Santorini, A Grecian Wonderland
By Shruti Menon
People who’ve read/watched The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants will know what I’m talking about as soon as I say the word Santorini— and yes, it is 100% as magical and story-book like as the picture makes it out to be.
Santorini (officially known as Thira) is an island off the Greek mainland and is the largest of a small circular archipelago, the remnants of a volcanic caldera. The tranquil town doesn’t seem like the kind with a fiery past, but the islands were the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions— the Minoan eruption, around 3,600 years ago. Now it is still considered an active volcanic centre, but it is mainly just a water-filled caldera. The idyllic island boasts of its 4000-year-old history, and legend has it that the myth of the city of Atlantis originated from the Minoan eruption.
The fundamental architecture of Santorini boggles the mind— how is an entire island's population balanced on the steep cliff slopes of the caldera, you wonder. But despite the seemingly impossible architectural marvel, Santorini is quite well developed, yet still retains its quaint charm. The island’s capital is Fira, which is bordered on the north by the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. These and Oia are the most popular tourist destinations on the island, as these offer the caldera view and the unparalleled aesthetic of the uniform, whitewashed walls and paved streets.
These are the areas where the modern-day hustle and bustle takes place, though. To see what Santorini’s history boasts of, a visit to Akrotiri, ruins of the Minoan civilisation rediscovered that got buried in volcanic ash, is well worth your time.
Although Santorini’s USP is the caldera view, that’s not all it has to offer. The east coast slopes down to a sandy stretch, offering the more typical beachside experience- but there are beaches with black volcanic sand, and even a popular one with red sand— really in stark contrast with the pure white at the clifftops. Santorini's the best for walks, and the sunsets are absolutely exquisite. The golden sunlight was hitting the clear blue water, then painting the white walls a lovely rose-gold is a feast for the eyes.
Santorini has a growing foodie culture, so be sure to get your hands into that, and also take part in cooking demos and classes. Sipping on delectable Grecian wines is a must-do as well. Santorini’s also got many other quirks to uncover and exciting that you’ll find if you look in the right places (hint: open-air cinema!).
Santorini’s a year-round destination, so timing isn’t really a barrier if you want to get the full experience. Know that going to Santorini will be, definitely, one of the most memorable experiences of your life— the island seems to have one thing in common with India, the philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava. Also, when you’re going, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit!