Sunday, 30 September 2012

Santorini ~ Part 1

After a last dinner at Maros on Sunday night, we left Naxos with mixed emotions ~ regret at leaving this friendly, down to earth island, where the people are so warm and generous, the beaches are sandy and soft and the food and wine are cheap and delicious, but also with anticipation at returning to the most beautiful place on earth, Santorini.  Stelios gave us a lift to the dock along with another couple who was staying at Hotel Spiros and were leaving on the same ferry, the huge Blue Star Delos.  We spent an hour chatting with them while waiting for the ferry to arrive ~ they are from Vancouver, retired and take extended trips every year.  Their motto is "Travel long, travel cheap".  They have been gone almost 6 weeks and had visited parts of Turkey as well as Athens and some of the other Greek islands.  I want to be them when I grow up, lol.

The ferry ride to Santorini is about 2 hours with a stop at Ios along the way.  The view as you approach the island is mind boggling, with the little whitewashed houses and the blue domed churches perched on the cliffs of this volcanic island in stubborn defiance of gravity.

Goodbye, Naxos


Oia, Santorini

Anastasis, our wonderful hotel, has arranged a driver to meet us at the dock in Santorini and while hundreds of people are still streaming off the ferry and looking around for taxis, we are being whisked away in an air conditioned van and arrive at the hotel less than 30 minutes later.  We are welcomed back with hugs and kisses, cool cloths for our faces and cold water for our parched throats.  Despina, who owns and manages Anastasis, has arranged for us to have the same room as last year and when we get there, our luggage has magically appeared and we are served welcome cocktails and treats while we sit on the deck and become entranced once more with the magical view in front of us.

After dinner reservations and plans for our 4 nights are made, we sit to enjoy our first spectacular Santorini sunset, with soft music playing in the background and a glass of chilled white wine easing our travel day behind us.

The hotel provides free transportation to the 2 little villages close by.  We have chosen to return to Il Cantuccio, a little Italian place in Firostefani.  Our driver lets us off in the main square and we walk over to the restaurant, where we are greeted as honoured guests from Anastasis.  We enjoy a delicious dinner of Caprese salad, home made gnocchi, lemon veal and tiramisu for dessert.  We revel in being back in Santorini and toast our good fortune to be able to see this heaven on earth not once, but twice. After dinner, we walk around the village for a little bit, enjoying the warm evening air before being driven back to our hotel.  We sink into our soft, comfortable beds and drift off to sleep, dreaming of the days to come.

The next morning, we are served the beautiful Anastasis breakfast ~ fresh coffee and orange juice, a hot Greek specialty, yogurt (with pomegranate seeds today), pastries, breads, jams and honey, and perfectly hard boiled eggs with hand drawn faces!  We savour our feast and enjoy the breathtaking view and then get ready for our wine tour.

Our sommelier picks us up at 10am in his comfortable mini bus with driver and once we've picked up 2 other couples, we are on our way.  Both couples are honeymooners and I teach both guys the only sentence they need to achieve a successful marriage "Happy Wife = Happy Life" :)

We visit 3 wineries in the next 4 hours and taste 5 wines at each one (yes, starting at 10:30 in the morning, lol).  We learn that Santorini has a very dry climate and that the harvesting season starts very early.  The vines are planted very close to the ground and are pruned into circular shapes to keep any moisture and the stressed vines result in a very mineral, acidic, earthy wine.  Most of the wine produced in Santorini is white wine made from the Assyrtiko grape, but there is one producer who is experimenting with a red variety which shows some promise.  We also tasted Vin Santo, a sweet wine made from grapes dried in the sun after harvest.  We enjoyed this special wine so much, we bought a bottle of their premium 20 year old product, which is as smooth as a good cognac or brandy.

I'll take one of each, please

display case is made of volcanic soil

We got back to our hotel around 2:30pm.  All that wine drinking hit us a little hard and we took the rest of the afternoon very easy, lazing away the hours on the deck and in the cool infinity pool.  Sunset is once again mind boggling and I try to drink in this moment and hang on to it, to carry me through the long winter ahead and the hard decisions I am still struggling with.  The hotel has made reservations for us at Mama Thira, a cliff side restaurant in Firostani and we are picked up by our driver right on time at 8pm.  A girl could get used to this. We are shown to a perfect little table on the outdoor terrace and settle in for another magical evening.  We share a delicious appetizer of warm feta wrapped in filo pastry, drizzled with honey and sesame seeds.  I have a melt in your mouth, slow cooked lamb shank with rice and creamy mashed potatoes and Den has a trio of brochettes (pork, chicken and lamb) served with salad, pita and tzatziki.  A bottle of Mama Thira red completes our meal and we linger over dinner, enjoying the lights of Oia in the distance and the cool evening breeze.  We share Greek pastries for dessert and feel blessed to be in this spot, at this moment, enjoying this meal and each other's company, thankful for 30 years together and a life that enables us to experience such bliss.

the view from our table!

When we get back to our room, it is all lit up with tiny tealights and there is a bottle of wine waiting for us, along with a hand written letter telling us how much they appreciate that we have chosen to return to Anastasis.  We are delighted to read that a private jacuzzi session and massages have been arranged for us tomorrow afternoon to thank us for being return guests!  Really, does life get better than this......


  1. Oh, I thought you had gone home! That breakfast looks absolutely delicious.

    You are could you leave this place?

    just miss the plane! LOL!

    Love Denise

  2. Denise, we've been home for a week, lol. I posted the last 2 blogs from home last Sunday since I couldn't seem to access my blog from our hotel. Santorini is unbelievable, but Naxos stole our hearts (well, Den's for sure, Paris is still my one true love, but I could cheat on her with Naxos,lol)
    Thanks for your comment.