Epic Europe Trip 2014 Day 6: Touring Santorini the Smart Way

I cannot believe we're going on three days in Santorini already. After an amazing hike yesterday we were ready to have a slightly less physically exerting day. We finally slept through the night and woke up at a reasonable time. Our plan for today was to rent a car and drive it around Santorini. We booked the car through the hotels front desk and were told it would be ready at 10AM. 

So we laid around our hotel room until 9AM and headed down to the pool area for breakfast. Without sounding like a broken record (since we will be having the same breakfast for the week we're here in Santorini) we had a really nice breakfast with eggs, cheese, deli meats, and different pastries. They do have a really nice spread at the Cavanes Suites and we always come up from breakfast incredibly full.

After breakfast we went up to the lobby and unfortunately our car wasn't ready and were told it would be at 11AM. Luckily right on cue at 11AM we went back to the lobby and got the keys to a black Smart convertible to drive around Santorini. If you ever have been to Europe, or Greece more specifically you will know their roads are small and so I wanted to get the smallest car possible. Not to mention I've wanted to drive a Smart since I first saw one on my first Europe trip in 2006, and it was just bound to happen. 

We picked up the car at the hotels parking lot and were off. Well sort of. The Smart is a weird car. We got an automatic but if you idle for more then a couple of seconds the entire engine will going into the low power mode and you then have to give it gas to turn it back on. It was the weirdest thing. Once I got that weird quirk out of the way we were off. Jenn spent a ton of time pre-trip putting together an itinerary/road map of where we needed to go. From the moment we made our first turn out of Oia to the moment we parked the car at the end of the night she had us flying around Santorini like we grew up here. 

Our first stop on Jenn's road trip plans had us going to the Red Beach on the complete other side of Santorini. To give you an idea of how small Santorini is, with a top speed limit of 50KM we made it from one side of the island to the other in less then an hour. That was even with a quick pit stop at a lookout point and at a gas station to fill-up. We got a parking spot and made the ten minute hike to the famous red beach. What's interesting about the Red Beach is that the rock face behind the beach is completely red. It was a pretty great sight to to take in.

From there we drove for less then a minute to the Akrotiri Archeological Site. Once we parked we went to the box office to pay of our tickets and were told that it was a free day. So we were handed tickets and let in the amazing site. What's really neat about the site was that they built an indoor structure around the excavation site in order to preserve it. There are ramps throughout this giant warehouse size building that lets you look at the remains of a Thera Volcano eruption in the 17th century BC. 

We spent a good half hour at the archeological site before going to our next destination Ancient Thera. The journey to Ancient Thera might have been more interesting then actually seeing it. From the archaeological  site we were once again crossing the island and this time we had a good fifteen minute twisting road up the mountain to get you to the remnants of this ancient civilization. To put it mildly Jenn was pretty nervous getting up the hill. 

Once we finally got to the parking area we then had a good 20 minutes to get to the top where the ruins were. As you can probably tell by how we dressed we were not prepared in the slightest for any major activity today. We both pushed through and made it to the top. There really wasn't much left up here and more then anything we both marveled at how they could possibly get things up and down this mountain thousands of years ago. After spending maybe fifteen minutes in Ancient Thera we hiked back down to the Smart and took the snake like road to our final destination, the Santo Winery.

In 2012 one of our stops on the tour was the Santo Winery and our memories said that the wine was pretty bad. But after doing a lot of research it seemed like a lot of people online disagreed. Knowing that we were going to pass it on our way back to Oia we decided to give it a second chance. And boy are we glad we did. We parked and went into the beautiful winery and were seated at a beautiful ocean view table. We ordered the 12-wine tasting platter which came with cheeses and crackers. The winery specializes in white wine so we had eight white wines, two reds, and two desert wines. The white wines were actually really good, the reds were ok, and the desert wines were not good at all. Somehow though we polished off the entire twelve generously poured tastings in one piece.

After the winery I bought a coke and we drove back the 30 KM to Oia When we got back to our hotel room at around 4PM we finally used our room's outdoor spa which was amazing. After that it was time to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner. After some back and forth we decided to take out the trusty Smart one more time and go back to Fira for dinner.

Jenn had spotted a restaurant called Idol on our hike the day before so we went there. As always Jenn made a wise decision. We got an awesome seat overlooking the caldera. We started with what the restaurant called Pizzetes which were slices of pizza with carpaccio and salad on top. Jenn wasn't thrilled with the salad on-top but she absolutely loved the pizza. For Jenn's main course she went with the penne with a tomato based sauce. I had a chicken dish (that I'm blanking on the name) which had chicken, tomatoes, carpaccio, and mozzarella cheese. Both main courses were fantastic. At around 8PM when our meal was over the waiter brought us shots yet again. This time they were actually free and were a nice way to cap off yet another great meal in Santorini. 

When we got to our car after dinner we had quite the tough time getting out of the parking lot. Unfortunately after a few attempts in different directions there was only one way out of the parking lot and that way said wrong way. Luckily we found an opening and blazed through and before we knew it we were back at our hotel. Our plan was to watch some Netflix and fall asleep but a few minutes after getting upstairs I passed out and Jenn finished a couple more chapters of her book before joining me. And thus ended yet another great day in Santorini.