Go on a Santorini island expedition – visit Thirasia

Go on a Santorini island expedition – visit Thirasia

Thirasia is one of the islands that lies close to Santorini. For travellers this means that you can pack much more in your Greece trip! Although the Greek island of all lovers and cute architecture is still Santorini, this smaller island definitely has its own unique things to offer. Today I’ll share some insider tips on how to organize your mini island expedition there.

Thirasia is relatively close to Santorini, the only way to reach it is by boat. Depending on the spot you would like to get off it should take you around 10-20 minutes to reach it. Sounds not so tough, right?  It’s a pretty bumpy ride.

To get there, you can either use the offers from tourism companies or pay 1 EUR if you go with the boat from Amoudi Bay (right next to Oia village).

Now, the point you get off in Thirasia will define your experience on the island. Here’s some options:

Riva: Has a beach from which you can see Oia and a small restaurant. Good spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Korfos: View of Santorini Island, volcano and the unique rocks of Thirasia. You will be able to take a quick swim, but keep in mind that the beach is quite rocky. Still, this place has several restaurants and cafes. Also keep in mind that you will have to do a small climb up a hill to reach the town – you can also rent a donkey.

And there you have it, the secret formula for a day on the neighbouring island, let me know how your trip turned out!

Photo of Amoudi bay, from my phone :)

Anna Sulte Santorini based photohrapher

 

The Unique face of Ammoudi village/bay in Santorini

The Unique face of Ammoudi village/ bay in Santorini

            I’m getting close to the end of my blog post series on the various different villages on the island of Santorini, if you’ve missed them, just take a look back – I give short info on the unique characteristics of each of these places you might visit during your stay. 15 Santorini villages.

Today it’s time to dive into one of the most unique small villages, which is actually almost a port – it’s the Ammoudi village/ bay. Go ahead and turn on Google Images and search for it. See what I mean? It’s just the perfect Greek port with tiny colorful houses washed by crystal clear aquamarine water.

Ammoudi is definitely known for its stunning ambience, and if you’re looking for a boat ride or a place to have great sea food, look no more! This place has some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants and taverns on the island – try their sea food and you’ll be hooked for life!

Santorini based photographer Anna Sulte

 

THE MEANING BEHIND THE POPULAR GREEK SOUVENIR – THE BLUE EYE

THE MEANING BEHIND THE POPULAR GREEK SOUVENIR – THE BLUE EYE

            If you have ever been to a Greek souvenir shop or plan to go to one, you will most definitely run into the kind of blue eye that is made in glass. It’s a very popular symbol and it almost always is from Greece when you ask some person wearing it in a necklace, key chain, earrings or a million of other ways. It is popular all right, but few know that it has more than the iconic and classic looks – this souvenir has a very distinct meaning as well.

            They call this το μάτι (to máti) in Greek, and it is actually an “evil eye” – an amulet that is supposed to protect you from a curse that is said to be cast by envious people.         Whether you believe such things or not is up to you, but if you decide to buy it now you’ll at least know that this is not just an ordinary piece of pretty Greek glass.

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Different Santorini – Volthonas village

Different Santorini – Volthonas village

Today on my blog post series of the various villages of Santorini it’s time to look at a small rock village 6km away from Fira – the Volthonas village.

It has been called one of the places with the most different architecture on the island – many villages in Santorini offer the classical small buildings built on cliff sides and the occasional captain’s house or cave house here and there, but Volthonas leaves a different impression. The local craftsmen here were very worried about storms, so they have adapted the village to tough weather in all sorts of ways. This creates a special feel of the places, where the unique layout merge with the traditional Santorini style houses and perfect little domed churches.

If you go to Volthonas, don’t forget to take a look at the oldest church of the village – Agia Anna, which dates back to 1827. It’s most beautiful detail is inside – it has a wonderful carved wooden panel which portrays scenes from the Old Testament. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, you can take the 20 min walk to the Panagia Trypa chapel, which is located on the edge of a cliff – the beauty of its location and the chapel itself will be the best reward.

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Santorini photographer Anna Sulte, vacation photographer in Greece

 

 

SANTORINI VOLCANO – WILL IT ERUPT ANY TIME SOON AND HOW TO GET TO IT?

SANTORINI VOLCANO – WILL IT ERUPT ANY TIME SOON AND HOW TO GET TO IT?

 

Hi, welcome back! Well, I must admit that the part about the eruption was a bit of a cliff hanger. To calm all vacationers, the Santorini volcano IS an active volcano, but experts say that it won’t be erupting any time soon. Besides, if it becomes unusually active, people will be notified well in advance – such places are monitored by scientists nonstop.

Nevertheless, the Santorini volcano is the very reason we have the island of Santorini. The whole island and surrounding smaller islands were created by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. This is the reason why Santorini has some of the weirdest beaches that the world has to offer, for example the Black and the Red beach, whose volcanic sand have taken a special colour.

Visiting the Santorini volcano is a special moment. You get to feel the power of the earth beneath your feet. When you go on the volcano tour, you take a boat and your final destination is the small uninhabited island Nea Kameni, which is entirely comprised out of relatively new volcanic ash and lava material – this is the place where scientists have placed their equipment for tracking the seismic activity of the volcano. From the moment the boat stops on the island, you can feel the different aura of this place. The active volcano craters are only some 15 minute hike away.

As you stand there next to the crater from which light smoke and sulphur smell emerges, you are once again reminded of the power of nature and the fact that you are but a small and magnificent piece in the bigger puzzle of the universe.

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Santorini based photographer Anna Sulte.

The Small Gem of Santorini – Akrotiri village

The Small Gem of Santorini – Akrotiri village

Today I’m continuing my mini blog post series on the various villages that can be found on the small Greek island of Santorini. If you thought that all the exciting stuff has been covered, think again! Let’s take a look at one of the oldest settlements on the island – Akrotiri.

Akrotiri is really a place for travellers, who want to escape the tourist crowds and rush of the capital Santorini – Fira. When choosing Akrotiri as your place to stay, you have to agree to some compromises, for example, there will be less places to have a coffee etc. BUT you’re going to have the chance to see more of the authentic island life – many ordinary Santorini farmers live there and go about their day as usual, without changing much of it to fit the needs of tourists.

Yet it definitely does not mean that Akrotiri is boring or that there are no places to see. First of all, it is one of the oldest settlements of Santorini and there’s a museum where you can see the ruins of buildings that were some of the first ones erected on the island! If you want to enjoy a more relaxed day on the beach, have no worry – the village has the great Red Beach to offer – the contrast of the red volcanic sand and crystal blue water is mesmerising and captures you for hours… just don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

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Photographer located, based on Santorini.

 

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Mesa Gonia – echoes of an ancient wine capital

Mesa Gonia – echoes of an ancient wine capital

             Time to share the next small village on the Greek island of Santorini (if you’ve missed it, I’m planning to write a blog post on each of the villages of the island for you to get a sense of what to expect). Today let’s take a look at the small rural village just 8 km from Fira – Mesa Gonia! (second name Episkopi Gonias)

            This small village is surrounded by grape wines, and not without a reason. This place used to be one of the highest ranking and important wine tasting places on the island of Santorini, before it was destroyed by a massive earthquake. Some of the past glory still has been preserved – you can visit the Roussos Winery, which is still one of the oldest wineries on the island (it was established around 1836) and it has lots of treats and surprises for all you wine lovers!

            Mesa Gonia is definitely a quiet place suitable for people who enjoy their own space and try to avoid crowds, it’s even quieter than the nearby village of Kamari. As for places to see, there’s the winery and the church of Panagia Episkopi, which is said to be the most important monument from the Byzantine times in Santorini. ‘

All in all, it’s a small and beautiful village with small taverns and beautiful churches – all you can ask for your holiday getaway!

Here are few pictures from Mesa Gonia and  Panagia Episkopi.

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Panagia Episkopi

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Santorini photographer Anna Sulte

BEAUTIFUL EMPORIO VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

BEAUTIFUL EMPORIO VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

            Emporio is the largest village of Santorini, but it has more to it than just its size. It is located around 12 km away from Fira town and yet it has its own vibe and feel to it.

            It is one of the five traditional medieval fortified settlements of Santorini, so it has its own face that can tell a lot about that particular time period on the Greek islands. The look of the village has been very influenced by the tradition to build houses side by side to protect themselves and neighbours from pirate attacks, which were fairly common around these parts of Greece. The placement of the marvellous church of Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis of Emporio is also very traditional – it sits right before the entrance of the village.

            The Santorini village of Emporio can really spoil its inhabitants and tourists with spectacular views, above it lies a mountain ridge of Gavrilos, which hides some mysterious and recently discovered ruins that date back to the Byzantine period. Another rather popular site are the windmills that can be seen when you drive to this village from Fira.

            Emporio is worth a visit for anyone who wants to experience a breeze from the medieval times and how it combines with the modern day island of Santorini. Truly an interesting place with lots of unique views backgrounds for photo sessions!

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PYRGOS – THE HIGHEST VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

PYRGOS – THE HIGHEST VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

            Today as part of the blog post series exploring the different villages of Santorini we are going to embark on a little excursion to Pyrgos – the village that can be found on the highest point of the island.

            The location of Pyrgos is really one of its best assets – there are stunning panoramic views of the whole island nearly from everywhere you go. Of course, the village also has stunning classical Greek architecture typical to fortress settlements of the Cylades, that is why it has been declared a protected settlement in 1995. This is also one of the five places where you can see castle ruins – the ruins of Kasteli Castle. At one point, Pyrgos became the capital of the island (after the Skaros Castle was abandoned in the 18th century and right before the current capital – Fira – was chosen).

            It is no wonder that Pygos has been declared a protected settlement – its architecture is a true gem! The village is full of traditional architecture, remains of neo-classical mansions, it has the romantic narrow winding paths on the hillside, small white houses, galleries, vineyards, churches which are all illuminated by the magical sunsets at this part of the island.

            Every sunset here is a little celebration. I really suggest you head up from the main square in the direction of Zannos Melathron and up – there you will discover a few hillside cafes with great wine – here you can indulge in a quiet meditation and watch as another evening sets over the island from the highest point.

Pyrgos is really worth a visit. This post only scratches the surface of the special feeling you get while being there. Be adventurous, pack your bag and embark on a journey there! Make sure you charge the battery of your camera, because you will want to take some snaps of the panoramic views all the time – guaranteed!

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EXPLORING THE VILLAGES OF SANTORINI

EXPLORING THE VILLAGES OF SANTORINI

            Hi, all! Today I just wanted to make this little intro post to share some exciting news about what you will see here on the blog. I have always taught that Santorini is a small island with a lot of character to explore, and what greater way to dive into these various vibes than by exploring the many small villages! This year I will begin my small mini-series of posts on these small hidden gems of the island – each village has its own unique taste and feel and at the same time each one ties perfectly into the overall mood of the island of Santorini.

There is plenty to explore and I think this will be an interesting journey for you and me both. There are 15 villages on the island; the oldest one is Megalochori, but the rest are not much newer. In this series we will dive into each of the villages in a separate blog post, so you will have the chance to get to know what is special about each of them (much like I did in the post about Imerovigli). You could say that each of them is like a wave in a painting of the Aegean Sea and only together they form the marvellous image that is Santorini. Get on board and let’s embark on an adventure!

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Santorini photographer Anna Sulte

SANTORINI FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS YOU MUST NOT MISS

SANTORINI FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS YOU MUST NOT MISS

Hello, all! Every once in a while I get questions about the things to do on the island of Santorini, and many of the questions relate to various festivals, celebrations etc. that are organised here. I thought I might provide you with a small list of the celebrations, which you should not miss, if you’re visiting the island at the right time!

Let me start by saying that most of the festivals take place during the summer months,  for example, the Santorini Jazz Festival in Kamari (10 km from Fira) lasts for three days in July and is known all over Greece. This is something you must absolutely experience, you can hear performances of Greek and international musicians there. It is a very special vibe, I think you’ll love it.

Most of the other festivals are connected with the church and religion in one way or another. Easter is very special for orthodox Greeks as well as 15 August — the feast day of the Holy Virgin, which is the largest celebration held in Santorini. The feast is held on the church of Panagia Episkopi. Preparations are done a day before, when traditional food and wine is distributed to the people.

These are the two biggest celebrations — one of artistic nature, the other one religious. You should definitely experience them, if you have the chance. There are some smaller festivals and cultural events, which you can explore: 29 May (feast of Agia Theodosia), 1 July (feast of Agioi Anargyroi), 24 June (feast day of Agios Ioannis), 8 September (the feast day of the Holy Cross), Festival of Megaron Gyzi (in August), Ifestia Festival or the Volcano Festival (August) and the International Music Festival.

Here you go, that is your starter pack of information about the Santorini religious feasts, festivals and cultural events. Be sure to check out all the detailed information about them, as well as ask about the cultural events happening in Santorini in your hotel when you arrive — they will gladly inform you about the hottest events! :)

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Old and new Santorini in one picture by Anna Sulte, photographer located on Santorini.

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Happy holidays

May the peace and blessings
of Christmas be yours;
And may the coming year
be filled with happiness.
Greetings from Santorini
With LOVE,
grateful to all of you- Anna
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Some little known fun facts about Santorini

SOME LITTLE KNOWN FUN FACTS ABOUT SANTORINI

Although it is the most well-known of the Greek islands, Santorini still has a lot to amaze you! First of all, it is rightfully sometimes called the “postcard island of Greece”, it really stands out from all the rest of the Greek islands (and there are VERY many Greek islands). Its red cliffs, white windmills, crystal clear blue water and blue church domes really are a treat for the eyes!

Today I thought I might share some of the lesser known fun facts that I have heard about the island over the years:

  1. The island sits in a water-filled caldera of a massive volcano (you all know this by now, of course) BUT the eruption is thought to have ended the Minoan civilization on Crete!
  2. Before it was called Santorini, this Greek island was known as Kallístē, which means “the most beautiful one
  3. Santorini is one of the few places on earth where you can visit white, black AND red beaches. This is because of the volcanic past of the island.
  4. Although its climate is very special (rather harsh and dry), Santorini actually has a very flourishing vine industry! The vine here has a characteristic, unique taste to it due to this.
  5. The name itself – Santorini – was invented in 1153 by the Venetians and was told to the Arab geographer Edrisi. It is the pronunciation of the words Santa and Irenene (Saint Irene), which was taken either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa (which is not preserved).

Of course, the list goes on and on and on. Visit this place and discover more on your own!  Actually, off season is the time to do such discoveries, as the ticket prices go down and there’s more time for exploration of the history and cultural places of Santorini! Trust me, this Greek gem will surprise you (and it will continue to surprise me, without doubt).

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Santorini portrait photographer Anna Sulte

MAKE YOUR OWN GREEK MOUSSAKA

MAKE YOUR OWN GREEK MOUSSAKA

Winter is here, and I thought I might share some great Greek recipes. Of course, everyone knows the Greek salad (which is a relatively simple dish, but you really have to taste it in Greece to get the right idea about it). I thought I might go with something less obvious and introduce you to Moussaka, which is a Greek casserole made from minced meat and eggplants, it is something like a super yummy eggplant lasagne.

So here’s what you’ll need to make Moussaka Santorini style:

  • 2 medium eggplants,
  • olive oil (as needed),
  • ½ kilo of lean ground beef,
  • 2 medium onions (peeled and chopped),
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic (you can use more, if you like!),
  • 1 (250g) can of tomato sauce,
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano,
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

To make the cheese sauce, you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter,
  • ½ teaspoon of seasoned salt (or regular salt),
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper,
  • 2 tablespoons of flour,
  • 1 cup of cream,
  • 1 egg, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (of course you can use more, everyone likes cheese).

First, grease a baking pan, then peel the eggplants and cut them in 2cm thick slices (of course, this isn’t rocket science, so thicker slices are OK. You will find your perfect thickness if you make this dish several times). Put a small coat of olive oil on each slice and seasoned them with salt and pepper (as desired). Put them on a thin baking pan and put in the oven until they get brown and then flip them and bake a bit more.

In a large pan mix the beef with onions and cook until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft. When you are done with that, strain the remaining grease and fat from the pan. Add garlic, tomato sauce, oregano, ½ tablespoon of salt, black pepper.

Put half of the eggplant slices in the baking tray, cover them, with the meat mixture and put the remaining eggplant slices on top.

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE: Melt the butter in a pan, whisk in flour, ½ tablespoon of salt and pepper, and gradually stir in cream or milk. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat until it gets thick and starts to bubble.

In a bowl beat egg and stir in some hot sauce. Afterwards add it to the sauce mixture, mix well, add Parmesan cheese and mix again.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180o C for 45 minutes.

Cut the Moussaka into squares and enjoy this wonderful winter dish, preferably with a glass of good wine and some fresh salad.

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SHOULD YOU VISIT THERASIA, SANTORINI?

 

SHOULD YOU VISIT THERASIA, SANTORINI?

Of course, any real adventure seeker would not pass the chance to go on an adventure, but let’s step back a bit and take a look at what this small island of Santorini has to offer. Therasia (or Θηρασία) is the second largest Santorini island after Thera, and it is located in the center of the Santorini island group. It has roughly 300 inhabitants and its land area is about 9.3 kilometres. Here’s an example of what you might expect to see in Therasia (you can either go on a guided tour or by yourself, as the island is small, you will most probably see the same places).

Most people choose to take the boat from Oia (Thera) to Riva (Therasia). From there you should take the local bus to Manolas. Therasia is really the place to take a long walk – start by walking past the Zacharo Rooms to the church of Agios Charalampos – it is a really special and spiritual place with its own energy. From there you can see fantastic views over the caldera and the surrounding areas. Afterwards you can head to the monastery of Komisi, which lies on the Southern part of the island. Then you can head back to Manolas to get a glimpse of what a real, non-touristy Greek village looks like. If you feel a bit hungry along the way, you should take the chance to visit the local baker, who only burns old grape vines for baking bread and you should definitely visit the local shop to get some real tasty fruit.

Continue by walking down the steps to Korfos Harbor and relax have a meal and dip into the crystal clear water. I suggest you get up earlier than the volcano tour boat operators to get a more quiet sense of the island.

So, that’s my advice. Should you visit Therasia? Well, if you feel like having a calm walk, then yes – of course! :)

Enjoy your adventure!

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Anna Sulte Santorini based photographer.