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Santorini Island – Heaven on Earth (Part 1): Our Journey to Paradise

Santorini Island, that majestic crescent shaped paradise in the middle of the Aegean Sea…

Shot of Santorini Island from the northern part of the town of Fira looking southwest with the Town of Akrotiri on the upper right hand side

Shot of Santorini Island from the northern part of the town of Fira looking southwest with the Town of Akrotiri on the upper right hand side

Santorini Island, that gem of the Cyclades that has captured the imagination of countless travelers around the globe…

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The spectacular view of the cliff side town of Oia!

Santorini Island, a place anyone can truly call heaven on earth..

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The idyllic town of Fira and Oia towering over the Santorini Caldera taken from one of the numerous domed churches in the island

To be honest, Santorini Island in Greece has actually never been in our travel bucket list. Back then, I thought of it as just another trendy, manicured, commercialized, and overly-publicized novelty that’s just not worth the time and money to go to. It’s like everyone I know wants to visit the place and I just don’t get it – I’m like,”Man, you’re in Greece! For sure there’s a lot more you can do than waste your precious days in a far flung village island!”.

I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO WRONG IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Santorini Island is everything you see in photos and much much more. If there’s a place on Earth I’ll keep on coming back to, it will be Santorini Island. Santorini Island is simply unforgettable; an experience that I’ll never get tired of rewinding countless times – doesn’t matter if it’s my last penny, I’ll grab the chance to be there again, to be amazed again, to breathe its air again, to be blinded by the divine whites of its houses and churches again, to be hypnotized by its sparkling deep blue waters again, to FEEL what it FEELS like to be there again. A feeling indescribable in words – absolutely and infallibly sublime.

Our journey to Santorini Island began in an early chilly morning back in Athens’ major port, Piraeus.

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Portion of the Piraeus Port – the most important gateway of Athens to the sea since ancient times

We booked ahead of our trip to Greece online for around 60 Euros per person with Seajets, a Greek ferry company that provides high speed ferry transfers between the Greek Mainland and the Greek Islands which includes Santorini (appropriately named after Saint Irene, whose name means Peace).

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Queuing to redeem our ferry tickets at the Seajets Ticket Office

Map of Piraeus Port - the Seajets Ticketing Office is located between 8 and 9

Map of Piraeus Port – the Seajets Ticketing Office is located between gates E8 and E9

A normal ferry ride would take approximately 8 hours, so if you want to save holiday hours just like us, Seajets would be one of the best options aside from taking a plane as they’ll get you to Santorini in 4 hours.

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Seajet 2 – Our ride to paradise!

Booking was simple and you just need to print out the electronic vouchers and present it to Seajets’ Ticket Office in Piraeus Port to claim your tickets and then you’re off to the ferry.

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Our Seajet Tickets indicating the destination, price and seat number

Just make sure you insist and tell whoever’s in the ticketing booth of your seating preference or you might just end up seated 20 rows away from your travel  partner/buddies as they generate tickets in random.

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The number of tourists is overwhelming!

Travel by plane is also available but I believe the flight times are restricted to early morning both ways, either from Athens to Santorini or Santorini to Athens. A plane ticket would cost around 120 Euros per person.

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Can’t help but take a quick selfie before boarding!

Our ferry trip was pleasant but a bit boring as you’re not allowed to stand and roam around while at sea (there are times when the sea gets unpredictably rough so better not risk ruining your vacation by getting injured while inside this high-speed tourist machine).

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This is what happens when you don’t specify that you want to be seated together with your travel partner

You are allowed though to go to the small coffee shop (which offers some light snacks and drinks other than coffee with a tad bit higher rate than when you’re ashore – Coffee would be around & Euros per cup) or to the WC/Toilet/Wash Room.

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Lots of ME time! 🙂

But then, if you get a window seat or if you’re like me, once in  while pretend to go to the WC but instead take pictures and enjoy the scenery, the trip will be more entertaining and stunning as you pass by numerous islands and islets along the way.

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Simply out of words to describe how beautiful this is!

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And this one as well!

And if you’re the type who don’t mind some side trips, then you’d be happy to know that Seajets docks in two ports to drop off and then pick up other passengers before Santorini…

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Trying hard to take a clear photograph of the outside from the not so clear window of the ferry

The ports of the islands of Naxos…

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Greece, definitely the land of the gods!!!

and Paros…

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Taking a perfect snap is so effortless – all you need to do is click on the shutter!

Seeing these islands that deserve a visit if you have more time undeniably builds up the suspense and climaxes when Santorini Island suddenly pops out from the horizon on a backdrop of blues of the Hellenic Sky and the Aegean.

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All luggage are stored in the front and on shelves in the middle and the rear of the ferry

Everyone gets excited. All curtains are opened. Sleepy travelers beside us start to wake up. Teens remove their earphones. People tuck away their mobiles, books, etc. and most start turning on their cameras. Here we were, awaiting our first glimpse of the island we’ve only seen in pictures and videos, the slow approach wherein inch by inch a paradise on earth was revealed to us…

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Oia and Ammoudi Bay

And there it was, simply breathtaking…

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The collosal Skaros Rock and Imerovigli, a suburb of Fira

Nothing short of stunning…

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Santorini’s Capital, Fira, rising a thousand feet from the caldera framed by the blues of the sky and the Aegean Sea

More beautiful than the most beautiful photograph taken of it…

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The winding Karavolades stairs as seen from our ferry going down towards the Old Port of Santorini

Definitely one of the best of God’s masterpieces…

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A closer look of Fira with the dome of the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral standing out

SANTORINI ISLAND.

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Never fails to leave me breathless…

Jill and I were just there, awe-struck while trying our best to take in everything while taking snaps of those jagged cliffs which ironically shouts out perfection – nature and architecture, land and sea, earth and sky. It was love at first sight.

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Multi-colored houses and churches atop Oia

People who are lucky enough to be in a cruise ship are in for a picturesque approach to Santorini Island. Picked up by smaller boats from their ships, they are then brought to the Old Port of Fira, right below the thousand foot cliffs of the looming Santorini Island town of its namesake. From there, a 5Euro cable car ride takes them up to the town/capital of Santorini Island itself.

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One of the multiple cruise ships that visit the island daily

But if you’re like us and majority of the visitors of Santorini Island who reach it through ferries from Athens or from the other Greek Islands, your port of entry would be the newer, larger port of Athinios.

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Athinios port while making our way up the caldera

Getting nearer to the port, you can see how busy it is with flocks of tourists lining up for their ferry rides and those who just arrived. And there were, on the very soil of the infamous Santorini Island.

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Someone’s really happy!

Upon docking, we were met by our driver who was with a lovely old woman (his friend’s mother  who also just arrived in Athinios).

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‘Cause Santorini offers lots of reasons to be happy!

The ride up the cliffs on a narrow two-laned road defined by sharp turns and the fact that you share such a small space with large tourist buses and cargo trucks was exhilarating!

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Greek Style Roller Coaster Ride!

But what was more amazing is that as you go up, meter by meter, the view just gets more stunning and stunning – with the view of the deep blue Aegean and the majestic volcanoes of Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni (which is still active by the way), coming up at the horizon!

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Is that heaven already???

It was simply divine! We can’t help but tell our driver who’s a local of the island how beautiful his home is. Everything seemed lifted from the pages of books about magical lands! If you wonder why they call Greece the Land of the Gods, just go to Santorini Island and you’ll know why!

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The highest point of Santorini Island, Pyrgos

After some minutes going uphill through a dozens curves and twirls, we reached the plateau of the island where we were welcomed by lush greens and a landscape that seemed to go rhythmically up and down like the waves of the surrounding sea. Vineyards almost everywhere as Santorini Island soil is very fertile due to its volcanic nature. We couldn’t wait to sample their local wines!

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Unlike in most places where grapes crawl on trellises, the grapes in Santorini Island grow close to the ground as the weather can be really dry and arid especially during the summer months

Our first minutes in Santorini Island assured us that our stay would be nothing like what we’ve experienced before. It took some time for the thought to sink in that we were indeed in the place that launched a thousand ships literally! Santorini Island was paradise!

Follow us on the 2nd Part of my blog series Santorini Island – Heaven On Earth as we make our way to our home in this exceptional Greek Island! Hope you guys enjoyed! If you’re planning to go to the island and have some questions, just leave your comments below – I might just be able to help! See you next time!

For the rest of my Santorini blog series, just click on the links below:

Our Amazing Traditional Greek Guest House

Our Afternoon Stroll at Fira

Fira’s Sunset from one of its best restaurants!

Walking along the ruins of what might be the lost city of Atlantis

Exploring Fira’s Town Centre – Of Churches, Narrow Streets, and Winding Staircases

 

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