MIFM in Europe: Santorini

Warning: EXTREMELY picture heavy post ahead… Just sayin’.

Well, goodness, guys! I certainly didn’t intend to take an entire week off from blogging just because I jetted off to Europe for two weeks.

But…I’m kind of glad I did. It’s been a bit of an—ahem—adjustment getting back to the whole 5 kids + a house that needs to be cleaned + looooooads of extra laundry + gym classes + grocery shopping and errands and…ARGH!

It’s good. Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. But 2 weeks of going to bed and waking up whenever, eating when and whatever we pleased (my pants still {mostly} fit, thanks to miles upon miles of walking every day), and doing whatever our hearts desired (including coming back to our rentals for naps when “necessary”) kind of spoils a girl.

We’ve been going to bed by 10 PM at the latest every night, but we’re generally ready for sleep by 8:30. All we have to do is start eating dinner at 4:30 PM, and I think we’ll have earned our Senior Citizens discount.

Still, I wouldn’t trade a second of the trip or of my time here at home. I will forever have the memories of getting to do this alone with my husband (and also, possibly, a slight limp in my right foot from walking 6 miles in heeled boots), AND I have an incredible bunch of kids to come home to so they can crawl on top of me and shower me with hugs and kisses and demands for breakfast.

I am one blessed woman.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to organize all of the trip recaps (I took a lot of pictures, y’all), and I do have a post in mind where I tell you about the impetus behind the trip and how we went about choosing where to go and what to do in each place we visited, but for now, I think I’ll just start at our first stop, which was the breathtakingly gorgeous island of Santorini, Greece.

You might have seen shots of it in movies (it features prominently in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2), but whatever you’ve seen probably doesn’t even begin to do justice to how pretty it is in real life. I literally just got a slight ache in my chest thinking about it.

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After two straight days of travel (Dallas to North Carolina, NC to Paris, Paris to Athens, Athens to Santorini), we arrived in Santorini exhausted and bleary-eyed, only to be held hostage by our charismatic, verbose, and overly protective rental car agent. His name was Andreas, and he drew many detailed and confusing doodles all over a map for a good 45 minutes while declaring things like, “Do you see this beach? There are many restaurants full of people claiming to sell fresh fish. YOU WILL NOT EAT HERE. They are charlatans and liars!” He was probably the most colorful character we encountered the entire trip (which is saying something), and he was both hilarious and maddening since, once he started talking, it was practically impossible to get a word in edgewise and literally impossible to leave (since he had the keys to our rental car).

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{Maybe we should have rented an adorable scooter like this one, instead?}

In the end, though, two things resulted from his longwindedness: 1) we ended up having to find our rental in the dark since he talked so long, and we got mildly lost (because using markers like “the orange house…you will know it, my child” don’t do you tons of good when it’s pitch black out) until we finally managed to find our way, and 2) as a result of his directions, we ate at two amazing restaurants that we absolutely loved.

So, all in all, we’re calling it a win.

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{Yes, the sky really was that blue}

Our first day there was one of the most picture-perfect, magical days I’ve ever spent, well, anywhere.

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{My shoe is broken in this picture, and I’ve just hiked up a rather steep hill and picked my way across some pretty pokey rocks to get this view, but do I look like I care??}

The entire island of Santorini is pretty small (you can drive from one side to the other in 45 minutes, but you’re not exactly driving fast), so on our first morning there, we drove about 25 minutes to the city of Fira, which is all kinds of charming and fun. We wandered around a bit to orient ourselves and then ate lunch (I’m putting together a post completely dedicated to all the scrumptious food we consumed) and dived right into what is, essentially, a huge, labyrinthine open air bizarre. Shops upon shops—some cute store-front boutiques, some barely more than tents—are crammed side-by-side all of the way up and down these narrow, twisty, cobblestoned alleyways, and everywhere you turn is something new to see, taste, touch, and smell.

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{It didn’t take us long to find ice cream}

I mentioned my broken shoe, which just snapped mid-stride as we were walking along this gorgeous cliff-side pathway that gave us views like these.

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{Okay, so maybe the octopus isn’t such a great view, but the disclaimer made me laugh}

After a wild goose chase  for cheap replacement flip-flops that had us hoofing it to the next village (we had no idea we’d walked so far until a store clerk told us we were in Imerovigli instead of Fira and that Fira was our best chance of finding shoes), we finally turned around and headed back to the shops in search of sandals to cure my lopsided gait.

I remembered seeing some pretty ones in a shop, and we managed to track it down, where we discovered this guy, making handmade leather pretties that I liked so much I bought two pair!

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Once the shoe situation had been rectified, we set off again in search of adventure. And we found it!

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As we were walking cliff side, a deck umbrella flew off the edge and started turning dizzy circles in a wind current before careening back towards the sunbathers (nearly spearing one!) and finally landing safe and sound on the deck.

That night, we headed to Oia (pronounced Ee-ya) and ate at what became our favorite restaurant of the trip—Santorini Mou. (Delicious food, ridiculously nice people, and the kind of atmospheric charm that’s usually reserved for the movies).

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They did a fun thing where they asked where you were from and then brought your country’s flag to mark your table, which, of course, required you to look around the restaurant to see where all the fellow food-lovers were from (hardly any other Americans, in case you were wondering).

After dinner, we headed down the promenade on our way to view one of Oia’s famous sunsets.

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I can’t deny that the sunset was pretty spectacular, but what you can’t see is that we are crammed in with 200-300 other people in a tiny dead-end corner of the city to get this shot. It’s the ultimate literal  tourist “trap,” but it was worth it for the view and experience.

Of course, the walk there wasn’t short on beautiful views either.

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And THEN, the sun was down, and the city was twinkling with lights and shimmering with colors reflecting off of all of the white buildings.

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We were in Santorini for 3 full days, and the next two were filled with  more exploring, eating, walking, and just generally soaking in all of the sunshine and beauty surrounding us. IMG_2156

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there (think high of 72, low of 69 with lots of sunshine and light breezes).

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{Now, that’s a poolside view}

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{For some reason, this one reminds me of something out of The Princess Bride: “The Cliffs of INSANITY!”}

We visited a red beach on the morning of our second day…

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And even dipped our toes in the (cooooooold!) water.

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And then, that afternoon, we hiked up, up, up a rugged path from Oia (this time, I was wearing wedges; apparently, I enjoy hiking in inappropriate footwear).

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Somehow (read: courtesy of my huband’s running and jumping acrobatics), we managed to snag this selfie using my camera’s timer setting.

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We were up pretty high, as you might be able to tell.

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Of course, the view on the way back down was pretty nice too. 😉

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About halfway back, we stopped to watch another sunset.

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I can’t look at this picture without thinking of Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

Isn’t that work glorious?

Our last day was spent beach hopping, starting with a walk along Kamari beach in the morning…

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Kamari was lined with thatch-roof shaded lounge chairs and too many adorable restaurants to count.

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{No, that’s not a restaurant, but apparently, I have a thing for taking pictures of cute bikes; I have several others I barely managed to resist showing you}

In the afternoon, we headed to Ammoudi beach, which turned out to be an interesting experience.

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See that pathway against the cliff? That continued on around many curves and bends, getting narrower and less path-like until, if you wanted to go on, it meant picking your way with hands and feet over big boulders until, well, there wasn’t much of anywhere else to go. It was a gorgeous hike, though. And we got the distinct privilege of watching a teenage girl vacillate for a good 10 minutes over whether she could or couldn’t manage an 18-ft. jump into the water.

The boy who had just jumped before her was appropriately encouraging and pep-talky, but I’m pretty sure everybody else was thisclose to hollering, “Just JUMP already!!!”

She finally did, and Shaun and I looked at each and tried to figure out how we could manage to swim out to the jump spot without ruining/losing our camera. In the end, we decided it was too much work and picked our way back, feeling old, unadventurous, and pretty darn fine with our choice.

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We ended the Santorini leg of our journey with dinner on the beach back at Kamari.

I’m not going to lie: it was all pretty fantastic, but the best part of all was just getting to hang out—no matter where—with this hunk.

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{He’s waiting for me to get through visiting the public restroom where you have to cough up 50 cents before you can enter}

Oh! And I would be remiss if I didn’t point that one of my favorite things about Santorini was all of the color.

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And thus ends the very long-winded recap of our trip to Santorini. If you ever get the chance to visit this enchanted place, DO IT! We could have easily spent more time there a) if we’d had it and b) if we’d chosen to do more activities like tours or sailing, but for the purpose of casual exploration, cultural observation, and, of course, partaking of the local cuisine, we felt like we made the most of our brief stay.

Ever been to Santorini? What else would you have done? Someday, somewhere…I’m going parasailing.

Ever been somewhere that completely exceeded your expectations? Santorini totally did mine.

Coming soon…London and Paris recaps, plus what we (well, I) wore, what we ate, and some things we learned along the way.

9 thoughts on “MIFM in Europe: Santorini

  1. Never been to Santorini or anywhere in Greece. We had to choose between 2 conferences this spring. We almost had a chance to go to Greece, but decided to go to Costa del Sol in Malaga, Spain. It was amazing, too. 🙂

  2. My sister got married on Santorini. Best trip ever. I would go back in a heartbeat. Your pictures brought bake many memories.

  3. Your pics are making me ready to pack my bags ASAP! Seriously! I loved your recap and all the lovely details. I’ve never had a Europen bucket list, but now I do and Santorini is at the top! Excited about your other posts too 😉
    I can only imagine how hard it is to resume everyday life……it would be such a conundrum of feelings…….love for the 3 ring circus + desperately missing the laid-back vacay days + hard core jet-lag = one crazy mama…..hang in there! ;).

  4. Welcome home and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this update!!!! I’ve always wanted to go to Greece and now you’ve made my heart ache for it! So beautiful and SUCH a glorious place to go with the love of your life!!! On my bucket list, for sure!

    SO happy you got to do this! Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait for more!!!

    Would you say this was your favorite place on the trip?

  5. What camera do you have? Pictures are gorgeous!! (though I’m sure your expert camera taking skills helped with the beauty of the pictures! 😉 )

    1. It’s a Canon EOS 6D. And, believe me, I am no expert at taking pictures or even using this camera, but with such gorgeous backdrops, a great camera, and lots of light, it’s kind of hard to go wrong! 🙂

I love hearing from you guys!