Day 7 – Monday 29th – A quest to find a Kiwi daiquiri

Monday was our last full day on Santorini, and we had our last hotel breakfast of Greek yoghurt, honey and nutella. We decided to head to Monolithos beach for a paddle rather than jostle with the crowds in Kamari. I still struggled with the sand temperature and made a mental note to bring some water shoes if I visit again, no matter how unattractive they may be! We enjoyed the peace and quiet for a while and headed back to the hotel to change, stopping in at the Donkey brewery on the way. It’s quite a small place but it was interesting to see, and we bought a few items from their gift ‘shop’. For lunch we wanted something a little different and despite them begging at us to come in their restaurant each day (which bugs me a lot!) we decided to give ‘Sunshine’ a go, apparently their pasta is made freshly from scratch.

The pasta was OK but I have had better at home. They did have some rather good tomato fritters though. We decided to browse some of the tacky trinket shops to see if there were any little gifts to get our parents, I did find some nice gift packs of olive oils and a shop selling funky shells which I plan to use in my bathroom. At this point we had done most of what we planned, which we knew would be the case with seven days in the same place. We decided to rent some kayaks on Kamari beach for an hour or so. This ended up being great fun and I wished we had done it earlier!

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I wasn’t too sure on renting them there because the beach was just so packed full and we always overlooked it, but it was great fun and we could just relax and paddle about to our hearts content. It was a little later in the day so they weren’t timing us and we could basically hang out in the sea for as long as we wanted. I took this opportunity to swim in the sea without having to navigate the roasting hot rocks and sand. The water once you get a little further out was a great clear turquoise colour, this isn’t so visible from the shore. We enjoyed dodging the boats, stand up paddle boards and the occasional swimmer.

After a while we were beginning to get a little hungry again, and decided to head back and figure out where we would have our last dinner. Originally we planned to go to a fancier place, or to Metaxy Mas which I had heard great things about, but we just felt like staying local and going for something simple. We also felt like a change from Greek meals and decided on a whim to try the Asian restaurant called ‘Kiwi’ which was fairly close to the hotel. They served Chinese and Thai food, so I wasn’t expecting too much as places that combine two cuisines are generally not the best. I am not sure if it’s because it had been a while since we had it or not but I was pleasantly surprised with the food – it  was all quite tasty. Not the best I have ever had but considering where we were it was good value.

The setting was a bit of an oriental garden with lanterns which was quite cool. I think plenty of other tourists had the same vision as the restaurant was packed full before too long. Afterward we went to Dolce daiquiri bar to hunt down the Kiwi daiquiri I had found on one of our first days. Finally I had found the place serving it and it was great! It didn’t really taste too much of kiwi, I am not sure what the taste even was but it was definitely a good one. And it looked very impressive for sure! I did want to try another flavour as they had more variety than anywhere else, but Chris had waffle cravings and I didn’t want to be drunk and packing a suitcase so we went for dessert instead.

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Afterward we packed and got ready to leave in the morning. Tuesday was rather uneventful except for a very good vanilla cream pastry from a bakery around the corner for the hotel just before we left. The flight wasn’t delayed which was good, but it was still annoying having no free water on board. We would probably avoid flying with Thomson again in the future and instead swing via Athens for our next Greek island trip if we can’t find a direct flight.

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Day 6 – Sunday 28th – The day we were almost extras in a yoga video

We headed out for breakfast at a yellow restaurant on the Kamari boardwalk. It was one of the only ones with a varied breakfast menu and I really fancied some pancakes. Afterward we planned to head to Emporio and find the windmills although this was more challenging than it needed to be so we gave up and explored some random lanes and a few little supermarkets before heading towards Fira. We gave it another go but it still wasn’t our favourite place, although we found a quiet little gyro stand for lunch. Lucky’s had queues out of the door so we headed to a small place in the shade which had really tasty food, but the pork was a little bit fatty.

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There were no real plans today so we attempted a paddle in the sea back at Kamari, this wasn’t too successful as the sand and rocks were trying to either melt my feet or bash them up! We decided to climb Skaros Rock for sunset views so drove back to Imerovigli and had dinner at the same place as before. The food wasn’t as good second time around unfortunately. The hike wasn’t very challenging, very easy to start with although it got rockier towards the end. There was a man filming a yoga video along the way which was interesting, the backdrop was definitely perfect! We couldn’t get on the very top of the rock without scaling some vertical rocks so found a little perch to have our own private sunset. Skaros rock is a great place to see the views of the caldera lit up from the other side too, it was cool watching everything light up for the evening.

After gazing at the scenery a while we made the stroll back before it got too dark, and headed back to our favourite waffle spot in Kamari for treats before bed.

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Day 5 – Saturday 27th – Mastering the art of stand up paddle boarding

After witnessing it yesterday, we decided last minute to call Santorini Sea Kayaks to find out availability for a guided stand up paddle boarding trip. As we were complete newbies to this we decided a guided trip would be a good introduction and would avoid us getting lost and paddling our way to Crete! We were hoping to book in somewhen over the next few days but the only available slot for the rest of our stay was in one hours time. Why not! We got ready lightening fast and got ourselves down to Akitori beach, stopping in Pyrgos on the way for breakfast pastries. We decided to drive ourselves instead of the free shuttle bus so we didn’t lose time afterwards likely being the last ones dropped off, and could continue to explore the area afterward.

On our way to the Akrotiri area we got a little lost but ultimately arrived early so decided to share a Nutella pastry at the beach there as the first round of pastries didn’t quite fill us up! We walked along to the Santorini Sea Kayaks building right on the beach and met up with the owners and our guide, and their lovely labrador who was so cute! She kept fetching her stick from the sea and making cute sounds, I wanted to take her home! The tour only had two other takers so it was a nice size and more intimate. The two others were girls travelling around Europe on their summer break from America. We had seen paddle boarding whilst on holiday in Hawaii and really wanted to try it. Our guide, Harris, gave us a brief introduction and we waded out on our boards, with them attached to us by an ankle strap.

At first I was sat on my knees as I didn’t feel too confident, and then moved towards ‘standing’ on my knees when I got a little more balance. Even in the slightest wind at first it felt very wobbly, but it got easier as I got the hang of things. One member of our group managed to drift far out several times, I think staying closer to the shore makes it easier to control the board as the winds are less strong. You wouldn’t want to make a few wrong motions and be on your way to a different island! The route we took wasn’t the most scenic of beach spots but you are at the mercy of the wind.

Along the way we did a few stop offs at beaches, not particularly stunning but still cool to see with their cave houses and interesting shapes. We had a snack stop and tried some Greek nibbles – honey sesame sticks, sticky fig snacks and honeydew melon. I’m not normally a fan of melon but this was super sweet and so juicy it was dribbling everywhere! The tour was around 2.5 hours and the second half more challenging as the wind really picked up. Chris was rather shocked to happen upon a nudist beach and I think almost toppled off his board! I was ‘in the zone’ trying my best to stay upright and missed seeing his reaction.

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2Towards the middle of the trip I was a lot more confident at controlling the board and managed to stand up fully most of the way, with the occasional sit down due to rocky seas!  Harris took photos of us all in action which was a nice touch, and these got emailed to us afterward which was a great idea and we didn’t have to worry about wrestling with our own cameras. At the end we clambered up to shore and got a lift back to our starting point. Harris and his team gave us a bunch of suggestions of places to visit and we said goodbye to them and their dog and headed off in search of lunch.

As we hadn’t yet explored Fira properly we decided to head there, but it was beyond mental packed full of cruise ships and bus tours so we struggled to appreciate it a little bit. Oia and Imerovigli were more our kind of place. Chris struggled with the crowds and the area surrounding the port smelled very strongly of wee, I presume from the donkeys! We browsed a few menus around but the prices were so inflated compared to everywhere else for basic food so we decided to head to Oia instead. We parked up and walked past a yellow restaurant called Skala and decided to give it a go.

The burgers here were very good, big, juicy and made from scratch. As were the tomato fritters which were probably our second favourite of the trip after Zorbas Taverna. The views eating along here never get old. We had a stroll around for a little while afterward, but the sunset circus started to grow so we decided to head back to the hotel for some late pool time. We didn’t have any plans for the evening and decided to pop into the Albatross beach bar along Kamari beachfront as they had live acoustic music and a fun cocktail menu. I liked that they served their cocktails in funky jars and stripy straws, a bit trendier than the other places! After feeling a little merry we had a midnight urge for a waffle stop at Megka on our walk back to the hotel.

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Day 4 – Friday 26th – An over-active morning and a leisurely afternoon

Around 9am we woke up and strolled down to the breakfast room. I settled down with a bowl of slightly unconventional Greek yoghurt with melted Nutella. Probably not supposed to be put together but it works. Today was the sunset sailing trip with Santorini Sailing so we decided to use the morning attempting the hike across the huge chunk of mountain between Kamari and Perissa. We drove up as far as Ancient Thira and took to the footpath. Soon it became apparent we weren’t going the most logical route as it was a fairly pleasant down hill route with mild sun on the way there versus an uphill slog in intense sun on the return! I also forgot my asthma inhaler too – so bonus points to me for being extra unprepared!

The drive up to Ancient Thira was full of hair bend turns but good fun, I guess we could have walked this bit too but seeing as we had the car we figured why not save the hassle! Once on the hiking path the walk was very rocky and uneven – definitely one for proper trainers and not to be attempted in flip flops. We got down to Perissa fairly quickly after stopping to admire the view a few times. Once at the bottom we had a little stroll around, but as we expected and similarly to Kamari it was packed full of people and sun beds so not the most photogenic area.

After a brief break we armed ourselves with fresh cold bottles of water and began the return schlep. It was a bit more intense than I expected, probably because I barely stopped to take a break and powered back up as best as I could, baking in the sun which really amplified the effort required! We passed a fair few people along the way who had given up and were taking refuge on the sidelines! Eventually after dodging some really uneven patches we stumbled to the top, I had a great sense of achievement and it was good to know my fairly modest breakfast had probably been burned off in the process.

Whilst we had been gone it had gotten busy at the top with various tours and taxis dropping groups off at Ancient Thira. The car park was a circus and Chris had to do a few tight manoeuvres to get us out with a bit of an audience. The drive back down to Kamari beach was a little nerve wracking with the drops but I guess if we fell it would only be to the next section of track below, I’m not sure how reassuring that is though! After trundling down behind some quad bikes we made it back to the hotel just before lunch and squeezed in some pool, book and sunbathing time as a reward for all of the activity.

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I was always surprised by how empty the pool area at our hotel was during the day, the pool was rather small so it was a blessing but there was rarely more than six people there at any one time. After some R&R we packed up ready for the sailing trip armed with a fully charged camera, tons of sun lotion and the scabby hotel towels after forgetting to bring ours from home. We were the first people to be picked up and got an additional little tour of the island as we hopped around picking everyone else up on our way to the port.

We drove down to Ammoudi Bay and boarded the Dream Catcher boat. Our trip had a bunch of people from lots of different countries, I think we had people from China, India, America, Spain, UK, Australia and even some Greeks! The team on board were friendly and entertaining, and we had a good trip stopping off at various different places. I enjoyed swimming out to the hot springs and it was good having a pool noodle to float with which enabled you to be a little lazy if needed. I was initially wearing a white swimsuit and thankfully they warned me ahead the hot springs could stain it orange, luckily I had a trusty black back up in my bag ready to go.

The views of the caldera from the ocean side were interesting, we cruised past white beach which didn’t excite me too much, and red beach which looked far cooler – although I don’t know if I would be up for sunbathing with falling rocks above like some people appeared to be. In between we saw some cool cave and fishing houses, and we passed some people stand up paddle boarding, another activity on my wish list. We anchored by Red Beach for dinner and the beginning of the sunset. Chris went for a swim in the turquoise waters and I decided to give this one a miss so I was dry for dinner which was a stupid mistake as I never got to swim in the brightest part of the sea.

Dinner was a yummy mix of Greek dishes including Greek salad, roasted vegetables, feta pasta salad, tzaziki made in front of us, bread, grilled pork and chicken. The bar had unlimited beer, wine, water and soft drinks. The toilets were a bit dodgy though, you had to pump flush them each time and I’m not too sure they were used effectively, every time you went down there they weren’t too far from overflowing! The food was all very good, and we got talking to the Greek girls and guys who were visiting friends who lived in Santorini. As the sun started to dip down we set off again on our way back towards the harbour.

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Towards the end we got a little bonus of some spontaneous dolphin jumping which was great and a cool way to round off the trip. The sun set with lots of colours and was really pretty, I am not sure whether the sea or the caldera view was best so it’s definitely worth experiencing both. The only way to improve the trip would be to cruise back towards Ammoudi Bay for the views of the caldera lit up for the evening. Instead we were at the south of the island and hoped to be one of the first drop offs back to Kamari which was fairly close, however we lucked out and were the last ones to be dropped off after a tour up to Oia and back.

We did get to see a bright field of Santorini tomatoes on the drive which although it sounds uneventful was actually quite cool to see. Once we made it back to the hotel we made a spontaneous decision to head out for dessert despite feeling ready for bed. Kamari was in full evening swing, and we aimed for Megka, one of the casual spots serving crepes, waffles and ice cream on the beachfront. I went for a sugar overdose of a crepe with white chocolate and praline. Chris had ice cream with his instead, both were very good although the filling in mine was very rich and a bit much even for me. We tried to walk it off a little bit before heading back to the room to relax and finally sleep.

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Day 3 – Thursday 25th – Sleepy cats, sunsets and scenic routes

Due to having the doors and shutters closed from the road noise we somehow snoozed through breakfast. This was OK though as today we were able to switch to a much better room, double the size with a nice peaceful courtyard view. Everything about the room was much better, except for that pesky shower curtain which had unfortunately followed us. Our plan was to find a Greek bakery for breakfast, but we instead found ourselves on the way to Pyrgos. This was a cute little town without too many crowds around, apart from the occasional group of Chinese tourists. The views here were good, and we enjoyed climbing the steps and exploring the various alleyways. From the top there were great views out towards the sea, of whitewashed buildings and the occasional blue dome.

Once we reached the highest point we were treated to the nice cool breeze again. We strolled around, passing several sleepy cats snoozing on the gift items – I think they appreciated the cold smooth surface of the patterned tiles! I had heard great things about Penelope’s so when we spotted it we stopped in for a bit of a makeshift brunch. Feeling very peckish at this point, we ordered fried cheese, tzatziki, tomato balls, meatballs and a plate of fries to share. This also came with a complimentary basket of freshly baked bread. Ordering food on an empty stomach made for an ambitious amount of food, but Chris the pack-it-all-in boyfriend did a good job of finishing the bits I couldn’t manage.

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The food was very good, and it was nice inside, a smallish place that only started to get busy when we were on our way out. We strolled back down towards the car and headed back to the hotel for some afternoon pool time. We spent a few hours there this time, basking in the sun, swimming and me reading my latest book addition; Gone Girl. Unfortunately I was sporting a very trendy sunglasses tan at this point due to my very sensitive eyes meaning I couldn’t last a few minutes without putting them on! We had a hankering for an ice cold drink and had to stroll down to the beachfront as our hotel pool bar was closed.

We ordered some cokes somewhere that advertised free sun beds to paying customers, but he still tried to charge us so we decided to take them down to the water and paddle in the waves. For some reason our pet hate is paying for a sun bed anywhere – paying to sit or lay down just doesn’t make sense to us! It obviously makes sense to most others because the place was packed with beach bums turning every few minutes like rotisserie chickens. Roast until pick on one side, flip and repeat! To each their own I guess. We strolled along the boardwalk for a while before stopping for some gelato.

Tonight we decided to get away from Kamari for dinner, so we got ready and drove to Imerovigli to watch the sunset and see the caldera go from day to night. I had a go at being chief navigator with the new map and successfully got us there and round us a centrally located car park. We strolled around for a while, zig zagging between hotels, restaurants and apartments. There were little gift shops tucked in various nooks and crannies. I really liked it here and got a bit snap happy with my camera again. Everywhere was so photogenic with postcard views. After our rambling we realised we had strolled all the way back to where we started.

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By this time it was only an hour until sunset time (it set around 8.40pm in late june/early july) so we needed to pick somewhere for dinner. We chose Spiliotica café which had lovely views of the sunset and of Oia. The menus were quite limited, I had a fruity mocktail and Chris went for one of the Donkey beers. I had a savoury crepe jammed full of ham, cheese, tomato, mushrooms and bacon. Chris went for his usual exotic option; the burger! My crepe was huge and far better tasting than I expected. Chris didn’t rate his burger too much, but it was quite a cheap place to eat considering the location.

We decided to be fatties and share the dessert crepe. I wasn’t sure if it was frowned upon to eat a savoury followed by a sweet crepe! We went a little wild and ordered one stuffed with milk chocolate, white chocolate and crushed Oreos. Along with some diet cokes this finished off the meal perfectly, it was to die for and I tried not to think about the calories. The sun was setting behind us in all sorts of pretty shades, it was so serene and peaceful here unlike the zoo in other parts of the island. We strolled a little more to see the caldera light up and headed back to the car, stopping in a supermarket on the way for nibbles and water for our room.

The return drive went a little wrong for us, it was dark by now and we were chattering away not looking at a map and somehow zoomed right past the road to Kamari and ended up taking in the delights of Megalochori and surrounds by night! I am sure its a lovely place but at that hour we could only make out the occasional church and supermarket. After giving in and turning on roaming for Google maps we were back on our way to Kamari through Pyrgos.

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Day 2 – Wednesday 24th – Brick beds, beach time, beers and big pizzas.

I woke around 9am feeling a bit rough, unsure if this was due to the gusty air con or the brick of a bed! We decided to check out the free breakfast, reviews online were average at best so we didn’t have high expectations. There wasn’t a big selection and some items were better than others. The greek yoghurt, honey and giant pot of Nutella were particularly tasty, but the bread, cereal and juice left a lot to be desired! The most annoying thing for me was the lack of water available at breakfast – the most basic of drinks! It was watery overly sweet fruit juice or nothing. If they do anything to improve the breakfast I would suggest adding some cold water!

Outside, the skies were a perfect blue with no clouds in sight so we set off to the car for our first day of exploring. We settled on Monolithos beach first and had a little stroll, the crashing waves and lack of a bazillion sun beds made this a more preferable beach than Kamari for us. We did consider staying here, but whilst it was ideal during the day it might have been a little sleepy for us in the evening time, Kamari won on this basis – within a 10 minute stroll we had waffles, cocktails and ice cream when we wanted them!  The sand at Monolithos was already roasting at 10am, I wasn’t prepared for quite how toasty it could be and regretted not picking up a cheapie pair of water shoes!

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After attempting to paddle for a little while, we continued on our way. We spotted someone kite surfing on the beach which looked fun, definitely one to add to the list for a future visit! We ended up on an impromptu road trip with no real plan, heading in the direction of Fira and stopping off every now and then when something caught our eye. There was a funky windmill, a few little cave huts and a fair few scenic view points along the way. We arrived in front of a decent sized car park in Firostefani that wasn’t over subscribed and hopped out to have our first look at the caldera side of the island.

It was definitely a different world from Kamari and we noticed a lot more non-European tourists here. Our first encounter was a hotel worker who (very professionally!) was balancing three large suitcases on himself as he whizzed up and down the steps toward a hotel, with the family looking on from behind and trying to keep up with him! This was quite entertaining for us and we enjoyed watching them not trying to lose him on their way down! The cliff views were lovely here and I did feel a little jealous that we didn’t pay a little extra to stay on the cliff side, but we had the car and it was easy enough for us to get here whenever we wanted.

We strolled around for a while, taking it all in and staring out to the super-blue sea. There were plenty of nice looking restaurants and stores around. We had gotten a fair pace on and realised we were quite a way from the car, so cut up a set of steps back to the road to try and locate it. Once we made it back to the car we were rather hungry, so continued on towards Oia on the quest for a nice lunch. We pulled into a large, partially full car park – too good to be true we thought, of course it wasn’t free! At £3 for five hours it was still a bargain compared to home!

Oia was even more scenic than Firostefani with so many viewpoints and look outs. Two cruise ships were docked so it was rather busy with tourists, cameras and selfie sticks in your face every few steps! We explored a little further, snapping photos, enjoying the colours and how peaceful the sea looked. I browsed in a few of the home stores and picked up a better road map and a few gifts to take home. By chance we found the Santorini Sailing office and booked our sunset tour for two days time. I am usually a big planner but as this was a very last minute trip I had to go against everything I know and wing it; thankfully they had plenty of availability.

A few steps afterward we stumbled upon a restaurant called Skiza which looked nice, and had an upper deck with great views out to the sea and caldera. We lucked out with a table right at the front and it was lovely up there with the gentle breeze making it a little less toasty. The service here was a little shaky though, they took orders for a handful of people who arrived after us before taking ours, and smashed several bottles and glasses during our time there. I thought it was only plate smashing that was a Greek thing!

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Eventually we ordered a large prosciutto and rocket pizza to share, with some Greek sausage on top. This pizza was very good and the dough was made fresh on the premises. This made up for the shoddy service, all of the meals looked good and it was great to just take in some peace and quiet along with the view, quite the opposite from the hustle and bustle on the street down below.

We did want to hang around for dessert as they had all sorts of freshly made goodies, but after a belly full of pizza base we didn’t have any room left. Chris was also convinced we’d only paid for 3 hours parking, I was determined it was 5 so we compromised and strolled a little longer. We walked most of the way down towards Ammoudi Bay before he decided we had to turn around in case Mr Parking Man issued us a fine! We got some cool photos on the way and the sea was so turquoise at points.The steps were slippery and I almost went flying a few times in my sandals. Definitely remember to bring some stable shoes and not leave them in the car like I did!

We also got herded out of the way by donkeys a couple of times which was amusing, one of them was almost taking flight on his way down, stopping for nobody! On our hike back up the steps we were very envious of those we saw chilling out in their infinity pools, whilst we were adjacent to them schlepping up and breaking a sweat! As expected, we arrived back to the car to find that, yes, we had five hours of parking! After rolling my eyes and saying “I told you so”, we headed back to Kamari for some pool time. I hadn’t yet bothered to use my newly bought map which meant we did take a slightly scenic detour back around the lovely tourist sight of.. Santorini Airport! Whoops! We made it back to the pool whilst there was a little sunshine left, so we had a slightly rushed swim/read/relax before heading in to get ready for dinner.

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This is when we first experienced the shower. Chris went first, and is probably a bit (OK a lot) less fussier than me, so when he said the shower wasn’t very good and to be prepared I was a little concerned! I jumped in and initially it was fine, more powerful than expected and a good cool-warm temperature which was perfect for the weather. It was very tiny in size, you couldn’t swing a kitten in there let alone a cat but this didn’t concern me too much either. And then I realised. The shower curtain was possessed. After getting a little wet this thing was clinging on me and basically suffocating me like a zombied jellyfish. It was borderline impossible to stand in the shower without assuming an attack position to defend yourself from the suckling retro-yellow fabric.

Overall not a pleasurable experience! Chris and I chuckled about it and agreed that we’ve witnessed some interesting showers on our travels, but we hadn’t ever come across such a strong and violent shower curtain before! Once that spectacle was over I attempted to tame the mop on my head for the first time since landing and dress a bit more presentable for dinner. We headed down towards Kamari beachfront and browsed a few menus, mostly all variations of the same. Chris liked the look of Taverna Zorbas and after spying on a few peoples plates I had to agree.

They had a cosy little spot facing out towards the now almost empty beach which was perfect to watch it wind down for the evening. I decided to try a different flavour daiquiri and Chris was on the local beers again. I spied tomato balls on the menu and was excited to give these a try. Chris also ordered a mixed souvlaki and I went for the ‘Greek plate’ which had sample sized portions of moussaka, pastitsio, meatballs, stuffed tomatoes and potatoes/vegetables with cheese and a tomato sauce. This was a great meal and I was surprised to see the less than average reviews of the place on trip advisor, as I thought the food here was better than several restaurants rating higher. Perhaps we just lucked out on this trip.

By the time we left the restaurant was packed full and with no room left for dessert we wandered down the promenade a bit further, exploring the craft and gift shops, attempting to walk off a little bit of dinner before retiring to bed.

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Day 1 – Tuesday 23rd – Dazed and confused in Santorini

We booked a very last minute (for us) trip to Santorini for some summer sun before our November holiday. Late June was ideal to avoid the School Holiday crowd but still get great weather. As the flights had shot up we took a gamble on a Thomson charter flight which meant very anti social flight times on the way out. Our Monday and Tuesday was somewhat blurred together as we left the house at 2.30am for our 6am flight. I managed a full one hours sleep after a midnight dash to the supermarket to stock up on a few forgotten items. I was in a constant rush as I had only just arrived back from an international work trip so it was a quick turnaround to repack and set back off again!

We set off for Gatwick on time, different from our usual ‘base’ of Heathrow. This meant a bit longer a drive, and typically at this anti social time of night the roadworks were out in full force. This meant a few scenic deviations from the motorway through country towns. This resulted in a bit of a delay but we pulled it back. Being the over rushed idiots that we were we had also completely bypassed the checking in part which resulted in us sitting apart on the plane. Clearly we’ve become too reliant on the British Airways iPhone app which makes life too easy.

To add to this we were informed as soon as we sat in our seats we had a two hour delay – over six hours in total with no free water, so I’d gladly pay the extra to fly BA (or even easy jet) next time.

I spent the entire flight buried in a book and finally we touched down in Santorini. Our bags shot out speedily and we were on our way to collect our hire car. We had our first ‘Welcome to the Greek Islands’ moment when we sauntered over to the Budget rental desk and it looked like nobody was there. We were a bit perplexed and then we spotted the top of a balding head! Turns out Andreas had been working an almost 24 hour shift and was fitting in a cheeky snooze in-between flights!

He was a really nice guy with some hilarious jokes and facts to share with us. Chris had caught the sun in the few days before we left and Andreas described his look as a “grilled lobster”, I appreciated this after the painful flight! Another guy showed us to our very retro, burnt orange car, and we left with some entertaining instructions and a doodled map from Andreas to our hotel location in Kamari.

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We were staying in Hotel Artemis, which travelling by car is a bit of a pig to find – mostly due to Google Maps and the residents of Kamari not having a clue where the place is! Eventually between phoning the front desk and finally finding someone who had a rough idea of the location we found the hotel and got checked in. The hotel grounds were nice enough, but this is definitely a budget hotel. We were on a stricter budget than usual so this was to be expected, and for the price the pool and surroundings were adequate.

Unfortunately we drew the short straw with the tiniest room on the first floor facing the road which was really noisy. One thing to note if you’re considering staying here is that the beds are probably the hardest I have ever experienced, and that is after plenty of time travelling & working in Asia which is renowned for it’s hard beds! They were probably about as soft as napping on a solid oak table with a cotton sheet laid across it!

Chris and I set out to explore the Kamari beach area, me feeling a bit zombie-like in my sleep deprived state. We took our first paddle in a black sand beach and enjoyed the sunshine for a bit. The beach was busier than I expected with lots of cute dogs playing around. On our quest for some food we found ourselves at Levante Café, which was my breakfast, lunch and dinner rolled into one as I had only munched a few blackberries up until this point.

I chose a feta, pine nut and chicken salad, whilst Chris made the stereotypical man choice of a burger and beer. I treated myself to a cocktail in the hope it would perk me up and keep me awake. We took our beachfront seats and indulged in some people watching. The food was OK, I think Chris’ was better than mine but I did get to try the Santorini tomatoes in my salad. Afterward we strolled along the beach promenade and had another paddle, before finding a supermarket to explore. I have a bit of a thing for foreign supermarkets and like to load up on things to bring home to try. We each got a gelato and headed back to the room to relax and sleep.

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Day 8 – Tuesday 7th April – Colourful, Cyclist Filled Copenhagen

Luckily for us, we woke up relatively close to European breakfast time. It was chilly and a little cloudy but we headed out to make the most of our single day in the city. Copenahgen is compact and easy to get around on foot so we headed down to the Nyhavn area first. This is the first image one gets when they think of Copenhagen, usually the first thing that appears on a Google Search or on a postcard.

It is only a small strip but very photogenic and worth seeing. As it was still early the skies were grey so we took a little stroll around town, to see the same streets from yesterday in daylight and explore the city a little more. There are cyclists everywhere, as to be expected! We had heard good things about the Danish hot dog stands so we stopped at one on the way for an impromptu breakfast.

They were very tasty and the addition of jalapenos was very good! We didn’t have much planned other than to take in the city and get some exercise. All of the buildings have the Scandinavian style, very pretty and rather colourful. There was some quirky art around too, including a wall which was made up of black bricks, that you could flip over to reveal brightly coloured bricks – lots of the local kids used to write big messages on here that stood out vividly against the remaining black background.12I was restrained with the shopping, only picking up a few trinkets to take home. It was still cold but that didn’t stop us making an ice cream stop at 7eleven for some fro-yo. It wasn’t a patch on Vegas though! I had to explore a local supermarket too because I love picking up foreign foods on my travels. Afterward we headed back to Nyhavn via some narrow lanes and walking through a picturesque park full of yummy mummies.

Neither of us are fans of seafood which made food choices in Nyhavn quite limited. We wanted to eat at one of the colourful restaurants on the strip, and found one with a few non-fish items. I settled for a club sandwich and Chris his usual burger. They were average tasting but the views and atmosphere made up for it. I liked their idea of keeping blankets on all of the chairs to wrap around you as it often got chilly, but meant you could still sit outside and take it all in.

Once we finished up our late lunch, we only had a short while before needing to leave for the airport. It was chilly and we we’re starting to feel tired, so we headed back to the hotel lounge area to eat some ice creams and catch up on some English TV. Our jaunt back to the airport on the express train was painless and the flight home passed by without excitement, except for Chris leaving the Duty Free gifts we had bought for everyone on the plane! The second time in one trip he had left items on the plane. And no, we didn’t get them back this time!3

 

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Day 7 –Monday 6th April – Wake Up in Vegas, Sleep in Copenhagen

Our final day came around very quickly, we checked out and headed to the Monte Carlo café to use our final round of resort credit and have a hearty breakfast. We found a wild bill too which we found quite funny! After seven days of eating like a beast I went for the ‘safe’ option of oatmeal, but this didn’t stop me drowning it in syrup and all of the unhealthy toppings! Just was we left Monte Carlo we noticed they were installing a few new machines including The Flintstones. Typical!

As we had until 1pm to leave, we stored our cases and ventured across to the Excalibur. This hotel is a nostalgic one for us as it was where we came for our very first trip to Vegas, and before I was even old enough to gamble. I still maintain that the room we had here was much more modern and nicer than the Monte Carlo room. Despite all the hate it gets, the hotel part of the Excalibur I don’t find is that bad, though admittedly we weren’t in the most basic room. The casino is showing a bit more wear and tear.

We had a little stroll around to see what had changed over the years, and picked up one of their notoriously cheap Strawberry Daiquiri’s from the cocktail waitress. They still taste like 2007 to me!

Our main agenda for the little jaunt across though was for Yogurtland! I do seem to have quite an addiction to these frozen yoghurt places. Our server there was also miserable, I’m not sure what it is with miserable people working in dessert parlours, is it because the ice cream is sweet enough? On our way out I spied a row of Paradise Fishing slot machines and couldn’t resist donating one last time.1.jpgTime had ran away from us so there was just time for a brief explore of NYNY before heading to the airport. Our flight back was via Arizona, and we were spending a day in Copenhagen on the way home. The longest leg was a night flight so we slept like babies most of the way through. You really do notice the difference when you’re lucky enough to have a lay flat bed! You don’t get to experience it quite the same when mostly sleeping, but it was still great.

Our arrival into Copenhagen was in the evening, so we regretted snoozing too much on the plane. We were staying at the Wake Up Borgergade hotel, quite a modern but minimalist place within walking distance of everything. We took the airport express train and somehow got lost navigating to our hotel in the dark whilst wrestling with our luggage. Luckily, everyone speaks English great and we had a few people come up to us and give us directions.

We checked in, and seeing as we were wide awake headed out for a walk around. The temperature was noticeably different here than back in Las Vegas and we wished we had packed some heavier layers! Our hotel was a funky little place, kind of similar to a pod hotel. Very shiny, modern and IKEA-ey. One thing to note was the completely see through shower right next to the bed, bare this in mind if booking with a guest you wouldn’t be too comfortable showering naked in front of!

I wanted to see Tivoli Gardens and we had a little while longer before it closed for the evening. Unfortunately we got a little lost along the way and arrived just as it was stopping to let people enter, so we made plan B and took a random stroll through the pretty streets looking at the beautiful buildings lit up. For a Monday evening the town was bustling and it somehow felt Christmassy with the fairy lights dotted around us.

Due to the time most restaurants had started closing, so we headed back to the hotel, stopping off at a little place called ‘Pizza Huset’ which caught our eye with it’s neon sign. We took our pizza back to the room to eat on our tiny bed, it wasn’t the best in the world but was still pretty good, and it was at least made in a pizza oven. We couldn’t sleep as it didn’t feel like bedtime, so we watched some random TV for a while before forcing ourselves to get some shut eye so we could make the most of our day in Copenhagen tomorrow.2.jpg

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Day 6 – Sunday 5th April – Brunching at The Border Grill

Our last full day in town started off with a frenzy of last minute shopping. I decided I could definitely squeeze some more into the new suitcase! I had heard people talking about Ross before, but had never ventured into one. It sounded like relative of TK Maxx. It was just across the street from us so we headed over in search of new sandals for me, and potentially some other bargains. Wow – I wasn’t expecting so much carnage, it was like entering a British shopping mall on Boxing Day! I guess it was Easter Sunday.

There were discarded clothes all over the floor and there was no order to the place! Thankfully the shoe section was a bit more chilled and they had several pairs of Steve Madden sandals, which I love. We picked up a few more items on our way before Chris had to steer me out of there. We dashed back over to drop the bags off before hopping on the tram down to Mandalay Bay for our bunch at the Border Grill.

This meal was one of the food highlights of our trip, although that was made somewhat easier by our dodgy dining choices! The setting there is lovely and our table looked out onto the pool area, although they were fake, the sound of the waves crashing outside was a nice relaxing touch! We were temporarily transported from the Las Vegas strip to somewhere else! It smelled really good in there too.

Chris and I went hog wild in here, trying most things; banana crepes, papaya empanadas, red velvet pancakes, steak and eggs with guacamole, quesadillas, churros, fries with crispy pork and scrambled eggs, French toast with maple topping, fried chicken with mango relish, and lots more. Everything was just delicious and the staff were very attentive and constantly bringing out more. Their menu changes quite frequently and they put some interesting flavour combinations together. This is a must do experience if in Las Vegas on a weekend.12After eating our body weight in wonderful food, we decided to walk from Mandalay Bay to the Las Vegas sign to see it in daylight, and hopefully burn off at least a few of the calories we’d eaten. As I always tend to do, we detoured through the Four Seasons hotel to admire the inside, and stop off at one of the nicest public bathrooms in Las Vegas. Every time I have passed through here there has always been a wedding going on too.

The sign was busy as always, and now someone unofficial seems to be offering to take photos of you for tips. This did at least mean people were queuing properly which often isn’t the case. There were naturally a few people who were completely oblivious though. We tipped the guy and got a few photos of us together and headed off on our way. On our return we wondered on the other side of the strip, and decided to scare our parents back home by taking a selfie of us outside a wedding chapel. They didn’t fall for it though, we weren’t exactly dressed for the occasion!

We decided to check out the Tropicana as I hadn’t been there since it had been jazzed up a little. I found a Triple Cheeseburger Deluxe machine and got very lucky, hitting my biggest bonus of the week. I had seen this slot on youtube and the bonus looked great fun, building your burger to win more money! I didn’t see many of these machines around the rest of the strip though. I also got big job envy in here when the Virgin Atlantic air stewardesses checked in. Sometimes I wish I could pack in my career and do that job!

After my little win we carried on our way via the Hawaiian Marketplace, and suddenly we had a craving for frozen yogurt. Knowing that the Palms had one, combined with wanting to explore off the strip, we picked up a shuttle from Fashion Show Mall to go and check it out. The shuttle process wasn’t ideal, we just missed one and then had to change at another hotel on the way, but eventually we arrived.345We were somewhat underwhelmed as the flavour selection was poor, so we held off and had a little gamble instead. I did expect this hotel to be a bit more fun as I thought it was a trendier place, so we didn’t stay long and stopped at the Orleans on our return. This place was a bit more fun, there was some kind of vintage convention going on with lots of girls dressed in Rockabilly style. We had to wait here for our return shuttle anyway so we strolled around the casino and watched a big tournament game going on.

Once back at Fashion Show Mall we dashed across to Mirage to cure the fro-yo craving. Blizz was just as I remembered it from previous trips; I love their peanut butter sauce! We got sucked in by the hangover and family guy slots again, I did fairly well with the hangover but Stewie took me for everything I had shortly after. I quite like the Treasure Island and Mirage casinos, their cocktail waitresses were much more present and thrusting drinks into our hands in no time.

Chris had been on about The Cheesecake Factory for the entire trip. I like their cheesecake but the novelty of the food has worn off for me and the portions are just insane, but I let him have his way. Originally we planned to eat somewhere upscale for our last evening but we just fancied something a bit more casual and low key so it made sense. I wished I was more persistent in my desire for In N Out Burger!

I ordered my favourite pasta from there and Chris went for his standard choice; the burger. Our table neighbours were amusing as they seemed much more interested in what we were eating and talking about than their own conversations. We were surprised and kind of impressed that they had ordered more food than one could fit on a table! I didn’t have room for cheesecake which always seems to happen.

Afterwards we have to walk past Bath & Body Works to get out of the forum shops, which I knew was never going to happen. I had a small spree in there and was then ushered away into the casino. Our last evening was just casino hopping our way back up the strip, gambling away our remaining dollars. We didn’t win big or lose big which helped us even out across the evening. We ended our final night with a bit of a buzz from all the free cocktails, the perfect way to end our final evening!

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