Brad shares his action packed experience of 7 days in Santorini with his beautiful partner in crime, his wife Amanda.
Most of you probably already know Brad from Larson Educational Services. If you don’t, you can trust me when I say, “he’s kind of a big deal!” Brad is a pal of mine from the US who recently visited Santorini in April and was gracious enough to share his itinerary and details of his trip with all of us. Yay Brad!
Arrived in Santorini and got our bearings. WOW! What a place! We checked into our room in Oia and didn’t want to leave. We enjoyed our first sunset on our balcony overlooking the Caldera.
We decided to beat jet-lag with an 11 mile hike round trip from Oia (pronounced “ee-yuh”) to Fira (“fee-ruh”). In the evening we rewarded ourselves with 2 bottles of wine at dinner.
We had a very laid back and relaxing day after our big hike yesterday. Had an AMAZING seaside dinner at Dimitri’s on Ammoudi Bay. Prawns, kalamari, mussels, octopus and sea bass that had all been caught that day… Except for the octopus which they let dry in the sun for about 3 days before grilling.
Today we went sailing in the Caldera with Sunset Oia Cruises. The crew prepared a souvlaki lunch with wine on board the boat. We visited the Santorini volcano and swam in the “hot” springs (luke-warm is more accurate). After the volcano we sailed to White Beach and Red Beach.
We started our day with some crepes and waffles for breakfast with a seaside view. After breakfast we had a private guided tour of the ancient town of Akrotiri, a bronze-age town. It was established about 5,000 years ago. The population was about 10,000 people when the Santorini volcano exploded in 1627 BC. The settlement was way ahead of the times as it had paved streets, toilets and a sewer system throughout the city. They were well traveled and wealthy merchants who traded with much larger settlements around the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
During the day we visited Armeni Bay which is an old port that was once used for building and fixing fishing boats.
We had an amazing fish dinner at Katina’s in Ammoudi Bay. I was able to select my own fish for the chef to prepare. I went with Bream and it was great.
We had some very tasty and fresh lemon/strawberry gelato for dessert, and finished the evening by taking a dip in the neighbor’s hot tub overlooking the caldera. We made good enough pals with him that he trusted us to just hop over the wall and use it. Another unbelievable day under our belts.
After all of the history lessons yesterday, today we moved on to our drinking lesson. Three distinctly different wineries.
Our first stop was Boutari Winery. They are known for bringing Greek wine production into the modern age with equipment and technology in 1989. Prior to them opening, Greek wine was very crudely produced by the locals and they never knew how much alcohol was going to be in the wines. Typically it was very strong and only consumed by the locals. The owners of Boutari ended up educating the local producers how to make a more balanced and drinkable wine that could be sold to non-Greeks.
The 2nd winery (Gavalas) produces wines only made in the traditional fashion. While other wineries harvest in the first week of August, Gavalas harvests two or three weeks later. They allow the grapes to dry out on the vine for a bit. After harvesting, they allow the dried grapes to sun-dry for additional time until they basically turn into raisins. Then they have a big party, inviting friends and family over to stomp the raisins in the special stomping room. The juices flow through a basket for filtering and into a hole in the ground. The hole is covered and the juice is allowed to ferment until some time in December. Then the fermented juice is pumped out and into giant Russian oak barrels that have been in continuous use at the winery since the 1800’s. The wine then ages for 6 years in the barrel before being bottled. Even though the grapes used produce a white juice, the finished product is a rich red color and tastes like a sweet Brandy, but less alcohol-y because it’s only 10%.
The third winery we visited was just finished and opened only a few days ago. Their operation is very high end and scientific. They produce very clean and crisp wines, but they’re missing a little personality.
After all the wine, 13 tastings in total, we took a much needed nap. We enjoyed a delicious Greek mezedes (tapas) dinner, and settled in for the night. It was an awesome day and when Amanda asked me what we’re doing tomorrow, I responded with “that’s tomorrow’s problem”.
We once again hiked to the capitol city of Fira. It is about 5.5 miles away from Oia. We had the most amazing lunch at a Greek taverna that we just randomly walked into on a side street because we were trying to get away from the touristy area. We walked down the 588 steps from Fira city to the water. At they bottom we found many donkeys waiting to transport people up and down the steep climb. We bravely chose to not use the donkeys on the way back up and instead rode up the cable car for a few Euros.
We then caught a cab back to Oia, walked around and bought a few souvenirs. We watched the breathtaking sunset, grabbed some moussaka for dinner. After dinner we bought some Santorini red wine and took it back to our room to enjoy with some dark chocolate. Tomorrow we’ll hit up a small local winery before heading to the airport in the evening to go to go back to Athens.
We truly had so much fun on this adventure and loved soaking in every little minute of this trip of a lifetime.
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