Santorini and the Fira Factor

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I stood at the top of the cliff on the edge of the island and inhaled the salty air of the Aegean Sea. In front of me, the blackened volcano stood forebodingly in the midnight-blue waters of the caldera, daring anyone to assume that it had become docile. Behind me stood the iconic whitewashed buildings and blue domes of Santorini, resting precariously on the rocky cliffs.  They formed the facade of the delightfully confounding labyrinth of cobblestone and marble alleys from which I had emerged. This was what I had come here for. This was what I had dreamt about for aeons.

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over thousands of years, giving rise to its unique beaches with white, red, or black sand. Adding to its mythical allure is the well-founded theory that the ruins of Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on Santorini, are actually the unearthed remains of the lost city of Atlantis.

Santorini port

Santorini port

For a long time, whenever anyone had asked me what my dream destination was, Santorini was the first name that sprang to mind. It was the pictures of the scene I was witnessing that had imprinted themselves indelibly on my mind – that same pictures that sold Greece to the world and had sold it to me too.

Alleys of Santorini

Alleys of Santorini

Determined to get there, I found myself on a Mediterranean cruise with one of its ports of call being Santorini. When our ship finally docked there on a sunny October morning, I couldn’t believe that my dream was about to come true.

 Santorini

Bric-a-brac Shop

We disembarked and were taken by tender boats to the port then driven by bus up a steep and narrow cliff, ascending higher and higher to the town of Fira, while the views below became more bewitching… and hair-raising.  Our tour guide, Lynne, a British woman who had been living there for the past 20 years (talk about a dream job) said that our driver was one of the best drivers in Santorini which calmed our nerves a bit – until she added that “The others are all dead!”

Santorini

Book Shop in Santorini

As we drove through Fira, I realised that the Santorini I was looking at did not quite look like the one imprinted on my mind. Santorini Island consists of several towns and villages. The world-famous pictures are of the sea-facing buildings taken in the village of Oia (pronounced Eeya). Nevertheless other parts of Santorini also boast stunning picturesque views, sun-kissed whitewashed buildings, and endless photo opportunities. As one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, much of the island is crowded as expected but yet it is still possible to find quiet spots where the silence and serenity allow you to hear your inner thoughts and be at one with yourself.

Santorini Coffee Shop

Coffee Shop

Bric-a-brac shops, eclectic clothing shops, and Greek restaurants with panoramic views of the caldera below lined the narrow pathways and the scent of Mediterranean cuisine wafted through the air. Newly-weds posed for photos in their wedding attire that conceals the comfortable flip-flops they’ve worn on their feet. Now and then a donkey crossed our path. As we turned off the main pathway we were rewarded with the bewitching view that the world associates with Santorini and found ourselves to be part of the postcard. It was everything that I had imagined it to be.

Restaurant in Santorini

Restaurant

This article was first published in the Sunday Times.

 

 

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29 comments
Kristine Li

Beautiful weather you’ve got and stunning photos! Great write-up!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Kristine. The weather was stunning. I wish I could have spent more time there though. 🙂

    Reply
aussiepursuit

Wow what a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing!

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks for dropping by Aussiepursuit – I think that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

    Reply
Najmah

Mashaa Allah, sister… I want to travel more places like you do. In shaa Allah, after my graduation. . <3

Reply
Ayesha B

So eloquently illustrated! And the photography is superb <3

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Ayesha. It helps if the place is so photogenic!

    Reply
Sahar

Masha’Allah stunning !!
I’ve always been drawn to it as well.. It’s so visually appealing
Lol.. The rest are all dead .. Way to calm your nerves !
Sounds like an awesome vacation hope you has fun!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Sahar. Haha, you can imagine how nervous we got when we heard that!

    Reply
Random Bytes From Life

Your pics look like coming out of fairy tales and story books, so enchanted they look!

Love this vacation spot, hoping someday of visiting this place InshaAllah !

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Random Bytes From Life. Hope you get to go soon!

    Reply
Zeinab Al-Hussaini

Wooow, MashAllah it looks so beautiful. I would love to go there.

xo
Zeinab

Reply
Britdeshimummy

Masha’allah I never heard of this place until now! BUCKET LIST!

Reply
    Sara

    Definitely a bucket list destination!

    Reply
Umme Hafsa

Incredible!!! The deep blue-ness (just made up that word) of the sea is breathtakingly beautiful. Definitely on my bucket list too!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Umme Hafsa – One could stare into that deep blue-ness all day long! 🙂

    Reply
Ruku

Your pictures make me want to go there! Great photography mA!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Ruku. I really enjoyed taking photos of such a photogenic place.

    Reply
Suhaila

Gorgeous subhanAllah! Adding it to my dream vacations list!

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Suhaila – this is definitely a dream vacation destination!

    Reply
Karima

Those photos are just amazing! So colourful.

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks Karima – it is certainly a very photogenic place!

    Reply
Foz

I had never heard of this place before! It looks absolutely beautiful! Definitely a place to visit

Reply
    Sara

    For some reason, I kept on seeing photos of Santorini whenever I went on to travel websites and I added it on to my bucket list. It was definitely worth it.

    Reply
Zainab Dokrat

Soo beautiful marshallah!! I want to go the pictures are soooo wow ?

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Zainab. It is definitely a bucket-list destination!

    Reply
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