Mother Daughter Travel Guide to Greece Part Two: Santorini
The idea of a Mother-Daughter trip to Greece really began after my father died. When you lose someone so close to you, you can't help but think about all the moments in your future that you are going to be missing with them. You also can't help yourself but think of the 'would haves' and 'should haves'.
Luckily - there were very few of those with us. We had an incredible relationship that always started with a hug and ended with an 'I love you.' We had weekly dinners, talked almost daily, and even got matching tattoos. There was hardly anything left unsaid, or undone - which is pretty remarkable for someone who died unexpectedly. I always say it truly speaks to his character of living in the now.
But one thing I do wish we did more - or had the opportunity to do was travel. See the world together. Experience new things and make memories. I remember taking family vacations as a child but as I got older sports, school, and divorce all got in the way. We stopped taking family vacations and our quality time together as adults, never really lasted more than a few hours. Although I never had time to travel with my Dad later in life - I do have time to travel with my Mom, so I did.
We decided on Greece. A place we both had never been to but were interested in. My mom had never been to Europe before, so it was so exciting to experience that together. We started in Athens and then spent the majority of our time in Santorini.
If you missed Part One: Athens, you can check it out here.
What I didn't share in my first post is that this wasn't supposed to be just a mother-daughter trip. My grandmother was also supposed to join us in this memory making experience. I actually had to bring out the waterworks just to convince her to join. Unfortunately, she had to have open heart surgery only a few weeks prior and wasn't able to join us.
(Note: Surgery went well and she's doing better than before!)
So my Mom and I took on Santorini just the two of us - and these pictures simply do not do it justice. The entire island is breathtakingly beautiful. If I didn't just go last year, this would have been on my list for our honeymoon.
We went to Santorini in December, so this is considered the "off season" on the island. Depending on what type of experience you are looking for, this can be great! Although a lot of the restaurants and shops were closed there were little to no tourists. We could experience the true beauty of the island without dodging selfie sticks and crowds of people. It was also a bit chillier (think 60ish degrees) we wore lots of layers because the sun was warm but the wind was chilly.
We weren't looking for the type of vacation to lay out in bikinis and sun bathe. We really wanted to explore the island and soak in all of it's beauty. So this time of year was perfect for us!
We flew into Santorini from Athens (45min). You can also take the ferry (4-8 hours), but because we were only spending a few days we really wanted to maximize our time there. There are several little areas within Santorini - we decided to stay in Oia for the quiet and gorgeous sunset views. This was considered more of the 'honeymoon' area where Fira was more of a 'city/nightlife' area. Definitely do your research before booking your location. Having an airbnb that was walkable to most of the things we wanted to do made the travel experience more relaxed.
We arrived at our AIRBNB which was absolutely incredible. The cave houses are definetly the way to go to experience the Greek architecture. We had our own outdoor space looking out over the water and the gorgeous views of the iconic white caves on both sides. The airbnb also had a kitchen which is nice if you are trying to budget when traveling. You can always make breakfast, lunch or stay in and have dinner on the patio. We specifically got this airbnb because it had a jacuzzi. We thought that because it was chiller that it would be nice to have in the evenings to sit outside. However, it was not heated so we didn't get to enjoy it.
The first night we just settled into our new home and explored the little area we were staying in preparing for the next day.
We hiked from Oia to Fira - probably a 3 hour leisure hike. We took our time, stopping to take pictures along the way and embrace the scenery. Definitely recommend sneakers (all comfortable walking shoes in Santorini) as well as packing water for the hike. We arrived in Fira and had lunch, walked around the city, and then took a cab back to our airbnb.
That night we enjoyed the sunset at the windmill in Oia that is at the tip of the island and just a short walking distance from our airbnb. We found that as gorgeous as the sunset was to watch, it was also beautiful to see the reflection off of the white caves houses. Apparently that's why they were built and painted white.
We spontaneously decided to rent a car so that we could explore the entire island at our own leisure without the high cost of getting a cab. We visited all the beaches - red beach (it was high tide and had huge waves), black beach and white beach.
We ended our day at Santo Wine Tours. Definitely a must stop if you're going to Santorini and like wine!
We spent the morning shopping in Fira with our last few hours of the car (note: a lot of the shops didn't open until later). After dropping the car off we had lunch and did a little shopping at the boutiques in Oia. Although a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed there was still enough of a selection that was open - more so on the weekend!
We spent the evening taking a few photos - I mean come on, this view?! And enjoyed cocktails with our airbnb neighbor and dinner near by.
Note about the food: I'm the first to admit that I'm a semi-picky eater. But anyone that knows me knows I have gotten better throughout the years. I did get a little sick of the consistent Greek food. I wanted some variety - like we have here in the states. I think during the peak season they definetly have more options but a lot of the restaurants that were open were heavy on the Greek food. Difficult when you are dairy-free. Side note: I had one waitress look at me horrified saying, "You do not like cheese!?" Which I had to respond, "Oh, I love cheese - cheese just doesn't love me." So I ate a lot of bread! But if have dietary restrictions it's a little tougher than what we have here. But you can always go to a local grocery and get some snacks to fill you up.
Our last day on the island we walked down to the Port of Oia. This was so interesting to see where the ships come in and out and some of the long standing buildings of Santorini. We even had a nice man bring us out coffee & donuts as we were walking. We enjoyed brunch and then headed back to Athens for our flight home the next day.
We stayed at in a suite near the airport. It was out in the country and although we arrived in the evening we could tell it was a beautiful location off the main track of Athens. The hospitality was incredible and if we went back to Athens we would highly consider staying a few days here if we didn't want to be right in the city.
This entire trip was an experience of a lifetime and I'm so lucky I was able to do it with my Mom. We made so many incredible memories and had quality time together that we both needed and deserved. If Greece isn't on your travel bucket list - it should be! This country is absolutely beautiful and has so much to offer. I'm definetly coming back!
Also - you can't visit Greece and not get cute dog & cat pictures. They are everywhere! No need to fret, most of these guys seemed very well fed and happy. A lot of the dogs even had collars and we were told they were owned by the shop owners.