Greece

Driving Around Santorini and Hiking Skaro’s Rock

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Let me tell you, 6 days in Santorini is not enough! It was our last day of our 6 days in Santorini and there were so much we wanted to see! Due to the unpleasant weather, we kept delaying to go here and there and then now it was our last day! Weather.com forecasting a clear sky after 9 am so I was hoping the fog will clear as it was so foggy that I can barely see Skaro’s Rock in front of us. I called reception at 8 and let them know we are ready for breakfast and that we don’t need Greek Yogurt as we can barely finish it up yesterday. It turned out the breakfast for today was completely different! We got fried egg with ham and cheese!

Look at how foggy it was? I have the GoPro set to take a time lapse of the fog clearing…but it didn’t happen because the fog didn’t clear out!

After breakfast, we headed out regardless of the weather! We stopped by the reception and asked for arranging a transfer to the airport since our flight tomorrow is at 7:10 am and the hotel manager told us that we’ll need to leave at 5. I also ask since reception opens at 8 am, how we could drop off the car rental key? He said not to worry about it, there’ll a guy there to help with our luggage and we could give him the car rental key! Once again, great service from Vallais!

Today’s itinerary…..drive around the island!!!

With the map from Motor Inn, it was very easy to navigate around the island and there are lots of signs on the way! A copy of the map can be found in Motor Inn’s website: http://www.motorinn.gr/santorini-map We headed south all the way to the Red Beach. We passed by many rural houses with little churches at the front…are those mail boxes?

We made it to the Red Beach, there’s a parking lot available, we parked there, and walked in. There’s a church (not surprised right) on the front of the red cliff.

There was a tour bus arriving right after us so we figured we’ll take some photos with the church and let them go first.

This lady was writing on the rock…urg….not recommended!

We followed a rocky path to the Red Beach, there was a guy there playing violin and selling his own CD!

The road down to the Red Beach is closed due to a landslide previous years, but there are people who climbed across huge rocks to get down….I don’t recommend to do this either!

The spot we were standing offer a good enough view anyways…

After we snapped a few shots, we left and back to the church, we discovered the back door was open so we went in for more photos!

We drove passed the ancient site of Akrotiri but we didn’t go in since we had only one day and we need to explore the rest of the island. We made a stop at the Akrotiri village to take a picture of the blue domed church!

Back to our car again and headed back north, I had my window open and my camera ready for any cute church we’ll pass by! Here’s one for example:

Another one:

On our way to Perisa (the black beach), we stopped by this church (I forgot the name sorry)!

Continued on to our way to the black beach!!! We saw a very pretty church there as well but we’ll come back later for photos. We arrived Perisa Beach, the black sand beach! The waves there were huge!

First time I ever been to a black sand beach, pretty unique with magnificent cliff on one end! The beach was not crowded probably due to cloudy weather but I could imagine this place will be crowded when it’s hot!

Hubby climbed the rock to feel the force of nature LOL!

Back to the church….Church of Holy Cross 🙂

We did took quite a few photos there hehe! I love the patterns of the gate!

The church with three blue domes and beautiful flower trees in the courtyard!

We could go on and on taking photos but with limited of time, we left and headed our way to Pyrgos, the village on the highest point of the the island! There was a guy directing traffic in the village center to parking lot. We parked our car across the main road and then walked around Pyrgos. This is a quiet village compared to the Fira side of Santorini, I hope that more tourists will pay a visit here, it’s a lovely village and with many wonderful art galleries! Map of Pyrgos:

This guy was repairing the house, the houses here are cute like the rest of the island!

There were few souvenir shops and art galleries. I love the colorful bowls but I really have no use for them so I didn’t bring any home!

There are many beautiful churches in this village, sorry pictures couldn’t do their justice due to the cloudy weather!

Walking through winding narrow roads and trying to find the entrance to those churches need a little bit of detective work lol! We found one, the mosaic cobblestone floor caught my eyes!

We walked all the way to the other church, the church itself is a light blue tone not completely white, but hard to tell because it was very cloudy!

We walked all the way up to Kasteli Castle, it was the highest point for a view of the island, would be better if nicer weather 🙁 I could see Oia all the way on the back and Skaro’s Rock!

It was VERY windy up here! We walked back to the village and checked out more art galleries and shops. We found this!!!!

This art gallery is run by a husband and wife, all the paintings were done by them! In this shop, I found the least expensive ceramic houses!!! We brought all those home to make my own little Santorini in my house LOL!

The price tag already cheaper than all the shops I have visited in Oia and Fira and I asked for volume discount and she took few euros off here and there WOW! All those houses with a long ceramic art (which normally cost at least 18 euros) total was 53 euros!!! She accepted credit card too!

I highly recommend this shop, many selections, and lowest prices!

She also let me to take photos of her shop filled with beautiful and colorful paintings!

We took some videos as well 🙂

We passed by other art galleries as well such as this one:

I love those wooden paintings but not really match my house and no room in my luggage 🙁

We drove back to Firastefani for lunch since easier to park there than in Fira and also looking for that famous church!  We remembered this cute little church from four years ago!!

Same place, same person four years ago LOL:

They added a painting on the wall haha!

We were looking for lunch at Mama Thira but we heard it required a little bit of finding so we decided to have lunch at Simos, where we had a dinner here four years ago. This place bought back memories as well!

We remembered sitting on the table on the left!! The friendly waiter waived for the photo 🙂

We ordered the fried crispy squid, it was very good, highly recommended this dish!

Hubby ordered the grilled shrimp which was the same dish he ordered here four years ago 🙂

I ordered the fried pork, different than four years ago hehe!

The lunch was very yummy and it was 44.10 euros included tips and an iced coffee!

We asked the waiter for the direction to the famous church, he said walk up and then turn left!

We walked up all the way and then turned left, didn’t see any yet! But it had a very nice view of Skaro’s Rock and Imerovigli, exactly like when we stayed here!

Beautiful cafes and hotels here!

Right on the main road, sign to Mama Thira!!!

I read that the famous church is near Mama Thira so we scouted carefully!

No sign of it yet but more wonderful hotels like Homeric Poem!

Very cute entrance!

A church (I didn’t realize it’s the church we are looking for but the front view looked very different!)

Beautiful view here wish, I really wanted to go back for photos when it’s sunny weather but too bad it was our last day!

We continued on the main road and walking toward Fira direction, on the end of the road, here offer an awesome view of Fira!

Perfect place for photos!

There was a second break of sunlight shining through!!!!

We walked back to Mama Thira and walked up the stairs, still no sight of the church. We continued on to the back where there was a huge empty space and the way leading to Santorini Palace Hotel, and we saw it!!!

The famous blue domed church that appeared on a travel magazine I heard!

The church is actually right down at hotel called Gaby’s Apartment!

We couldn’t enter since we are not hotel guess so we just sat near the wall and took some photos!

Mission accomplished!  We walked back to our car, one thing we forgot to do, take a picture with our convertible Smart car! We wished we were on the road to take a picture like this!

We drove back to our hotel to climb the Skaro’s Rock! Water? Ready! Camera? Ready! Extra batteries? Ready! Off we go haha!

Pictures on the way….entrance of Tholos Hotel, right in front of our villa:

Mostly are hotels on the cliff of Imerovigli, I heard the sunset view here is compared to Oia, I wish we could experience that but we had cloudy weather all three days!

We walked down and down and got to Grace Santorini, a luxury hotel, probably the most $$$$ hotel in Imerovigli. The infinity pool facing right at Skaro’s Rock, imagine dipping in there and enjoying the sunset!

There’s a small church along the way:

The hike first started easy with wide stairs going down, then narrow stairs going up, and then completely dirt road! The huge volcanic rock:

As we go around this tip to the other side of Skaro’s Rock, we spotted the hidden church that is located on the edge of Skaro’s Rock!

We were determined to walk down to reach the church, the way down is mostly dirt road! Imerovigli and Firastefani on the back!

Watch out for the pointy plant on the way, they really hurt!

Purple flowers on the way as well, those are not too painful!

The rock and dirt path down:

Watch out for the steps as the rocks might be loose!

We finally reached here, the hike down wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

Even though it was very cloudy and the sun almost looked cool blue instead of red and orange, the light from the sun shined through the stained glass of this church:

I like the shadows of the bell towers!

It must be very beautiful at sunset since it faced directly to the west!

If you are looking for a secluded white church with blue-domed for unique photos, this is the place!!! When we got there, there was only a guy there and he was about to leave. It was not until 15-20 minutes later another group arrived so we have this church all for ourselves for photos!

I love this secluded church, if I have one more day and better weather, I would hike back again!!!!

The way getting back up to Imerovigli was so much harder! We made it more manageable by making stops for photos! That’s Imerovigli on the top and the stairs…..

We made it back yay! I was exhausted! I took a picture with the long stairways, a unique feature of the hotels in Imerovigli!

We took a little break and time headed out for dinner! We walked to La Maison, a highly recommended restaurant, but it was completely empty! There were more waiters than customers so it made us think, usually that’s not a good sign! We turned back and passed by Ageon, recommended by our hotel. What attracted us was this dog lol, food must be smelled good right?

The restaurant is decent in size and we didn’t have reservation but got a table right away. Interior of the restaurant:

We ordered the steamed mussels, the sauce was very good and not overcooked!

I had their homemade meatball/sausage, it was good.

Hubby ordered a steak, it was a good quality steak and cooked perfectly 🙂

We were very happy with this last minute change of plan restaurant, it was good quality and good price: 50 euros included tips.

We walked back and it was time for sunset…but clouds covered the horizon and it was a cool sun!

We went back to our room and packed stuff for night photos! We parked in Firostefani, same lot as we parked this afternoon. We walked out to the cliff side and picture time, even though it was cold! I already wore extra layers!

We walked all the way to the end of the main road to great spot of photographing Fira!

Fira at night is very spectacular with the lights and buildings on the cliff!

We stayed there pretty long as each exposure was around 30 seconds long! We walked back and saw the roads of lights all the way to Imerovigli!

We left there around 10 pm and we still need to fill our gas tank before returning our rental car tomorrow! We should’ve done that after dinner instead of this late 🙁 I looked at the Motor Inn map to locate the nearest gas station – there’s one in Imerovigli…we got there and it was closed OH NO!!!! We turned and headed to the next closest one – pass Fira! This gas station only accepts cash, not sure the other one, but thankfully I always carried a 50 euros bill in case of emergency like this! It was around 25 euros to re-fill our tank! Phew, we got that done and headed back to the hotel. So lessons learned, fill the tank before it gets late!

The next morning, the guy knocked our door at exactly 5 am and helped with our luggage, it was still dark out, before sunrise! I felt bad for him that he had to wake up early to help us so we gave him extra tips!  The ride to the airport was smooth, no traffic at all at this time of the day, the transfer cost was 20 euros! Good bye Santorini, I wish to see you again soon!!!

On the flight leaving Santorini, so sad!

Summary of our stay in Santorini:

How do we like it the second time? We loved it even more than our first time here!

Is 6 days enough to see the island? I wished we could stay longer, there are so much to see and do on this island!

Should we stay in different villages next time (for sure we are coming back!)? I will still split my nights between Oia and Imerovigli and maybe Firostefani! Oia is a must as it’s my favorite and most picturesque!

What I really need to accomplish next time? Better photos (better weather) of Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli (sunset photos a must)! Hike to Skaro’s Rock again to that hidden church! Try out Mama Thira’s!

What I should do differently than this time? Nothing because you can’t go wrong with any place in Santorini!

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