For several years, my mum and I decided to ditch my stepdad and go on some mother daughter holidays. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate how nice this was, but looking back it was lovely to spend quality time travelling and exploring with her. Back in 2013, we decided to take a week long vacation to the Greek island of Santorini (take a read of her post on our time there). Upon arriving we were greeted by a warm breeze, a stunning sunset and dazzling white and blue buildings. We stayed in Imerovigli at the Krokos Villas Hotel, a beautiful little house with a patio, kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and a view overlooking the bright blue Aegean sea. This hotel provided an excellent breakfast-delivery service which meant we were able to sit outside and eat on the patio each morning (Side note: my mum had no problem getting a good gluten free breakfast).
We visited Santorini in August, and this timed perfectly with the lfestia festival (volcano festival). It does seem like the date changes yearly so check before booking your trip. (this site has released the date each year, the link is for 2017). The idea of this festival is to simulate the eruption of the Nea Kameni Volcano. It is important in Santorini as the explosion of the volcano is what created the island. We sailed out into the sea filled caldera and floated peacefully in the tranquil water whilst a dazzling show of fireworks literally erupted from the volcano. It was an amazing experience and you could truly imagine the force and beauty so to speak of a volcanic eruption.
Nea Kameni volcano
Apart from being the star of the festival, you can visit when it is slightly less active. We took boat ride out during the day and had the chance to hike to the top. It was interesting to hear from the guide about the history of the volcano and creation of Santorini. Whilst on this tour we went to the natural hot spring and mud baths in the waters of Old Kameni. It was so cleansing to swim and bath in the natural waters. It was exciting to dive down and grab handfuls of mud to put all over your face and body, and interesting to see how the water temperature changed so dramatically upon entering this natural spring.
Traditional Greek plate smashing
One night, we decided to indulge in some traditional Greek entertainment and venture to an evening of unlimited wine, dancing and Plate smashing. We sat at a long table with many other people. The food and wine came round and we got stuck in. We were chatting away, learning about the people on our table and sharing our own stories. The entertainment started and we were invited learn a traditional Greek dance. Being an awkward 17 year old I would never normally have done this, but due to the unlimited wine and encouragement from those around I went up. It was fun dancing and laughing with one of the gentlemen from our table. After this, the plate smashing started. Much to my disappointment this part of the evening wasn’t open for spectators to try. It was a great evening and really interesting to experience and watch some Greek traditions, as well as meet new people and eat great food.
Beaches with black sand
Being from England, where I believe it is cold constantly, I had to take a trip to the beach. I really love swimming in natural water especially when the temperatures outside mean you need cool off. The beaches in Santorini are magnificent. When imagining beaches, you usually picture stretches of white sand, here however, due to the volcano the sand is black. This is interesting and beautiful to look at, but very uncomfortable and hot to walk on barefoot. We spent the day reading, chatting and lounging in the sun whilst taking frequent trips to relax in the glistening blue sea. I love being at the beach, it is so lovely to just lie and relax whilst listening to the waves.
Shopping, steep climbs, narrow alleyways and lots of ice cream
After walking up and down the steep climbs of Santorini, the sandals I had taken with me decided to break. We took this opportunity to explore the narrow alleyways filled with stalls and streets of little shops in search of a new pair. There was everything from tacky tourist shops, to high end boutiques. Being outside in the heat was nicely broken up by our stops at ice cream stalls. We filled our stomachs and cooled ourselves down while getting some semi-good nutrients (strawberries as a topping count right?).
It was unusual to see a shopping area laid out in this way. I am used to shopping malls and high streets but the little shops and stalls gave it a much more personal feel. We were able to chat with the owners and get a sense of life on the island. Another positive was I managed to find a lovely pair of sandals to replace my broken ones. They were a reasonable price and meant I could walk along the coast line trail to Oia that night.
Famous for their sunsets and rightly so
On our last night we took a walk along to Oia to watch one of the famous Santorini sunsets. We found a spot in a bar overlooking the sea, ordered a jug of sangria and waited for the sun to set. We weren’t disappointed. As the sun went down it emitted a beautiful red and orange glow which reflected off the white buildings and the sea. It was breathtakingly beautiful, at the time, unlike any sunset I had seen before. It was nice to see that everyone around us was just sitting peacefully with their loved ones enjoying and embracing the natural beauty of something so simple as the sun going down, marking the end of the day.