Harlequin Travels in Santorini – DAY 5 & 6: Perissa’s Local Sights

After the eventful Day 4, we decided to relax for a few days – it was the weekend and it was also time to make the most of time off work and catch up on sleep! We decided to stay in the local area for the weekend and explore local sights (as well as relax and make the most of the sunbeds!) and saw a lot of things we wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t looked around. As with the last few days, the day was a beautiful sunny one, and the breeze from the sea meant that we didn’t feel too scorched from the sun.

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We decided to spend some time in the local beach for lunch, before we wandered around the town – I love the fact that there a lot of relics and artwork around the town, admittedly a lot of it for the purpose of tourism, but all adding a flavour to the town which was lovely.

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Hubby and I were excited to find and Indian and Thai place, as we wanted to find out if they served halal food. The restaurant we found was called Visanto, on the beach strip along the seafront, and served a variety of dishes to satisfy our Asian tastebuds. Unfortunately, none of these dishes had halal meat, so we had to stick to vegetarian dishes (and chips!)

After lunch we took the opportunity to look at the local sights, which was around the main are of the the beach, and also some roads leading off from there. The St Irini Church was our first stop, the church being named after the Saint Irene (which is what the island Santorini’s name also refers to) –   a beautiful big building of white and blue which was tucked away toward the mountains.

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We then wandered around the local shops and then decided to stop for gelato at a local ice-cream parlour, which ad some beautifully shaped seating chairs and benches, and some seriously yummy-sounding flavours of ice cream (although we just opted for traditional vanilla with chocolate!)

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We then decided to around in the the area towards the green, foresty areas, which had some private houses and closed-hotels dotted around, and lots of winding paths leading us around the area. We also managed to speak to some locals – one businessman, for example, told us he was originally from Athens, and when enquiring where we were from, told us there were a lot of Pakistanis who had settled in Athens when he was growing up, which was really interesting to hear!

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It was a really nice relaxing weekend, where we met and spoke to a lot of locals, caught up on sleep (in the hotels and the sunbeds!) and ate at a few restaurants. It also felt a little slower-paced, where we took the opportunity to meander around the town and explore, and also have a lazy weekend!

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Harlequin Travels in Santorini – DAY 1: Arrival/Perissa

Santorini Day 1: Hotel Rena, Perissa and Perissa Beach

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View from plane window

From the very outset of our arrival, Santorini as an island was beautiful. The weather was completely sunny and clear even while travelling on the aeroplane, and (having the window sea!) the window view was beautiful – clear blue seas, high cliffs, beaches and hundreds of tiny roads. We arrived at a tiny airport in the middle of a lot of greenery, checked out quickly from the airport with our luggage and met a beautiful temperature of 27° C which was perfect.

 

We took a coach to the hotel’s entrance, which involved a small path off the main road of shops and bars into a private lane, with trees painted white lining the way. This is the entrance of our hotel, which had a swimming pool and bar at the entrance before walking into the lobby:

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We arrived very early afternoon (Santorini is only 2 hours ahead of London) so we took a quick nap, changed and went out to explore. Our hotel was located in an area called Perissa, which is more south of the island, and a lot quieter than some of the other areas we visited. We visited in early May, which is early in the tourist season – a lot of restaurateurs and shop-sellers told us that it was quiet for now and would get a lot busier from the end of May until July – which was perfect for me because I hate crowds.

The main thing which struck me about this island was how green it is. It sounds obvious, it’s an island so naturally there’s be plenty of forests and mountains, but none of this is advertised when you Google Santorini – it’s all beaches and blue water. And there’s a mountain on every corner – to get anywhere you must drive around winding roads – our coach took us round and round the roads of a mountain to get to the buildings at the top, and yet from our mountain we could see other ones all over the island.

The mountain facing our hotel
The mountain facing our hotel

One of the places we’d made a note that we wanted to visit was Perissa Beach, and luckily this was literally around the corner from us – at the end of our hotel’s lane, we’d turn left and see the sea immediately, and a long row of shops, bars and cafes alongside the beach itself.

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Perissa Beach is also called the ‘Black Sand Beach’, named for it’s dark sand of volanic origin – there’s a good few places like this all over the island but this is one of the more renowned ones.

TIPS:

  • If you buy a drink or a meal from one of the restaurants along this strip, you get access to their beach beds and WiFi – make sure you ask about these if you want them.
  • There’s plenty of restaurants and cafes – don’t just go in the first one, look around and compare prices, a lot of the menus are the same but some are cheaper than others.
  • There’s enough variety of cuisine all over the island – we found an Indian and Thai restaurant, a burger place, an ice cream/gelato place and some Chinese restaurants!

We stopped for a meal – unfortunately we were unable to find any halal places anywhere, but we both like trying sea food and there’s also plenty of vegetarian options.

We went to a restaurant called Apollon, and ordered grilled swordfish with rice and chips, and a cheese-feast pizza. The fish was amazingly tender and juicy, and the pizza was the same – we could see that the fish was fresh and the portions were pretty big.

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After this we decided to relax on the beach beds, enjoy the view and soak up the sun with a cold Coke and a book (in my case) and mobiles (his!) and watch the boats go by. We didn’t go swimming in the sea because we weren’t dressed for it, and we wanted to do this on another day, but we did take the opportunity to shed our sandals and dig our feet into the sand.

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After we’d had enough of lazing around, we talk a short walk around the town to explore on our way back to the hotel. We saw a lot of beautifully decorated buildings and roads on the way back, and everywhere we walked there were flowers growing on vines, in plant pots and climbing up walls.

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I loved the fact that there were plenty of tiny cafes and restaurants hidden away, which were perfect when we wanted to get snacks, cups of coffee or drinks in the evening.

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It was a really nice first day on the island, the heat was lovely without being too intense, and the people we spoke to were really friendly. Most of them were able to speak English fluently and were quite helpful in telling us different places to visit and things to try – it was a fairly relaxing day which was just what we needed after an aeroplane flight!

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Honeymoon Travels…Santorini Sun, Sandals and Sand

I’ve been absent for a few days, so apologies for that, but its only because we’ve decided to whisk off to the Greek Islands! I’ve decided to post a sort of travelogue of our time in Santorini, which is the main island we’ve stayed at, since I wanted to show the main things we’ve been up to and also any tips and recommendations for anyone wishing to visit.

To start off with is this glorious view of Thira, the capital of Santorini and one of it’s most busiest places and port. It’s difficult to show the best parts of this island and things we saw and places we went to, so this is one (of many!) photographs I took, which shows the iconic blue-and-white landscape – pure white buildings alongside a beautiful azure blue sea and plenty of boats.

I’ll be posting more very soon, the weather was absolutely beautiful and everything was very vibrant – the sea, the food, the markets and the sunsets – and it was a brilliant (and much needed) break!

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Flashback Friday: Topkapi Palace

One of the places I would recommend to anyone visiting Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace, a gorgeously luxurious palace-slash-museum with some seriously gorgeous artifacts, and several buildings and gardens to wander around and admire. I love looking at historical pieces, and there were several from different eras of the Ottoman Empire, but the best thing about this place was wandering around the different gardens and palace buildings and seeing the work that went into each of them.

Wherever you wander, there’s blue tiles, gilded gold walls and beautiful arched doorways to walk through and explore, although I think my favourite place was a small clearing on the side of the palace which lead to a view of the sea – serene, peaceful and somewhere to think about the history of this palace and its legacy.

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That Time I Made Cookies

And they came out perfect. I like doing a little baking every now and then, and usually get the recipes from people I know, like one of my sisters who excels at baking.

These are double chocolate chip cookies that I made a batch of, and which I was pleased with because not only did they only take about 10 minutes to bake, they were beautifully soft and chewy and very chocolatey!

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I’m sure I’ll be making more of these again, they got eaten way too fast (I also took a few into the office, but there wasn’t enough for everybody!) – I’m pretty sure there’s a hijabi Betty Crocker in me somewhere!

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Serenity is…

...standing by the the colour blue, looking for fishies, enjoying the salty breeze on your face and looking at ships glowing as they sail by.

I’ve been completely unable to switch on my computer this past week, either because I’ve finished work late, only to rush home and have to do some house chores, or end up shopping for lipsticks and chocolate cake groceries and milk and stuff. Which usually means that I have around an hour before bed and not much time to switch a computer on.

So I’m making the most of a lazy weekend (which consisted a marathon watch of season 1 of Broadchurch, home-made popcorn and some geeky online gaming – that one’s my husband, not me) and making sure I managed to sit down with my computer and catch up on reading, browsing and photos!

Here’s one of my favourites, my husband and I managed to get a free spot on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, where the fishing trade is a popular one, and makes for a beautiful view as well. We tried our hand at it for a few minutes before giving up, but it was worth stopping for just to see the boats sailing by, the smell of freshly-caught-and-cooked fish along the pier, and the amazing stillness when you sit for a while and watch the blue ripples.

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Honeymoon Travels: The Grand Bazaar

I have always loved going to markets of all types, and I always seek them out when I’m in new places – so naturally I wanted to visit the famous (and biggest) market in Istanbul, which was the Grand Bazaar.

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It was certainly nothing like I expected, which was something like an open bazaar with people flogging their wares on stalls. The Grand Bazaar is just that, grand and diverse. Most of the market is inside an old building with several winding hallways and corridors, each one packed on both sides with sellers and shops. Below are just a few of the things which caught my eye, lanterns, carpets, scarves, lamps, spices and sweets, but there’s so much more. I caught sight of fake Louboutins, gold jewellery, ice creams, jewellery, paintings and hundreds more things which are available on display.

We ended up spending a few hours here looking for souvenirs, haggling and comparing, and came away a little dazed and overwhelmed, not to mention the fact that we had entered from one of the Market and exited half a mile in another direction!