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Santorini’s Secret

It has been many years that Sam and I have been dreaming of visiting this place – the Island of Santorini. Last summer, we decided to plan a trip to Greece, and our dream was about to come true. We traveled to the island by ferry, and I remember my heart racing faster and faster as we pulled into the harbor. My eyes were getting misty with tears of joy when Sam, the history enthusiast, shocked me with some unbelievable revelation.

Sam has always been fascinated by history, so he often enriches our travels with very interesting facts from the past. I, on the other hand, usually take care of the details of planning, itinerary, and am more captivated by scenery and culture.

“Did you know that Santorini might be the lost Atlantis?” Sam asked as we were about to disembark.

“Really? I had no clue!” For a moment I wasn’t sure if he was just joking, with his mischievous Tuscan sense of humor, or was serious. He was serious this time, and I was utterly surprised by this news.

“There are many theories about probable Atlantis locations, and Santorini is one of the most feasible ones according to several historians,” he continued as we jumped into a taxi. It became clear to me that he had a hidden agenda on this island, to seek more clues and proof of this theory. As for me, I was mainly hoping to enjoy some of the remarkable views and sunsets that all the tour guides promised. We were going to have a fantastic time either way.

The secret about the stunning beauty of this island is out, and about one zillion tourists got the message. As annoying as the crowds by the harbor were, when we arrived at our hotel, it was all gone, almost like the Atlantis. We were staying in the small village of Imerovigli, and the divine views from there left us speechless. If you’re thinking about staying overnight on the island, I strongly recommend staying in this village, which is by far less crowded then the more famous towns of Oia or Thira. It will make a world of difference. You can enjoy equally gorgeous views with privacy, minus the hundreds of tourists that are walking by, or you can fight for a spot in Oia or Thira with the masses, your call.

Irida Santorini, the family owned and run hotel where we were staying, was beyond perfect. It was intimate, with elegant décor, and each of its rooms had a private patio with the most breathtaking views. All we needed for our comfort was readily provided. There was a refreshing dipping pool on the main terrace that we enjoyed. The warm and friendly atmosphere, thanks to delightful innkeepers Katerina and Dimitri, only added to our wonderful experience.

The freshly made breakfast included local pastries, delicious Greek coffee, yogurts, cheeses, and local fruits, which was brought to our room each morning, so we could enjoy it in the privacy of our patio with the picturesque views. It was splendid, and it made us feel spoiled for life. One morning, there was a mist over the sea, and we were enjoying our breakfast while feeling like we were floating in the sky. I think this is how everyone imagines heaven, and the home-made chocolate cake by Katerina only accentuated the experience. If I close my eyes, I can still vividly picture that morning breakfast on the terrace and even taste the cake in my mouth.

A few times during our stay, we took the beautiful hike from our village of Imerovigli to Oia. The hike was about 2-hours long, and it was sublime. We were walking via a mountaintop path with 360-degree views. It was May, and the weather was already very warm; however, we didn’t even notice we were sweating like pregnant nuns at the confession, since we were so enchanted by the divine views. It is a must-do. Just bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.

Village of Oia, despite the crowds, is lovely. We also walked down to the Ammoudi harbor, which was a charming small fishing village with a couple of seafood restaurants, where they serve “sea-to-table” lunch.

The walk from Imerovigli to Thira was only 20 minutes in the opposite direction. The town was beautiful as well, but just too busy for us, since one-day tourists arrive there via cable cars from the cruise ships.

We unexpectedly had the best meal of the entire Greek trip on this island. One evening we decided to go to a local inland restaurant called Metaxi Mas, a traditional Greek tavern in the small town of Pyrgos. There, we were treated to genuine Greek hospitality, with a delicious home-cooked meal (the best lamb shank I’ve ever had), an aperitive, and a delightful dessert “on the house.”

Of course, we went to visit the archeological site Akrotiri, which was only recently discovered and opened to the public in 1967. I think Sam found a few new links and evidence to the theory of Atlantis, so perhaps one day he can solve this century-old puzzle. As for me, I found (Greek) heaven.

Irida Santorini - hotel where we stayed:

~ Written by: Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai, authors of Enthusiastic All the Way & Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, respectively.

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