Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Author: wabisabisole Page 1 of 54

Catamaran Cruising

We start our last day off by walking through town center of Fira without all of the crowds. The sun was rising as we walked. it was a beautiful morning and nice to enjoy without so many people.

My favorite doors from Fira and one neco.

After our walk, we returned to the hotel for breakfast and to pack for our catamaran tour. Our driver picked us up at our hotel and drove us and the other 12 passengers to Ammoudi Bay (north end of the island) where we boarded our catamaran. Our boat was named Summer.

The first stop on our tour was at the “warm” springs of the caldera. The water was a little cloudy because of the Sulfur being emitted from the springs. Where the water touched the rocks, it caused them to turn orange. The water was a little warmer than the other parts of the Aegean Sea we have swam through. Also, there were catamarans everywhere. Mom said she counted 14 at one point.

Us swimming in the warm springs.

We continued our journey out of the warm springs and headed toward the southern end of the island. As we rounded the tip, we had great views of the lighthouse and Indian rock. These caves were thoroughly explored by Jacques Cousteau. There are 14 different entrances all to be explored scuba diving.

Our second swimming spot and lunch spot was Black Beach. It was beautiful. We could not have had a more perfect weather day for the trip. black beach accessible by vehicle, although it is challenging to get to. There are little shanty’s – caves- that were used by fisherman to store their equipment.

After swimming and lunch at black beach, we continued our sail to White Beach. White Beach is only accessible by boat. During the summer months, it becomes a very popular hangout with boats parked everywhere. We didn’t swim here. Just sailed past. Please notice the sea caves under the rock at the edge. The caves connect back to Black beach.

Our final swim spot was at Red Beach. In case it wasn’t obvious, all the beaches are named by their sand color. Red Beach was also extraordinary. The rock formations are from numerous eruptions and erosion from the wind and waves.

After our swim, we boarded and headed back to Vlyhada Marina. Again, the marina was clear and beautiful. It was tough to leave the boat. It truly was an incredible experience to be able to see all of the beaches on the southern side of the island.

The amazing guide for the day and all the wonderful people we met on the cruise.

We returned to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner. One final Greek feast and Santorini sunset. Neither disappointed.

We have truly enjoyed every minute of this vacation. If Greece isn’t on your list of places to visit, please add it. It is completely beautiful and the people are so kind and friendly. Thank you for reading and following along. Until the next adventure…

Be well!

Good Night from Santorini

We had an incredible day on the catamaran. We packed our last day as full as our suitcases. We have an early flight out in the morning to Athens. And then Athens to Atlanta. And then Atlanta to Destin. Too much to fun to share tonight in tonight’s blog because it’s time to sleep. Here’s a sneak peek at our last sunset in Santorini. The sunset is brought to you by the colors Blue & Gold. Go Navy!

Pretty Amazing Sunset

Hiking Oia to Fira

Today was our third official hike day. We had a transfer scheduled to pick us up at 9am at our hotel. Before we left, we enjoyed the breakfast at the hotel. It was delicious and had a little bit of everything. Including normal scrambled eggs, stuffed grape leaves, mushrooms and of course feta.

Yummy

Our driver picked us up in his fancy Tesla. We chatted during the drive to Oia. Turns out, he is a former Greek Navy Seal (retired). He trained several times in San Diego. He was very nice and encouraged us on our hike. Oia was chaos. It was incredibly crowded with everyone wanting to get the perfect picture. Plus, there were multiple women doing photo shoots and clogging the paths. We honestly just wanted to snap our pictures and get on with our hike. Here are a few from Oia. It is beautiful and stunning. I just could do with out the crowds.

Here are my favorite doors from Oia.

Here was the crowd, waiting to get “the” shot of the three domes. Also, I took a picture of the lady who was causing the line. And then I photoshopped her out. It was a quick edit. I’m sure I can do better.

I would also like to share my pictures of the cats of Oia. So cute.

Most of the hike was along the top of the ridge. However, there were a lot of ups and downs. And lots of stepping on igneous rocks. They are so sharp and pointy. They really started to bother my feet towards the end. Here are a couple up pictures of the trail.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned, we booked our trip through Macs Adventure. They have truly been amazing. All hotels, transfers and ferries have been prearranged. Also, they put everything on an app that is easy to access. The app includes maps of all your hikes. Here was our map for today.

Once you start hiking, it will track your journey and give you alerts for upcoming points of interest and way points. If you’re looking for a guided trip, we highly recommend. We would both consider booking another adventure. Ok, let’s continue. The east side of Santorini is so different from the west. Here are a few pictures looking down at the farm land on the east side.

I would also like to share my favorite bougainvillea pictures from the day. I’m so inspired, I want to plant one when I get home!

There were so many churches along the route. They are striking with the blue domes.

The buildings and flowers were beautiful. It was also incredibly peaceful walking above the caldera. We were so high up!!

Humor me with a couple more doors.

The middle section of the hike was through a bunch of fancy hotels. Most said no pictures and do not enter. The view remained incredible.

The highlight of any hike is the cold beer at the finish line. The finish line for this hike was conveniently our hotel. We came back and showered before our well earned beer. Cheers!

We picked a nice local spot for dinner. We watched the cruise ships boarding passengers as we dined.

As always, thanks for reading. We have our last adventure tomorrow. We are sailing on a catamaran in the caldera!

Milos to Santorini

This morning we said goodbye to the island of Milos. As they say, all good things come to an end. I truly enjoyed the time we spent on Milos and Kimolos. Both islands are so beautiful and quaint. They are an absolute treasure.

We had one final breakfast at the hotel. I made a wiser choice this morning and opted for a hot ham and cheese sandwich. It was exactly as advertised. Plus, fresh fruit. I will miss my breakfast friend, neco.

Here is a screen shot of our journey to Santorini. We are going to Santorini via ferry with a stop at Ios.

The Greek ferry system is impressive. They have the embarking and debarking of passengers down to a science. I can honestly compare it to the Japanese and their train efficiency. The ferry will leave on time and you need to be ready to move as required. This ferry was a SeaJet. It was larger than the one from Athens to Milos and we had assigned seats. Luggage was stored in the lower area. It was organized chaos as passengers placed their luggage and then went upstairs to find their seats.

The view of the islands along the way was so beautiful and entertaining. Our ferry left at 12:20. Mom and I enjoyed lunch onboard. She asked the staff for vegetarian options. They encouraged her to buy both the ring with cheese, peppers and olives and the spinach and cheese – spanakopita. Both were delicious. We shared them plus a beer each.

Our first stop was Ios. I now have a place I need to return and visit. It looked beautiful and quaint. The ferries have forward and aft thrusters which allow them to turn “on a dime”. Never have I seen a ship pull into port and create such beautiful churn. I know I’ve said this before. The water is so blue and beautiful. More proof here in the pictures.

After Ios, we had another 30ish minutes on the ferry to Santorini. We made our way to our luggage once we were able. Being upfront to watch the doors drop and the passengers disembark was a sight! The ferry was still moving forward when the doors were dropping.

Finally the ferry turned and we had our first glimpse of the Athinios Port. I’m not sure what I was expecting… but, it wasn’t a giant rock face. Plus all the people coming and going in every direction. Wow! Our tour has arranged our logistics. Our driver was there waiting for us on time and with a smile.

The drive from Port Athinios to our hotel in Fira should take about 20 minutes it’s about 5 miles. It took us over an hour! The traffic was so terrible getting out of the port and then we had to drive up the cliff on a very windy and narrow road. Fortunately, we had an expert driver.

Our hotel is in Fira and it is amazing. It is built into the side of the mountain. We still haven’t figured out the room layout. But, we know how to find ours!

We got settled and had a glass of wine by the pool as we discussed our evening plans. We decided to talk a walk, meander around town and find dinner. We did all of that AND enjoyed a dinner sunset.

I also met my first Santorini neco. He was so cute.

We picked a perfect spot for dinner. Vanilla was the name of the restaurant. We were in the shade of the setting sun and had a view of the sunset. My mom was debating between the fish and chips and the grilled sun beam fresh catch of the day. She opted for the fresh catch. I ordered the bang bang shrimp and fries. And we split a Greek salad. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, somehow the conversation led to them serving her a whole fish. I asked her if it said filet or fish. She said fish. Hmmmm… I said, I think they are going to bring you a whole fish. Sure enough!

Our waiter asked if he could open it for her. Yes, please!

Here is a video of him prepping the fish. Clearly, he’s an expert.

Video of our waiter opening the fish

We enjoyed dinner as we watched the sunset. We truly had another amazing day enjoying all that Greece has to offer. Tomorrow we set off for another hike.

As always, thank you for reading!

Sailing Around Milos

We started our morning with breakfast at the hotel. I ordered Greek Strapatsada (scrambled eggs with tomato and feta). Sounds delicious, right? Let me share the photo with you of what I was expecting.

What I thought I was ordering…

Vs.

What I was served.

I honestly thought I was being served the vomit of my neco friend.

Fortunately, the dish actually tasted pretty good. I could taste the tomatoes (obviously) and the feta. I’m not sure where the scrambled eggs were mixed in?

Let’s move on from breakfast and discuss the day’s beautiful adventure. Today our itinerary included a sailing tour around the west to the south side of Milos island. Here is a map of Milos and Kimolos islands. (Kimolos is where we hiked the day before.)

We set sail from Adamantas. Our first stop was down to Kleftiko to visit the sea cave. Here are a few pictures of the first part of our sail. The pictures include leaving the port of Adamantas. I still cannot get over how clear the water is in a port!!! I attempted several times on the trip to capture the different colors of blue. We decided to add a new color to our color palette- Aegean Sea Blue. It is clear, ever changing and always remarkable. Our first shore approach was Vani rock. Vani rock is where there used to be a mine. It has not been operational for some time.

I took a couple screen shots of Google Maps along the journey to help orientate us on our journey.

After leaving Vani rock, we were served breakfast onboard. It was yummy. We both laughed when they had strapatsada. Neither of us took any! Everything was yummy. The cheese was goat cheese, which I normally don’t enjoy. However, because it was so fresh it wasn’t terrible.

Our sail continued south. It was filled with more amazing views and endless photo opportunities. I probably took 25+ pictures. I’ve selected the best to share.

We made it to Kleftiko about 1.5 hours into the trip. We anchored here for about 30 minutes. The southern winds made the sea state a little rough. I was more than happy to jump in the water for swim call! The water was chilly, super salty, and refreshing.

It is now time for our history lesson about Kleftico. Kelftico Beach is not actually a beach. It is a lot of sea caves where pirates used to hide. They liked the southern exposure because they could see ships approaching the Greek Islands. They would hide in the caves and come out when the ships were close and didn’t have a chance to advert course. The word kleftico comes from the Greek word “kleftis” which means “thief/robbery”. Our English word “kleptomaniac” (an impulse disorder resulting in the irresistible urge to steal) is derived from the Greek language.

We stayed for about 30 minutes. It was plenty because of being anchored in the choppy seas. After leaving the water, I even had to focus on the horizon to maintain equilibrium and not feel nauseous.

Side note: Our driver for Milos, Yiannis, told us in the winter, the seas are too rough to voyage to Kleftiko Beach. He said you must take a 1.5 hour drive and view the seas and caves from above.

Our next stop was to see another entrance to another sea cave. We didn’t have an opportunity to swim. Just pictures.

We continued to sail back along the coast to our second swim spot. The water was much calmer. But, so much COLDER! Mom swam this time and agreed the water was COLD! After 30 minutes of swimming, the crew served us lunch. It was delicious. We had traditional Greek moussaka. It is an eggplant dish that resembles lasagna. Although sometimes vegetarian, onboard it was served with ground meat. The sides included, Greek salad, two types of beans, cabbage salad, and bread. Again, the lunch view didn’t disappoint.

After lunch, we continued along the coast and stopped one final time for a third swim. We stopped off the coast at Plathiena Beach. I took yet another dip. The water was warmer, yet still chilly and an amazing color of turquoise. The rocky coast was amazing. We named the out cropped rock “Mo Rock” – because it resembled Mo, my Mom’s puppy.

As we set sail again, our guide told us this rock is actually called Aekoudes or “Bear Rock”. As we sailed, our perspective changed and we realized why it is called Bear Rock.

As we came back into the port Adamantas, we saw the sea village we hiked through on Thursday. It was fun to see it from the coast. We also had a chance to see the highest point we hiked to that day in the town of Plaka. Look for the highest white building on the mountain. It is a church we hiked to in Plaka.

The crew gave us a departing gift of a Greek donut and a shot of something like Ouzo but better. Cheers!

After showers, we finished the day shopping, dinner, and walking the lovely neighborhood streets. We definitely enjoyed our time in Milos. It is a hidden gem with all the Greek charm and hospitality without too many tourists.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing our experiences.

Sailing Around Milos

We started our morning with breakfast at the hotel. I ordered Greek Strapatsada (scrambled eggs with tomato and feta). Sounds delicious, right? Let me share the photo with you of what I was expecting.

What I thought I was ordering…

Vs.

What I was served.

I honestly thought I was being served the vomit of my neco friend.

Fortunately, the dish actually tasted pretty good. I could taste the tomatoes (obviously) and the feta. I’m not sure where the scrambled eggs were mixed in?

Let’s move on from breakfast and discuss the day’s beautiful adventure. Today our itinerary included a sailing tour around the west to the south side of Milos island. Here is a map of Milos and Kimolos islands. (Kimolos is where we hiked the day before.)

We set sail from Adamantas. Our first stop was down to Kleftiko to visit the sea cave. Here are a few pictures of the first part of our sail. The pictures include leaving the port of Adamantas. I still cannot get over how clear the water is in a port!!! I attempted several times on the trip to capture the different colors of blue. We decided to add a new color to our color palette- Aegean Sea Blue. It is clear, ever changing and always remarkable. Our first shore approach was Vani rock. Vani rock is where there used to be a mine. It has not been operational for some time.

I took a couple screen shots of Google Maps along the journey to help orientate us on our journey.

After leaving Vani rock, we were served breakfast onboard. It was yummy. We both laughed when they had strapatsada. Neither of us took any! Everything was yummy. The cheese was goat cheese, which I normally don’t enjoy. However, because it was so fresh it wasn’t terrible.

Our sail continued south. It was filled with more amazing views and endless photo opportunities. I probably took 25+ pictures. I’ve selected the best to share.

We made it to Kleftiko about 1.5 hours into the trip. We anchored here for about 30 minutes. The southern winds made the sea state a little rough. I was more than happy to jump in the water for swim call! The water was chilly, super salty, and refreshing.

It is now time for our history lesson about Kleftico. Kelftico Beach is not actually a beach. It is a lot of sea caves where pirates used to hide. They liked the southern exposure because they could see ships approaching the Greek Islands. They would hide in the caves and come out when the ships were close and didn’t have a chance to advert course. The word kleftico comes from the Greek word “kleftis” which means “thief/robbery”. Our English word “kleptomaniac” (an impulse disorder resulting in the irresistible urge to steal) is derived from the Greek language.

We stayed for about 30 minutes. It was plenty because of being anchored in the choppy seas. After leaving the water, I even had to focus on the horizon to maintain equilibrium and not feel nauseous.

Side note: Our driver for Milos, Yiannis, told us in the winter, the seas are too rough to voyage to Kleftiko Beach. He said you must take a 1.5 hour drive and view the seas and caves from above.

Our next stop was to see another entrance to another sea cave. We didn’t have an opportunity to swim. Just pictures.

We continued to sail back along the coast to our second swim spot. The water was much calmer. But, so much COLDER! Mom swam this time and agreed the water was COLD! After 30 minutes of swimming, the crew served us lunch. It was delicious. We had traditional Greek moussaka. It is an eggplant dish that resembles lasagna. Although sometimes vegetarian, onboard it was served with ground meat. The sides included, Greek salad, two types of beans, cabbage salad, and bread. Again, the lunch view didn’t disappoint.

After lunch, we continued along the coast and stopped one final time for a third swim. We stopped off the coast at Plathiena Beach. I took yet another dip. The water was warmer, yet still chilly and an amazing color of turquoise. The rocky coast was amazing. We named the out cropped rock “Mo Rock” – because it resembled Mo, my Mom’s puppy.

As we set sail again, our guide told us this rock is actually called Aekoudes or “Bear Rock”. As we sailed, our perspective changed and we realized why it is called Bear Rock.

As we came back into the port Adamantas, we saw the sea village we hiked through on Thursday. It was fun to see it from the coast. We also had a chance to see the highest point we hiked to that day in the town of Plaka. Look for the highest white building on the mountain. It is a church we hiked to in Plaka.

The crew gave us a departing gift of a Greek donut and a shot of something like Ouzo but better. Cheers!

After showers, we finished the day shopping, dinner, and walking the lovely neighborhood streets. We definitely enjoyed our time in Milos. It is a hidden gem with all the Greek charm and hospitality without too many tourists.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing our experiences.

Hiking Kimolos Island

We started our day with a 6:30 taxi ride to the Pollina Marina to catch the 7:15 ferry to the island of Kimolos. Once we arrived we were hiking by 8:00am.

The first part of the 9.5 mile hike was around the fishing village of Goupa. Goupa is an old traditional fishing village. The old sea caves / cliffs have been converted into garages. In many places the waves were right up against the doors. The views were stunning in the morning sun. It truly feels like you’re walking through a time capsule. There are no vendors, stores, cafes or anything catering to tourists.

The trail did get a little tricky to follow. Fortunately, someone got tired of people coming into their yard and painted the way!

We continued along the water until it was time to start the climb! Whew! Was it ever a dusty climb!

A couple facts about the island of Kimolos. In the 2021 census, there were 810 residents. Only about 600 stay during non tourist season. Also, there are 80 churches and chapels on the island. We didn’t have time to see them all… but here are a few.

A few fun pictures and cats from the hike.

The goal of this part of the hike was to see Skiadi. Skiadi is a natural rock monument that resembles a giant mushroom. It is location high in the hills means there’s often strong winds, and the softer rock at the base erodes quicker than the harder rock above. Due to its size and shape, it’s catalogued in the Atlas of Geological Monuments of the Aegean. Without further delay I share with you Skiadi.

Skiadi

We were a slightly underwhelmed. But made up for it by taking silly pictures. We sat in shade and ate our snacks before heading back down. The little lizard wanted to be friends.

The views of the sea were breathtaking.

If you decide to take this hike. Do the first part and have someone drive you up to the trail for Skiadi. You can skip the climb and it would be about 1.5 hour round trip. You won’t miss much….

Nonetheless, we had fun. We walked through the heart of town and enjoyed ice cream. And then finally the finish line beer! Well earned!

We boarded the 4:30 ferry back to Milos. We enjoyed dinner at a spot recommended by our driver Yiannis. It was delicious. Snapper and Grouper.

A few last shots of the marina. Check out the ink draining from the octopus!!

Yiannis picked us up and asked if we had time to stop at Sarakiniko Beach. Sure! Wow! Talk about a lunar landscape. According to Wikipedia, this is the most photographed beach in the Aegean Sea. Definitely not hard to see why!

Thanks for reading. We had a full day! Tomorrow we take a break from hiking and go sailing!

Athens to Milos

Today we caught the SeaJet II ferry to Milos.

We left Athens on the 7:40am ferry. To be sure we had plenty of time – our transfer delivered us an hour early. There was a little bit of drama getting our voucher turned into a ticket. Bottom line it worked out just fine. It was a 3 hour ferry ride to the island of Milos. Most of which I snoozed on and off. Here’s a couple pics of the transit.

Athens to Milos
An island along the transit with so many windmills.
Approaching Milos
Hello Milos!

Our next transfer promptly picked us up and we were at the hotel in minutes. Unfortunately, it was too early for check in. So we decided to grab lunch and then head out on our hike. We found a spot for lunch and they were still serving breakfast- or not using the oven. So we opted for a salad.

Mediterranean Salad

This was at the restaurant. It was a place to tie up your dog. The ice cream cone is a trash can. And there is a cat who all the employees would pet.

So cute

It was almost 1pm by the time we finished lunch and grabbed some water. It was warm and sunny with a delightful breeze as we started our 9.5km hike. The views were spectacular.

I must bring attention to all the doors in Greece. They are so welcoming and cute. Oh and plus the cats!🐈 they were everywhere today. I’ll make a separate post about all the nekos. They were the best. Here are a few of my favorites.