Blue skies, clear weather, crisp white architecture, and a beautiful apartment high on the top of the island made paradise an easy find.
Luxury on top of a mountain
We stayed in the Enastron Suites in Pyrgos, a place so dreamy it was hard to leave. The 3-suite compound is situated right below the Monastery of Prophet Elias, which is at the highest spot on the entire island. The views are incredible. No surprise that Pyrgos means “tower” in Greek. Our hosts discreetly left our breakfast on our patio every morning for us to enjoy along with the breath-taking panorama.
The location was so serene that we had to force ourselves to step out and tour the island in the little Fiat 500 convertible we rented.
Santorini is small, you can circumnavigate it in one day. We were there in mid-September; the crowds were gone and the traffic was light. We drove from one end to the other visiting the points of interest and absorbing the dramatic scenery. Here are some of my faves:
A friendly local hangout
To go almost anywhere, we had to drive down the mountain through the village center and we became familiar with the locals and their businesses. We enjoyed meals, snacks, drinks at the Kantouni Cafe, a great place to sit and people-watch (loved the fried feta in sesame seeds, want to make it ourselves); we shopped for essentials at the general store; and we always waved to the folks at the car rental shop —both coming and going.
Finding the palace
The guides all mentioned a Venetian Palace and we embarked on a climb from the center of town — up, up, up winding stone steps —to find it. We came across delightful shops and restaurants and a big church but could not find the palace…until we found the crumbling ruins. We realized that all of these structures above the town center ARE the remains of the palace, most restored and repurposed and some not.
We entered a little restaurant doorway, climbed to their rooftop patio for lunch, iced tea with pignoli nuts (!), and another marvelous view.
Churches big and small
The blue and white structures with their iconic round domes were everywhere. They ranged from a little one room beehive to grand cathedrals.
Cats, cats, cats. They peeked from corners, slinked around the alleys, and climbed on our laps during meals. And donkeys. Some decked out for tourist rides, we saw others working as a “green” transportation option.
Beaches by color
Although they have other names, they are known by the color of the rocks. And rocky they are! Perissa, the black beach, was the biggest, with lots of shopping and dining options. We also went to the red beach and white beach, just for the novelty.
Watching the cruise ships in the harbor at sunset
We drove to Oia, where the cruise ships arrive. There was a long line of people waiting to take the cable car down and catch the ferry back to their gigantic boats. We found a lovely restaurant and had dinner overlooking the caldera as the sun set — the smaller boats slowly leaving as darkness fell, the lights twinkling on the big ships. All magically romantic.