Wednesday, September 7, 2011

European Adventure: Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece was one of the ports of call of the Norwegian Jade that we were most looking forward to visiting! Santorini not only met our expectations, it definitely surpassed them. Words do not properly describe the experience of being in Santorini and we highly recommend you add it to your list of places to visit!

Santorini is one of the many islands that make up the Cyclades in the Aegean sea. The capital of the island is the town of Fira. Santorini is actually now three islands due to one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in the history of earth that occurred over 3,500 year ago. The volcano's caldera stands out in the Aegean sea and can been seen from both Fira and Oia Village.

Oia Village (pronounced E-ah) is amazing. It is famous for its blue domed churches, white washed houses and narrow walkways that are a labyrinth to get around. Every turn you take in Oia Village has amazing "post card" photo opportunities. In Oia Village you can definitely relax and do whatever it is you enjoy the most. There are tons of shops and cafes to explore.

We took a tour called "Charming Oia Village" that we booked with the shore excursion office on board the NCL Jade. We only had about an hour and a half in Oia Village, which we felt wasn't long enough! We would have definitely wanted to spend more time taking in the views and culture.

We highly recommend that you allow ample time to explore Oia Village if you ever visit. Walkways sometime come to dead ends or continue to spiral down the side of the cliff, but you see beautiful patios and courtyards that are as heavenly as the one pictured below.

Next, we visited the town of Fira. Although still beautiful, Fira has the feel of a larger city and is not as pristine as Oia village. We walked around and visited the only Catholic church on the island.

There is a winding path from Fira down to the sea which has numbered steps. This is the same path that many tourists take donkey rides that either go up or down.

After a long day of sightseeing, we headed to Fanari Resturant for what turned out to be one of the best meals of our lives! The food, ambiance, view of the caldera and the perfect Santorini sunset made it the most memorable evening of our three week European getaway.

We started off with an order of homemade tzatziki. It was so thick and creamy that we couldn't stop eating it!

Then we ordered baked feta and a glass of nykteri. Nyteri means "night work" and is a local wine made on the island of Santorini. The grape vines grow on the floor instead of wrapping themselves on a trellis. You should definitely try it!

Because we were already getting full from our two appetizers, we shared an order of moussaka. It has layers and layers of eggplant, ground meat, and simply indulgent b├ęchamel sauce! Think of it as a Greek version of a lasagna. Yum!!

For dessert, we had a huge slice of baklava. Although we usually share dessert, the waiter recommended that we each order our own piece. Baklava is made with layers and layers of filo dough, walnuts and honey. Its crispy, sweet and delicious. We paired it with a dessert wine made in Santorini called vinosanto. Vinsanto is made through a unique process where the grapes are laid out in the sun for eight to 10 days to ferment, dry up like a raisin and then pressed. Vinsanto is pricer than nykteri because is takes a larger amount of grapes to produce the wine.

We finished our wonderful meal with complimentary shots of ouzo! We thought the restaurant was very affordable. Two appetizers, one entree, four glasses of wine, two desserts and two shots of ouzo cost us only $40.

After our meal, we decided to take donkey rides down to the sea to catch our tender back to the ship. Mrs. P was a little nervous to ride the donkeys, but she was glad she did! If you want to experience this, you have to do it in Santorini because this was the only Greek island we visited that had donkey rides. Donkey rides cost $5 per person.

Our picture-perfect day ended with a beautiful sunset! Until we meet again Santorini!

For more photos of Santorini, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

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