Kalimera! – this means “hello” in Greek!
After two weeks since I have been back from Santorini, I have finalley sorted all the pictures and have decided how to talk to you about this little gem in the Aegean! I also made the decision to only keep posting in English. This is due to various factors, one of them being my mainly international audience.
This is the first of several small blogposts about the island of Santorini. As the heading already reveals, I want to acquaint you with the island itself and its capital Fira (internationally also called Thira). But first, let me introduce you to the travelers: Marina and me.
Overall, Santorini is an island that is rather reasonable when it comes to size. It has two main cities. These are Fira and Oia. The other cities Kamari and Perissa are more known for their famous beaches (I will talk to you about these in one of the upcoming blogposts). The island is shaped like a halfmoon, so that from one edge of the island you can always see the other side.
The outer coast of the half moon is where Kamari and Perissa are located – this part of the island is close to the sea level and located at the Aegean. The opposite coast is where all the fun takes place! This side is called caldera. Caldera is a different word for crater. So whenever you stand on a street at the caldera you can watch a pond-like shape of water. This is the former crater of a volcano. This means that in previous times, the island of Santorini was one part of a crater of an actual volcano! In the course of time, the crater has been filled with water that created this beautiful vacation place.
What is typical about Santorini is white. White is everywhere – all the houses you look at are carefully painted white which creates a breathtaking contrast to the blue water, blue shutters and the always blue sky.
You can also see cathedrals or little chapels everywhere. They are also mostly painted white and blue or yellow and blue. Some of them are accessible for the public, some are always locked or only open to messes.
While we were planning our trip, Marina and I decided to want to stay in Santorini’s capital city Fira. We had the feeling to have the best possible starting point for trips all around the island and just wanted to stay in the heart of the place. I have to say, we kind of underestimated Fira! Not being aware of the fact that Santorini no longer is such a hidden gem for tourists, we didn’t expect such a busy city. The small streets are bustling with tourists from all over the world. This is mainly due to the fact that Fira is home to a small old port where different cruise lines arrive each day. Because of the high amount of tourists, you can find a lot of shops selling souvenirs in the streets. But when you walk down the cobbled streets a little further than most of the cruise line tourists do, you can find precious shops selling jewelry, clothing or artisans. The shop owners always welcome you with a warm smile and are happy to chat with you about your stay in Fira. One of Marina’s and my favourite shops was “Indigo” run by Natasa Samakovli. The shop is located directly at the Caldera, a little out of the town of Fira: When you leave the main streets of Fira, always walk facing the chapel on the picture below and you won’t be able to miss “Indigo”!
In her shop, Natasa sells Greek cotton clothing and silk clothing. Her clothes are perfect for the sunny but always windy climate in Santorini – dresses, loose pants, shirts, tunikas or skirts. Pay her a visit, she is happy to help you out!
Aside from a sometimes touristy atmosphere and typical greek-style shops and restaurants, you can often find modern and lounge-style spots all around Fira. Marina and I mostly encountered these in the form of coffee shops or rooftop bars where you have an amazing view of the island, Fira’s cobbled alleys, the caldera or the famous sunset.
When it comes to tourist attractions, there is one thing that Santorini is famous for – the donkeys. In former times, the donkeys where the only means of transport to get from the old port to the city of Fira. They walk a steep way up to the edge of the city. Nowadays the city owns a cable car so that the donkey ride transformed to a typical tourist ride. Since we were not completely sure of how the donkeys are treated, we did not want to take part in this and rather walked all our ways!
Overall, Fira is a beautiful town. It is really the perfect starting point for exploring the island and is multifaceted. It offers the most beautiful view of the caldera, opportunities to go shopping, beautiful cafes, rooftop bars and famous restaurants. And the sight of Fira at night simply knows no comparison!