Spoiler alert: I hated it!
What girl doesn’t dream of one day traveling to Greece, sipping cocktails, swimming in an infinity pool over looking the famous town of Oia, zooming around on a scooter discovering deserted beaches and witnessing a Santorini sunset. I was no exception, Greece, and in particular Santorini, had been on my bucket list since I had ever dreamed of visiting Europe.
I was, however, extremely disappointed. My expectations of arriving in Santorini and checking into our blue and white hotel were a vast contrast to our reality. Instead, I found myself sleeping on a rolled out mat, in my sleeping bag on a farming paddock. Our ferry from Rodes arrived at the ridiculous time of 4am, and we felt it extremely unnecessary to book a nights stay for only a couple of hours, ultimately resulting in us sleeping on a farm.
After hours of searching booking.com, airb&b, trip adviser and hostelworld looking for something reasonably priced, we found nothing within our price range. Instead, we spent two nights camping in the camp sight of Thira Camping, a compromise to Tyral wanting to wild camp and me for filling my girlie imagination with its pool. I guess I should have thought harder into the island and prices it would be for hotels, not that I was expecting to be in a five star resort, but surely doesn’t backpackers visit here? Turns out, sleeping under the stars on a paddock was actually a pretty amazing experience, we later joked that we were in a thousand star hotel, as the stars were clear, vibrant and beautiful above us as we snuggled into our sleeping bags and slept a few hours to the next day.
We hired scooters and drove around the small island for three days. Santorini is beautiful, but images posted on Facebook and Instagram of friend’s travels had made unreal expectations of this island. I’m not completely sure what I was even expecting, but I know I didn’t find it.
Maybe I just didn’t ‘get it’.
I kept thinking I wasn’t ‘getting’ Santorini, I was missing something. Coming from Turkey, my favorite country for its incredibly diverse landscape and beautiful beaches, may have played a part in my sheer disappointment. The black, red and white beaches I found exceedingly disappointing. Maybe this was due to the fact that I’m from Australia and blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and found the red beach to just a mere similarity to the incredible beaches of the Kimberly where I called home for a year and a half, the pingdan dirt far outweighing this litter filled tourist covered beach.
But the biggest disappointment was visiting the famous town of Oia. This is where I was sure I was missing something. I felt it was an extremely strange concept that a town became so famous for walking around and staring down into the rich fancy hotels, looking down into the lives of rich tourists and feeling like a poor peasant unable to afford this luxury. That wasn’t my idea of fun. Sure, the architecture was beautiful and it was an incredible sight looking at a cliff face full of white and blue houses, but this was the first time on our travel we had felt like poor budget backpackers, looking on at fancy tourists living it up while we retreated to our small tent that night. And there are far more beautiful cliff faces covered in houses like the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Watching the sunset over Oia was beautiful, but not the most incredible sight I have ever seen. I defiantly wouldn’t add it to one of the top things to do in Europe. The mass swarms of other tourists defiantly take the beauty out of the moment. I love to say ‘nothing reuins a moment like a couple hundred other tourist’ and this was a perfect example. We climbed down the abandoned castle, the popular viewing platform for the sunset, to the deserted part down the bottom, and was able to enjoy the sunset completely alone. However, I have witnessed far more beautiful sunsets throughout Europe in secluded places which is a far more magical experience.
The following night we found an old abandoned hotel building, on the other side of the island and watched the sunset there, over the harbor as the large cruise ships swept in and out of the bay. This was a more enjoyable experience for us, and something I would highly recommend over the overcrowded tourist spot.
I know I probably sound like a whiny poor backpacker, but you did read this knowing it was my complete and honest opinion. Right? One of the things I did enjoy was the hike from Imerovigli to Oia, following a huge cliff face the whole way through the mountains. I like exploring and adventure, and this was the only taste of it we could find it on the island.
The expensive ferry getting to this island (60 Euro just from a neighbouring country) I just don’t think is worth it. Added with the prices of, well everything, that are marked up here really make it not worth the visit.
I can only imagine coming to Santorini with a lot of money and being able to afford one of these bullshit amazing hotels with infinity pools and having your own personal balcony to watch the sunset, and sure if you’re into that type of holidaying it’s perfect for you. This would be a completely different experience than what I had (although I still maintain there a far more beautiful and spots in Europe). If you are a budget backpacker trying to travel cheap, Santorini defiantly isn’t the place for you.
If you feel strongly against my dislike for this spot, feel free to express your opinion below!