The heat was getting to me. Athens was a beautiful experience, but after
changing my shirt two hues darker with the sweat I was producing just walking
around, I was wishing for a drastic change in scenery. Fortunately, after a bus ride
and a ferry we were on our way to experience the Greek island life in Santorini.
It was nearing the peak of tourist season so the exit out of the ferry felt like
being part of a cattle herd where tour guides were desperately trying to pick out
their tour group from the mass of sun screened foreigners. While most would
associate the island life with sand and beaches, which Santorini does have, the
island is more notable for its cliffs and the views they offer. Though Santorini
claimed to not have been as negatively affected by the recession, and the sheer
numbers of tourists would seem to back that up, the empty, half-finished
construction sites speak otherwise. Abandoned concrete structures dot the area
further inland remaining as evidence of lost jobs and foreclosures. Some
construction sites were shut down by the government due to lack of permits, since
filing for permits is itself a financial cost. The towns by the cliffs that are featured on
Santorini postcards are still brightly blue and white, ready for bustling tourists, but
serve a contrasting view to the local population heavily affected by the economic
Still a hotspot for tourist activity, however, is the islands’s capital, Fira. The
capital is less crowded than the village of Oia, and offers its own collection of shops
and sunset views. Though it’s the capital, Fira isn’t as crowded as Oia, but offers its
own stunning views of both the classic Santorini architecture and the island’s
sunset. The area is mostly geared towards tourists, but still has the island charm.
More so than most other parts of the island, Fira has tons of dining and
entertainment, making it the place to be for a very energetic nightlife experience.
Gift shops and restaurants occupy the sprawl of the village, while an area by the
cliffs offer a panoramic view of Santorini , the harbor, and the volcanic island of Nea
My brother and I, though, were ready to jump into any water we could find so
we took the local bus to Oia only costing us around 4 euros for the both of us. From
there we made our way down 350 steps to Amoudi Bay, through the restaurants,
past a warning sign for falling rocks, and over a rock bridge. Clear and cool blue
water awaited us, but what we were here for was 50m away from the sunbathing
area. Just across from us was a small island with a platform for cliff jumping. We
came just in time to see a couple of crazy adrenaline seekers had climbed to the
halfway point of the island and jumped off the nearly 50 feet rock. My brother and I
opted for the “less heart attack” inducing 15 ft platform. By the platform is a
stairway carved into the lava rock that gets you up to the flat area lined with a
seashell mosaic. A running start is hardly needed but makes for a great photo. In just
mere seconds after launching myself from the platform I was dunked into a rush of
cool Mediterranean water. Coming up for air, I was sad to have to leave the
combination of setting sun, azure water, and adrenaline pumping heart for the
grumbling of my stomach.
We weren’t quite ready for the 350 step trek back up so after a look at the
menu (and more importantly the prices), we decided to eat dinner by the seaside.
The total dinner cost was just around 13 euros leaving both of us stuffed with pasta
and fried calamari. While that was a great deal, the view of the setting sun by
Amoudi Bay seemed like the deal of a lifetime.
Once back at Fira, I wanted to see what they hype was about Greek yogurt,
and well what better place to try some from Chillbox, a Greek frozen yogurt chain.
This may not have been home-spun Greek yogurt, but I also wanted to see how their
chains compared to the ones back home. Their trademark of putting a tissue box
container around my cup of frozen yogurt kept my hands from freezing up, but
seemed a bit unnecessary once the novelty wore off. Otherwise, though, the tartness
of the yogurt was a welcome end to my first day in Santorini that left me wanting
more. Good thing there’s always tomorrow, another day living the island life.( Stacey Irawan / IM )