Visiting the Blood-Thirsty Town of Oia, Santorini
Let's talk about my recent Santorini Quarantini experience and no, I'm not taking about the "fun" drink creation your auntie posted on Facebook.
Oia is a picturesque town located on the north west edge of Santorini that looks as though it was built by the creators of Instagram. Famed for it's white washed walls and blue-domed churches, Oia has all the ammunition it needs to charge €3.50 for a small Elliniko kafe.
I travelled to Oia during the off season (November) of a very "off" year (aka 2020) and basically had the town to myself. Here are some thoughts about my time spent there and some of the lesser-known facts about Santorini that won't find on Instagram.
After spending one week in Oia, I have met my luxury quota... potentially for my entire life? Shortly after being dropped off in the comedically beautiful town, it struck me that November 2020 would probably be the only small window in my life where I could actually afford the Oia experience. Let's look at my accommodations.
Overlooking the sea and Santorini island, we secluded ourselves in a two-bedroom Airbnb cave house situated within the maze of pedestrian pathways. Our Airbnb host left freshly baked bread in a cloth bag on our door each morning around 9:30am (or, bread o'clock as I like to call it). We spent our days gluttonously consuming Greek food and wine while gazing out at the Santorini caldera. Occasionally we would fill the need for some form of movement by sauntering through the narrow pathways filled with tourist shops, restaurants, luxury hotels and cafes.
Food & Wine
The tomatoes in Santorini are noticeably delicious. You will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant menu that doesn't offer Greek salad, so I would recommend trying for yourself. Also, I found it weird that it was still called "Greek salad". You would think they would just say salad... but we were in tourist haven so it was probably for our sake.
While in Oia, we also did a wine tasting at the Domaine Sigalas winery. Our tour guide told us some facts about the winery and I feel he would be disappointed in me if I didn't at least try to pass some of them on.
Assyrtiko is a wine grape is native to Santorini. This white wine grape is basically *that bitch* because it's resistant to phylloxera - an invasive pest that essentially destroyed European vineyards in the 19th century. That means the roots of the vines in Santorini are centuries of years old, while most other parts of Europe are using newer hybrids.
The grapes are grown in volcanic soil and the vines are trained low to the ground (woven into basket shapes) to protect them from the strong winds on the island.
That's all I can remember and I have a feeling that as I type this, my tour guide is somewhere in the world feeling an inexplainable sense of disappointment. In summary, the wine was delicious and we were lucky enough to witness a beautiful, cotton candy sunset at the end of the evening.
The Things No One Tells You About Santorini
Let's quickly review the less glamorous aspects of Santorini, shall we?
Oia is a basically a giant resort
In hindsight, I'm an idiot, but upon arrival to Oia, I was expecting a small town filled with locals living in a way that provided clues to the historical context in which people once lived. However, the original town was significantly damaged in 1956 by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Afterwards, it redeveloped into the euro-sucking tourist town we see today.
You can't drink the tap water
There's no source of natural drinking water on the island of Santorini, so bottled water will be your ticket to hydration. While this isn't something that is particularly weird or uncommon, I thought I'd share it because we learned it after two fulls days of drinking... essentially sea water.
You can't flush toilet paper down the toilet
An unexpected quirk of Santorini is that you can't flush toilet paper (or anything that isn't... ahem, "organic" to the human body) down any of the toilets. I won't elaborate too much here, other than to say it makes for an interesting bathroom garbage can situation, especially the public washrooms.
Want a picture of the sunset? Hop in line.
Santorini is rightfully known for its ridiculously beautiful sunsets. This also means they draw a crowd. Even while visiting on the off season during a global pandemic, there were still line-ups to take photos in some of the more popular "sunset" photo op locations. SO, if you're looking to capture that perfect, jealousy-inducing Instagram photo, be prepared to fight for your spot.
As I watched the photo album on my phone capture my transformation from person to Instagram cliché (pictured below), I knew it was time to leave the island of Santorini. While packing, I jokingly commented that I would need some sort of misery filled experience to balance out my life. Luckly, that is exactly what was in-store for me... details coming next week :)
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