It was April 21st at 9 in the morning when Mykonos bid us farewell in a rather unpleasant way. A thunderstorm crept over the island overnight and the otherwise party town turned into a ghost town early morning. Our hotel owner was kind enough to offer us a free ride to the port where we would catch our ferry to sunny Santorini. While we were left shivering at the port, alongside hundred other loud tourists, anxious travellers and carefree backpackers, my friend and I gossiped about the Indians around. We heaved a sigh of relief when we finally saw our ferry docking the port. It was an hour late.
After one unnecessary chocolate donut and a necessary 2 hour nap, we docked at Athinios port, the new & active port of Santorini. It took me exactly 15 minutes to pull a huge ass suitcase out of the sea of suitcases. As we finally made it to a sign board sporting a name ‘Ms. Malvika Mayur’, a blue-eyed gentleman greeted us with a warm smile. Vasilis drove us past the capital town of Santorini named Fira, a smaller town Firostefani, after which we passed the highest town of Santorini named Imerovigli and within 40 mins we had reached our home for the next few days – Perivolas Lifestyle Houses in Perivolas, a town just at the beginning of the very popular Oia.
Sandrine welcomed us at the hotel parking and offered to show us around the hotel. As we walked from the parking to the hotel, an entirely different vision of Santorini came into sight. With every step, we could see the blue growing on us, the waters of the Aegean enveloping us. As we arrived to the extremely tiny gate of Perivolas (like all hotels in Oia have), we could see as far as our sight could reach. We were on the top of the caldera overlooking the sunken part of the island, the active but sleeping volcano right in front of us, the half moon shape arching towards both ends while we were in the center and the sailing yachts stationed in the sea as if they were decoration. Santorini is truly dreamy and Mitali would agree. It’s the best place to holiday in with your childhood friend from more that 20 years ago.
That tiny gate opened up to a vast property which resembled a set from the movies. Perivolas was different. Not the typical white and blue, but the path was designed in black pebbles. After the quick check-in procedure, we headed straight to our Suite. We were on the highest level of the caldera with a wonderful view from our private balcony. We climbed a few stairs to reach a verandah like structure which had 2 sunbeds and a sitting area. What we saw next was unbelievable! The small wooden door to our room opened to a massive looking cave which was furnished in the most elegant and minimal fashion I have ever seen in my entire life. We were awed at what we saw – our mouths open and eyes wide (no kidding). Our living room had a sofa with pink and blue cushions and a purplish mat – that’s it! Besides the in-built sofa was a carafe filled with Vinsanto wine, a traditional Santorini wine. To the right in a small corner, was a kitchen with immense amenities, along with the mini-bar overflowing with every need you have.
Moving past the living room, we entered the bedroom which sported a in-built stone bed made comfortable with a duvet and bright pink sheets. There was a wardrobe made inside the cave wall and a huge drawer to put things. A lamp and a clock besides the table made the room complete. Last but not the least, we were amazed to see our bathroom to be the size of our bedroom. Why so big? We had a Jacuzzi installed inside our cave house. How dreamy could it get? I remember changing our plans from galavanting around Santorini to just staying back inside our pretty little cave house all day long and never come out. Well, it so happened that the weather turned horrible and we eventually had to stay inside.
Right after our acquaintance with the luxury that hotels in Santorini can provide, we were offered to see a few more luxurious services they had to offer. Sandrine took us a level down to show us around the Infinity pool where we could sip wine and enjoy all day. Besides the Infinity pool overlooking the caldera and the world famous sunset, was the dining area where they offered us our daily morning breakfast. Nikos, in the first meeting comes off as a very warm person. He made us a welcome drink which we would be sipping after finishing our tour of the hotel. One more level down, and we have a outdoor Jacuzzi which is heated. Nothing better than having a hot Jacuzzi when the temperature is as low as 10 degrees, with a thunderstorm over the otherwise sunny island. One more step lower and we were mesmerized by the Sauna services Perivolas had. There were Sauna baths open anytime on request, along with a world class Spa.
As we were returning back from our tour, we were stopped by Nikos and to our surprise the welcome drink was a Signature cocktail prepared by him. He explained it to be flavored Champagne as we cheered ‘Yamas’ and enjoyed the drink while relaxing by the pool on the sunbeds. As I passed by to appreciate the cocktail, he offered us another for no extra cost and it was truly very heartwarming. As we were enjoying another glass of Champagne, Mitali and I traveled into a completely different world with the sunset in front of us and the gentle breeze around and clouds above. While we were trying hard to get back to reality, Vanda stopped by to welcome us. She is the sales manager of the property and was sweet enough to spend a few minutes with us and share with us her recommendations of things to look around. I am not sure how, but she kind of figured that we were not the ones to go fine dine or club or party or do those touristy things. She mentioned only two things – Atlantis and Dimitris.
If you ever visit Santorini, and specially Oia, the northern most town of Santorini, you have to visit these places. Atlantis is one of the best and oldest bookstores of the world, as stated by the UK Press a few years ago. If you pass by it, you cannot miss it as the idioms, puns and artistic decorations outside just lure you into getting inside that cave filled with books. First editions of The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Catcher in the Rye lay there with pride and cost in thousands (Euros, mind you). The bookstore exhibits books in multiple languages and is run by a gorgeous looking Irish gentleman. (Why name it Atlantis? – Myth states that Santorini could have been the lost city of Atlantis). Dimitris, on the other hand, is a contemporary artist, a painter to be precise, who is known widely for his paintings. Dimitris paints angels and saints, who belong to Greek mythology and history. His paintings are intricate, delicate and he has a different way of painting them. He paints with gold, real gold on massive blocks of wood, and decorates them with cooper and silver metals. He doesn’t like to boast of his work and therefore there are no signs to his cave, but it’s worth taking an effort to trace him, a silver colored long-haired old man sitting behind his table and studying his own work or reading a book. If you cannot find him, ask me and we can all have beer together in his cave! (Just so you know, he is a friend of Salman Khan, and his paintings are bought by rich families, politicians, royals, etc).
Well, luxury in Santorini is not just bound to it’s magnificent hotels but the experiences the island provides. Though the island is extremely tiny, the activities are many – like sailing, wine tours, island tour, donkey ride, photo tours, hiking and trekking, cycling tours, adventure sports, cliff diving, snorkeling, scuba-diving, renting quad bikes and buggies and driving around the island like crazy people and ofcourse, fine dining is BIG here. And not to forget, it’s a popular wedding destination. Well, I dream of getting married here some day. What Santorini is not, is famous for it’s beaches. Santorini is NOT a sun and sand destination. Santorini is what you see in the pictures – the blue and white and windmills and sunset. You don’t need anything else, to be very honest.
If you are lucky enough to step foot on this extremely gorgeous island, you must not miss the opportunity to go on a Private Sailing tour. The sailing lasts for 5 hours and it is the best experience you can have while in Santorini. You pass by the volcano to swim and snorkel, you swim in the famous hot springs (which are not really hot, but a wonderful experience nevertheless), you stop by the port of Thirassia, an island where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent weeks vacationing during their shoot. You visit the White Beach which is accessible only by boat, and all this with the beautiful backdrop of mesmerizing ‘Kallisti’. ‘Kallisti’ in Greek means most beautiful of all, a name Santorini was known by. These catamarans are as luxurious as the 5 star hotels of the world, with cabins to sleep, sunbeds to relax on, while sipping beer at the open bar and eating fresh barbecued pork on board. I highly recommend sailing – HIGHLY!
As I wrote this, it was 3.14 AM in the morning, and I was gazing at the clear sky and bright stars above me, wondering how had I landed up in this tiny island in the Cyclades in the Aegean, in Greece while home was so far far away. But wait, I realized home was here. Santorini was home now. After spending a super luxurious weekend with my childhood friend and making memories that would last forever, I stayed back in Santorini to see how the other side feels like. I have lived on this island for more than six months and I still love it as much. I worked here. But working in Santorini wasn’t as luxurious and I will tell you why, in my next blog post.
Do visit Santorini. Or even hit me up if you need any vacation planning.