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Santorini, Athens, Meteora - Just returned, ready to go back!

Santorini, Athens, Meteora - Just returned, ready to go back!

Oct 2nd, 2009, 02:24 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2003
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Santorini, Athens, Meteora - Just returned, ready to go back!

Ten years ago, my husband and I toured Athens and took a cruise to several islands, including Santorini, Mykanos, Platmos, Rhoades and Crete. We've always wanted to go back, but new places lured us. Well, we waited long enough and last month spent five nights on Santorini and some time in Athens and Meteora. Thanks, Fodorites, for all of the planning advice. I never posed any questions myself because there was already so much information out there. Here's a trip report, my notes were not as thorough as some I read here, but here goes!
We flew into Santorini from Athens on Agean Air. A 5:30 AM flight! We were met at the airport by Aris, who we had handled our villa rental. We had found this online thru VRBO, and had a great experience. We found out later that Aris Sakellaridis handles rentals for others on Santorini. If you're interested, you can reach him at www.private-villas.gr or [email protected]. If you're familiar with Oia, our villa was located just above the Mystique Hotel, which we found out is a 5* hotel. We had a beautiful view of the caldera, a large patio to ourselves, one bedroom, another sleeping alcove with a double bed, and a kitchen. It was down 40 steps from the main road, near a small store where we bought coffee and breakfast supplies. We had a couple of cats who adopted us while we were there, and we brought our leftovers home for them for dinner every night. Our cost was 800 euro for the five nights.
We spent the first day exploring Oia, ate at a small taverna and turning in early. Needless to say, it had been a long day! We woke up in the morning feeling rested and enjoyed coffee, Greek yoguart and fruit on our wonderful patio. We had bought what looked like a small cantelope but was like a honeydew inside. Aris had arranged a rental car for us, a little Smart car, and it was delivered to us at 10:00AM. We took off to the village of Imerovigli which was lovely. Had a wonderful lunch of fava beans and lamb, and of course cappuccino, at LaMaison in Imerovigli. Aris later told us that it's just opened - a lovely spot for outdoor dining that just hangs over the Caldera. We then drove thru Fira on to Pyrgos to see the meideval houses and large church on top of the hill with streets winding up to it. Stopped at yet another outdoor cafe to sit awhile and just enjoy.
The next day, after a lazy morning, we set out to find the Black Beach and the Red Beach. We spent some time at the Black Beach in Perissa. My husband spent most of the time sitting in an open air taverna visiting (and drinking more cappuccino) while I was soaking up some sun. Then it was on to the Red Beach which is absolutely amazing and gorgeous. We walked up to the top of the red volcanic cliffs that surround it and the bathers below looked like ants, it's so far down. We had dinner there at the Dolphins Fish Tavern, sitting at tables right out on the pier, of fried cheese and Red Mullett fish. Then back for a relaxing evening on our patio, drinking some good Santorini wine.
Our next day was spent in Oia. We drove down to the seaport and were lucky to find a parking spot. The little Smart car is so easy to park anywhere. We watched the fishermen clean their nets on the boats, others cleaning fish on the docks. We had lunch at the Sunset Taverna of fresh fish and tomato balls, a Santorini speciality much like a fritter. Did some shopping, back to our villa to rest a little and headed out again later for dinner at Ambrosia & Nectar. Their Baked Cheese appetizer with figs, honey and black sesames was delicious. The recipe is on the FoodNetwork.com/Giada. When we returned home, Aris stopped by to see us and delivered the vouchers for the boat trip we were going on the next day, to the volcano. We also made arrangements for him to pick us up the following day to take us to the airport.
We returned the rental car that morning, which was a breeze. Since we knew Aris, they said to just park it in the lot across the street and leave the keys in the Taverna. We did that as we waited for the van to pick us up to take us to the boat. We had had the car for 3 of our 5 days, and that was plenty of time to explore the island. The boat ride to the volcano was nice, great weather and fun to see the island from the water since we had flown in this time. We had lunch at a small island that had a whole line of Tavernas. Our last night in Santorini was lovely, as they all had been.
Aris picked us up, carried our bags up those 40 steep steps, and got us to the airport.
We checked into the Herodian Hotel. Very nice hotel, right across from the new Acropolis Museum, where we spent the afternoon. It just opened in June and is amazing architecture. All steel and glass, built on huge pylons that show the ruins underneath that were uncovered when it was built. Even some of the floors on the first floor are glass so you can see the ruins underneath! We had dinner that evening at a great restaurant in the Plaka called Sissifos. It was many, many steps up to this rooftop taverna., but a beautiful Acropolis view. The tables were under a couple of huge umbrellas, and a good thing as it started to rain. They pushed the tables together and everyone got to know each other and had a good time. The Veal Samos had been recommended to us, and it was delicious, along with a Greeek salad, of course.
The next day we checked out of the Herodian but left our large bag there and took our overnight bag only with us. Thank you, Fodorites, for recommending George the Taxi Driver to us! We were picked up in a big yellow Mercedes taxi, and our driver was Makis Kourtis (call me Mickey). He was a great driver, funny, informative, taught us some Greek words, and told great stories. The first stop, after about an hour, was for coffee and croissants. In Trikala-Kalambaka, we stopped at a workshop of Byzantine Icons. www.pefkis.com.gr. Fascinating to watch the monks and artists at work on this fine painting technique. By then it was lunch time, and we reached Meteora-Kalampaka. We ate at another outdoor Taverna that seemed to be in the center of town, where, of course, Mickey knew the owner. We had delicious lemon chicken and potatoes and a bean soup that was wonderful. We then went to our hotel which was a beautiful country setting, only six rooms, and a wonderful view of the boulders of Meteora. It's called the Monastiri Guesthouse, and George's Taxi had made the arrangements. The cost was 100euro for the night which included breakfast. They also provided a sleeping room for our driver, Mickey, at no charge.
Our room was beautiful, with dark wood ceilings, colorful walls and spreads. The windows all around were covered with white cotton eyelet panels. After a siesta, Mickey took us up to the monastaries about 6:00 PM. They were closed, but we got to enjoy the views all to ourselves. From one spot he took us to, we could see four monastaries. One had stairs to access it that looked like the Great Wall. Mickey then took us to another family Taverna for dinner. He ordered for us, and we feasted on grilled beef, pork and goat. Also had an unusual cheese spread, greens, and another spread made of yougart with cucumber and garlic. It started to rain very hard so we had a liesurely meal until it stopped.
A beautiful breakfast spread with bread warm from the bakery and a cream filled pastry. Mickey said the bread from the country is extra good because they use a wood fired oven and olive tree wood. We left there to go back up the mountain to visit a monestary inside. The walls and ceilings of the chapel were of beautiful Byzentine icons, which we appreciated more after having seen the workshop the day before. All had beautiful grounds and gardens, and lots of cats. We headed back to Athens, with a lunch stop on the highway at Kanelis Village. It's a large place where buses stop, but Mickey said they have excellent homemade Greek food, and he was right as usual.
Our cost for George's Taxi was 580 euro. Had we wanted a stop in Delphi, it would have been 600 euro, but we had been there before. Expensive, but we felt it was money well spent. We did pay for Mickey's meals because we enjoyed his company, but he always made sure we didn't want to dine by ourselves.
We checked back into the Herodian Hotel for our final night in Athens. We spent the evening wandering around the Plaka, shopping, eating. We finally had some of the great chocolate cake Fodorite's have been talking about! I don't know the name of the sidewalk cafe on the Plaka, but I do remember that it's right in front of Daphne's Taverna.
I seem to be using the same adjectives - beautiful, georgous, delicious, wonderful. It was all that and more! We did learn that there is more to Greece than the islands and Athens, and we're looking forward to another trip. Mickey has more places to show us, and Aris says we should stay in Imerovigli on our next trip to Santorini. Hope this was helpful and that I didn't ramble too much!
carolj is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 08:41 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,550
Hi

Thanks for the travel tips. Aris' villas are certainly good value when compared to hotel rates.
worldinabag is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 09:24 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 10,415
Thanks for your report, it brought back beautiful, gorgeous, delicious, wonderful memories of our Greece trip in 2006. I wish we'd known about your accommodation on Santorini, it sounded lovely. Isn't Meteora amazing!! We loved it and hope to return sometime.
cathies is offline  
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