This post is written by Katie, about her solo trip to Turkey and Greece.
Today I did as much with a day in Santorini as I possibly could.
I woke up 7am, surprisingly well rested. My bottom bunk at Fira Backpackers Place was not comfortable, so I was surprised how good I felt. I got ready and then took my laptop to the common area to work on checking into my Aegean Airlines flights. Apparently you are not allowed into the common room until 8am, but the guy unlocked it for me when I made clear I would sit and work in the hall if needed.
After checking in to my Aegean flights, I left around 9am for my hike along the coast from Fira to Oia. The weather looked terrible (windy, cloudy, looked like rain), but I decided to go for it anyway. I had stressed about whether I would be able to follow the trail as it zigged through towns and zagged onto roads. It was actually really easy to follow (and even if you lost it for a bit in the towns, you easily found it when exiting the towns). I did find that it took me longer than suggested – this is likely because I really took my time, stopped for many pictures, and did some side hikes. This hike really improved my attitude about Santorini, but it did reinforce the couples/weddings stereotype. Almost everyone I ran across was a couple, and many restaurants only offered specials as part of a ‘for 2’ menu. I also saw one wedding venue set up and ready to go, as well as a bride and groom wandering a town for pictures in their wedding clothing. I highly recommend the hike/walk from Fira to Oia. It was one of the highlights of my trip, and is not to be missed if you are in reasonable shape and do not mind walking for 4-5 hours if needed.
I reached Oia around 1:15pm and wandered for an hour. I found the public bus stop in Oia at 2:05pm and saw on the schedule that the next bus for Fira was at 2:30pm. I saw a gyro stand across the square and headed over there to obtain a 3 euro chicken gyro to go.
I caught the bus back to Fira, and attempted to go pick up my laundry. But when I got to the laundry place, they were closed for a 3-4 hour mid-day break. Um, okay. So I stopped by the hostel to drop off a few gifts I bought in Oia (and saw the group I had met at the hostel bar in Athens – they were sitting on the patio drinking) and then headed back to the bus station to catch a bus to the black sand beach of Kamari.
I had considered walking from Kamari to Perissa, but I had neither the time nor the energy to complete such a walk and still give myself a good buffer for the airport. Instead, I walked on the beach in my long sleeve shirt, long pants, and hiking shoes. I got some strange looks. Then I settled on an open part of the beach just outside the city and with no cafés (and their chairs and umbrellas). I saw some people nearby drinking wine, and decided to go buy a beer. The 0.5L Mythos beer was only 1.4 euros! Then I went back and sat on a rock in the shade and enjoyed my beer and the pretty view. I also took a few video blog entries – it’s a new thing I decided to try, and I’m sure they will get better with time.
After drinking my beer, I wandered the main restaurant drag by the beach. The waiters were pretty aggressively soliciting business. I found a gyro stand near the mountain end of the beach strip, and stopped in for some 2 euro fries. They made them fresh for me! The added bonus was that walking back towards the bus stop with the fries completely stopped the solicitations!
I took the 6:15pm bus back from Kamari to Fira (although I’m pretty sure it left early). I picked up my laundry, and the went back to the hostel. Once at the hostel, I packed and showered. Then I had about 45 minutes to use my computer and write postcards before leaving to catch the 9:15pm airport bus.
The airport bus ended up being just adding all of the people going to the airport as standing passengers to the Kamari bus! This was by far the most miserable standing experience I had (and I feel like I ended up standing in about half of my bus rides) since the bus was so incredibly crowded.
Once at the airport, I checked in. Aegean seems to be pretty much the only airline flying out of Santorini in this season (besides a sometimes once a day Ryan Air), and my 10:55pm flight was certainly the last flight of the evening. All flights go to Athens. There was not nearly enough seating areas for everyone on my flight. I ended up sitting on some stairs while I was waiting.