Day 6: Second day in Santorini

Plan for the day
For this second day in Santorini we planned to drive southward from our hotel in Firostefani town to the southern part of Santorini. We had some targets in mind, there were:
1. Akrotiri Lighthouse
2. Red Beach
3. Emporio Village and

4. Black Beach

Today Destinations - Southern Santorini

Today Destinations – Southern Santorini

We achieved all our targets planned for the day!!
Breakfast
We had our homemade breakfast for this trip at an open outdoor space just outside our room. From the window of our room we noticed a patio with table and chairs and sunshade umbrella, so we searched and found a glass door at the end of a corridor outside our room that led to the patio.
Simple breakfast

Simple breakfast

We brought out the breakfast stuffs we bought the night before and laid them out on the square table and ate our breakfast leisurely. Though there was no view we got a lot of privacy because no other people came out to use this patio. The only view we saw was the roof of other buildings around our hotel.

This was the first time since we arrived in Greece that we made and ate our breakfast. Bread, butter, cheese, ham and hot coffee – a simple and easy breakfast that would leave tummy space for morning tea break later.

Moving Southward

Our first destination was Akrotiri Cape, we were early so we were not in a hurry to get there. From our hotel to Cape Akrotiri was about 18 km and the route followed the west edge of the island. Rather than to drive directly to our destination on the main road that would take only 40 minutes, we made several right via so that we could drive on the road nearest to the coast which hopefully would be the most scenic route. We always believed in enjoying the process of getting to our destination than to rush to it.

Route to Cape Akrotiri

Route to Cape Akrotiri

The west edge of the Santorini island was made up of several calderas overlapping each other, that accounted for the many half moon shapes on the west edge of the island. The overlapping calderas stretched the entire west side from the top end to the bottom end.

Caldera View

Caldera View

As we drove further south the white houses that were so many on the caldera cliffs of Fira, Firsostefani got lesser. There were some stretches of the caldera that were totally bare, no houses on its cliff at all. Along the way we saw plentiful of new constructions springing up here and there, so maybe in a couple hundreds of year this bare stretch of caldera cliff would be filled with white houses too.

We tried our best to stay on the road that was closest to the cliff, whenever there was a right via we would take it. There were times we were able to see the caldera from the road and there were times the road turned inland and the caldera disappeared from sight or the road came to a dead end. At times like these we would stop at the roadside, walked up hills to explore. It was fun because we never know what to expect.

Checking out

Checking out

Well, we found an isolated church, in the middle of nowhere, its white structure standing out so prominently in the wild and rugged environment.

A isolated church in the middle of nowhere

A isolated church in the middle of nowhere

We spotted a old car wretch midway down the cliff of the caldera and we wondered the story behind its demise.

Long forgotten car wretch

Long forgotten car wretch

Using the paper map provided by Avis Car Rental and our Google map it was easy to move around, besides Santorini was a small island and it was hard to get lost.

Akrotiri Castle

On the map I saw a “castle” attraction so we turned into Akrotiri Village to visit the Akrotiri Castle. I was not sure if it was worth visiting after our experience with Gyzi Castle at Mykonos. I wondered what sort of castle ruin would we see? Would it be a pile of stones just like Gyzi Castle.

Akrotiri Castle above the town

Akrotiri Castle above the town

To get to the castle we had to walked uphill as the castle was built at the highest point in the village. The walk seemed long as we had to walk up a long windy path, passing through narrow alleys, cobbled steps and doorways. There was several directional signs pointing the way so no worries about taking the wrong turn.

Akrotiri Castle above the town

Akrotiri Castle above the town

I expected to find an abandoned ruin, but to my surprise the ruin was used as a “bagpipe” museum. There was a open courtyard with a table, chairs and potted plants making it looked like a cafe. There was a room, the interior was not very big but it was very clean and cool and some musical instruments were displayed in the room.

From the castle we got a nice view of the village below. I felt that converting the castle into a museum actually distracted us from appreciating the ruin as a castle. But on the other hand leaving it as a ruin might cause it to end up like a pile of rocks just like Gyzi Castle in Mykonos.

Akrotiri Castle was actually a medieval Venetian Castle. This castle was built around 1335 and was called Punta Castella and La Ponta which meant “Peak”.

Akrotiri Castle (La Ponta)

Akrotiri Castle (La Ponta)

A Church beside Akrotiki Castle 

Near the castle was a beautiful church. It had a brilliant blue dome and a tall three-tier bell tower. From far we could already see the shining blue dome so after we came down from the castle we went over to have a look at the church.

 

Church beside Akrotiri Castle

Church beside Akrotiri Castle

Like most churches that we had visited, this church was very quiet. There was no worshippers or priests or monks in sight.

There were many churches in Santorini and we saw them everywhere. There were large and elaborated churches and there were small and simple churches Some were built in very isolated and difficult to reach places and these churches were not abandoned they were very well maintained.

After the church we drove west to Cape Akrotiki.

Cape Akrotiri

The road to the cape ended at the Akrotiri Lighthouse which was standing near the tip of the cape. The lighthouse was not opened to public so there was no way to go up the lighthouse to get a scenic view of the cape surrounding. What a shame.

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Akrotiri Lighthouse

Red Beach

On our map there was a red beach and a white beach attractions and we decided to go only one. White beach sounded too common so we picked Red Beach.

Though the red beach was along the coast southeast of Cape Akrotiri there was no coastal road to reach it. We had to drive back to the village where Akrotiri Castle was and from there go south until we reached the coast where Red Beach sat.

Route from Akrotiri Lighthouse to Red beach

Route from Akrotiri Lighthouse to Red beach

The drive was about 7 km and took only 15 minutes. At the end of the road there was a huge car park by the beach. The beach looked normal nothing red. We walked to the end of the car park and passed a church.
At the side of the church there was a slope and we saw people coming down and going up the slope. We guessed that could be the way to the Red Beach so we walked up the slope too. At the start of the slope there were ropes tied to poles placed at interval which provided some sort of a hand grip for tourists going up and down. The rope ended midway up the slope and yet there was still some steep climbing to the top. There was no proper path and with many people moving in both directions at the same time there were occasional human obstructions. We finally reached the top of the slope and as we turned a corner the Red Beach came into sight. It was truly red!
Red Beach (Co-ordinates: 36.348608, 25.394584)

Red Beach (Co-ordinates: 36.348608, 25.394584)

The beach was at the base of a high cliff and the cliff was red in color. On the cliff face we could see many layers of different shades of red. Wow, I did not expect such redness, it was nice.

There were many tourists on the beach, most were sun tanning and some were in the water. I saw a boat in the water and I recalled reading on the internet that another way of reaching the red beach was by boat, starting from the white beach located further west along the same coast.

We walked down to the beach and I couldn’t resist taking off my shoes to step into the water. The water was rather cool. Beneath my feet were not brown or golden sand but tiny red and black pebbles. I guessed this must be pebbles formed from volcanic rocks which was essentially the basic foundation of Santorini.

Red and black pebbles

Red and black pebbles

Perissa Black Beach 

From Red Beach we drove to Perissa Black Beach and again we had to go past Akrotiri Castle as there was no coastal road that linked Red Beach to the Black Beach.

Route from Red Beach to Perissa Black Beach

Route from Red Beach to Perissa Black Beach

Perissa Beach was a rather long beach, it had a road that ran parallel to the beach. On one side of the road were cafes, shops, beach hotels and on the other side was the beach with hundreds of beach chairs and umbrellas.

Route from Red Beach to Perissa Black Beach

Route from Red Beach to Perissa Black Beach

Perissa Beach was a rather long beach, it had a road that ran parallel to the beach. On one side of the road were cafes, shops, beach hotels and on the other side was the beach with hundreds of beach chairs and umbrellas.

Lunch at Yazz

Lunch at Yazz

We stopped at Yazz cafe for a very late lunch. One of our dishes was a plate of tuna salad and while eating we had a very persistent unwelcome visitor. An orange kitten! It kept jumping onto our table and going for our tuna salad. It was not afraid of anybody and shooing him off was useless. He avoided my hand when I blocked his path and either slipped under or jumped over my hand aiming straight for the tuna. We did not know how to handle this persistent kitten so we asked our waitress for help.The waitress came over and roughly pushed the kitten off the table. Unfortunately once she left the kitten came back and was up to his trick again. There was nothing we could do but quickly finished our food before the kitten did. The kitten left when the tuna was gone and we could finally relax.

Then an older cat came, he walked around our table sniffing the air and jumped on to my husband’s lap as though he was his owner. Greek cats were amazing!After our meal, we hopped back into our car and drove down the road by the beach. There were not many tourists around so it was not surprising to see many of the shops and hotels closed. Though it was quiet on the beach, it looked like a great place for a beach holiday. The beach with it course black sand contrasted nicely with the blue water and sky.

Greek Cats are way too friendly!

Greek Cats are way too friendly!

Firostefanie Evening Shots 

By around 6pm we were back in our hotel. We came back to freshen up and was out of our room in less than 30 minutes. The night scenery of Santorini towns was too beautiful for us to stay indoor. We went up to our the roof of our hotel in search of a a good photographic spot. Most Greek houses had flat roofs so did Hotel Sofia, we explored the second level patio area just outside our room window and found a ladder that led up to the roof top of the second level. We climbed up and found a good spot to take fabulous shots.

Night View of Imerovigli taken from Hotel Sofia rooftop

Night View of Imerovigli taken from Hotel Sofia rooftop

Pointing our camera north we photographed Imerogvili town. As the sun set the sky colour changed from orange to lilac. Gradually more houses lighted up and turning the town into a beautiful golden wonderland.

 Night View of Firostefanie taken from Hotel Sofia roof top

Night View of Firostefanie taken from Hotel Sofia roof top

We stayed up on the roof top until the sky turned totally dark. We enjoyed watching the towns with their sky-sea backdrop changing color from blue, to orange to lilac to eventually pitch black. Even at night without the brilliant blue sky and the equally beautiful blue sea, the towns of Santorini were still stunning to look at. The houses looked like thousands and thousands of sparkling jewels.

Late Dinner 

 The great thing about staying in Hotel Sofia was it had restaurants everywhere around it. We just had to walk two units to its right and would come to a souvlaki pita fast food joint called “Why Not”. Most people bought “take away”, we decided to “eat in”. The staff show us to a cosy backyard where there were some tables. We ordered souvlaki, pita and cafe latte and they all came piping hot. I later found out that the staff actually served me the cafe latte she bought from another cafe shop next door and charged me €0.50 more.

Souvlaki Pita dinner at “Why Not” Cafe

Souvlaki Pita dinner at “Why Not” Cafe

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