For Jorge’s 40th birthday, I surprised him with a trip to the pristine island of Santorini, Greece, where we stayed five nights in the beautiful Oia Suites on the northern tip of the island. For a change in scenery, we spent an afternoon exploring the more down-to-earth capital city, Fira.
During the afternoon we spent here, we mostly wandered quite aimlessly, stopping to look at anything that caught our eye along the way.
Our best find was probably Mati Art Gallery, which had on display the work of Cypriot, Athens-based artist Yorgos Kypris which we both loved. He owns the gallery, so most of the art inside is his own, but there are other pieces – paintings and jewellery – there too following the same theme. The current collection? Fish. Shiny fish, fish bones, schools of fish, fish in a net. We couldn’t take photos inside, but his website is worth a look.
The shops here were very different from those in Oia (which I’ll write more about in another post. It had the feeling of a port town, seemingly built for tourists with shops selling Santorini backpacks shaped like donkeys and all sorts of typical tourist tat. We skipped most of the shops and simply explored.
It’s not a huge place and pretty easily walkable from one end to the other with a bit of an upward stroll toward the end, where a railing full of love locks and a small restaurant serving mediocre sandwiches awaits.
The view from here overlooks the whole city which is worth the trek. It’s built on the edge of the caldera at a height of 400 metres (1,312 feet). The cliffs drop pretty steeply and the surrounding landscape is dry with little vegetation. Because of this, the buildings of the city really pop and shine on a lovely sunny day (which all of them were).
The best part of Fira – of Santorini generally – was the striking colours: white-washed walls, small windows framed in a particular Cyclades blue to match the church domes that are so popular in the postcard images, and a few other bright hues too.
I also loved the doors. They had character. Either they were dilapidated with stripped paint and bare wood or they were painted in other shades of (mostly) blue. The best ones were near the mediocre sandwich shop at the top.
We saw a few donkeys trudging by on their way to collect tourists, a few stray cats with sparse fur and hungry eyes, cacti adding a pop of green to the blank canvas walls and a lot of selfie sticks and practiced smiles against a beautiful backdrop of the bright blue sea.
One of the most popular activities here is hiking the trail between Oia on the northern tip and Fira almost halfway down the length of the island. It takes four hours, but we went the lazy way – in a taxi – partly because the sun was so strong, partly because we didn’t want to be walking the whole day, partly because we were wearing sandals and partly because I’m pregnant which means I’m slightly less energetic than usual. But maybe one day.
Also very popular? Wine tours. There are quite a few few wineries, but of course that’s also off limits for me. We were there mainly to relax, so we took it pretty easy and just spent our time soaking in the breathtaking scenery in this beautiful place. In the next Greece instalment, a wander through Oia.