It’s difficult for me to describe my feelings about revisiting Santorini. I stayed in a cave apartment in Imerovigli in June 1989 when it was practically a ghost town and Oia was sparsely occupied…mostly a lot of empty, decrepit caves. These villages were magical, ethereal and quickly won a place in my heart. During the first week of May 2000 I chose to base in a cave apartment in Firostephani where we rarely saw more than a few people. Even along the path to/from Fira we rarely passed anyone. I again felt that I was someplace special. Santorini is still special, but much of what made the island that way is no longer there, at least not for me.
On my first morning I took an early bus to Oia, arriving at 8:45 a.m. Much to my disappointment, there were already hundreds of tourists there with more unloading from the cruise ships’ buses. The shops were all open for business…and there were many shops and restaurants built over the past ten years. It was crowded and noisy. I could barely walk down a lane…I just shuffled along with the rest of the tourists. The gates leading into the hotels had signs stating that entry was private—guests only. This was not the Oia of my memories. Once I got over the initial shock I wandered over to the windmills where there were fewer people. Each day there were two or three cruise ships docked. I suppose it’s a good thing that so many people get to see this amazing island, but at the same time they cannot possibly understand the magic of Santorini by strolling through this heavenly place for a few scant hours with hundreds of their fellow cruisers.
Well, now that I got that off my chest I can talk about what I enjoyed about Santorini: The people, the food, the music, the views and the physical exertion of climbing up and down the steps. My favorite restaurants in Fira were El Greco, Naoussa. http://www.naoussarestaurant.gr/enindex.php, and Mama’s House www.mamashouse-Santorini.gr. None of these have sea views—just good food. One of my favorite dishes was roasted potatoes at El Greco. I don’t know what they put on them, but they were amazing. If you stop into Naoussa, be sure to ask about their homemade limoncello…to die for! I had lamb in lemon sauce here that was very good. Mama’s House had the best tzatziki. I had a Greek salad every day. And I can’t forget to mention the gelato; my favorite flavor was yogurt with sour cherry. Breakfast at The Corner, www.cornerfira.com/index.html, was good with fresh squeezed orange juice and a waffle with yogurt, honey, and walnuts (below). After eating that hearty breakfast, it was easy to skip lunch.
Grilled squid with lemon potatoes, El Greco Restaurant