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“Imerovigli, Santorini Review - July 2010”
Review of Santorini

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Tetbury, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
308 reviews
203 helpful votes
“Imerovigli, Santorini Review - July 2010”
Reviewed 23 July 2010

Santorini is one of the most spectacular places in the world and is matched by equally amazing weather. The island is actually part of a volcano: an archipelago of five volcanic islands orientated in a circular shape surrounding a dramatic deep blue ocean lake. Santorini was originally a single island but an enormous underwater volcanic eruption some 3500 years ago, resulted in the creation of geographic calderas which has the affect of a jaw shaped layout that encompasses a rectangular shaped ocean inlet. The earths crust sank letting the sea in and it is said that this caused a tidal wave that ran across Crete, just to the south, and somewhere the Lost City of Atlantis comes in !

Santorini is situated in the southern Aegean Sea, located 130 miles south east from the mainland of Greece. The west side of the island has steep volcanic cliffs, which constituted the crater wall of the volcano, and the view from there is simply stunning. The eastern side of the island is more gently sloping and this is where the major beaches are located. The sand is black, volcanic and slightly sticky in consistency!

Climate

Santorini enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate that enjoys year round agreeable conditions. For July when I was there 90F degrees (30C) and clear just about sums it up although its not quite as simple as that. There is always a welcome breeze, which sometimes develops into a definite wind – the island is known for its winds. Night times cool down nicely. There is a definite heat haze that can impede the views for photographers like me but when the wind is stronger, and first thing in the morning, it is much clearer and quite unbelievably beautiful.

Apparently it hardly ever rains here and, after a few days, you may ask yourself where the water comes from? The answer; its pumped from underground and delivered to hotels in tankers! Its rather hard, ok to wash with, but best to drink bottled water. When I was there in mid July I asked when it last rained and the answer was “I think it rained in May”!

Tourism

The main industry is tourism and the island is well geared up to deal with the most demanding of tourists – yes its very popular with Americans both as a tourist destination and as a port of call for the many cruise ships that call in here. The cruise ships disembark at Thira (Fira) port and the lucky cruisers have a choice whether to take a donkey ride up the winding pathway to the main town hundreds of feet above, or to walk it in the sweltering heat avoiding the herds of crotchety donkeys and of course their “evidence”. The alternative is to cheat by taking the cable car but there is a downside to this too as you have to wait in line when times are busy.

Thira, the main town, is busy and very touristy with lots of tiny pedestrianised streets to get lost in. It is very safe; the people (including the traders) are all extremely friendly. There are many jewellery stores and tavernas where you can eat the local food. There are other busy centres on the island but there are also places where you can find peace and tranquillity. English is almost universally used as the main language for tourists.

Oia (pronounced “eya-aa”) is the most prosperous settlement on the island; here the walkways are made of marble! It is said Santorini has the best sunsets in the world and they are best viewed from Oia. I would have to argue with that – the sunrise I saw was certainly beautiful but could certainly be bettered from the north coast of Cornwall, for instance? But its turned into a bit of a `must do` tourist thing and people go and congregate and applaud when the sun dips below the horizon!

Getting around

I was told that Santorini is a small island and there is absolutely no need to rent a car while you are there. Wrong ! Yes it is a small island, and if you are the type to just relax and do very little, stroll a bit, maybe wait an hour for the local bus, then maybe you don`t need transport. But if you are of the type that likes to explore and discover stuff for yourself, then you definitely need transport.

There are a few choices. The island is brimming with car, scooter and ATV rental businesses but the cheapest option is to arrange it before you come here, through someone like www.holidayautos.co.uk . The `fun` option might seem like a scooter or an ATV but, and now I`m gonna be a killjoy; as a biker myself, the idea of riding an underpowered vehicle like that, unprotected, without helmet and wearing shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops, seems a bloody dangerous one to me (coming from a man who was seriously injured on a bike myself 10 years ago!) Also, you are 100% exposed to the sun. The answer is a car – I had a Suzuki Jimny (a tiny 4WD SUV) with an open top but shade if you wanted it. It was perfect. Fuel is expensive – 1.65 Euros a litre for unleaded which is as expensive as anywhere in Europe but it is a small island and you won`t use much! Just keep calm and stay clear of the motorcycles and tour buses – yes it is a bit frantic. Oh and you may well find yourself with a manual / standard transmission!

And – this sounds a bit decadent – but do bring Lulu (thats what mine is called!) – your trusty GPS if it has European mapping – its great to be able to disappear up all sorts of lanes and know you are not going to get lost! That being said, Lulu has advised me to drive up flights of steps and across open fields and her excuse is she has not been to Santorini before !!

Eating

Because of the arid climate and poor soil quality, meat has to be imported from mainland Greece and, in my opinion, the quality of butchery is not as high as it could be – there are often tiny fragments of bone on the cooked meat which can play havoc with your teeth! But then the Kleftico, Beef Stefado and all the regular Greek dishes are excellent.

Where Santorini does score is with its fresh fish which is absolutely wonderful! To sit in a little restaurant just four feet above the water, knowing that what you are eating was landed that morning on the harbour side just 50 yards away is amazing. But then so it the enormous price – we had the most incredible meal with Red Snapper, Grouper and grilled Octopus with copious amounts of `Village` wine! The price, 100 Euros!! The cheapest option is grilled / fried squid or octopus which I love – a very healthy meal!

However it is perfectly possible to find lunch or dinner for 30 Euros or so – portions are large and they are very much into sharing – you can share a local salad and a fish dish which is a nice way to eat?

Also, if you take the trouble to explore a bit and disappear down unmarked tracks you can happen across tiny tavernas on quaysides that really just serve the locals, with smoky outside grills – this really is the way to get good value and atmosphere too !

Wine

Again because of the poor soil and dry climate, wine yields are very low yet Santorini does have a successful wine industry and thanks to all the independent supermarkets, the local produce is freely available. They say their wine is organic and without preservatives so there are `no hangovers` – I can vouch for that !

It is sold in the restaurants by the carafe as `village wine` and, generally, it is not strong – 11%-12.5% but has a distinctive flavour. There is a special very sweet desert wine, which is a bit of a speciality and costs rather more because the grape content is much higher.

Hotels

On the eastern side of the island, which is more gently sloping, and where all the black sand is, the hotels are more conventional and tend to be small. There are none of the regular hotel chains on the island. Kamari and Perissa are the main towns here and tend to be frequented by younger people looking for a bit of nightlife! You can eat more cheaply – burgers, pizza and kebabs as well as the local food.

On the west side and in my view the part of Santorini that really does have the `wow factor`, many of the hotels are `traditional houses` – almost like caves that are built into the steep cliffside with spectacular views over the volcano and the sea. The view really does take your breath away as do the steps; inevitably there are a lot of steps and a veritable labyrinth of passageways that take you to your room or `house`!

We stayed at the interestingly named Ouranos Traditional Houses (Hotel) at Imerovigli right on the cliff-side and fortunately not too many steps to encounter. There are a few `plunge pools` dotted around but no true swimming pools as such – you need to go to the sea for that. Don`t expect `5 star` luxury – you are paying for the location here and the staggering view from your private terrace. The rooms are comfortable but simple – the bed has a stone base, an `efficient` bathroom and a little kitchen with fridge and tiny stove; so you could cook something if you wanted to. And although the rooms are naturally cool and painted white to reflect the sun, they all have air-conditioning units and ours kept our room at a comfortable 65F. Breakfast is provided and is truly international – you could choose from eggs and bacon, cheese and cold meats, fruit and the traditional Greek cakes and pastries.

Eastern Europeans seem to dominate the catering industry here, as they do now in the UK, so you can be assured that standards of cleanliness and attention to detail are high.

Again, the town of Oia has the most exclusive hotels and tavernas but the downside is that its a magnet for tourists – the streets are crowded with people from cruise ships and tour buses being shepherded around by tour guides with hands in the air waving flags etc. Thira is also very busy although its only a 20 minute stroll from Imerovigli. We thought that Imerovigli was just right in terms of the hotel, the price, the view and offering the degree of quiet that we were looking for!

Conclusion

A wonderful location if you are looking for a relaxing holiday with breathtaking views, perfect weather (sun but a cooling breeze), fantastic food and local wine!

Helpful?
10 Thank RichCotswoldChap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City
1 review
1 helpful vote
“Wedding in Santorini Greece by Kivotos of Agean Travel”
Reviewed 13 July 2010

My husband & I were married June, 2010 in Santorini, Greece. Margarita of Kivotos of Agean Travel was our wedding planner and coordinated the ceremony and plans. Everything exceeded our expectations. It was an absolute EXCELLENT experience. Every photo on their website was true to life from the location of the wedding down to the flowers. I even feel it was more beautiful in person. Kivotos of Agean Travel was very detail oriented. Every email was answered promptly (and believe me I sent many), every concern I had tended to. I would HIGHLY recommend Kivotos of Agean Travel to anyone planning to get married in Santorini.

Helpful?
1 Thank nypdangel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal
1 review
1 helpful vote
“Dream Wedding in Santorini!!!”
Reviewed 11 July 2010

My husband and I got married in Santorini, Greece on June 26th, 2010. It was a complete dream come true and would advise any couple looking for a romantic destination wedding to get married there. It is a gorgeous island and the people are extremely friendly. We planned our wedding through an excellent company called POEMA WEDDINGS & SPECIAL EVENTS. Our wedding planner's names was Amalia Valvi and she made our special day magical. She payed attention to detail and knew how to make our dream a reality. Our photographer and videographer were exellent and the venue was perfect as well. Thank you Poema and beautiful Santorini!!!

Helpful?
1 Thank Marriedsanto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Arizoznaa
1 review
“black sand beaches of Perissa”
Reviewed 6 July 2010

We just returned from Greece and had been a little concerned that Santorini would be too touristy. We stayed in Persissa at a vacation rental right on the beach. Of all the places that we visited during the entire stay in Greece, Perissa was the best. The Greek people were very welcoming and the beach was perfect, not very crowded, clean, and close to restaurants and bars. We rented a car and toured the island, Fira was very crowded and super touristy, but still beautiful. We continued to Oia and had lunch overlooking the sea. Oia was smaller, charming and less crowded. We had a great time, and got the best of the island by staying on the beach and visiting the other sites.

Helpful?
Thank manazanita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level 6 Contributor
122 reviews
87 helpful votes
“Thirtysomething island hopping in Santorini”
Reviewed 5 July 2010

Having never done the whole island hopping thing my wife was eager to get me to Greece to do a couple of islands Santorini was our first followed by Naxos.
Santorini is a small island (in that you can easily cover it in a morning by road but its major locations take longer to explore. It is one of the higher priced islands in Greece due to its much talked about Caldera views (see pictures)
Towns and area of interest are Oia, Fira and Kamari; these are the more heavily populated areas and offer the most by way of views, beaches and attractions.
Fira is the main town area giving you the Caldera view from many of its restaurants, there are many jewellery shops, they are high end shops and all bar one (Triton Jewels) they are not offering cheaper affordable trinkets. In the morning you can see the mule being taken through the town which take visitors to the old port down a steep set of steps; alternatively you can take the cable car for 4 Euros per person each way. From the old port you can take a number of boat trips or visit the volcano and hot springs. The town itself is a winding series of streets very postcard perfect. Daily we would see different cruise liners arrive and off load more tourists, this can get tedious as the street are very narrow at parts and can ruin its appeal. The town has a prehistoric museum, ferry and tour operators and there are plenty of places to hire vehicles on the island (around 8 – 10 Euros per day is average for a moped) Good and bad restaurant reviews are listed separately.
Oia is a town on the northern tip of Santorini, and it offers possibly the best views of the sunset, it has beautiful white marble walkways, and again a mix of restaurants and shops, tour operators and vehicle hire, we arrived at mid morning and there was very few people walking around, then by lunch we were invaded by 4 coaches of day trippers from the cruise liners, at one point one alleyway became gridlocked with people wanting to get through while others wanted to look in shops, again this became annoying, it’s a lovely place to wonder through but try and avoid the coaches.
Kamari is on the south eastern coast of the island and by moped is about 20 minutes from Fira, there are not many cars on the road and visitor vehicles outnumber local by at least 3 to 1. The beach is small stones; these are not uncomfortable but get very hot in the sun. Two sun loungers will cost you 6 Euros, there are many cafes and gift shops along the beach front and the area has a very chilled out feel to it although I’m not sure what the nightlife would be like. Fira has more variety but no beach, yet with Kamari only 20 minutes away you would be best place to travel to the beach daily, buses also run to Kamari from Fira.
An average meal on Santorini was costing around 25 – 35 Euros (25 would be without starters) and prices varied depending on what view you had, some of the better restaurants had no view but gave exceptional quality food, conversely some of the restaurants that had great views gave poor service, in one case, bringing the main course while we had our mouths full with our starter (Mama Thira).
Travel on the island is very easy and mopeds or ATV’s are very popular and quite safe, the locals will drive much faster than most tourists and I never felt pressured to move out of the way to let anyone through, it is a small road network and as I have said before most people on the road are other tourists, and nothing on the island is that far away.
We spent a week on Santorini and it was a beautiful location to be in, the people were very friendly, our accommodation gave us the Caldera view and for much cheaper than expected (see Nefeli Homes review), there is much choice if you do not want the Caldera view or would rather be in another part of the island, accommodation can be sort cheaply as many hoteliers tout for business as you get off the ferry, I would visit Santorini again but perhaps not for a week, a short 2-3 night stay might be in order next time.

Helpful?
4 Thank howa167
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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