i’m sure many people in the world have seen the characteristic buildings of santorini somewhere in magazines, instagram, television, or other media. they may not be exclusive to only santorini, but the first time i saw the sort of building was in a travel magazine several years ago. since then i have always remembered that photo from time to time.
a scattering of buildings on the steep cliffs of oia, similar to what i saw in that said magazine.
monasteries in kamari, where my hotel was located
during the tour of the santorini caldera, our tour guide told us why the buildings were mainly white and blue. there aren’t necessarily any rules on what colors they HAVE to be. in the days before electricity, the white walls would reflect the moon at night, providing light for residents to find their way home. the blue paint for the roofs were actually quite expensive–as one of the ingredients of the paint included silver–and are seen on many of the monasteries.
i was intrigued to see some foundations of buildings while riding the bus. thira’s tourism industry is still new and building at a rapid pace. i had visited at the very beginning of the tourist season and some hotels were still closed, preparing for the coming months. i saw many foundations that will become hotels (or homes and/or stores) as well. on the cliffs of fira and oia, there were many constructors working on hotels there, also.
whether it was mid-construction pre-season, some almost look abandoned (see the photos below). unlike the concrete and steel grid foundations of skyscrapers in booming cities, these foundations are so basic, simple, clean, and even aesthetically pleasing–my father is an architect and it seems that i have taken a liking for geometric shapes.
if i hadn’t decided on the creative industry, other occupations i had considered in the past were astronomy, geology, and archaeology. that was even before this trip. after having seen the nature and geology in santorini, though, my interest and appreciation for those sciences have deepened. in this post, i’ve collected all the extra photos of plants and rock that i captured during my stay. click on the titles to see the corresponding post on this location.
the volcanic rock in santorini has a higher silica content than that of for example, hawaii, known for the fluid lava. this means that the rock here is much harder and less malleable.
i love figs. i never realized these trees bear figs, and we have them in tokyo too! now i’m reminded of santorini whenever i see them here.
as a foodie, i don’t consider myself one of those instagram hipsters, but more a remy (of ratatouille). in fact, i’m often compared to the remy with flavors sparkling and twinkling overhead (if you don’t get it, it’s a scene from the movie). one of the highlights (and anticipations) of this trip was the food. i had never had greek cuisine while growing up, and not much of it is available in tokyo. i can’t even be positive when exactly i was introduced to greek salad, but chef kevin of my favorite hamburger joint in tokyo (who are like family now, and the bistro has since closed) made the best greek salad. in fact, it was so true to the greek salads i had in santorini!
lamb gyros from the souvlaki stand in kamari (i was here almost everyday) lamb kebab with tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, fried potatoes wrapped in a pita. it was VERY filling! i had bought some herb/spice mixes in fira, and used the tzatziki and lamb mixes for a homemade lamb gyros. 🙂 カマリ市のスブラキ・スタンドで買ったラム・イロス（ほぼ毎日ここに立ち寄っていました） ラムのケバブ、トマト、ツァツィキ・ソース、ポテトフライをピタパンで包んで。ポテトフライのおかげかボリューム満点でした。（フィラでツァツィキ・ソースのハーブミックスを含むスパイス・セットを買い、お家でイロスを作ったら大好評でした！）
whatever these were, they were good. a mini doughnut with honey glaze.
this was good, too ♡ ／ こちらも美味しかったです！
– T H E L A S T F E A S T –
while watching the sunset from fira on the last day 最終日のディナーは夕陽を見ながら贅沢に
fava (yellow split pea puree)
(i wish i wrote down what this was!)
as i wrote on my DAY 1 entry, there are a few things to consider when booking a hotel in thira, santorini. if you go to the tourist spots in fira and oia, you can expect a lot of noise late into the night because of the nightlife.
i chose acropole sunrise because i would be able to see the sunrise, enjoy peace and quiet, and still have easy access to the central part of the island. i could not have chosen a better place to stay. acropole sunrise is at the top of a hill, which means an unblocked view of the sunrise. it is located in kamari, a quiet picturesque town with a black pebble beach nearby. not to mention, the owner, petros, was so kind and informative about the tours offered from kamari and other tourist locations in thira. he would always say “tell me, how can i help you?”
the last sunrise was the most perfect one. ／ 出発日の朝日。この旅一番でした。
one last look from my hotel balcony. ／ ホテルのバルコニーから最後に。
and a bonus sunrise arriving @ doha to transfer. ／ そしておまけに乗り継ぎのドーハの朝日。笑
. . . . .
in conclusion, what did santorini give me? ／ この度から得たものとは？:
1. l a n g u a g e ／ 言 語
tuning out. i really did it. smiling and nodding, without having to pretend? being clueless to natives possibly saying “this dumb asian chick has no idea what we’re saying”? you know, for once, i couldn’t care less. my personality (and sometimes what i’m hired for) has me being the problem solver. to communicate for two parties of different languages, being a manager for a fashion show, being an assistant for a magazine, always being in the know of EVERYTHING. for once, i didn’t understand. for once, i didn’t have to. for once, i could be stupid and not feel guilty for it.
2. s a f e t y ／ 安 全 性
it was very safe. the hotel owner was originally from athens, and one of the first things he told me is, “i will be straightforward with you. as a woman, you are perfectly safe on thira. in athens, not so much.” the people here were so helpful, if you come up to them lost, they’ll speak out first, “tell me” (their version of “how may i help you?”). obviously, though, one can never be too safe and should probably be knowledgeable of the possible dangers of travel overseas.
3. g r e e c e ／ ギ リ シ ャ
there was so much to take in! i’m sure i cannot say i had the complete experience of greece with my one visit to just santorini, but i couldn’t be happier to have seen all the sights, history, geology, nature, and food. i learned that the world is a vast, miraculous place with so much more to be discovered.
4. s u n a n d p e a c e ／ 太 陽 と 静 け さ
i definitely got this!! lots and lots of sun and vitamin d (and wind and rain, too)!! the tourist spots were all hustle and bustle; one step into nature, and there was peace—almost untouched, unaltered, raw—an ironic juxtaposition to the history of violent volcanic activity. nature in tokyo, is reformed and planned, even hiking trails are cleanly paved and pruned. humans live on earth, earth gave us life. santorini taught me that we cannot control nature.
it all starts here, at the base of the mountain.
at the top of the mountain, ancient thera begins
cemetery of ancient thera ／ 古代ティラの墓地:
i actually took this photo on the way up from perissa on day 3. this cemetery is on the last bend of the hike from perissa, just outside of the ancient thera ruins.
the early christian basilica ／ 初期のキリスト教の聖堂:
temenos of artemidoros ／ アルテミドロス（人物）のテメノス（神の領域）:
ptolemaic garrison post ／ トレミー駐屯地:
facing due south, central section of the city ／ 南向き・古代ティラ中心部:
(you can see the monastery of profitis ilias (prophet elias) in the upper right on the ridge of the mountain!)
southern section of the city ／ 古代ティラ南部:
sanctuary of egyptian gods ／ エジプトの神々の聖域:
apollo pythios sanctuary ／ アポロ・ピティオスの聖域:
the theater ／ 劇場:
(ugh i can’t believe this photo is blurry… ／ ピンボケごめんなさい。。)
private house ／ 民家:
house of tyche
basilike stoa ／ 王室の柱廊:
from the south, middle, north agora’s in the central section of the city
SANTORINI DAY 5 :
A N C I E N T T H E R A , A K R O T I R I , S U N S E T A T F I R A
after all the rain and thunder throughout the night, came the astounding sunrise! what a perfect beginning to my last full day in thira!
the blue sky, sunshine, white walls, grecian flag, all couldn’t be more picturesque than on this day.
. . . . .
– A N C I E N T T H E R A –
i’ve gathered the photos of ancient thera here! it was quite something to think these ruins were inhabited as early as the 8th century BC. most of what remains seems to have been rebuilt and expanded by later inhabitants until the 8th century AD. i’m not a historian so i won’t explain in detail, but i share photos of explanations and the ruins in the link above!
– H I K I N G U P T O T H E
M O N A S T E R Y O F P R O F I T I S I L I A S –
moving on after ancient thera, i started hiking towards the monastery of profitis ilias (prophet elias). this photo is looking back towards ancient thera. the winding road on the left goes down toward kamari. the roundabout leads to the entrance of ancient thera; you can see the snake-like path a third of the way down the mountain inside the ancient thera ruins. beyond the top of the mountain is where the central and southern sections of ancient thera would be, facing due south. to the right of the mountain would be perissa (where i came up from on day three).
the red circle in the below map is where i took the photos below. the numbered circles represent the direction the photo was taken in perspective from the red circle.
this is a view of perissa and perivolos along the shoreline. (*see 1. in map above)
this is a view facing fira, oia, and the caldera. (*see 2. in map above) フィラ、イア、とカルデラ。（*地図 2.）
that’s the airport! (*see 3. in map above)
yay!!! i made it to the top!!! to tell the truth, i lost the path multiple times, and it was more treacherous than i was prepared for (because i lost the path?)…
i couldn’t visit inside, possibly because it was around lunchtime, but here are some photos i got of the outside (and really, please ignore the fact that my big ol’ finger is in one of the most important photos…).
one last look around the monastery before descending towards megalochori, which is the nearest bus stop.
– H I K I N G T O
M E G A L O C H O R I –
this is faros, the eastern tip (in the south) of thira. i couldn’t make it here this time since it is apparently more convenient by car. (*see 4. in map above)
the nature, rocks, ruins along the way to megalochori! after a quick google search, that flag apparently represents the greek orthodox church.
– A K R O T I R I –
from megalochori, i visited akrotiri (i wanted to see the red and white beaches), but by this time i was absolutely exhausted. i nearly took the bus straight back to fira, when i turned around and saw that the akrotiri excavations archaeological site was right by the bus stop. something in my head told me to stay. unfortunately, i didn’t get any photos (except the one below, inside the excavation facility) or pamphlets, but here are some links: Santorini Archaeological Sites : Akrotiri Excavations
from Santorini.com A Life’s Work: The Excavation of Akrotiri in Santorini
by Tassoula Eptakili for Greece Is
it really is something to see! to me, this is even more significant than ancient thera, as this site dates back as early as the 4th MILLENIUM BC! the civilizations that lived here until the early late bronze age (around 17th century BC), had 2-3 story buildings, amazing paintings, and even a drainage system (i mean, toilets??). the town was abandoned after a series of severe earthquakes preceding a volcanic eruption in the late 17th century BC. covered in volcanic material, the town was preserved until they officially began excavations in 1967 and are currently continuing excavations.
the shelter that protects the excavations is quite interesting, also. protecting from the elements while keeping the ecosystem as stable and comfortable as possible, they made a bioclimatic building utilizing the four elements with minimal energy consumption. (please do visit this website if you are interested in bioclimatic structures!)
intrigued and motivated again, i took the bus to fira. this was the last (and most important??) bit of my trip! SUNSET!!!
– S U N S E T A T F I R A –
i took a walk to oia, in hopes of seeing the sunset here. however, with the exertions of the whole day (i walked more than 20km this day), i decided to watch the sunset from fira (which was just as spectacular), while having one last gorgeous dinner. i had some help from a greek native, making sure i ordered the right foods, and absolutely grateful for that! HERE GOES: