Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rest & Relaxation in Santorini (Greece)

With a much more pleasent taxi (this time at 4am), we left Athens and then flew into the island of Santorini. As this was our first big rest stop, we had decided to go a bit more up-market - we'd booked at a luxury resort and the hotel had even offered to arrange a taxi. We were looking forward to being those glamourous people who are met at the airport by someone holding a sign with their name. So we were a bit dismayed when we couldn't see our name. The lovely hotel manager was so horrified that she had forgotten to book us the taxi that she spent the rest of our stay trying to make it up.

The resort was a set of 11 rooms/apartments just outside the village of Oia, overlooking the caldera and the volcanic islands in the centre. They served us a huge breakfast out on the terrace, which included amazing museli, a selection of meats and cheeses, all sorts of bread, croissants, muffins, honey, jams, fantastic Greek yoghurt (Karina will never again be able to face a low-fat tub of yoplait), a big fruit bowl and a pot of tea and a pot of coffee each. Best of all, it was all just for us, and it came every morning.

We decided that one activity a day, fitted in around pleanty or r&r, was more then enough. The day we arrived, we explored the village of Oia (basically the stereotypical Greek island village - tiny white buildings nestled tightly together with stairs and alleys leading everywhere). On day two, we took a boat ride out to the volcanic islands and jumped off the boat to swim out to some thermal pools (the Medditeranian being as cold as it gets, and the thermal pools being only slightly warmer). The third day was a strenous trip into Oia for relaxation massages (after which Simon was told he was the second most stressed person the masseure had ever met, based on the tension in his shoulders. Karina thinks it's more because of lugging our heavy bags for a month). On our last day, we took a trip to lie on the black sand beach at a place called Kamari, on the other side of the island.

As always, food was extremely important! Dinners included a selection of Meze (like Greek tapas) from an ouzori (traditional Greek pub), some Greek fare at a rooftop taverna in Fira, Santorini's capital, a great meal from a resturant hanging on the edge of a cliff in Oia, and €7.50 milkshakes made with Haagan-Daas ice cream. Of course, we also enjoyed a lot of local wines.

When we weren't exauhsting ourselves doing any of the above, you could usually find us relaxing by the pool, ordering cocktails and eating olives and cheese. If you ever find yourself on Santorini, we strongly suggest you stay at the Ikies Luxury Hotel. We had the smallest and most basic room (the Gardener's House), and they still made us feel like royalty. Santorini is yet another place that we would definitely like to visit again!

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