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We figured, since we’d already travelled to the other side of the world, we may as well sneak in another place we’d always wanted to go. For us, that was Santorini.
- Santorini, Greece, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200km southeast from the Greek mainland. It is the largest island of a small circular archipelago.
- We stayed at the Aqua Luxury Suites in Imerovigli and they were incredible.
- Santorini is a 19-hour flight from Sydney.
- We travelled from Dubai, which was a 4.5-hour flight to Athens (we had to run like crazy to make the connecting flight, the times were so close together, it was insane), and from there it was another 50-minute flight to Thira.
- We went in mid-April, which is the Greek spring, and the weather was warm but with chilly mornings and evenings, and only one cool day. It was just before peak season (summer, June–August) so wasn’t as busy as it gets.
Where we stayed:
When we arrived on the island, we took a very cool limo-style shuttle bus to the hotel. And the spectacular scenery started straight away. You’ve no doubt all seen pictures of the sheer beauty that is Santorini. The whitewashed, dome-roofed buildings on cobblestone streets set on cliffsides overlooking sparkling blue water and islands as far as the eye can see … let me tell you, I was still not prepared for how breathtaking it was in person.
Once we were at the hotel, the view from our room left me speechless. Imerovigli is the highest village on the caldera, and I just could not … stop … staring. Even the pictures don’t do it justice, it was better than any postcard. It was actually quite an emotional experience for me, and I cried many grateful tears in this moment (and so many others on this trip).
We had our own two-bedroom villa; it was spacious and so, so beautiful. The balcony situation was next level. It was just right there on the cliff, overlooking the sea and volcano and all the buildings down below. It had lounges, a dining set-up, and the most gorgeous corner pool that felt like you were taking a dip at the edge of the world. It was the perfect spot for people-watching too, as we could see everyone below going about their business!
Our suite also had a small indoor heated plunge pool next to a dining alcove, so we could eat while the kids splashed about, it was great.
Breakfast was included at our hotel, and they brought it to our balcony. It was such a beautiful ritual, I contemplated never coming home!
What we did:
This was the chill-out part of the holiday. Our stay in Dubai was heavily focused on experiences and activities, so for Santorini we just wanted to relax and soak in that Greek sunshine. We had a few things we wanted to do and see at some point, but very much took it day by day depending on how everyone was feeling.
We spent a lot of time enjoying the hotel, swimming, reading, and just watching the cruise ships come in and the sun set over the volcanic islands.
One afternoon, while Ryan and Willow napped, Harper and I went into town to explore, and another day Ryan and the girls were tired so I did some exploring and shopping myself. There are gorgeous stores and cafes, alleyways to wander down, and photo opportunities everywhere: beautiful, bright pink bougainvillea climbing the walls and amazing Cycladic architecture. This place is a dream.
And the food … oh, the food was to die for! Souvlaki, gyros, seafood, pastries … so delicious. I didn’t bother avoiding gluten while I was here; firstly, because everything was so enticing (and I’m intolerant, not coeliac), but secondly, because it’s true that the gluten in Europe hits different, so I felt fine.
We visited a beach club called Seaside. It was gorgeous; we chilled out in a cabana while the kids played. Even better, because it was the off season, they didn’t charge for the use of the cabana, just the food we ate. A real bougie beach experience that you don’t get every day.
The village of Oia is one of the pricier places to stay on Santorini, about a 20-minute drive from Imerovigli, and is renowned for its amazing sunsets. It was high on our bucket list, so we headed down to Amoudi Bay for dinner at a restaurant literally on the water as the sun set. Conditions weren’t perfect — it was windy, the sea was choppy — but the view sure was. An unforgettable experience.
- We chose Imerovigli as it’s stunning, but less popular (and hence less expensive) than Fira, the capital of Santorini and one of the main tourist towns, and Oia, the village with the best vistas.
- I would not recommend going with kids during peak season. Locals say it gets so crowded and noisy, to even get a taxi takes hours. Off season was a lot cheaper, which allowed us to get a better room with a pool for the kids and hence we didn’t need to spend as much money going out looking for entertainment.
- If you want to go anywhere, be prepared to climb! Honestly, if I thought the Dubai sand dunes were tough, the sheer number of steps in Santorini put that to shame! Great workout though. If you go with kids, prepare for whingeing (and piggybacks)!
- The hotel balconies were low, so we made it clear to the kids they weren’t allowed out there without us, and never near the edge.
After 6 blissful days, we flew to Dubai for another, much shorter stopover, before heading back home. All in all, it was 10 days of incredible time spent with the family, making memories and filling our cups, and I can’t wait to do it again one day!
Next week, I wrap up the Pase Family Overseas Holiday series with Part 4: Lessons, Takeaways and Tips.