Καλημέρα (Kalimera)! It’s Chloe and I’m going to tell you a little today about my experience back in Greece: Santorini session on this magnificent archipelago! Santorini is located in the Cyclades and is one of the best-known islands in this archipelago. The island of Santorini, also known as Thera or Thira, is located in the Aegean Sea.
Back to Greece, Santorini session: What’s life like there?
I find life on Santorini relatively pleasant. I went there in June and I think it’s the ideal time to go. It’s starting to get nice and warm, but still quite bearable. Another (big) plus at this time of year is that there aren’t many tourists yet, so the streets are easily accessible and you can get around easily. This is not necessarily the case in the middle of July or August. You’ll have easy access to some really hot spots, just for the pleasure of your eyes or to take photos, because let’s not forget that Santorini is still an instagrammable island! In Santorini, the best thing to do is to venture out and get lost in the little streets, to move forward without really knowing where you’re going, and that’s where the nicest places are hidden.
What I also found very cool about Santorini were the locals. They’re friendly and very approachable, and most of them speak pretty good English. I was able to ask directions quite easily when I was lost, which I must admit happened quite a few times. My sense of direction is 8000! I was also able to have long conversations with some Greeks, both about the island and many other subjects. A truly enriching experience! I was also rather surprised to find that, as I chatted with the people living on the island, I quickly realized that many of them had some knowledge of French, which helped me to understand and communicate more easily at times.
In Santorini, it’s not uncommon to be called out when approaching a restaurant or store. Following the Greek public debt crisis of 2008, the island relies heavily on tourism for its livelihood, and shopkeepers try to attract as many customers as possible by calling out to them in the street.
A little practical advice before you leave: it’s essential to take cash with you, as credit cards are rarely, if ever, accepted in shops and restaurants. It is, of course, possible to withdraw money from local banks, but interest rates are quite high. Living costs are relatively low, and you can eat out for just a few euros.
Getting around Santorini is relatively simple, as the island is relatively small. Public transport is easily accessible and economical. They serve practically every town on the island, and all meet at the central bus station in Fira. Timetables are posted on a large notice board directly at the station, and buses are relatively punctual! I must admit, that’s a big plus! As a little anecdote, it’s written on the buses which city they’re heading for, but it’s written in Greek, so it was impossible for me to read it, and the bus drivers shout out the name of their destination, so it can be a bit tricky to hear where they’re going, as it makes for a bit of a hubbub. As a result, I managed to get on the wrong bus and go to the other end of the island, so I ended up staying on the bus for 2.5 hours, even though the initial journey was 30 minutes! I might as well tell you that I was delighted haha! Personally, as I only wanted to use public transport, I chose to stay in Fira so that I could get around more easily and avoid having to take transport from one village to Fira and then take another to another village. If you decide to go to Santorini too, I’d advise you to stay in Fira, as it’s the island’s capital and everything is easily accessible from there. Having visited several of the island’s towns, both during the day and in the evening, it’s also clearly one of the most dynamic towns, where you’ll find lots of great restaurants, both for the view and for the food.
There are also other means of getting around the island, such as renting a quad bike or a car, which are relatively affordable. However, the roads are quite winding and the island is mostly made up of ravines, so you clearly need to be sure of your driving!
You can also take the cable car from Fira to the beach in the town of Kamari and enjoy the superb panoramic view over the Aegean Sea. For me, this is clearly a must, as the view is breathtaking. The view is splendid from above. The price of a cable car ticket is €6, or €12 return. For the more courageous, it’s also possible to walk down to the island’s harbor and climb the 588 steps. What’s that in a lifetime?
Back from Greece, Santorini session: Must-sees
You can’t go to Santorini without visiting the pretty village of Oia! Clearly? My absolute favorite! I even went back three times to visit it, so breathtaking is the view. As in all the towns on the archipelago, the white walls contrast beautifully with the blue roofs. You’d think you were in a postcard landscape when you go there.
As a little anecdote, I went to Santorini in June, just before the season, and saw all the people busy in the streets repainting all the walls of buildings, hotels and houses in white. Every year, the locals repaint the walls of the buildings to perpetuate the whiteness that is emblematic of Santorini.
Santorini abounds in beaches, some of which are very popular. This is particularly true of “Red Beach”, a beach bordered by rust-colored rock cliffs and with relatively clear water. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with this beach as I was really expecting something spectacular and turquoise water everywhere. But that wasn’t necessarily the case when I went there. In my opinion, however, it’s still a must-see when you go to Santorini, as the rusty color of the rock is surprising. The beach at Perissa, otherwise known as the “black sand beach”, is also well worth a visit. It is remarkable for its black pebbles and blue water. Many of Santorini’s beaches have small pebbles rather than the fine sand found in other places. In my opinion, this is a must when visiting the island. The relaxed atmosphere and the beach clubs that line the beach make for a pleasant and festive time.
In many of Santorini’s villages, it’s possible to eat out in restaurants with a breathtaking view of the sea, and at very low prices. It’s definitely something I’d recommend doing at least once if you want to have a good time.
One of the activities that may seem trivial, but is also really interesting and top-notch, is to get up early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or go there in the evening to watch the sunset over the sea, especially at Oia or Fira. Whether you go in the morning or in the evening, you need to get there early to make sure there’s room, as many people sit on the village walls to watch, and if you go too late, you run the risk of running out of space.
I also loved taking a boat trip around the island. There are several excursions to suit everyone’s tastes and preferences. Personally, I took an excursion to the volcanic islands of the Caldera, with a short break for a swim in the hot springs. The boat also took a break to climb an active volcano. I know that there are also catamaran excursions, which I think can also be great to do, although I haven’t tried this type of excursion.
Here’s my Feedback from Greece: Santorini session! As you’ll have gathered, life in Santorini is relatively pleasant, and it’s an experience I’m delighted to have had. If you have any questions about how International Horizons works, they’re sure to be answered here! If you too would like to discover Santorini and do your internship abroad in Santorini, contact us and we’ll be happy to tell you more about the destination!