have preserved many artifacts that document the history of the winery. I went on the self-guided tour with an audio box describing all 23 scenes. Afterwards I went back up to begin tasting. I had five wines; one white, two reds and two dessert. By far I am a dessert wine, rosé, or sweet red and white type of drinker. I really enjoyed the two dessert wines and listening to the process from vine to bottle. They were so delicious and it was suggested that they are best served over chocolate or vanilla ice cream due to their thickness. I wrapped up my session and actually went back to the hotel to read and write.

I really wanted to dry a different restaurant but Pelican Kipos had me wrapped around their fingers. Plus it was next door to the hotel. So I got ready and walked over. I went for the wine plate again as an appetizer. As much as I wanted the Greek salad I skipped it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat my main course. I love me some pasta, so I tried the Basil Pesto dish. Once again it did not disappoint. The rigitoni was smoothered in pesto sauce and topped with parmesean. Marie the host came over to check on me and said she wanted to share some of the best wine with me on the house. It was delicious with strong aromas of tobacco and vanilla from the oak barrel. Bon Appétit!

I got up Saturday morning ready to concur the streets of Santorini. So I started out on the curvy road to Oia. I wish I could tell you which direction it was from the center of Fira, but I can’t. Believe it or not, but I’m terrified of large bodies of water and heights. I will still jump on an airplane, boat, ferry or cable car in the sky to anywhere. For me it’s being able to say I keep conquering this fear.

(Imagine from Pinterest)

I finally arrived in Oia in one piece and nerves intact. Oia is a cliff town sitting on the edge of the Aegean Sea. The buildings are consistently white or cream colored with some blue domes. There seems to be a lot of construction and renovation taking place. Also because it is on the side of a cliff, the villas seem to be built into the rock as the foundation. Additionally, I believe the only way you can reach the villas is by donkey. Overall it’s a beautiful location with astonishing views. It was very quiet, with a few tourist walking the cobblestone alleyways. I happen to pass two African American women that were very happy to see me; as I was likewise. We greeted each other in passing. Let me pause here and say that I have met some amazing people during my travels. I strolled for an hour or so capturing the beauty of quiet Oia.

When I left I decided just to drive since I had plenty of daytime left and was informed that you can’t get lost since there are three main roads. I saw signs for the airport and Kamari which is the black sand beach. I drove through the airport just for a view. For those of you familiar with the airport in Rock Hill, SC, it seemed smaller than that with one runway. I looped it in about one minute. I continued on the road and realized I was heading in the direction of the wine museum which is also the road to the black sand beach. I arrived at the black sand beach and walked around for a little while capturing some photos. This place is breathtaking in general. It’s beautiful to see the sky meet the ocean.

My next stop was Santos Wine Winery. When I entered the winery I recognized the two ladies from Oia who were now joined by a gentleman. I took my seat and the daughter came over and greeted me. She welcomed me to sit with them. She acknowledged that I was a solo traveler and may not want to. However, I think it’s important in my solo travels that I connect with people.

We made introductions and then quickly found out that we had all attended HBCU’s in North Carolina. They are from the Raleigh area and reside in Italy and the daughter lives in Chicago with her husband. Although our time was brief, I enjoyed their authenticity of engaging with me. We made dinner plans for later that evening. I’m betting you’re wondering if we went to Pelican Kipos. Keeping reading…

Santo Winery sits on the edge of a cliff with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea, Fira and Oia. I went with six tastings; four whites, one red and one dessert. I also added a Rosé champagne because it was so pretty and sparkling. The cheese, olives and bread with this red tomatoe based dipping sauce was perfect. I see myself returning here in the future.

After leaving there I continued on my journey to locate the red beach. I followed the signs until I arrived at the end of a road with a small white and blue chapel. I was looking for red sand, but only saw red rocks. Once again it was a magnificent sight.

On the way back I stopped to capture a photo of the area referred to as the Caldera. It is a half-moon shaped bay with a view I could stare at for days. At this spot, I gave thanks to God for allowing me to travel and see places that some only dream of visiting someday.

I headed back to my hotel to rest before dinner. We plans to meet around 8 and I reserved a table for the four of us. We met at the restaurant and ordered drinks while we perused the menu. I eventually choose the Lamb and Potatoes in a ceramic pot. My goodness… First of all I don’t think I’ve tried lamb outside of a gyro. What is wrong with me?! This was a nice sized portion and the meat just fell off the bone. T.J. (the husband) and I had the lamb. Jamie had mussels, which would have never been enough for me. Krys (the daughter) had the fried cod. I really enjoyed my time with them. We talked about everything from travel to getting parents up to speed with technology while living abroad. I hope to run into them somewhere in the future.

Self care Sunday…. I got up and did some under eye patches to make me feel refreshed. I got dressed and went next door to have breakfast and a mimosa. Afterwards I walked around for some time and then returned to my hotel to get ready for my ride to the port.

I boarded the ferry with ease and picked up my room key. I could have taken a flight, but I really enjoyed my time of the ferry. I was in business class so it was comfortable. It gave me an opportunity to write and read the magazines that have been sitting on my coffee table since arriving in Doha.

I arrived safe and sound at Pireaus Port. I opened my Beat app to get a taxi. One of the taxi drivers walked up to me and quoted $25 to get to The Stanley. I looked at him sideways, showed him my Beat quote and walked over to my $11 taxi. I can’t knock his hustle. I am comfortably in my room at The Stanley and I will include more about it in my next blog. Let’s just say I’m fine with the bathroom and the bed is cozy.

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