Santorini was my first trip overseas alone. I’d wanted to go there forever and I decided to just take the leap and go for it. I booked my flight using points that I earned after reading Brice Conway’s guide “Takeoff.”
After the first few days where I was panicking about being alone and being insanely jet lagged for the first time in my life (That shit is no joke) I finally was ready to venture out. I went to Fira to explore a bit that day and met the captain of a beautiful sailboat. He told me they were doing a tour the next morning and that I was welcome to come along if I wanted to! Of course I was going to go.
The sailing trip was amazing. They took us from Ia to Thiresia, to the volcanic islands where we jumped off the side of the boat to swim in the hot springs. We went in the water right after someone had asked if there were a lot of sharks in these waters, and while he thought he was being comforting by saying “Yes, but we have had no incidents,” he obviously lost me after “yes” and I was a little bit terrified the whole time.
The only other people on the tour were some newlyweds from Boston, Morgan and Jon. They had just been married in Italy a week or two before and had been traveling for a while before they ended up sitting across from me on this boat in Greece. We had traditional Greek food that the captain cooked for us, and I spent the day hanging out with them. While I felt a little bit like I was crashing their honeymoon party, I was so glad to meet some really rad people. She is a musician. They had been together for 7 years. Connecting to people through a mutual love of travel is always really fun for me.
Being young, female and alone can definitely change a solo traveling experience a bit. I heard so many times “You’re traveling alone!? Is that safe?! Be careful!” And I laughed it off because I like to think that I’m invincible. Alas, I found myself in a very awkward situation at a bar a few nights later. I’ll leave out the details of the argument with this man as it still annoys me a bit. As a firm believer in silver linings, the fact that I had to escape from this situation by talking to the first people I could find that spoke English actually turned out to be one of the best parts of the trip. I approached a group of girls who then told me they were from Canada. I whispered to one of them “Here’s the deal.. I’m traveling alone. I’m in an uncomfortable situation right now with this guy.. do you mind if I hang out with you for a few minutes until he leaves?” Little did I know in this moment that I would spend a huge portion of the rest of my trip with these girls and I will never, ever forget them.. (Love you Ryv, Heather and Cat!)
The following day I met up with a new friend who I met at the airport when I first arrived. He was in town with a group of 20 or so for a post-wedding celebration, and asked if I wanted to join them while they took their ATVs and explored the island. Again, for adventure’s sake, I said yes, hoping for the best when it came to him not being a serial killer. (Thank god, he wasn’t! And neither were any of the other people in his party.. as far as I know.) They were amazing. I love new friends!
We took the ATV’s out and drove around the Island. It was so beautiful! In Pyrgos we stopped a Restaurant and ordered a bunch of appetizers to share at the table. There were different kinds of cheese, Taziki, Tomato balls, which are a staple in Santorini (I need to learn to make these.) I was hesitant to try the octopus, but I had already flown to a foreign country by myself so I figured I’d go for it. (Not a fan.)
We sat at Franco’s Cafe and looked over the beautiful view from the castle. I had an iced tea with mint and lemon because my stomach still hurt from whatever licorice flavored grain alcohol I had overindulged in the night before while taking “It’s cool, I’m on vacation” a bit too far. Also, I’m lucky Boston is 7 hours behind so it was only a mild fail that I drunkenly called my mom at 1:30 in the morning. That’s what a mother likes to hear (Hey mom, I’m drunk in a foreign country with a bunch of strangers!)
All of a sudden it was Friday and I started to panic because I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted to do. I wanted to take a ferry to Mykonos. Everyone said if I go there I need to stay the night somewhere, but I had already paid for my hotel in Santorini so adding a second hotel room seemed a bit unnecessary. Plus I still had so much to see here. Surprise, I had overcommitted myself again.
Saturday morning I decided to wake up at 6:30am and take my ATV around the entire island. Not many people would be awake at this hour on a Saturday, so I would be less likely to encounter any traffic. I wanted to see the black beach in Perissa, and the white and red beaches. But, I had so many things to see that when I couldn’t find the white beach (how can you not find something like that?) I gave up and found the other two. I don’t recommend wearing flip flops when you go to the red beach. It’s a bit of a hike to get in there!
I drove out to the very tip of the island to find the lighthouse and when I did I sat on the rocks overlooking the ocean. I was so proud of myself for having taken this trip. I found a path that led up a gorgeous rock staircase to a little room that was full of handmade instruments. I spoke with the woman who worked there and she showed me around and told me they had a local musician playing the following night. Sadly my trip would be over by then. If I go back, I will have to make sure to find this place again and enjoy the sounds of Santorini.
Also, this happened. Haha. I rode a donkey down a huge set of stairs.
If you visit, you must go to Caldera View Cafe. I ended up here a couple times. The first time was by accident. I drove past it on my ATV and wanted a coffee. I had more frappes on this trip than is probably appropriate. I have this weird tendency on vacation to eat and drink things I would never consider consuming at home. The owner of the cafe, Alex, was incredibly kind and I hung out there for a few hours, chatting about life in Santorini and of course asking if I could have a job there next summer so I could stay! Haha.
Santorini changed my life. I had a new passion and need to see the world. I now know that I can travel on my own and survive. I adore that island. I’ll definitely go back.