For our program’s only 4 day weekend, Kathleen and I, along with 3 other friends, booked flights to Santorini, Greece. The flight was quite the steal and we found a hotel in Perissa that was incredibly affordable! So, we packed our swimsuits and linen dresses and headed to Greece to fulfill our Mama Mia-loving dreams. Kathleen and I arrived in Santorini around 8 PM Thursday night.
We took a taxi transfer from the airport near Fira to our hotel in Perissa. Our hotel was tucked into a quiet, more residential area of the fairly touristy Perissa Beach. We checked in and got the keys for the other girls’ rooms. Lillie, Claire, and Rachel had a different flight and would not arrive in Santorini until 2 AM! We had two separate rooms, and each girl had a small twin bed to herself. The bathrooms were quite tiny, and the showers did not have walls ?? but it was totally worth it for the small price we paid. Also, please look at this POOL! That’s really what sold us.
After checking in and dropping off our bags, we walked to the nearest restaurant. The first one we stumbled upon was a hole-in-the-wall gyro place that was packed full of what seemed to be local families. They were all speaking Greek, and their were children just running all around the restaurant. Soon we were seated, and thankfully the waiter/owner spoke some English. He was very kind, and we LOVED our 4 Euro gyros. It was so fun to get a peek into what the Santorini locals were like. One of the local little girls even tried to crawl in my lap! Something I have learned in Europe is to ALWAYS try the crowded, hole-in-the-wall places. If you’re ever in Santorini, stop by Aris’ Grillhouse, and make sure you tell him we say hi!
After dinner, we walked around Perissa and discovered our hotel was only a 3-5 minute walk from the beach! The beach strip is completely lined with restaurants and bars, so we stopped in one to get a frozen fruit drink. The bar was called Tranquilo, and it quickly became one of our favorite spots in Perissa.
The next morning, we awoke to realize our hotel room had a porch with a gorgeous view! We were definitely falling in love with Philoxenia Hotel & Suites in Perissa.
While the other girls caught up on sleep, Kathleen and I headed back to Tranquilo for breakfast. The entire restaurant/bar has fun outdoor seating, including hammocks and floor pillows.
I was ecstatic to find out they served AVOCADO TOAST, which I have been craving since I arrived in Italy. Typical American Millennial.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we were informed our hotel room had been flooded! YIKES. We think this could have been our fault as the water was not working the night before, so maybe one of the faucets was left on ?? Anyway, it was cleaned up and nothing was ruined, so it turned out to be alright! We apologized, and the owners were very accommodating and nice about it all. When Lillie, Claire, and Rachel woke up, we spent some time at the pool before going to lunch on the beach. The way in works in Perissa Beach is you pay for lunch at one of the restaurants, and then you have access to their beach chairs all day! It was so nice to have reclining chairs and umbrellas at our disposal after lunch each day!
The beaches are black sand, which is actually really beautiful, but it gets HOT. There are wooden pathways through most of the chairs, but if you are walking on the bare sand, it requires shoes for sure.
The last day was one of the highlights of our trip – we got the hotel transfer to Oia! The city is on the other side of the island, and takes about 45 minutes to get there, but it is a beautiful drive. Oia was absolutely breathtaking from the first moment. The stark white buildings cascading the mountain side are unlike anything I had ever seen before. We shopped and ate and explored from around 10 AM to 9 PM. Oia is so clean and has many different layers, so it is really fun to explore. I ate Mousakka nearly every meal in Santorini, because it was delicious every time! It is a traditional dish that is similar to lasagna, but with eggplant and potato. We were even able to watch the famous Oia sunset from the top of an abandoned building, which had a gorgeous view!
That night, while we were getting ready for bed, the other girls’ sink FELL OFF THE WALL! We were so worried that either we would have to pay for it or that it would really put the hotel owners out, but thankfully once we contacted them, everything was fine. Sink repairs are apparently affordable in Greece! The hotel owners were always kind and helpful, and despite our issues, we really enjoyed our stay. We were just not having the best luck, which turned out to be quite the theme!
Lillie, Claire, and Rachel had a plane that left at 4 AM, so they departed Perissa at 2 AM that night. Our plane, however, did not leave until around 5 the next day, so we decided to sleep in. Afterward, we grabbed some breakfast and took the bus to Fira, both to explore that city before we left, and because it was a cheaper transfer to the airport. We arrived to the tiny airport about an hour early only to find that our flight was delayed. We soon found out it was delayed 5 HOURS, which was especially a problem because my boyfriend Zach had just arrived to meet up with me in Florence. Not long after that, our plane was just plain cancelled, and they were not offering another flight to Florence until three days later. That would not do. We both had class the next day and Zach was ALREADY waiting for us in Florence! We began to panic! Finally, after much stressing, we found a flight to Athens that would transfer to Barcelona. Then, after a 5-hour layover, we would finally take a plane back to Florence. We would arrive in Florence at 8 AM the following day, and that was the earliest option possible, so we took it! That means we spent our nights’ sleep on the cafe chairs in the Barcelona airport.
But hey, what is travel without the unexpected? It never goes quite the way you planned. That’s one of the most valuable lessons I have had to learn while abroad. Even though the Santorini airport was a disaster, and we spent way too much time and money just trying to get home, I will always have fond memories of our girls’ trip to Greece! But let’s just say, next time I come to Santorini, it will be by boat. 🙂