here are more photos from my first day at fira. it was so exciting to finally see those white walled buildings in person. against these white walls, are the aegean blue, pops of primary colors, and the vibrant bougainvilleas. touristy or not, santorini really does have its own unique aesthetic. i will let the photos do the talking.
there are multiple forms of transportation on thira island: walk, bus, taxi, rental car, and atv. i chose to walk and use the bus. the bus system might be confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not so difficult. just remember, if you’re not staying in fira, you need to first take a bus to fira, which is the central bus hub of thira island.
i stayed in kamari, which means i needed to take the bus to fira in order to go to perissa, perivolos, akrotiri, the airport, etc. from fira, imerovigli and oia are great walks, so no bus was needed. if you’re up for using your own legs, there were other visitors in my hotel that actually walked all the way to fira.
at the bus station in kamari was this time table:
the first column means, from fira the bus to kamari leaves at __:__. the second column means, from kamari to fira, the bus leaves at __:__. i believe the 12:55 bus never came, and i always had to wait for the next one. so a good point (like possibly any other bus in any country) to remember is, don’t expect the bus to be on time. have a book to read or something to kill time! the other columns were irrelevant to me, but maybe the locals make use of that information.
below are the time tables at fira. lots of tourists are walking around, wondering which bus is theirs. just ask the girls at the window and they’ll tell you which number bus to get on or will be arriving. the bus conductor will yell out the destination and final boarding call, so keep your ears open, or just ask.
*one thing to be careful of is the last bus. especially if you’re watching the sunset in oia. you need to get from oia to fira, then catch the bus to your final destination. in my case, had i seen the sunset in oia, i wouldn’t have made the last bus to kamari in time. that added to my deciding to see the sunset in fira instead.
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.