Last summer, when I went out of the country for the first time on my own, I visited five countries with my boyfriend, Nayan. It was my first time traveling without my parents having planned the entire trip, so I was excited to be in-control and plan my own getaway. The Greek island of Santorini was the last stop on our mini tour of Europe after we visited Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Stuttgart, and Tannheimer Tal. I was more than ready to see the infamous vision of the sun setting over Oia (that really pretty blue and white town in all of the pictures when you Google "Greece"), the black sand beaches, the clear blue Mediterranean sea, and so much more. Not to mention, I'm Greek, so I was super excited to experience a little bit of my culture for the first time.
We decided to stay in Perissa, a village on the opposite end of the island as Oia. Famous for its black sand beaches, Perissa is a beach town lined with restaurants and bars, surrounded by ancient villages and great mountain formations. The more aesthetically pleasing locations like Oia and Fira lack the nightlife and beaches, so we decided that Perissa was our best option. If you want to avoid tourist traps and the general clutter of vacationers, Perissa is the place to stay. Everything is in walking distance, but if you want to explore more of the island, you can rent Mopeds to ride through the town. Since we were balling on a budget, we decided to save our money and get around the old fashioned way; on foot. We spent our first two days in Santorini simply relaxing on the beach, exploring little shops, petting the island cats, and visiting the beach bars, without a single worry in the world thanks to the relaxing vibe we felt in the village.
On the third day on the island, we decided to step it up and get active. We woke up early to take a bus to Fira, Santorini's capital city filled with antique shops, as well as touristy shops and amenities. After a relaxing walk through the town, we refilled our water bottles and prepared ourselves for the two-hour hike to Oia. Now, most tourists opt to skip this hike and take the bus to Oia. As an experienced hiker, I thought that walking the trail would be a cool experience. Unfortunately, the trail was not cool: It was HOT. Don't get me wrong, the trail itself is definitely a sight to see. Experiencing the island's beautiful mountains, mystical coastline, and ancient churches call for a great adventure. The trail is very well-marked, not too steep at any time along the way, and pretty much goes one direction the entire time. However, there is absolutely no shade. A volcanic island has very little foliage, and in the middle of August, the sun is going to get pretty intense. If you ever decide to hike this trail, be sure to avoid wearing anything too heavy or cotton, cover up with sunscreen, and be sure to bring plenty of water and some fruit. Regardless of how much I sweat that day, I am proud to say that I was able to conquer that hike, and I recommend it to anyone who is up for a challenge.
With our trip coming to an end, we decided to spend our last day in Santorini in luxury, and take a cruise around the island. In most cases, you can book a cruise through the hotel that you stay at. In my case, we stayed at Stelios Place, in Perissa, and the family was so helpful and hospitable throughout our stay. There are a variety of cruises to choose from, ranging from about $50-$300. The cruise we chose was $100, and it included a pickup from our hotel, sailing around the island's shores, a swim in the Kamini hot springs, snorkeling, and a beautiful view of the sunset over Oia. As a college student, I believe this experience was well worth the price, and I would highly recommend booking one yourself. It truly made the island feel like paradise to us, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I've had while traveling.
Santorini is truly an amazing place to visit, and there is so much to take in. We were lucky to have a good balance of relaxation and adventure, which is the perfect balance for a couple of college students. This trip made me fall in love with the Greece, and I can't wait until I can go back and explore more of its beautiful islands.