What a fantastically diverse, beautiful island Santorini is, with it’s mountains, green landscape, rocky landscape, red sand beaches, black sand beaches and beautiful seaside towns. I had a brilliant time and it is a shame I only had 3 nights, however it was the low season so there was hardly anyone about.
I managed to secure a return flight from Athens for £30, half the cost of a return ferry ticket and considerably shorter, with the flight taking 35 minutes and the ferry 8 hours. I did only take hand luggage with me on the flight as to check in a bag would have been over double the price. Flying to the Greek Islands is definitely something to consider as you not only save time, but money as well if you can gind a nice deal. However the views from the ferry I’m sure would have been fantastic, so it’s a shame I didn’t get to do that. I was staying in Kamari, a small town with a beautiful black sand beach. To get there from the airport you first have to catch a bus to the capital Thira (Fira) for €1.80 and then another bus costing the same amount to Kamari. When I say bus they are actually big comfortable coaches which make up the Santorini local bus network. The buses can get you to all the main towns on the island, however in the off season they do not run frequently at all, sometimes I was waiting for an hour and half and on Sundays only 4 buses a day run to each town. I arrived on a Sunday morning and when I eventually got the 09:00 bus from Thira to Kamari I arrived in a ghost town. The whole day I saw 7 people, the restaurants were boarded up and the hotels closed for the winter. I spoke to my hotel owner and he said in the summer it is teaming with people, but in the winter it is not worth a lot of the businesses staying open. If you want to travel around the island in the winter by bus I would definitely recommend staying in Thira. If you stay in one of the other towns you always have to transfer in Thira and wait a considerable amount of time for another bus to the next town. Alternatively you could easily rent a car and drive, the roads are in good condition and not busy at all. On my first full day I caught a couple of buses and eventually arrived in Akrotiri, the location of the beautiful Red Beach. I think the total travel time was 2 hours in which 23 minutes were spent on the buses. The bus from Thira drops you a nice 10 minute walk from the Red Beach, where you have to clamber up a rocky hill and make the shingly descent to the beach. The beach itself is actually quite stoney but it was nice to relax for a while watching a catamaran glide past and birds swooping through the air. There was a group of 8 American girls determined to sunbathe on the beach, making me feel silly in my jeans, jumper, trainers and scarf, whist they were laying there in bikinis. I figured they must have been from Alaska! I made my way back to the bus stop for another long wait and after 30 minutes the 8 American girls drove past on 4 quad bikes having a whale of a time, they clearly had the right idea. After my bus turned up I made my way over to the lovely beach town of Perissa before heading back to Kamari for a well earned rest. The following day, my last full day on the Island, I decided to do the 12km walk from Thira to Oia, this meant I was finally doing some proper exercie for the first time in months and I didn’t have to wait around for the buses, well apart from the one to Thira. The walk has to be one of the nicest I have ever done. From the bus station head north until you reach the cliffs and then just basically follow the dirt track all the way. There’s so couple of steep hills which are totally worth it for the views from the top and you also stumble across some amazing hidden churches. The track takes you right alongside the cliffs and at some points you can see the sea in both directions. I didn’t see a single person on the walk, I knew it would be quiet, so I was well stocked up with snacks in case my diabetes started playing up. I took my time, stopping every now and again to take in the views and at one point stopping in a cave for a diet coke next to a lovely hidden church. I eventually descended into Oia, a beautiful town built what looks like into the cliffs, with crisp white buildings, blue domed churches and donkeys wandering the streets. I timed my walk well and didn’t have to wait long for their bus back to Thira, then in Thira I had an hour’s wait for my bus to Kamari. On my final night it started raining, the first time I had seen rain in over 3 months. My room actually got flooded with 2 inches of water overnight which was a shock when I got out of bed in the morning. My flight back to Athens was at 08:00 but of course the buses didn’t start early enough for me to get to the airport in time. A taxi to to the airport from Kamari costs €20.
Once back in Athens I headed over to Corinth as I had organised to do a Workaway on a farm for 3 weeks, 5 hours work a day for free food and accommodation. I rang my host Kostandis when I was back in Athens to tell him I was on my way and he told me to ring him again when I was on the last of my 3 trains. I eventually got on my last train and called Kostandis who didn’t answer I then tired again with no answer so I continued trying. I didn’t know what to do, I thought my phone was playing up because I have an English number, trying to call a Greek mobile in Greece. The phone wasn’t connecting and just kept beeping every time I tired. I eventually reached Corinth Train Station and tried one last time. He answered the phone this time and said I couldn’t stay with him and do the farmwork as I rang him too much when he was trying to sleep. He’s the one who told me to call, he’s the one who didn’t answer, what did he expect me to do? I had travelled for 9 hours, over 200 miles, caught a taxi, a plane, a bus and 3 trains to get to Corinth to help him on his farm and he cancels because I did what he asked me to do. It turns out there are no hostels in Corinth either so I had to pay €25 for a hotel for one night. This bloke had cost me over €80, what a waste of time and money and now all my plans have been thrown up in the air. I regrouped in my hotel and tried to decide what to do next. I’d already stayed in Athens for 5 days and didn’t need to go back, all the flights out of Greece were over £100 for the next day and I couldn’t stay another night in Corinth. I decided to book a ferry to Italy, leaving the following day from Patras and arriving in Ancona with a travel time of 20 hours (more information on this will be in my next post). I am currently writing this from the ferry, rocking from side to side as a thunderstorm hits from all angles, it turns out I don’t miss rain after 3 months without it!