Travel Diary // Santorini

Heaven, as close as I can imagine.  In September we set out on our first trip as a family, me, my husband and our 7 month old to explore Greece!  We flew from New York to Athens, with a layover in Toronto and then, from Athens on to Santorini.  We actually booked the Santorini flight separate, because it was cheaper, and at first I was thinking we would spend a night in Athens on the way in, which we did not end up doing.  

There are two main towns on Santorini island, Oia and Thera.  Both are amazingly built into the side of cliffs, both are filled with shops and restaurants for tourists, both have incredible views and beautiful resorts.  Both are a cab ride away from the airport.  We choose Oia, mostly because I've heard about the sunsets and it was more like I pictured the post cards from Greece to look like.   

We stayed at a place called Villa Agnadi, it was near Oia.  It is an adorable little place with charming villas, ever room has a view, it may not be the picture you have in your mind of Greece, but it was still a pretty place to wake up.  Villa Agnadi is about a 15 or 20 minute walk to the main area in Oia, but there are restaurants that are much closer.  It has a pool and a complimentary breakfast and was a lovely place to stay.

This was our view. 

We arrived in the afternoon, so we decided not to venture into town.  Instead we took a swim and walked to a local restaurant.  

The second day we set out to explore Oia. 

One of the main attractions of Oia is the unbeatable sunset.  You can't drive on the main walk, but you see spectators pulling up as close as they can on their 4-wheelers and convertibles.  Then the people fill the walks and pull out their cameras.  We stayed for a little while, until Oliver started to fuss, and we didn't want to ruin anyone else's time, so we started to head back.  

maybe we didn't have the best sunset view, but we did see this dog chillin' right smack in the middle of the walk way.  

The next day we took the 25 minute bus ride to Thera.  There was a bus stop right across from our hotel and it took us directly to the center of Fira.  Busses come often, but we had to wait for several to pass because they were already full.

Fira was beautiful, it seemed a little dirtier to me.  It was defintely darker as all the shops were in small, but adorable alley ways.  The views were breathtaking, and it was very charming, but I am glad we choose to stay in Oia.  

One thing friends recommended we do was to take a boat ride around the island.  We decided that was one big adventure we wanted to take.  We set this up with the front desk of the hotel, they made it real easy.  The one thing they didn't tell us was to be ready, really be ready at least a half hour before they tell you that the bus will pick you up, for both the boat ride and our transport back to the airport we were surprised with early drivers.  

We spent a lot of time in the back of the boat, out of the sun, and Ollie even napped on the bench.

Our last day was far and away my favorite.  Across the street from the hotel was a hiking path.  After breakfast we decided to explore.  I, unfortunately didn't know what I was getting myself into, because I wore sandals, a dress, and barely applied the sunscreen.  It turns out it is the path that connects Oia with Thera.  We hiked about 30 minutes, I started to worry about the baby up on the hot mountain, with little shade, so we ended up heading back, which was disappointing, because the view was incredible!  

After a little rest we walked into Oia to tackle the steps down Amoundi Bay.  There were a lot of steps, but this time I was mentally and physically prepared with water, sunscreen and the proper footwear.  

I thought the bay was exactly how I pictured Greece, like out of a movie set Greece. 

I had said that if there was a cliff to jump off, I was going to do it.  And we found a cliff!  You can see my jump here.   Then I made Kyle take the plunge too, this is him mid-air.  Unfortunately, as you can see below, it was exactly a baby-friendly beach, rocks, cliffs, lack of shade and all, so we couldn't stick around.  

Then in the morning we headed to the airport.  

I am planning a post for later in the week with TONS of tips and info we learned on traveling with a baby, but here are some tips for exploring Oia and Santorini:

1. Don't be afraid to explore off the beaten path.  There are tons of adorable restaurants not on the main strip that are lovely and delicious.  

2. August/September was the absolute perfect time to go.  The weather we had was just incredible!  

3. The boat ride was worth it and gave you a completely different perspective of the island.  

4. You MUST walk the steps down to the bay and if you are brave, cliff dive!!!  

Travel Lust (Provence, France)

I have come to discover that I am my best self in Europe.  I am happier, more alive and more in love.  The charm of the European cities I've visited have casted a spell on me.  But now, it's time to explore the less touristy places.  I've been following along with Bri Emery's recent European adventure on Instagram, that coupled with watching a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, in which he visits Lyon, France, has me itching to explore authentic, off-the-beaten-path foodie heavens. 

Stay: in an amazing AirBnB, a chateau, yes a chateau, in the French Countryside.

Do: a wine tour.  We are in French wine country, seems like a waste not to take advantage.  Plus, apparently Provence Wine Tours has offerings with views like this photo!

Experience: A French cooking class.  I may even eat and touch meat to get the full experience of the French cuisine. Provence Gourmet offers an authentic French cooking experience.

Shop: The markets.  My two favorite things, cheese, at Les Halles in Lyon and a flea market, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Market.

Travel Lust (Alaskan Cruise)

I wouldn't say I've always wanted to go on an Alaskan Cruise, but thinking about all the beauty in our own country makes me want to further explore America, and Alaska is a destination many people will never travel.  Before all the reality show hullaballoo and reality boom changes the landscape, I'd like to see Alaska in all it's natural beauty.   

Sail: I have not done enough research to know which is the best and/or cheapest cruise line to see Alaska, nor do I have any prior cruise experience, but the 7-day Alaskan Cruise on the Crown Princess, sounds like the perfect plan for my hypothetical Alaskan adventure.

Experience: If we could time the trip to see the Northern Lights, that would check something off my bucket list with this trip. Explore: Sitka and Ketchikan, two charming, historic towns built against the most stunning backdrop

See: Whale watching and glacier bay.  I think these two things are a must for my Alaskan adventure to be considered successful in my book.

photos: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5