Out of all the European countries I visited on the last leg of travel, Santorini was the best in terms of service. Right when I got to my hotel, the staff listed out a number of things for me to do while there. The one thing I knew I had to do was a six mile hike from Fira (the town where I was staying) to Oia (a town at the end of the island).
"Six miles?" I said to the receptionist. "So, about two hours? And it's along the cliff, so it's pretty?"
She laughed. She confirmed the distance for me, but didn't agree on the time.
"It's going to take you at least three hours," she said.
She explained that the hiking path was a mixture of terrain. Some gravel... Some dirt... Some paved parts... Some parts with massive stones that you have to walk on... Up hill... Down hill... Winding back into the street at one point...
It still sounded great. So the first morning I was there, I put on my gym clothes, grabbed a water bottle, and was on my way.
The hike really offered the best views on the island, just as she had promised.
And right away, I was grateful I had thought to pack my running shoes and gym clothes. I encountered others on the trail who were wearing sandals, flip flops and dresses... And they all looked miserable.
A few even told me they were just going to turn back, because it was too rough and too long.
I understood. But I thought they were crazy. There was so much to see along the way!
Additionally, there were plenty of places to stop and rest. Halfway through, I stopped at a cafe and had a salad and water.
It was a charming path. And I couldn't get enough of the color of the sea...
At one point, I thought I'd come across some ancient worshipping ground...
And who knows? It may have been just that, with all the rock formations set up on it.
I know the stacked rocks are for keeping away evil spirits.
It was just very random how the path would suddenly change and become more defined...
Beautiful Oia (pronounced "Eee-ah) in the distance!
A little table.. Right on the cliff!
Seriously, if you stepped off of the paved part, it was straight down.
Oia had a different vibe to that of Fira.
Fira had more restaurants and was livelier. While Oia was more quiet.
And typically when you research Santorini online, the pictures you see are form Oia. It has the prettiest cliff side views with all the white houses.
If I go back to Santorini some day, I will stay in Oia. And I will rent one of these private houses (above) with a swimming pool that faces out to caldera.
Such a perfect little town.
Because I stopped for a "mini-lunch", it took me 3.5 hours to do the hike. I decided not to hike back, knowing it would be at least another three back. I went down to the square in Oia, and hopped on a bus to take me back.
For just over a Euro, I was back in Fira 20 minutes later.