Solo Gelato’s mascarpone and fig flavor possesses the unorthodox lactose sweetness that you just can’t get here in the states. It was the perfect treat to have while viewing some of Santorini’s most infamous church buildings in Oia on day two of our trip to Greece.
The day started with some relaxation in the hotel pool where we got the same amazing view that we observed on our balcony in Part 1. The swim allowed us to pace ourselves before getting all dolled up and heading over to Domaine Sigalas to sample a plethora of local wines. The nearby winery also offered dinner selections such as grilled sea-bream and a fresh vegetable filled Greek salad. We ate up in our Sunday best and enjoyed the variety of wine before hailing a cab to explore the town of Oia.
When we arrived to the town, the tourist crowd, most of which unloaded from the dozens of cruise lines making their way to Santorini, was starting to die down. We saw it as a good opportunity to avoid crazy-lines while taking pictures of the blue domed, white churches that Santorini is so famous for. On our way to the churches we were given a gelato sample from Solo Gelato, a European ice cream chain, that was so good we had to make our way back for a real portion later that night.
Even with the smaller crowds, tons of tourists still lined up in the walkways surrounding the churches which are frequently painted or photographed and used for souvenirs. My wife and I waited our turn to snap the best possible pictures we could get despite being stuck in the narrow alleys that surrounded these buildings. We managed to get a few good ones and headed back towards Oia’s square to relax for a bit. Before we left, we scored some of that precious gelato I talked about earlier on. Afterwards, we headed back to Fira to get some sleep before our flight to Athens the following day.
We woke up the day of our flight and decided to have lunch at a Cretan restaurant that was rated the best in Fira on trip adviser called Rakadiko MeRaki. The tapas style eatery served traditional Cretan cuisine. We tried some delicious specialties there like meatballs, Kebap, or lamb gyro with tomato sauce, and a cheese dip with hot peppers. The place lived up to its rep, and we enjoyed it so much that we ate there again when we returned to Santorini later on in the trip.
When we were finished eating, we took the bus over to the airport to catch our flight to Athens where we would spend the next 5 days. The Santorini airport is super small and in desperate need of expansion. Our gate was packed with people so we were forced to sit outside on the balcony while we waited for our flight. However, the airport’s balcony is kind of cool because you can watch planes take off from there while sipping coffee. This made the wait a little more bearable.
Our flight took around 25 minutes to get to Athens. The airline, Olympic, was surprisingly generous and gave us a few snacks and a mint even though it was such a short trip. That’s more than I could say for Norwegian who gave us nothing on the 8-hour flight back to NYC.
We landed in Athens late evening and found the metro station that would take us to our hotel, Home and Poetry, in the Plaka neighborhood of the city. The train-ride was mostly on the side of a highway and went underground when we got to the more urban areas. Once we got off the train, we took the escalators up and got out at Syntagma Square. On the way up we noticed ancient ruins preserved within the train station which was an unusual sight for us Americans.
There were a few hotels and a beautiful fountain in the square. From there, we walked about 15 minutes to get to our hotel. During the walk, we noticed the city was covered with graffiti which reminded me of my childhood in NYC. It also made me think that Athens was a little sketchier than it ended up being. I was understandably cautious, but overly anxious for sure.
As we approached our hotel, we noticed a massive, ancient, Roman gate called Arch of Hadrian. The structure was intimidating, but beautiful. Just the thought of Roman centurions riding their horses through that gate two-thousand years ago was a trip. This was just the one of the first of many ruins we’d see as Athens is riddled with them.
We finally got to Home and Poetry, where every room is named after a famous Greek poet, and headed to the snack bar after checking into ours. That’s where we caught our first glimpse of Acropolis of Athens which was easily viewable from our rooftop.
These ruins stood on a massive hilltop that overlooked the entire city. I stupidly asked the waitress at the rooftop snack bar what I was looking at while staring at the nearly three-thousand-year-old structure. Viewing something like this is quite mind-blowing coming from the States where most historical structures are usually only around 200-400 years-old.
After being clowned for my ignorance, we snapped a few pictures, split a pizza, and turned in for the night to get ready for our early morning tour of Corinth.