One of the reasons I love Kai is because he is so easy-going. On our first night in Oia, he asked what I wanted to do the next day. The answer was not pretty. I wanted to set my alarm for 5am, crawl out of bed at the crack of dawn, and go on a sunrise hike from Oia to Fira. Your typical travel companion would probably moan in horror at the idea of waking up before the sun on the first day of vacation, but Kai was a champ and made sure we had plenty of water and snacks for our hike before the shops closed for the evening. He may have even been the one to nudge me again and again when our alarm went off, making sure we didn’t miss the sunrise.Numerous Santorini travel blogs had said that this hike was a must if you’re an outdoor enthusiast and lucky enough to be staying on the island. And we were lucky enough to be visiting in October, when the crowds were sparse but the weather was still warm, almost hot, every day. When we woke up I didn’t feel sticky in the sheets, but we were welcomed by the heat as we opened our door and walked over to the trail.
The hike itself was six miles and took us about three hours. We probably could have done it a bit faster if we didn’t stop for photos, snacks, and many moments to take in the view. But ohh my gosh, those views! Watching Oia slowly disappear into the mist, watching the ocean change shade with every new second of the day, watching the sun slowly dance across the island – the vistas were unforgettable and such a warm welcome to the island. When we first started out, the sun was barely peaking above the horizon, and the majority of the trail was in the shade.We had to climb high enough to reach the sun, which took about 30 minutes. However, when we did finally make our way up to the first summit and could see the sun peaking up over the Aegean Sea, we knew why so many before us had recommended the trek.It was breathtaking.From then on we spent about fifty percent of our time on the sunny side of the mountain, and fifty percent climbing in the shade. The trail was a bit haphazard, hard to follow in some places, and included a few brief jaunts along the main road. There also weren’t any bathrooms or water fountains along the way, so make sure you stock up on H2O and your bladder is empty before you take off if you plan on taking the trek!I love eucalyptus and have never seen it growing in the wild before. To my delight, it was scattered all along the trail, which not only offered beautiful vistas, but smelled floral and fresh too!One of the most eerie and beautiful parts of the trek was walking through the smaller villages that were just waking up. The landscape was incredibly still – wet towels lay silent and discarded from the evening before, while a few visitors slowly climbed out of bed and on to their private balconies, sipping coffee and taking in a new day. This side of the island was totally in the shade, and the lack of sun cast a quiet blue hue over all of the houses.Some stretches were completely deserted, and we loved taking in the scape of the townscape before anyone else that day.Eventually, the trail became more and more populated with houses, and eventually, we began our descent into Fira. Fira is the capital of Santorini – here you will find the more people, shops, hotels, restaurants, and night clubs than anywhere else on the island.We began our walk into town, keeping an eye out for potential breakfast haunts.From the path we spotted a big balcony in the sun, so we made our way over and to our delight the small bed and breakfast agreed to serve us breakfast by the pool.For €8 each we were treated to a feast of bread, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, yogurt, coffee, tea, juice and a hard-boiled egg each. I’ve never tasted such creamy yogurt or fresh honey! After fueling up for the day, we decided to explore Fira a bit.We poked into shops, Kai got an ice cream, and we took in the view along the edge of the caldera. Whether we looked backwards or forwards, to the right or to the left, a dazzling view greeted us.The not-so-glamorous part was taking the bus back to Oia. After walking around Fira for an hour or so, we decided to head back to our home base in Oia. We didn’t feel like hiking another 6 miles in the hot sun, so we opted to take the bus. Holy scary crap! The huge coach wound around the edge of the caldera, sometimes zooming past a guard rail, other time coming nerve-wrackingly close to the cliff’s edge with nothing between the bus and a hundred foot drop. I squeezed Kai’s hand so tight and was so thankful to be off the bus! Luckily, there was a stop two buildings down from our hotel, which meant we didn’t have to hike far in the heat once we were off the death-bus. We quickly changed into our swimmers and hit the pool while the sun was still mid sky.Visiting at the season’s end was brilliant, because we had almost all of the roads, restaurants, and pools all to ourselves, and still had a fair amount of sunshine!We closed the afternoon with lunch at our hotel, where we experienced our first Donkey Beer (the local brew) under a sea of hanging pink florals.Kai and I shared a cheese salad, a plate of vegetables, pita, and taziki, and were again reminded of how generous the portions of feta are in Greece! Helllllo all my calories for the day in one plate, you look beautiful!
On a final side note, what do you think of these photos? Usually I run my images through Photoshop and adjust the brightness and contrast, but I just got Adobe Lightroom and to my utter delight it was easy as pie to create a few presets and adjust the illumination with a single click. I am feeling foolish for not doing this years ago, because typically it takes me about an hour to go through and adjust perhaps 60 photos, but with Lightroom I just edited these photos with presets in under 10 minutes. I can’t believe I spent so many unnecessary hours of my life in Photoshop – and I think the quality from Lightroom might be slightly better as well? What do you think?
More Greek adventures to follow!