After we spent our first two days in Athens, we boarded a 7am sunrise flight to Santorini! A quick 45 minutes later, we were on the ground at our next destination.
A driver for our bed and breakfast met us at the airport to help us make the 1 hr. drive from the airport to Oia. We were met shortly after arriving at the "drop-off" spot by the owner, Takis, of the 1864 Sea Captain's House Bed & Breakfast. He had a donkey porter to help us with our luggage and we were off to check-in.
Takis got us all settled into our room and we were off to find breakfast and explore the little village. I loved arriving so early to Oia, it was quiet and we were able to take our new surroundings before it got too busy for the day. We were in awe of the island, ocean for as far as you could see and beautiful white-washed buildings all around us.
After breakfast, we wandered a bit more around Oia--stopping for a million photos of all the beautiful alleys and bright colored bougainvillea. We made our way down the many steps to Ammoudi Bay. We had our sights set on a lunch of fresh fish and headed to Ammoudi Fish Tavern (reservation recommended, especially if you want the first tables closest to the water.) We decided on a fresh grilled fish, which we were able to hand pick from the selection of fresh caught fish, caught either the night before or from the morning. We decided on a red snapper and it was delicious! We couldn't have picked a better spot for a leisurely lunch on the island that required a bit of exercise to earn.
We knew we wanted to check out the famed Oia sunset our first night. You could see the "go-to" spot (where every tourist on the island congregates to watch it) from our balcony so we decided to take a nap and enjoy the view from our room, while watching to see when the sunset spot was getting crowded. We headed out about an hour before the sun was to set to find our spot. We perched ourselves high on the sunset rock and soon we were surrounded by many, many, many other people hoping to take in the beautiful sunset along with us. I was glad we witnessed it on the sunset rock for the first night, but I was also glad the next two nights when we watched it from our balcony without all the other tourists.
After the sunset, we walked down to Lauda, the restaurant attached to the Andronis Hotel. We were able to snag a last minute walk-in, normally you would need reservations in the busy season. Ara and I decided to share several dishes here and everything was out-of-this-world delicious and had very exquisite presentation.
We woke up and walked outside to the balcony outside our room where our breakfast table was already set up! Soon we were filling up on a delicious spread of fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, eggs, yogurt and delicious meat, cheese and bread. We love a good breakfast on vacation and this was one of the best we've come across! All with a beautiful view of the ocean in front of you!
I had booked the "Foodie" tour for us through Santorini Wine Trails and we met up with our guide, Iliana, shortly after breakfast. Our first stop on the tour was at Nomikos Estate, a family owned farm where we tasted the local products of Santorini--sun-dried cherry tomatoes, pistachios, capers and fava bean dip. Both Ara and I loved all the delicious food we tasted at this stop--I couldn't believe how delicious the tomatoes were!
On the way to our first winery, we stopped to check out a field where many vines were growing. Iliana took us into the field and showed us how unique the vines are grown in Santorini--they weave them into a basket shape! Since the island gets very little rain, this process is done to protect the grapes and every year the vines are wrapped into a basket shape so that the grapes grown inside the basket with the leaves covering them from the warm sun.
We then made our way to Estate Argyros, our first winery stop of the day. We tasted several wines including the varietal, Assyrtiko. I was especially excited to try out these wines as I had just read a great article about the Assyrtiko from this winery in Food & Wine magazine! It did not disappoint--we loved the crisp, minerality of the wine.
Our next stop was to the local craft brewery on the island, Donkey Brewery. As lovers of both wine and beer, we were excited to check out what they were doing for craft beer. We enjoyed sampling and Ara felt like he was back in the PNW drinking their IPA.
The final stop on our tour was Domaine Signalas. We enjoyed tasting the wines, but really enjoyed the food pairings more! We ate delicious plates of white eggplant with sun-dried tomatoes and feta, and grape leaves stuffed with herbed rice. I left feeling very inspired by all the Greek cuisine from the day. I would highly recommend taking this tour--we left with so much knowledge of the Santorini agriculture and had some amazing food and wine throughout the day.
After the tour we decided we needed a little something sweet and stopped for some gelato at Lolita's in Oia. A renown gelato shop with great flavors and great seating outside necessary for that perfect instagram post.
We knew we wanted to keep it casual for the evening since we had a nice dinner the night before and ate our way through the day. We had asked a few of the locals earlier where to get the best gyro and ended up at Nico's for some takeaway gyros. We opened up a bottle of wine that we snagged during the tour at Estate Argyos and set up on our balcony to dine and take in the sunset. What a relaxing way to spend the end of night two in paradise!
After breakfast, we packed up our day bag and put on our hiking shoes. We set out to make the trek from Oia to Fira. The whole route took us right along the caldera of the island and had an amazing view the whole way. The hike took us about 4 hours and we couldn't wait to make it to our lunch destination in Fira, Mama's House. We both ordered a cold beer and a liter of water, plus several delicious plates to share.
After filling up our bellies, we decided it was time to treat our tired feet and stopped for a fish pedicure at Kissing Fish! We were both a bit nervous about the experience--small fish called garra rufa, without teeth remove the dead skin cells by exfoliation with a painless method. A little ticklish at first, but soon you wish you had one of those tanks at home for everyday enjoyment.
After the pedicure we walked around Fira to see what the village is like. It doesn't take long to see that it's much bigger than Oia, with quite a few tourist shops and restaurants to dine. I preferred the feel of Oia better after experiencing both. We took the public bus from Fira back to Oia (one way ticket costs 1.60 euro) and took about 30 minutes.
That evening we headed to Red Bicycle for dinner (reservations recommended). There are two prix fixe tasting menus to choose from, either 7 or 9 courses. Ara and I love to do tasting menus while on our travels but I was a bit nervous for this one as I saw sea urchin on the menu and I'm not the biggest fan of those! Well, course after course came and we were so enamored with each one! Even the sea urchin one was delicious! My favorite was the grilled octopus with lentil puree. It has such deep and delicious flavor to it. We definitely ended on a high note for dinner that evening. I would highly recommend stopping at Red Bicycle if you are in Santorini!
We woke up early the next morning and had a quiet breakfast in our room (we loved that the B&B stocked our room fridge with breakfast essentials since we had such an early flight--a testament to their great service) before catching our ride back to the airport.
We were both so mesmerized and in awe of the beauty of the island of Santorini. I was worried that the destination was too hyped up and it wouldn't be all that it was talked up to be. I was so incredibly wrong. I LOVED every bit of our time in Santorini and every experience that we did and every restaurant that we ate at was incredible. I couldn't have picked a better place or itinerary for celebrating our 7th anniversary!