2014 Vacation in Greece
Day 6. Monday, August 4, 2014 (Santorini)
(Written by Lee Cung and Bo Cung)
After a restful night, our perky group gradually gathered at the hotel restaurant for a hearty breakfast. The hotel breakfast buffet has everything including fruits, juices, coffee, cold cereals, and all the typical breakfast hot dishes.
We had a whole day to explore Santorini and since the public transportation system on the island consists of only a few bus lines and hard-to-come-by taxis, plus we have a toddler - I reserved a seven-seat, compact rental van for us to get around. The car rental company delivered the van to the hotel around 10:00 am and after the paperwork was signed, we quickly drove the vehicle out of the hotel parking lot.
Early morning at Aegean Plaza Hotel
Climbing bougainvillea at Aegean Plaza Hotel in Santorini
The hotel restaurant
A typical Greek Orthodox church with blue domes
A church perching high up in Pyrgos
Kamari Beach. View from Mamma Mia Restaurant
The street above Kamari Beach packed with restaurants and shops
Sweet looking peppers
Guy selling huge donuts on beach
Above the beach is a narrow road lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes.
It was close to 1:00 pm when we settled down for lunch at a table at the Navy's Clubs Restaurant just above the beach.
The restaurant offers everything from sandwiches and burgers to Italian and Mediterranean dishes.
We had to wait a long time for our foods since the restaurant was so crowded but our Greek salad, pizzas, and stuffed squids tasted great!
Having lunch at Navy's Club Restaurant on Kamari Beach
Continuing on to Fira, we passed by several smaller towns while sharing the narrow and winding road with tour buses and scooters.
We drove through the Town of Fira dodging pedestrians and parked vehicles then made a big loop and headed back to Karima Beach.
Entrance to Oia Village
We come from a long way for views like this ...
A vine-covered restaurant in Kamari
All dressed up for dinner
Oia is a spectacular place. The village perches on the northern cliff of the island and due to its slope, houses, stores, restaurants and churches carved into the rock and terrace down the cliff. A network of narrow paths connect the mostly-white structures and thanks to the terracing, you can see the beautiful sea from almost wherever you stand. We walked by beautiful churches, shops and homes and stopped frequently to admire the sceneries and take pictures.
By the time we got to the restaurant, people were lining up along the cobble stone paths or standing on top of walls, cameras in hand waiting for the sun to set.
... and this
Crowd gathering to watch the sunset
Our table at Kastro Restaurant in Oia Village
Glad we'd reserved a table
How about the foods at Kastro? They were great! The waiter did a skillful job filleting my baked fish right at our table and it was so tasty.
Leaving the restaurant, we took our time meandering the narrow paths and stopped at a rooftop cafe for coffee and desserts. There were so many rooftop restaurants that we didn't notice until we got inside the restaurants. What a great day to cap off a great vacation!
Driving from our hotel in Kamari to Fira, the capital of Santorini, we took a side road to Pyrgos Village, one of the highest points on Santorini that offers panoramic view of the entire island.
We stopped the car just before we reached the village when we saw two churches sitting on the side of the road.
Any good picture of Santorini will include the blue domes of a Greek Orthodox church that rises above its white building and it seemed like churches were everywhere.
The small village of Pyrgos itself has 33 churches and to some degrees, they all resemble the ones we saw here.
Linda in Pyrgos
We parked our car at the parking lot of the colorful Mamma Mia Restaurant, a block from the beach to get some refreshments then went down to check out the beach and shopped for souvenirs.
Black volcanic sand but extremely clear water
The UK Telegraph called Kamari Beach one of the best beaches in Greece. It is about a mile long and located on the east side of the island. Its volcanic sands are dark and coarse but the water is extremely calm and clear.
The beach was packed with neatly stacked colorful lounge chairs, umbrellas, and thatch huts. I'd never seen a beach like this before.
Lee enjoying the foods and view
Kamari Beach sunbathers
Along this stretch of beach, if you eat at their restaurant, you can use their chairs and umbrellas so after lunch, some of us went down to the beach to swim in the ocean and the rest went back to the hotel to swim in the pool. It was a beautiful day in Santorini. We had been in Greece for six days and had great weather every single day.
Around 5 pm, everyone headed back to their hotel rooms to get ready for our evening in Oia. I had made a 7:30 pm dinner reservation at Kastro, a famous restaurant known for its premier sunset viewing location.
It took us approximately 45 minutes to drive from Kamari to Oia Village located on the northern side of Santorini Island. The mountainous road was narrow and we found ourselves behind slow tour buses most of the way.
At nearly 7 pm, we pulled into a parking lot in Oia, paid the fee and parked our car. Joining throngs of tourists coming from all directions, we walked down the main cobble stone street and headed towards the restaurant located at the very tip of the village.
Kastro Restaurant is a small restaurant with perhaps a dozen tables and all have great views. Our table was on the balcony and had full view on the setting sun. By the time we ordered our foods, more and more people had packed all the available viewing space outside the restaurant including the small hill behind the restaurant. I think sunset viewing in Oia is better than in Fira because the view here is completely unobstructed.
The atmosphere was packed with anticipation as the sun slowly lowering itself into the sea then the crowd broke into cheers and cameras clicked when the sun started touching the water and the applauses continued until the sun completely disappeared.
Linda enjoying the sunset
Lee and Bo in Oia
Kastro Restaurant in Oia Village
Night view of a church
Narrow path in front of a beautiful shop
There is a reason why they're smiling
A happy group of travelers. L-R: Bo, Christina, Lee, Martine, Lucas, Danh and Linda