The flight went smoothly and we arrived in Santorini where the driver we booked through our hotel was already waiting for us. We had booked the Iliovasilema hotel in Imerovigli. It was amazing! From the top of the steps down the cliff, the view was so stunning. Faye, one of the receptionists, was extremely helpful and her English was excellent. They had someone pick up our luggage and bring it to our room. We had one of the smaller rooms, but even so I think it was a great room. We had a little table and chairs right by the pool. I loved the little terraces they had with lounge chairs and couches. We could just sit there for hours. The location was excellent. We're not big shoppers and so we could only take Fira and Oia for so long. We were always happy to be back at the hotel at the end of the day.
First we walked along the path towards Fira and had lunch at a place called Blue Note. Don't go there. The food was ok but pricey and the wait staff was super slow even though there was hardly anybody there. But the view was incredible, so I guess that's what you pay for. Then we hiked the Skaros rock. I had just had a minor foot operation in July, but wearing the right shoes things went really well. There is a cute little church on the other side of the rock. In the evening we had dinner at Vegera, a wonderful restaurant just minutes from our hotel. It was away from the rim, very affordable, and the wait staff and owner were extremely friendly. They spoke fluent English, German and French. The food was to die for. My husband had the lamb that was baked in the oven with feta and tomatoes and I had the drunken chicken.
The next day we walked to Fira. We had plans to take the bus to Kamari and go to ancient Thira, but there were some people at the bus station that looked like they worked there but were just hanging out, and they were rude to us because we didn't know how things worked, so we left and saw a travel agency offering boat tours. We decided to take the boat trip to the volcano, with a sunset in Oia. We did take our bathing suits, but no towels... About half an hour later we were picked up by a bus to go to the port. There were so many people that went on that boat, but we only paid 25 euros for the trip, so what can you expect. Our guide was giving explanations in German, English and Greek as we made our way to Nea Kameni. We hiked up the volcanoe at our own pace. It looked like the guide was trying to keep everyone together, but with 100+ people that was impossible. We caught up with her at the top where she was giving explanations in English. Every few seconds she would be interrupted by someonw asking her when she would give the explanations in German and she would say in German: in 10 minutes over there, and then she would roll her eyes. I thought it was hilarious. We walked around some more and then back to the boat. We went around Nea Kameni to swim in the hot springs. We only had 40 minutes for it, so basically you got to swim from the boat (through colder water) to the little bay and back, but it was still worth it, even though we didn't have towels with us. We both got a bit of a sunburn as we also didn't bring any sunscreen. We then had lunch at Thirassia which was very affordable and really good and walked around the harbour a little bit. And then we went to Oia.
The people that booked the sunset trip got off the boat while the rest stayed behind. We decided not to get a donkey as we had read here on Tripadvisor about how they are treated, so we walked up the 300 steps. We were yelled at a couple of times for being in the way of the donkeys, so we had to stay on the side of the rock wall. We eventually made it and I took some great photos in Oia. We had some time to stroll around, but we're not great shoppers, so we had seen everything pretty quick. We found a place near the windmill to wait for the sunset and talked to some Dutch people that sat next to us. The sunset was gorgeous. At one point I saw this wonderful sail boat cross the path of the sun and its sails left a long shadow on the sea. We then took the bus back to our hotel. For dinner, we walked over to Skaros Taverna, where we had an excellent meal. It was very stylish and less traditional, and the tastes were awesome. The service was excellent too.
The following day we rented a car (cute little Hyundai Atos) for the day and drove across the island. We thought about renting scooters or quads, but I was too scared. Plus the quads had no power going up hills so you almost had to push them. First we went to the red beach where we went for a swim. The pebbles and rocks weren't very comfortable, but we had good water shoes with us. The beach was stunning though. Then we went to the lighthouse at the south of the island. After that, we drove to Kamari Beach where we had lunch. We drove up the cobblestone road to ancient Thira which turned out to be closed after 2:30 pm. It was probably just as well, because it was a very windy day, and just standing out there we were almost blown off the mountain.
In the Lonely Planet we found a recommendation for Art Space, an art gallery housed in an old wine cellar. We visited there and were the only people there. The owner showed us around the different sections. At one point he opened the door to a cellar and it was all dark inside and he made us walk in first. We both thought he was going to kill us right then and there, but he just turned on the light and let us walk around. Afterwards we mentioned it to each other and laughed. The owner also makes his own vinsanto and raki and wouldn't let us leave without us trying it. The raki was incredibly smooth. Unfortunately he only had big bottles of raki, so we decided to buy a small bottle of vinsanto. We then went to the Volcan wine museum and did the audio tour and tasted some more wines that were very delicious. We bought a bottle of white wine, but didn't drink it. We gave it to my parents when we met them back in the Netherlands. The last wine tasting of the day was at Santo winery. The wine was ok, the view stunning. We even saw a bride and groom chilling out together before their ceremony. But it seemed too commercial for us and we didn't like the atmosphere there as much. We were probably spoiled by the other places. We had a little swim in the small hotel pool before going out to dinner again at Vegera. The owner remembered us and this time gave us an extra bottle of beer at the end instead of ouzo.
The next day we walked from Imerovigli to Oia in 2.5 hours. It was a wonderful hike. A little windy, but not nearly as bad as the day before. We saw plenty of stray cats and dogs, but none seemed to be starving. There were many little churches on the way. In Oia we had lunch and walked around the shops and then took the bus back to the hotel. There, we just hung out on the deck and met two other honeymoon couples, one from Portland, OR, just like us, and one from Dallas, TX. We had plans to go to Akteion, but we had such a good time that we ended up joining our newfound friends for dinner at Vegera (again :)). It was a lot of fun. And sadly that was the end of our stay in Santorini. This was our favorite part of our honeymoon.