Sunday, 29 May 2016

Getaway to Santorini, Greece with Edward



Hello peeps :3

Just came back from Santorini, Greece a few shades darker lolol.

Santorini has always been a bucket list of mine!
The whole island looked so picture-perfect and postcard ready.
So I thought I really wanted to see it for myself!

And boy. It was really as pretty as a postcard.





Blue and white, left and right :3

The pictures above are from Fira, where we stayed for our original five nights!

The buildings on the cliffs are the expensive ones, 
typical of what people think of when you mention Santorini.
The call those buildings "caldera view" because it overlooks to the 
volcano in the middle of the ocean. 

Caldera is a spnaish word that actually got its name from Latin's "caldaria"
 which literally means cooking pot. A caldera volcano is where the oval crater exceeds one mile!
Santorini's oval crater is about four miles. We actually went up the caldera and trekked the volcano trail! It is an active volcano that is currently dormant, and you can still see small puffs of smoke rising from some parts of the volcano.

Santorini used to be one island before the Minoan eruption split them up!
It is also said to have inspired the mythical island "Atlantis" which submerged into the sea.
Santorini is also called Thira/Thera so don't get confused! 


Illustration of Atlantis
Looks like someone Aquaman would call home lol.
Atlantis is a fictional island by Plato said to be inspired by war and the Thera eruption.


Illustration of how Santorini used to look like before the Minoan eruption.

Can't believe an entire Minoan civilization lived in an island with a volcano in the middle! 



Anddd here's the famous Santorini today. 

I feel like a school teacher lolol.

Anyway if you're planning to come to Santorini, 
it woud be a good idea to stay in Fira or Oia.

Fira is the centre of the island and most strategic as all the bus will stop at Fira station 
and transit from there. Oia is at the northern tip, more romantic and expensive feel.
But I feel like Fira has more restaurants/shops. Oia has marbled floors all over!

Imerovigli and Firostefani is also nice. They're between Fira and Oia. 
These are the places with caldera view and are the touristy spots. 
The pictures on your postcards, lol.

If you like beaches then Kamari or Perissa!
They have long stretches of black sandy beaches.
But I like Kamari more because it's bigger.
The sand is black because it's from hardened lava! Volcanic sand!

It's quite a small island though, so to go from Fira to Oia or Kamari is like 20-30mins
by bus/car/ATV.

Okay, so after the intro, time to jump into the journey!


It was like 9pm when we reached Santorini.
We had transit in Athens. 

The whole journey from London Heathrow was maybe like six hours because of the transit?
If direct it would be around three hours. 

We booked from... Lastminute.com again!
HAHAHAHHA. It wasn't that last minute, just that I've used it for Budapest
and everything went smoothly.

So expenses-wise if you are wondering... about 250 pounds for flight and accommodation
for six days five nights. I used about 280 euros I think. But we ate out a lot!
Everything was like 450-500 pounds or RM2700-RM3000.

Which I think is not bad!
I know it would cost a bomb if I travelled from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
cos the flight ticket itself would be like freaking RM3500 at least.
From UK it was about RM800. :B

Glad to be able to visit Santorini! 
I've always looked at it in videos and pictures but not in real life until now.
I loveeee islands.

The sun, sea, salt and sand. IS MY FAVEEEE.
Eventhough I'm a city girl, I always fall deeply in love with islands.
The way only nature can. 

I would definitely want to visit Boracay in Phillipines!
And Maldives! *Swoon*. Actually living in Malaysia there's a lot of great beaches nearby.
Bali and Krabi too!

And someday. The Carribeans in America! Dominican Republic!
Cancun! Bahamas! The pig beach too. Okay I'm getting too greedy.


Dinner at El Greco, and check in to our hotel!

We stayed at Golden Star Hotel in Fira. Hehe.
It's not on the cliff but it was like five minutes walk from the cliffs
so it was pretty convenient! And cheaper too!

But I really loved the swimming pool, I just wished it wasn't so windy
so I could swim more! The water felt like 20 degrees, brrr.
I only jumped in once. HAHAHA.


They were really nice and gave us a room overlooking the pool with direct access :3


Little ducks on the pillars.


Our room from the outside 




The only day I swam lolol.

After morning swim, we went to explore Fira!
Our second day was blessed with clear, blue skies!
Took a lot of great pictures on that day hehe.
Then the weather kind of went downhill from there, lol.



Franco is like... the landmark of Fira lol.
The staircase always leads you there somehow

When we couldn't find Wan Ting and Alex, we met them here!



I really miss the view a lot!

Nature is really beautiful. 

Actually, I read that constantly being in a man-made environment with no nature elements can make you very stressed because man-made environments require direct attention and can tire you out.

Even the most beautiful man-made object cannot be matched with the simplest of nature's beauty.
God's work of art, I guess?


Blue sea as far as you eyes can see until it disappears into the horizon.

Looking into the distance is very good if you're short-sighted!

They did an experiment on a monkey where they made him glasses that allowed him to only see near objects and he got short-sighted. As in, his eyes adapted to his lifestyle needs.

Isn't that what we are doing? Keeping our eyes glued to the phone etc and training our eyes to be short-sighted. Fishermen never need glasses because they always look far out into the sea. 
But they can get UV damage thou! 

For me, I have gotten a bit paranoid after getting my Lasik for my eyes.
To make it into 20/20 vision again and do away with the needs for glasses.
It's still fine so far, touchwood!

I look back in shame for the times I've strained my eyes and ignored the advice of my parents LOLOL. My eyesight was like -6.00 before Lasik. 



A floppy hat is a must when visiting an island! 
It's like a portable shade! Just don't let it fly away though.
I saw a couple wearing matching Athens straw hat and watched it
blew into a volcano crater. :/  The crater was like one or two-storey deep.





I forgot what I was laughing about.

Anyway, if you stand there with your boyfriend trying to take a selfie,
there will always be people asking you if you need help! :D

They are also tourists, but from like different parts of the world.
There was a guy from Indonesia who actually visited Santorini on a Cruise trip!


And this was taken by a kind random stranger!
There were at least three people who offered!

OH yeah, a word on the locals.
I would say that they are mostly friendly and would go out of their way to help you.
Like Mario the Golden Star Hotel worker who treated us to Santorini wine and explained us the map.
Like Spiros who rented us the ATV. Like the shopkeeper who gave us free bread when we told him we were going to visit the Volcanoes, so we had something to eat on the cruise. He even made the bread warm for us! I'm amazed by how welcoming they are. 

But a lot of the locals do business for the tourists, and I would say that there would be more tourists than locals on the island during the peak season. Lol.

OH YEAH. Don't piss the Greek people off. They do get direct when they are displeased with something. Like, they wouldn't hide their anger at all. British people would never blow their composure. I guess French people are also like the Greeks, in the sense that they are not afraid to let their temper show.

But anyway. If you are always courteous and respect others, people would always reciprocate.
I do feel like people are a mirror of how you treat them. Ah, Hungarian people are very nice! And patient! I've never seen them angry during my trip lol. But they do look fierce when silent.


So many buildings! A lot of them are hotels/villas with swimming pools.
Sometimes, birds will fly to the swimming pools and drink from them. LOL.






We had lunch at Irina's Cafe, I think.

Look at the Greek salad! That was the day I got addicted to it!
It was my first time trying the Greek salad in Santorini and mmmm it was so simple and fresh.
I've been making it ever since I got back.

It's real simple! Just toss feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and white onions.
Their tomatoes are really juicy. They say that Santorini's produce are more flavourful because the soil is more fertile from the volcanic eruption.




It was a really good view too.

I think it's so true that eating some particular food will bring you back memories.
For example, porridge reminds me of my grandmother because she always cooks porridge for everyone on Sunday mornings.


Pistachio gelato was the bomb. You have to try their gelato!!
This one is quite popular in Fira, called Gelati Zotos.
I recommend PISTACHIOOOOOO

Boyfie likes chocolatey ones, so it's either Ferrero Rocher or Oreos for him.
They also have Nutella! 


After gelato, we went to find Spiros to rent our ATV!
We got it for 2 days, so Friday 2pm we rented it and by Sunday 2pm we had to return it.
It was 40 euros with 5 euros gasoline for two days. Fair price I think? 150cc.
Then on Sunday we used it until 8pm for an extra 10 euros. Hehe. 

It's quite easy to get the way because there are signboards and the roads are pretty straightforward.
But of course, I used data for Google maps!

After taking our ATV, we vroom vroomed to.. PERISSA!
The black sandy beach.




It was quite cloudy and colder that day!
Just chilled on the beach.

Also, I think the waiter was ummmmmm liked boys??
He was quite fond of Edward HAHAHHAAH and let us use the beach hut for buying one beer

After that, we went to Oia and it was quite a long ride because it was from the South to the North.




Oia was really pretty!
I would say it's even prettier than Fira. More romantic and quiet. Hehe.
Fira is more busy and has more shops. I like both!
Fira is more convenient, Oia more romantic.







Octopus!



There were also a lot of wedding photoshoots going on! :O

I saw this church bell thingy and knew it was going to be a hit! HAHAHA
It was empty but after that the bride and groom posed there and everyone gathered. 






Donkeys!




Asia Club for dinner because Edward must have his RICE.




Came back to Oia the next day for brunch!
Wrong choice to wear a skirt with a slit, because it wouldn't stop flying up no matter how I tried.
It ended up going all Marilyn Monroe on me.


With the boyfie!

I ended up borrowing his jackets at night because it was so windy.







Top from New Look, Slit Skirt from Forever 21, pink bag from Coach :D



Then we had a little photoshoot because it was hard to get pictures of ourselves since I took my Samsung EX2F. I put it on a staircase and started the timer!



They turned out somewhat candid because we couldn't really guess when the shutter was going off!




Hehe. Then after that we rode our ATV to Kamari. 
HEHE. Boyfie did 95% of the driving. I only played around the ATV 
while going to Acrotiri and the roads were really deserted!




Kamari is another black sand beach, a neighbour of Perissa. 
It's my first time visiting beaches with black sand while in Santorini,
so that was a bit unusual for me.

It wasn't that hot, but during summer the black sand absorbs much more heat and you need to wear flip flops! It already felt quite hot when I was there.



And ahemmm... it's quite common to see people sunbathing topless.
But people usually mind their own business. 



So pretty with the cliff behind!



I did dutch braids as well as it was really windy!
I learnt it a day before leaving to Santorini. EHE.
It's the hyped up braid style popularized by Khloe Kardashian



Seaside restaurant? :3


Boyfie ordered risotto and I was glad. 
He kept ordering pasta and still craved RICE!!!
Please just order rice! 


For me, I'm just picky with meat.
But I love trying different cuisines.
Hungarian, French, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Lebanese. Whatever.
If there's no pork/beef/lamb/mutton I will most probably enjoy it.

I like pineapple fried rice. Sushi. Pitta wrap. Hummus. Greek Salad. Bibimbap. Nasi Lemak. 

In Greece, do try gyros and souvlaki. Souvlaki is the Greek version of satay.
Grilled meat on skewers! Smokey flavour. I like it. Of course, chicken for me hehe.
But they also put calamari and lamb if you want.

Gyro is like a pitta wrap with grilled meat, which is what I ordered for this meal :3

After lunch, we went to Red Sand Beach right down south in Acrotiri.


It was quite a long ride, but worth coming.
The cliff is really beautiful and it looks like something a dramatic rock band song would use as a backdrop.


You have to hike a little bit to reach the beach though. 
In this picture, the beach is right behind the rubble of rocks on the right.

About 20mins! Do be careful when trekking there because the path is quite narrow


But it was really pretty and serene. 


After Red Sand Beach, we prepared to have dinner in Fira.

We finally did a sunset dinner! :3 
Santorini is a really romantic place, and I'm glad
that I was able to go there with Edward.

Seven days was plenty enough for us!



Fanari in Fira.


Price-wise if you are wondering!
If you want to be on a budget, you definitely can!
You can survive on Gyros and croissants!
Convenience store croissants are like 50 cents. Gyros, 2.50 euro for a plentiful portion.
But if you sit in somewhere overlooking the caldera, then 10-20 euros?
A Greek Salad is about 6.50 euros in a dine in restaurant, seafood risotto maybe 15 euros.
Gyros in a restaurant, maybe 8 euros. But the view was to die for. 



Sunset! It was around 8pm, quite late




The view made everything appetizing!


Fava which is mashed split yellow peas. I was surprised when it came to our table 
because we didn't order it! The waiter kindly told us it was on the house :)


Seafood risotto aka boyfie's choice


And then we met up with Alex and Wan Ting! So coincident lolol.
They arrived two days after us from Athens. 

Alex was like "when you guys staying until?" when I posted a picture of Santorini
 and the rest is history!


Glad to see them kekeke.

First time actually, meeting someone while overseas. Hehe.
Alex and Wan Ting are finishing their studies in Bristol !


We had some shisha at Two Brothers pub in Fira. 



Lol that signboard!! 



Pretty happening place! But you need to be lucky to get a seat! 


We went to Kamari again the next day, teeeee. 

I also found that souvenir shops were cheaper in Kamari than in Fira and Oia! 


We tried this restaurant, just few shops down from the one we tried yesterday.


AGAIN. Boyfie is a habit of creature, as am I. 



After coming back from Greece, I'm quite obsessed with tomatoes. 
I eat them like apples. 




Plenty of beach huts to sunbath!
Most of them you have to buy some drinks or rent but I think because it wasn't peak season they weren't that strict.








Still can't get used to the black sand lol.



Did a little sunbathing.

I know some girls die die also stay out of the sun.
For me hmmm I guess I would say I don't mind it?
Cos even if you get tanned you can become fair again.
And I like the sun! But not the sun damage.

So slap on that sunblock!


MY CHOCOLATE BAR. GEDDIT GEDDIT


Blending in with the sand ^^ 

HAHAHHADWEDNKWED Edward tans really easily.

I remember there was once he did revision at Starbucks and sat outside.
He came back inside with TANLINES. From being in Starbucks!!! 






Donkeys!

They're so cute. And so nice the way they carry stuff with compliance. But I hope the donkey tamers give them enough rest :/ I think they should be regulated to protect the donkeys. I didn't ride them because I wasn't sure if they were properly treated and they seem quite tired.

But the donkey souvenirs always got me. 
HEHE. So cute so cute. 




My canvas bag is from Santorini! HAHAHA

I didn't buy much, but if I bought something rest assured it has a donkey on it.
I like to call it DWONKIE. 







Spinach pie and mango gelato


Sailing day for our fourth day!




Waking up to this.


We rushed to the old port in Fira to catch our boat for our sailing trip!!!
We did the hotsprings and volcano trekking and stopped by Thirassia.

To get to the old port by foot it was like 30mins hiking/trekking while avoiding donkey poop and pee. Some people do ride the donkeys to go down. There are actually people who stand on the side to sweep the donkey poo tho. I can't imagine what if they didn't do it. 




I love them! But don't dare to touch them I have this fear of horses/ goats/ donkeys kicking me like a ragdoll in a knee jerk motion



And we reached! Before 10.30AM


The boat was a traditional Greek vessel. So old school right!





We went up the volcano first and I got damn dark on the fourth day.
Like, tanned, sorry.


The volcano craters. Some of them are quite deep and still active.
But dormant! That is the important one. I suppose they have seismometers to warn people in case the Minoan eruption decides to happen again? But hopefully not, because Santorini is really pretty!



After that, we went to the Hotsprings near the Volcano. 

And that was quite scary! You have to jump from the ship to the open water, and swim about 25 meters to the hot springs. The water is pretty deep outside the hotsprings, like at least three times my height. And our boat didn't give us life jackets but I saw other boats giving their passengers life jackets! I think it's quite dangerous and I wished they gave us life jackets, or at least the option. The company was Caldera Tours I think. 

My first time jumping into the ocean lol. The water was also more choppy that day, strong current! I would swim in the open water, but step by step until I'm confident enough. IDK why I jumped head on into this one lol.

Once you reach the hotsprings it's a bit warmer and you can slather yourself in the red mud.






Docked at Thirassia, a little island beside Oia. 
We ate at Captain John


Chicken souvlaki with rice



Greek salad. I am sorry. I am a creature of habit indeed.




Everyday, a new day of pretty sunset ! 

Our flight got cancelled and we had to extend one night to catch the flight next morning. It was quite a havoc at the tiny Santorini airport. Due bad weather and strong winds I suppose. We flew with Aegean Airlines and I would say they did their best to handle the situation.

They booked us at Hotel Nikos in Karterados for one night on the house and allowed a claim of up to 25 euros per person. Remember to keep the receipts!



Santorini was a sweet place indeed, would definitely return if I had the chance. :)
And visit the neighbouring islands hoho. Like Crete and Mykonos and Kos and Ios
If you are travelling from Malaysia then definitely try to search the bargain deals instead of tour packages that costs like freaking RM10 000! 

I think travelling can definitely be affordable if you put money away for it and budget wisely :3 
I love travelling because it is really something that is an out of the box experience. Seeing new things, experiencing new cultures. Realizing the world is so big and full of wonders. 

So! In future. I would like to get a diving certificate. Take up pole fitness again. Get a job in the fashion industry and appreciate that opportunity. Cook for my family (LOL). Start my own business in the future after learning the ropes. Maybe get hit with some massive failures/obstacles and stand up and do it all again.

And oh yes reading! Psychology books and art and craft books! I miss that. Spending time in bookstores. Books are precious treasure troves of knowledge nuggets.

Okay :) hope you guys enjoyed this post.

All the best and till the next time!

xoxo, BUBU