Located some 200 kilometres from the Greek mainland, in the southern Aegean Sea, Santorini boasts its cascading terraces of whitewashed buildings, deep blue accents and spectacular vistas. Santorini Island is often a destination that is much more exciting than what we might initially believe.
Known for its gorgeous hotels and laid-back atmosphere, Santorini is also a place filled with culture and history just waiting to be explored. Join Lartisien on a short 2-day adventure of this wonderful island and discover Santorini as your next holiday destination!
Arriving in Santorini: Transport and Accommodation
Santorini is often reached by plane from Athens in less than an hour, we decided to take the scenic ferryboat. Though an 8-hour longer, the journey really feels like the most fitting first interaction with the island. The closer we got to the shores of the island, the more we began to take full cognizance of its beauty. By the time we were climbing out of the boat onto the marina, we already felt like our adventure had started!
While our trip was initially intended to pay a visit to some of our stunning partner hotels, such as the gorgeous Grace Hotel in Imerovigli and the Canaves Oia Suites, we felt compelled to wander the island and take in as much of the atmosphere and experiences as possible. Therefore, with a perfect weather (sunny, but never too hot) we set out and about the narrow cobblestone streets of Santorini.
Experience History in Santorini
The beauty of Greece is that no matter how contemporary the country gets, it still holds on tightly to its historical roots and traditions. The island still feels like it came straight out of Homer’s Odyssey, the first thing we noticed about Santorini were the sandals. Everyone was wearing leather-crafted footwear, of every colour and style imaginable. Therefore, one of our first stops was at a little sandal workshop we saw during our walk.
The Greek Sandal
Neatly arranged on wooden racks outside the shop were rows and rows of traditional Greek sandals! The man responsible for crafting each one of them was seated just outside, on a little stool on the pavement, intently working on his next pair. Though the basis remained the same, the craftsman was able to use a variety of colourful materials and patterns to make each give each pair of sandals a unique style. Some were a callback to the ancient styles that one could see on the drawings of the Greek Gods, while others were more contemporary, featuring geometric and colourful patterns that would be more appealing to the modern buyer.
What we loved about it was the traditional technique in which they are crafted and how they carry on a fashion style that has existed for millenniums. Should you ever fancy something a little more unique, the craftsman can simply take the pair of sandals back into the little workshop, right in the shop itself and personalize the sandals for you!
The art of ceramic pottery and the iconic Greek amphoras
We began our second day in Santorini with a revived sense of curiosity. Always wanting to find more of these oft-overlooked experiences for our clients, our next stop would take us even further back into the history of Greek culture, to discover the iconic Greek amphoras.
Located in Megalochori (just off the main road) we came upon the Earth & Water Pottery Studio, a charming workshop owned by ceramicist couple Andreas Makaris and Kristi Kapetanaki. The couple moved to Santorini in1985 after falling in love and finding inspiration on the island’s history and opened the first ceramic shop on the island, following the earthquake of 1956. One of their primary products is, of course, the Amphora.
The Greek Amphora is one of those items that transcend time, culture, and geography. Though the primary role of the Amphora was the transportation of wine across land and sea, of course, the Ancient Greeks dedicated a lot of their time to the arts and vase painting. It was another way for them to send their stories to the furthest shores of the land.
After a quick tour of the workshop, we were amazed by the variety of earthenware on display, from traditional wine jugs and cups to giant vases and decorative amphoras, some minimalist in style, others more complex with illustrations and paintings that related the tales of the great heroes from Greek Mythology.
Today, the couple also offer pottery lessons and workshops to teach individuals about this form of art that is becoming more and more rare. The experience is something unique to the island, as the whole thing feels more like an evening spent with friends, around a glass Raki (the local popular alcoholic beverage made from distilled grapes and anise) talking about history and discovering a new art form.
Traditional Food in Santorini
Though one of the things we observed upon our arrival were the octopuses hanging from the ropes along the shores and the harbour, it wasn’t until our last day in Santorini that we had the opportunity to take a good look at it.
Taking a spot in the shade of a shop along the harbour, we watched as the weather-worn fishermen rode their little sailboats into the marina, and as soon as they would climb out, their friends were waiting to be handed the octopod.
Obviously, we were curious and, chatting with some locals, we learned about the traditional techniques used to prepare the flesh.
Trying a Santorini Delicacy: Sun-dried Octopus
Despite being inelegant, the first step of the preparation is perhaps the most important one. The octopus is usually beaten on a rock until it is rid of the excessive moisture. Only then can it be hung on a rope, in the sun.
This sun-drying process serves to firm up the meat as well as seal in the flavour of the flesh itself. It is only after at least a day out in the sun that the old men with their bushy white beard, will cut the tentacles off in pieces, before grilling them, adding a generous amount of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some herbs.
The dish is usually served with a pint of beer or a glass of Ouzo. By the time we were done listening to the explanation, we couldn’t wait to find a place to try the delicacy.
Visiting Ammoudi Fish Tavern
Luckily for us, we didn’t have to look long to find a place. Minutes away from the Canaves Oia Suites, we found the gorgeous Ammoudi Fish Tavern. Rustic and with a nautical-themed décor, the place is right on the shore itself, with a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea, and an even more amazing menu of fresh seafood. Of course, we were there for the sun-dried octopus, and they didn’t disappoint.
The appetizer was fresh, flavorful, and tender! After lunch, we stayed till late at the fish tavern. At nighttime, the whole place transformed into a fantastical setting, with light bulbs hanging everywhere, casting a warm, golden glow upon the varnished wood.
From the immaculate weather to the rich cultural experiences to the wonderful people inhabiting the land, Santorini is a destination that delights at every step of the journey. Though the island is often only seen as a detour, we believe that Santorini is worth the trip itself. Check out our stunning Santorini hotel collection!