Red Beach, Santorini

I’m going to make a bold statement here – the following post details my favorite day in Santorini! I’ve traveled enough to know I suck at just lying by a pool all day, having a restful vacation. Sure, every once in a while the soul needs a good cocktail and a long nap in the sun once throughly marinated in chlorine, but for the most part, vacation for me means exploration and adventure, and luckily, I often travel with a handsome fella who feels the same!Kai and I woke up on day two in Greece ready for some action. To end the day, we’d booked onto a sunset sailboat ride, but the sunlight hours were a blank canvas, and we were eager to rove the island and discover some new spots. So we got another early start, which was fine by me, because how peaceful does our hotel’s terrace look (above) – empty and freshly dressed, ready for the day to begin?! If you’re looking for a very reasonably priced hotel in Oia, we stayed at Anemomilos (above) and loved every minute of it! We paid a mere €330 for four nights, and our room had a private hot tub, a balcony with an ocean view, a full kitchen and living room, not to mention that a hearty breakfast was included. The hotel had quite a few budget rooms if your price point is lower, as well as some very luxurious suits situated right on the caldera. The staff was fantastic and incredibly helpful, the pool was serene, and we both agreed that we’d stay here again in a heartbeat! That said, we didn’t stick around our base-camp for too long. To explore the island, we rented a quad bike, and set out towards Red Beach, hoping to grab some caffeine along the way.At this point, Kai had a clean driving record (well, except that one time he accidentally crashed my dad’s car in a parking lot LOL) so I trusted him to safely navigate our quad bike around the island. In the back and armed with my DSLR, I half occupied my time snapping photos, while I spent the other half with my face nestled into Kai’s back, unwilling to witness the steep cliffs we were quickly zooming across!Let’s get real for a minute – although I mainly document the positive aspects of my travels, life’s not all candy and peaches (or in this case, sunshine and swimming pools). While Kai and I were in Greece, we locked up our personal possessions in our bedroom back in Amsterdam, and rented out our guest room and living space on Airbnb. We’ve done this a few times now as it essentially pays for our vacation and allows someone else to experience life in the canals of Amsterdam. While we were in Greece, we had a sweet couple from Indonesia staying at our place, and although their check-in went smoothly, we got an urgent message mid-way through our trip saying that the hot water in the apartment was not working – yikes! In hindsight, to our good luck we’d had this issue once before, so we knew how to fix it! However, the solution involved unlocking our bedroom door (which was safe guarding all of our personal items), re-setting the water heater (which was barricaded in a closet by said personal items) and then using a small key (which was locked in our utility closet) to let air bubbles out of each individual heater (of which we have five). BIG SIGH. A lot of our friends were also out-of-town, and we didn’t trust our guests with a key to our bedroom (where we’d hidden our laptops, race bikes, electronics, jewelry, etc) so we were a bit stumped as to how to fix the water heater (and by stumped I mean one minute Kai and I were tipsy and giggling in our hot tub, and the next we were bickering about how we were going to solve this problem 2,000 miles away). ANYWAYS, I text our cleaner who just so happened to have a spare pair of keys, and was willing to make an extra hour’s pay by going on what would essentially be a scavenger hunt through our apartment. So we arranged for our cleaner to come by the house, we tried to keep our Airbnb guests away from the action, and we talked our cleaner through each step of the detailed process over the phone. In the end, the water heater was back on in less than 15 minutes, our guests were happy and left us a five-star review, our cleaner got paid, and we made sure to bring some special Greek thank-you candy for all parties involved. The moral of this story?? The below photos were taken on a terrace where we pulled over to talk our cleaner through the process of fixing our heating system. Sure, we were seated under beautiful florals, sipping tall lattes, and basking in the sun, but in reality this stop was unplanned and anxious. I wanted to give you the back story here because a lot of the time, I skimp on the negative aspects of our travel. But behind every photo is a story, and even though our travels take us to some pretty places, they are sometimes far from perfect ;) and that’s travel for ya . . . and life!That said, our bellies didn’t mind the brief intermission!AND you can literally see the ease and joy on our faces once we hit the road again and our troubles at home were resolved! Our next stop was a bit more planned – we’d made it to the Red Beach which was our first destination of the day!Red Beach is a little (or I guess BIG) gem located on the south of the island. A volcano off of the coast of Santorini carved the island’s shoreline, creating many geographical wonders in the process. Red Beach is one of said marvels – tall red cliffs offer sparkling views of the turquoise sea, brilliant blue waters sing in contrast to the crumbling Mars-like rocks. We clambered down the side of the cliff, towards the ant-like creatures inhabiting the beach, eager to dip our toes in the sea.From down below, Red Beach felt like any other shoreline, filled with pebbles, lapping waters, and beach-goers basking in the sun.We did not hesitate to kick off our shoes and claim our own slice of the beach.Kai was brave and went for a dip in the cool October seas.While I made myself at home relaxing in the sun.After about 45 minutes of Red Beach chillin’ (I told you I suck at doing nothing!) we hopped back on our quad bike to do some lighthouse hunting.Akrotiri Lighthouse is very close to Red Beach, and was also nearby a restaurant we were hoping to check out for lunch (at the recommendation of a cab driver earlier in our trip!)It was a beautiful drive up the coast, and while we enjoyed the journey, we didn’t stay too long.We stretched our legs, did a lap around the light house, and headed back to our quad bike. Before we hopped on again, we bought a few pieces of jewelry from a craftsman who’d set up a table with his pieces at the foot of the lighthouse, but otherwise, didn’t dally around. Our stomachs were rumbling and it was time for a proper meal!  We’d been told by a local that Good Heart was awesome and worth a stop, and the restaurant just so happened to be fairly close to Red Beach and the lighthouse. So we swung in for a late lunch, and boy were we happy we did!We ordered two Donkey Beers (a must in Greece!), some starters to share, and a hearty dish each for our mains. Kai had the baby cow . . . .  And I had bunny pasta . . .  Which makes me want to cry because the meal was so delicious – so let’s just call it veal and rabbit so it doesn’t sound cute and cuddly. In all seriousness, the best part of the meal was Kai’s side of eggplant, which was roasted, blended, and stewed in with plenty of butter, cheese and flour. Served with gravy on top, I would describe the dish as an *almost* healthier version of mashed potatoes – incredibly moreish and the star of our meal!As beautiful as the above photo looks, it comes with another one of those ‘behind the photo’ moments. Kai and I were having a BLAST on the quad bike – we easily could have roamed the island until dark – but we had to get back to Oia for our sunset sail. So we returned the quad bike (although we’d rented it for a full 24h – but didn’t foresee using it again that evening) and changed into slightly warmer clothes, ready to sail the windy high seas! We walked to the parking lot, and waited for the shuttle van to pick us up . . . and waited and waited and waited. An hour later, we were very nervous we’d somehow missed the shuttle, so we called the boating company, only to be told the sunset sail had been canceled that evening. Don’t you love it when you go to Greece for four nights, and you spend one evening waiting in a parking lot for a shuttle that never comes?! Okay, so we could have been upset – and we were definitely bummed (not to mention we spent another 45 minutes on the phone trying to get our money back!) but we decided to make the most out of our surprise evening in Oia. So, dressed in our sailing attire (now you know why Kai and I look slightly nautical in the below photos!) we decided to walk along the edge of the caldera for another Santorini sunset.And boy am I glad we did, because we would have missed THIS view:I don’t think the views get any better than this.Without a destination in mind, we decided to walk down towards Amoudi Bay, conquering more than 500 steps in the process.It was on this walk we met our first Greek donkeys . . . who looked sad and tired from a long day of hiking in the sun.They hung towards the shade, but that didn’t stop us from snapping a few photos with them :) Having trekked down many, many stairs to the bay, I can understand why donkeys are a popular method of transportation here. However, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the little guys who had no say in their employment . . and also didn’t seem too keen to take photos.I think they are all just in need of some good sunglasses.When we reached the bottom of the bay, we were quick to admit that the long journey down was worth it. Bobbing boats were mored in the harbor, and the shoreline was speckled with sunny seafood restaurants.We debated treating ourselves to a seafood feast, but having had such a heavy meal at lunch (we had been planning on light snacks and wine for dinner aboard the sailboat) we couldn’t quite commit to a full-blown dinner just yet. We had a bottle of bubbly wine intended for the sailboat in our bag, so we roamed further down the bay looking for a cute spot to sit and pop our sparkles. But the more we walked, the more we were hoping to find a quiet, secluded spot, which didn’t seem too likely as the bay was just starting to get busy with the dinner rush. Then we accidentally happened across Kai’s favorite part of the trip. On the hunt for our romantic lookout spot, we started walking down a long, dirt road. At one point, we tried to stop with our feet dangling over a grassy cliff, but some dogs hidden in the bushes started growling at us and we quickly walked on. Just when we were both thinking that perhaps it had been a mistake to leave Amoudi Bay, we saw a gleaming restaurant off in the distance. Our pace picked up, and we were curious to see if this quiet establishment was indeed open.Despite being empty (our October trip was at the very end of the tourist season) Katharos Lounge was OPEN and serving amazing cocktails! So we picked out some front row seats, ordered two juicy concoctions from the menu, and settled in to watch the sun set on our private terrace. Our second Santorini sunset was infinitely better than the last, and although we weren’t out sailing the bay, I don’t think we could have imagined a better evening.Ohh, and those bubbles we were carrying around? They were happy to make an appearance later in our hot tub ;)Keep an eye out for my birthday adventure, up next!

xo Ali

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