A walk in heaven – Santorini diaries part 1
Do you ever feel like leaving everything and running away to a place that can drown your sorrows, let you breathe?
After gruelling for four and a half years in medical school, we had a month to live our lives before returning back to the mundane world. For this, we chose the land of Gods and beaches – Greece, the best decision ever! Be it a honeymoon, or a trip with your college gang, or even with your family, Greece will never disappoint.
Today I would love to share one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had- difficult, yet worth every drop of sweat – the hike in Santorini, from the town of Fira to Oia village.
Often we come across beautiful international destinations aptly captured in movies and song videos, Santorini is everything and more. The main attraction in Santorini, apart from the beaches and churches of Fira, is this little village called Oia, situated at the tail of this beautiful island. Travellers can choose to take a bus from Fira to Oia, which takes about thirty minutes, or take the road less travelled by and plunge into the depth of the beauty it offers.
Now you would wonder, what is so special about Oia? Well, lets just put it this way – once you witness the postcard-perfect landscape and the picture-perfect sunset, I assure you, the entire aura will stay with you forever. It is the perfect portrait of God ’s beautiful creation.
But then why to trek the whole path instead of saving time and taking the bus or a rental? For this, just broaden your imagination and contemplate, if the destination is so charismatic, how beautiful would the journey be! Why hurry in life when you can soak in the beauty of nature and rejoice for a bit. We are travellers, not tourists and this is what we do – experience and explore!
Our morning had the most amazing start because we got to greet the sparkling diamond in the sky hello from our little cave house. Yes, we lived in an actual cave, which was the prettiest room ever, and that too for just 30 Euros a night per head. And it was from its terrace that we could see the hot ball of light making its way up from the horizon over the Aegean sea – an amazing sight to behold.
On that note, we started our day. Three friends, with high spirits, commenced on the route to Oia, along the Caldera rim. If you are confused as to how to journey through unknown roads in a foreign land without a guide, here is a piece of advice – keep the sea to your left and the whitewashed houses with the blue doors to your right and you are good to go. We followed this advice literally and did not get lost even for a moment. Considering the worst case scenario, even if you find yourself lost, the locals will always be there to guide you, for the entire caldera rim basically consists of different towns of Santorini and hence is barely ever devoid of human touch.
We started a little early in the morning to avoid the wrath of the sun and carried light snacks, well because we do need food for thought, like literally. It usually takes around three and a half hours to reach the beautiful village of Oia, but we took five hours – not because the route was difficult, but the view was so mesmerizing that we couldn’t help but admire mother nature. Make sure your camera has enough memory because this hike will surely require many clicks! Right at the beginning of the trek, we could admire the magnificent volcano island, enveloped by the sea on all four sides with the backdrop of the town of Fira with its snow-white houses. Do not forget to capture this picture perfect shot.
On travelling further, we came across some narrow paths and some steep ones too, but they entailed a sense of adventure on a rather straight route. These were complemented with some beautiful cobblestone streets lined with such pretty houses that made us want to shift there for good. All this while, having the vast sea with the cool winds as our constant guide.
The journey of life comes with its highs and lows, so did this route. Those steep climbs, tracing around the hills and down into the valley, just to tread another hill, got a little exhausting. But just like there is always light at the end of a tunnel, these climbs gifted us with views which could never be appreciated had we taken a bus.
We walked for a bit, ran sometimes, danced to the songs that we were playing out loud and greeted the fellow adventurers who had dared to take this route. But above this, it was what I felt as a person that made me fall in love with this hike. The cool breeze blew away the pain in my legs, gave me the strength to keep going, to experience the journey to a beautiful ending.
There was this spot en-route, where we could see the part of the caldera rim that we had covered, with the sea holding its hands on both sides! Yes, Santorini is an island and we could see the vertical belt of Santorini surrounded by blue, with us, at the highest possible point on the island. It was like looking back at life, seeing our hard work turn into something so beautiful, making us realize that every bend in the road would be worth it, in the end, the key being – to never give up! Just a little while after engulfing the serenity of this view and contemplating life, we were gifted with another beautiful, picturesque image. This time the small houses of Oia were surrounded by lush green terrains on the hill, with the Aegean sea right at its pinnacle.
We couldn’t wait to get closer and become a part of this beauty. We walked a little more and there, just before entering the town of Oia, there is a point where you can see the entire town, with the creamy white houses at different heights with the three blue domes of the churches, arranged perfectly to give you a postcard shot and a scene etched in your minds forever.
We walked on the same route, again, hand in hand with the sea, to reach the sunset point, which was overcrowded even during the offseason. So we again chose to ditch the crowd and bid the sun farewell from one of the streets, and it did not disappoint us. We witnessed the sea welcoming the ball of orange and laid back in peace. Alternatively, people opt to sit in one of the pricey cafes providing the sunset view. After witnessing the best possible ending to the most exhilarating journey, we took the last bus back to Fira and laid back, rejoicing.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost