Thursday 1 April 2010
It’s my last couple of hours in Oia, and while I have reliable internet, I’ll post my last 1 or 2 messages before I head off into the Land of Unknown Internet Access.
I thought I’d give you my list of “top things” to do, a couple of which I haven’t done yet but will do when I next return.
1. Stay in Oia, and in Oia, stay at Chelidonia Villas. I would be surprised if you’ll get better hosts, lovelier houses, more privacy or better views anywhere on Santorini. Plus, you’re now officially a friend of a friend of the owners!
2. Of course, take your coffee at Skiza, sitting on the edge of the balconies. Linger. Try the bougatsa, warm, and if you can track down when the next one is due out of the oven, make an appointment to meet it.
3. See an Oia sunset. Don’t leave until it’s dark and the light has almost gone. Walk around Oia at dusk.
4. Come to think of it, walk around Oia first thing in the morning, maybe on your way to the bakery which opens around 7am. See her without the bustle, listen.
5. Have seafood at Ammoudi Bay. I recommend the Sunset Taverna, which has wonderful Greek Salad and the best taramosalata. Whatever you do, don’t walk up the stairs.
6. Rent a car, and drive around the island. Visit a place called “Art Space” near Kamari Beach. Not technically an Oia must see, but it’s an art gallery and winery located in a cave.
7. Visit Roka (turn at the clock on the main street, follow the signs). Try their fresh dolmades. And maybe their eggplant with tomato and feta.
8. Make sure you try fava, the warm mash of locally-grown fava beans (like yellow lentils), covered in red onion, Santorini capers and olive oil. The best is at Skala, the open-air taverna near Skiza. While you’re there, order the cumin meatballs too. Mmmm.
9. Watch a sunrise.
10. Sit under a full moon.
11. Buy your bread at the bakery near the bus stop. Try the spinach pies. And the mille feuille. And the cream bougatsa. Oh, and the baklava.
12. If they are open, visit restaurants 1800, Kyprida and Ambrosia. Expensive but probably the best places to eat in Oia if you’re after more “fine dining”.
13. At the other end of the spectrum (but still delicious), visit the Polski Lokal, listen to their 80’s music and order a souvlaki in pita (both chicken and kebap are divine) and take some tzatziki with you for back at the room. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted (it goes brilliantly with little Oregano flavoured Pita Bakes (brand: “7 days”) that I buy at the supermarket.
14. If you want to do some tours, try a visit to Therassia and the volcano. My friend, Thomas, is starting a travel agency called “NST Travel, with an office just near the bakery and the big supermarket (on the road near the bus stop). Book through him; I will as he’s honest and hardworking. http://www.nst-santorinitravel.com/15.
15. If it’s warm, go down to Ammoudi Bay, walk the patharound to the caldera, and swim to the little island. Maybe follow it up with your seafood lunch before heading back by any means other than walking up those bloody steps.
16. Say hello to a donkey.
17. Adopt a stray dog, even just for an afternoon.
18. Hang your freshly-washed clothes out to dry. Get them kissed by the Greek sun.
19. If you arrive by plane, try at some stage to see the island from the caldera’s water, whether by ferry, boat trip or some other means. Your breath will catch in your throat as the cliffs soar from the water before you, and you’ll see Santorini from a different angle.
20. Sit and stare at the caldera. Imagine that moment, thousands of years ago, when the earth shook and the volcano blew its stack so hard that the entire centre of the island slid into the sea., destroying the Minoan civilisation over in Crete. Wonder if Santorini was, as the legends have it, the home of Atlantis. Then decide it has to be.
21. Consume copious amounts of feta cheese, olive oil, lemon, yoghurt and honey. Don’t leave without trying the Santorini tomatoes, fava, Vinsanto or another local wine, and maybe even the elusive white eggplants only available in season (and the base for the most breathtaking eggplant salad, ironically eaten on another island, I’ve ever had).
Above all this is Greece. Try not to let the madness and the smoking get the better of you. Love it for what it is.