As Santorini is our first proper overseas family holiday (we did go to France for a long weekend last year whilst BV was still dinky) we booked the trip with Thomson, primarily to keep logistics simple (free hotel transfers) and the expenses low (Santorini is notorious for being costly). This is my first (and last) ever package deal. I’m a lover not a hater, and I am not here to write a shoddy review. However I must stress if you do wish to book with Thomson then please do your research and read customer reviews on line beforehand.
After waking the rest of Fam-A-Lamb at 2.45am to catch the 6am flight, you can only imagine how horrendous the first day on Santorini was. Let me elaborate. The hour sat on the runway waiting for plane to take off was a bit tricky, but nothing RaRa the lion and an IPad couldn’t fix. The flight was an easy snooze fest for all of us (we were in a cab by 3am). However the shit really hits the fan when we check into our hotel…30+ degrees, tired, hungry screaming child who just wants to run into traffic and across the beach. Something I have to mention. Black Volcanic Sand, we packed beach shoes as knew it would be hot but something that no one bothered to report anywhere…it’s too fucking hot even for shoes. It’s like walking the path to fiery hell. So, 30+ degrees, no beach, no pool (as no shade) and on an Island which isn’t usually frequented by holidaying tots left us literally weeping and googling flights back home again! Day 1 #holidayfail
However it did get much better with day 2.
Turns out all BV needed to chill out and have fun was steps (of course!) and ice cream. Which was great as that’s something Santorini has an abundance of…
Read on for Fam-A-Lamb’s Santorini highlights:
Fira became a settlement during the 18th century. The Venetian nobles and Catholic community abandoned the Castle of Skaros in Imerovigli (capital of Santorini at that time), after several earthquakes.
Santorini fell to the Turks, at the beginning of the 19th century and subsequently Fira became the island capital.
The views here (like everywhere on the island) are stunning. After a couple of days of rubbish coffee, I found a few places that sold ‘illy’ (a decent coffee bean) so I indulged. It turns out I’m a caffeine addict (duh) and this gave me the kick I needed. It cost me 5euro (£5) though. Fucking Brexit!
The old port (Ormos) of Santorini is at the bottom of the Caldera cliffs. The cable car (5 euro each way) is a great way to avoid the 600 stone steps. I will not endorse animal cruelty so for fucks sake don’t get a bloody donkey down (or up!).
Fira is frequented by the cruise ships (up to 5 a day) and so can be extremely busy. Luckily I found a Thomson rep who had all the dates and times of each cruise ship so we were able to avoid the masses.
Exo Gonia and Mesa Gonia:
Hiring a car in Santorini is extremely easy. After my friends asking at the hotel reception, the car was delivered just 20 mins later. Driving licence required obviously. We used the car to visit the lighthouse and stop off for many scenic photographs around the island before stopping for lunch at a little gem in Exo Gonia, Yalos Santorini.
The food and cocktails here are delicious. It’s the only bar on the pebbled beach. BV loved sitting here in the boat. Opt for squid, zucchini balls and strawberry daiquiri’s. Yum.
Mesa Gonia is a rural village, 8 km from Fira. Before the earthquake of 1956 entirely destroyed the village, Mesa Gonia used to be one of the most important wine tasting places of the island. The best bit of Mesa Gonia is the Church of Panagia Episkopi.
Mesa Gonia is worth a wander just for all the steps (BV heaven) and traditional alleys. Great views from the church too.
What makes the island of Santorini special, is the special ecosystem created by volcanic explosions. The entire island population was destroyed by a giant volcanic eruption around 1700 years BC. This eruption covered the entire island in ash and lava. The lava was absorbed into the land making it porous; and what little rainwater falls is trapped into the rock itself. This allows vines to burrow down and find the water even though the ground looks like solid empty dry rock.
Santorini is susceptible to wind, the winds are so fierce that they have created it’s own method of planting. The vines are woven into little baskets about a foot high and the grape bunches are trained to grow inside the basket. The most famous wine is the sweet wine of vinsanto.
Santo wines is probably the best (visitable) winery on the Island. You can have a tour of the distillery followed by a wine tasting (3x wines) whilst watching an infamous sunset. Bliss.
We stayed at the Atlantis Beach Villa in Perivolos on Perissa Beach. The hotel was lovely with great friendly staff. I would absolutely recommend staying here.We loved it here and BV got so much attention. We will happily stay here again.
From here you can get a bus to Fira (2 Euro 40) or a water taxi (5 Euro) to Kamari Beach which is more structured and has some great restaurants. Try Splash Restaurant down at the far end.
Santorini is not ideal for a toddler if I am honest. We did have a great time but we needed all of our efforts to do so. Santorini really is beautiful, and I truly feel that we did not even scrape the surface of what it has to offer. I can’t believe I am about to say this, but Mr Intrepid and I, would love to come here without BV. If you have a toddler or pre-schooler and are considering Santorini, be ready.