Santorini, Greece

As a part of business trip I am so elated that we are getting an opportunity to visit Santorini, a place i always wanted to visit after seeing breathtaking picture perfect sceneries in photographs all over the web. So Nackermann holiday deals were set up and the never-ending waiting began.

Summer, 2011: The flight from Düsseldorf to Thira takes three hours & Greece is ahead of Germany by an hour. Condor flies to exotic destinations usually comfortable with my travel sickness pills doing the trick as two hyper kids have to be attended to, 24×7. We reach Santorini late evening with pretty hostess waiting outside of the airport with a placard in her hand pleasantly guides us to the luxury bus awaiting to take us & other few passengers to their respective hotels. The bus took us through busy narrow roads where others had booked their hotels in – some in very shady, some posh. The panoramic view of the locales in the night promises some great days ahead. Cannot wait for the hotel and the morning. Dinner awaits us in five courses.

As we are told we could select from each course each person one item, that makes it twenty dishes on the table for a meal. Well. Soup, starters cold, starters warm, salads, main course, dessert. The exotic dishes lured us and we ended up ordering a wholesome dinner which could last the entire week when was displayed. Huge portions of Greek salads with feta cheese, zucchini & eggplant saganaki, tzatsiki, rusk with tomato puree & cheese, chicken filet, chicken baked, burgers, baklava, panacotta, caramel pudding…phewww. Next day the order trims to half.

Hotel Veggera overlooks the Perissa beach and our room on the top floor has the best view right in the center, with the balcony facing the swimming pool and then the Aegean Sea. The traditional architecture of Santorini is cubical houses, made of local stone & whitewashed or lime-washed with various volcanic ashes used as colors usually blue. Some do deviate but domes and arches seems to be a must, thus giving the entire island a constant look and keeps intact the beauty of the traditional houses (perivolas). Our hotel sticks to the same architecture.

Hote Veggera with a view of the swimming pool ahead and the beach in the background

HoteHotel Veggera with a view of the swimming pool ahead and the beach in the background

Day1. We wake up to an awesome view of the pool & the beach from our balcony where the bougainvillea climbers gives the most magnificient relief to the whites and blues with its magenta and green. The hotel is fairly full- old couples, families, young lovers, perfect destination. We waste no time in breakfast at the same Pergola restaurant, a standard one with croissants, toasts, eggs, fresh fruits, sausages, cakes, feta cheese (is a must), coffee, tea. The waiters are very friendly though they do struggle with their English, but do their job perfectly. We decided to take a walk down the street which is lined up with beach restaurants & bars, shops selling souvenirs, sky diving, water sports, but we were interested in car rentals as of now. Not until we hit the end of the road walking did we find one and hired a Getz for four days for 30€ rent plus 5€ insurance per day. Not such a bad deal for an island in Greece which is going through an economic crisis. Fuel, we pay for, of course.

Walking down the Perissa beach

Walking down the Perissa beach

We start random with a map given to us by the pretty lady Panilia at the rental who struggled with her English and suggested the must visit places. So we begin with the nearby attractions- Caldera port. We stop at a restaurant with a windmill which promises to give a fantastic view of Caldera -the sunset point. The hotel owner has arranged for two blue chairs with a plant on the wall with two champagne glasses for photo enthusiasts who get a perfect background against his set up. The passersby were welcome to use it but the pushy steward ensured they weren’t using it for free. We didn’t miss the opportunity too and had a few drinks there. We took a full round of the port till the dead-end where the roads become narrow and you need to reverse your car. Numerous halts made, I didn’t want to miss any view un-photographed, until we reached Port Athnios. Huge ships, a speed ship sponsored by Vodafone were sighted on the port. Over crowded with tourists & within few minutes, horde of backpackers spread out everywhere ready for the ship cruise. There’s no way that i would take my kids in any of those. Disappointed, we spent some time for lunch & drove back for swimming in the hotel pool. It is hot, humid around 31 degrees and an hour in the pool should cool us all. Walk through the beach should be next, dinner then all cocktails for €4 at the neighboring bar must be had. What we found great was that the beach road is closed after 5.00 pm till 5.00am for cars and larger vehicles keeping it strictly for walks or cycling. Forgot to mention this place is full of monster bikes for rent.

Caldera view

Caldera view

Day2. Plan to go all the way to Oia which is on the northern most end of the island. The drive is around half and hour, since we were new to the place and had to enjoy the scenic beauty all along it took us more than an hour to enter Oia. Just as we enter we see a small parking place and then a left making saying —-> Way to Perivolas (traditional houses). So we did. And the moment we walk up the stairs and reach the top what we see is most awesome view I have ever seen in my life. Just that I had seen on postcards. I can spend my lifetime sitting in one of the perivolas and get the view of Aegean Sea outside my window. Spend some good hour taking pictures and decided to go further and explore.  So we drive further up and find a way going down right which gets narrower and narrower but we keep going. And end up at a small port which is the last destination of Oia called Athnios Port.  The colour of the sea is unbelievable. Small shacks lined up just about 6 or 7 of them. We spend the whole evening there having some lunch, frappe and drinks. Before going we booked a 5 hr boat trip for the next day on a catamaran which starts at 1500hrs and brings back at 2000 hrs from a trip to black beach, red beach, white beach, hot springs, volcano and back for sunset in Oia. Price: €80 per person, half-price for kids inclusive of unlimited drinks and barbecue dinner. Yippeee, too excited for tomorrow.

Oia

The traditional perivolas in Oia

Athnios Port

Athnios Port

Day3: Since the boat-trip was planned for later half of the day, we thought of spending the morning bit on the beach, pool and relax for a while. At 1300 hrs we had our lunch and drove to Athnios Port all set to experience the best day of our holiday, the most memorable one. The maximum number of people they allow is 30 on the catamaran, and it was full house. All tourists, Americans, Germans, Japanese, Hispanic, Indians etc etc. The catamaran was a brand new one just bought in July sparkling new bright red in colour a sexy boat that was. Had two huge trampolines on it. We were told to remove shoes before entering. And further instructions of conduct on the cruise was delivered by the captain and his two assistants. On the dot at 3.00pm the tour began with wonderful music playing and the high speed cruise to various destinations. The views were all more than amazing anywhere that you saw. A click-happy me was more than happy to be doing so all the time. The boat stopped at the hot springs, this bit looked totally yellow full of sulphur, a half an hour break and some co-passengers went in for a dive into the sea to get some medicinal benefit as claimed by the captain. Our next destination was the red beach where the husband & 2.yr old son braved into the sea with life jackets on. Meanwhile there were introductions with the co passengers and towards the end it seemed all like one big family. Kids had fun on the trampoline much in vigilance. Music was full blast and we could smell the barbecue by now. We had great early dinner at the white beach and how we crossed it all and how four hours had vanished over the sea was not known. It was time to go back just in time to catch up the famous sunset of Oia. As we approach the dawn we see the magnificent sun at its magic hour, the most glorious. We all must have clicked thousands of pictures. The setting sun with the boat sails, the golden light and a picture perfect family album. Making us all crazy as we applauded loud as the sun finally set. Just goosebumps. Never experienced such a beautiful moment. And boat is moving really slow by now allowing us to absorb all that we experiences and lock it within us for a lifetime. To end it all was the full moon awaiting us at the shore. Yes, it was a full moon day. What more could we all have asked for to end such a brilliant day with. Thank you Oia.

The catamaran we made our 5 hr trip on.

The catamaran we made our 5 hr trip on.

Sunset at Oia

Sunset at Oia

Day4: Fira, the capital of Santorini was on the list next, situated in the west of the island it was just some twenty minutes drive. Here, we are told is the shopping paradise. The small town had narrow roads and risking our rented car to be parked somewhere would be sure-shot invitation to some damage or the other, so we parked after finding a proper parking lot. And decided to enjoy each nook and corner on feet. The entire town of Fira is a typical Cycladic village made of charming white houses with blue windows and doors, separated from each other by small paved streets made of stones. I explored almost each souvenir shop coming my way, picking up cute little exclusive Santorini stuffs. Just five minutes up the road and what we see is the most amazing panoramic view of the volcano in the middle of the Aegean Sea.

Fira

Fira

We see it is busy touristic place and a stop for the majority of the cruise ships. The narrow street have series of shops, traditional and modern, many jewelleries, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and night-clubs. Despite of all the tourism, the landscapes are still fantastic. The town is full of small houses of traditional architecture, blue domed churches, sun-bathed verandas, stepped streets and with the amazing endless blue sky surrounding the black islands of the volcano in the center background. We see to it that we aren’t missing any street, walked upto the end, there were cable cars tours to the port. Bought some amazing jewellry. We ere glad to spot Aishwarya Rai’s Longines ad in a posh diamond jewellery shop even in a small island like this. Spent some time in a restaurant with amazing view of the sea, for drinks break and then slowly moved on back to the hotel. Swimming, dinner and walk on the beach routine was never missed.

View from Fira

View from Fira

We were to spend last two days around our area as the car had to be returned, we covered the surrounding places walking to the super market, taking small routes and short cuts. The realization of staying at the best ever place in Santorini struck much late. The most peaceful place and the best beach Perissa. Walked hours picking pebbles watching sun setting, spending long hours in the nearby restaurant that served us samosas, chicken masala with butter basmati rice, onion pakodas by some god.sent nepali chef, made of icing on our holiday. Free wifi was a boon anywhere we went, made use of it to the utmost.  Have to mention about Rudy, the cutest street puppy, a darling or rather a mascot of all the locals and tourists. Kids loved him and played each day.

View of the Perissa Beach

View of the Perissa Beach

Thereby we came to the end of our most memorable trip which will be etched in our memories forever. Right from the Oia sunset to bathing in hot salt water in hotel taps everyday, each moment was special. My dream of visiting Greece goes back right from the time I was first introduced about Greek civilization in detail in my 1st year of art college, that finally got fulfilled. Thank you Greece. Efharisto. Parakalo.

Please note: All photographs are personal and copyrighted.

Just attaching one amongst many famous Bollywood songs which was shot here. Enjoy!!

Over a stream

Any travel break is welcome especially when the whole year one spends at home, mostly on bed, dragging rather than walking, struggling to keep up with a 3 yr olds incessant demands, wailing away almost every night and many more such combats with a son in the tummy who is hell bent to prove he will be a sure-shot footballer someday. Though we had PhantasiaLand break some couple of months back but it already seems ages now. Although a long holiday is soon nearing (yay! Goa calling) during Christmas and New Year, we still like to savor on short trips too. So we book Hotel Zugbrücke, a four star known for wellness and sports, 180 kms away from our place near Koblenz.

Every year our staff gets surprise gifts from us for Christmas, last year we took all of them along with their families to Hotel Mercator which is just in our town, for one whole day stay, food, drinks, wellness all inclusive. It was great fun and we all enjoyed to the core. So this time over, we planned it differently with different gifts for all like cameras, iphones etc. But Christoph and family gets to spend with us on this surprise weekend trip.

We met at 9.00am at Janses Mattes restaurant situated at a main crossing, thats mostly a meeting point for any road journey for people around here. They were supposed to follow us (not blindfolded) along through the beautiful scenic landscapes which is spread all over germany with the onset of autumn. For them the journey seemed unending as Raj had told them that we were to drive just about 80 kms so the surprise already had begun as they drove for 100 km extra. And we finally reach our destination by 11.00am.

Hotel Zugbrück is one of its kind specially for table tennis lovers, has a bowling alley, a disco, wellness with sauna, swimming pool, whirlpool, babysitting facility, a large kids playroom too. It is such a wonder that this small hilly area produces world class table-tennis players like Lucjan Blaszczyk, Tomas Pavelka, Patrick Baum and Matiss Burgis. So our surprise destination was duly acknowledged by all, kids were already jumping, dying to do so, more into the swimming pool.

Hotel Zugbrücke

Hotel Zugbrücke with Christoph and family in the foreground

We first wanted to have lunch so we proceeded to the restaurant which was connected to the hotel by a channel or sort of bridge. And the buffet had just begun. We opted for the window corner from where we could see a stream passing, the bridge that we crossed was just above that. This explains the name of the hotel Zugbrücke (zug is a train and brücke means bridge).

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant where the stream is flowing

After lunch we took a short rest and then spent good three hours in the swimming pool area. Kids were having a ball of a time screaming and splashing away. Cappucino was welcome at this point. Now the idea of having the whirlpool out in the open only added to the charm of the wholesome experience with cold mist almost enveloping and the tall trees overlooking you while a glass of champagne just complimented the hot water massages. We just ran out of time for tennis as bowling was booked for 6.30 pm which was absolute fun after 12 yrs approximately. Wondering how much we lose out on smaller joys when we think nothing but work, work and work all our life. With kids we are now reliving those forgotten golden days.

It was time for dinner now. I loved all in the elaborate menu which consisted of onion soup, variety of salads, pork and deer was main course food, knödel, grilled champignons, zucchini, aubergine, rosemarine potatoes, paprika and fettucini, thunfish with teriyaki sauce and many many more. I am not even getting to the dessert area, besides I am still dieting. As the kids were tired and sleepy they had to be put to bed, so I say goodnight to all. I also slept as early as 10.30pm and Raj came back to room at 1.00am.

Got up at 7 in the morning, it was drizzling outside and no one wanted to wake up. We definitely wanted to stay for the Sunday as well, but cannot. At 9am we had to meet for breakfast and then by 11am we aimed at checking out, as a short and sweet, well spent holiday came to an end, kids were seemingly upset. So next time it will be a at least good three days for us, promise :).

PS: Christoph and family however wanted to spend sometime more around the hill top, trekking upto the castle.

  • Rainbow crossing #maastricht #netherlands #europe #travel #traveldiaries #people #unique #beautiful #dailylife #cafeteria