The Grand Adventure follows a pretty strict budget, and unfortunately places like Santorini definitely don’t fit that budget. But here we are anyway. We made the choice to blow the budget for three short and sweet days on the stunning island of Santorini.
Our budget is usually $200 a day all-inclusive. Our Airbnb’s usually average around $75 a night.
Here in Santorini, our teeny tiny cave house is $250. But it comes with the most spectacular view. At about 250 square feet, it is likely the smallest we have ever had. But add the outdoor space and the expansive crater view, well, suddenly it seems like an emperor’s palace. Worth every penny.
Santorini has changed significantly since we were here eleven years ago. Our main goal here was to walk the Oia to Fira trail – to experience again as we did before. That however wasn’t possible. Oh you can still walk it, but it is not the same trail.
When we walked it eleven years ago in 2007 it was
remote and desolate along the crater rim. Miles of nothing but brown volcanic pumice trail hugging the edge of the spectacular trail. Fast forward to the walk we did yesterday (round trip 14 miles) we were shocked to find only a short part of the trail still remote. All of those miles of nothingness now covered with high-end luxury villas and hotels.
When we walked it eleven years ago we saw two other people walking. Yesterday we decided to count how many people we passed on the trail. We stopped counting at 200.
Please don’t misunderstand me – it is still stunningly gorgeous and unlike anywhere I have been in the world. I am grateful I had the opportunity to walk this trail before it became developed. A unique experience few people have had. My Fab Fifties Life is fabulous because of that
The village of Fira, seemed about the same to me, although it now extends a mile or more from the borders of eleven years ago – completely with luxury villas. The village of Oia seemed significantly different. Before it was a sleepy town. Now your can find Versace and Michael Kors. A decade ago, its tiny cobble stone narrow streets were authentic. Now we find the wide paved paths lined with high-end jewelry stores and boutiques.
But most astonishing to me is this – when I visited in 2007, in both Oia and Fira you could see the tiny Greek homes of the average Santorini people mixed in among the shops and along the caldera. None of that in here any longer. I don’t know where they live now – somewhere out in other parts of the island. The victim of tourists like me, willing to pay $250 a night for a 250 square foot cave house. All the locals moving away from the tourist centers.
Other than Venice, this place is the most striking as far as what tourism creates. And I am part of the problem.
We want to see these places, just like everyone else. Santorini, short and sweet, is spectacular and surreal. So here I am guilty of contributing to the loss of authenticity.
I found two particularly irritating things about our Santorini short and sweet stay. The first is watching young people trying to get their “instragram” picture and in doing so trespassing and doing dangerous things. But of course doing so in a fabulous designer dress and posing like a fashion model. For all the good social media has done, this habit of getting the perfect “selfie” I find appalling. This isn’t the only place we have seen this behavior, and it’s always people of the same generation. We watched in horror as young visitors trampled the sacred Uluru area in Australia for their perfect selfie. We watched terrified as others ignored the danger signs at the Cliffs of Moher, in Ireland, to walk out to the edge of the cliffs for a selfie.
The second thing we have found aggravating is the drones. Hovering over our deck starting at 6:30am, buzzing around the caldera and over all the houses. Another sign of our media obsessed world. I read an article that says the drones are banned in Santorini. But still it persists. I don’t have a drone, but I admit I have considered getting one. I certainly take a lot of photos and I love to share them. But I will never trespass, do anything dangerous, or wake up someone at 6:30 am to get the
It’s a hard pill to swallow. It reminds me to try really hard to look for undeveloped places to visit. But then do those places eventually become tourist centers and overrun? I don’t know what the answer is? We live in a world with a lot of people who have the means to travel. And travel they will. And post on instagram they will. And learn to live with it I will.
As I sit here on our last day in Santorini short and sweet, I am looking forward to our next stop in Greece, the tiny island of Antiparos. I know this is not the kind of destination Santorini is, but it still has the same sun, the same island beauty, the same Mediterranean sea and the same delicious seafood. For a third the price and probably no social media self proclaimed “influencers.” Sounds pretty fabulous to me.
In Antiparos we will rest for three solid weeks. We are ready. After being on the road for six weeks, Antiparos will be the first place we have stayed longer than 6 nights. We have broken all our own rules over the past six weeks as far as slow travel and budget. It’s time to regroup and recoup before we continue on the Grand Adventure.
What an amazing life it is. My Fab Fifties Life. I welcome your comments and ideas. Fabulous!