Oh Oia (really Ia).
So iconic and stunning.
And busy and expensive and boring. Haha.
Oia, on the island of Santorini, was the third stop in our three week adventure with our kids in Greece.
I had really, really wanted to go to Oia, mainly for the experience of staying in one of the cave houses on the edge of the caldera.
You know, the ones you see in the ubiquitous photos of Santorini?
Kind of like this:
It was a massive splurge to stay here.
So, so expensive.
Even without a private pool. Ffs.
Was the cost worth the experience?
Read on friends.
(Just as a disclaimer, we ONLY visited Oia on Santorini.
We didn’t walk along the caldera edge to Imerovigli and Fira.
We didn’t visit any ancient Minoan ruins.
And we didn’t adventure to the red or black beaches.)
We travelled from Meteora, through Thessaloniki to Santorini.
Two trains to Thessaloniki, a flight to Athens, and a connecting flight to Santorini with the kids in tow.
Plus numerous connecting taxi rides.
It seems like a silly, long way to make our way there, but it limited train and air travel time, which seemed worth it for our kids’ sake.
It was bound to suck whichever way we did it, since we were coming from Meteora.
We booked an Airbnb in Oia, Santorini, and the owner offered transport from the airport.
Of course we said yes.
It just seemed so much easier than trying to find our own.
But easier = expensive.
The transfer was 45 Euros in itself.
However, that only got as as far as the edge of Oia.
We then were handed over to Yannis, who walked us through the maze of white houses, narrow ‘streets’ and steep stairways to our place.
So of course we had to tip him.
It added up.
We likely should have taken the bus.
Anyway, the cave house was great.
Simple, clean, whitewashed, very cavey, and a balcony looking over the caldera.
We dumped our stuff, walked until we found a pizza place (what else), hit a market for breakfast and snack foods, enjoyed the sunset during our walk back, and slept off all that travel.
Oia is beautiful.
My kids couldn’t stop fighting on this island, but me, I just took my coffee, sat in the sun, looked out on the water of the Mediterranean, and life was peaceful (my husband is a saint).
We had a quick breakfast while watching multiple people + their hired ‘professional’ photographer get the perfect Instagram shot overlooking the caldera.
(I did not know this was a thing. I’m so naive).
Then we were off to the stairs.
I think 200+ stairs to be semi-exact.
All the way down to the water at Amoudi Bay.
(We bribed the kids with ice cream).
When we finally reached the bottom, there wasn’t much there.
Taverns and boat tour places but no ice cream.
We somehow convinced the kids to join us for a simple and delicious fishy snack and a lemonade instead (deemed almost as good as ice cream to our captors) at one of the taverns lining the bay.
Walking all the way down to the bay with whining kids was so much fun that made a sunset dinner reservation too.
At Travel Babbo’s favorite restaurant in the WORLD.
Then we climbed back up.
In the heat.
They did it though.
Complaining all the way.
And we promptly found ice cream.
(Ice cream was the focus of many of our days in Greece.
Exhausting and annoying, but their highest priority activity).
We spent the afternoon battling cruise ship tourists (so, so many), and window shopping super expensive jewellery and other trip memorabilia.
A quick refresh and back down to the bay for dinner.
The dinner was outstanding.
Super fresh fish, simply and perfectly grilled, and served with lemon oil.
Great restaurant, great atmosphere, great conversation with the amazingly lovely and Canadian! owner, and really, really great food.
Thankfully, the restaurant was able to call a driver to return us to the top of the caldera.
We lingered walking back to our cave house and had a relaxing evening playing Lego.
Oh, and watching this happen right before our eyes:
So day 3 started like the rest.
Quick coffee and breakfast out on the balcony in paradise.
I did a little laundry in the sink and hung it out to dry in the sun.
We were somewhat at a loss of what to get up to.
There really isn’t a ton for kids to get excited about in Santorini.
I had wanted to walk along the caldera to Imerovigli, but not in the mood my crew was in.
We thought about a boat tour but didn’t want to spend the money.
We didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting out of the town to see the Minoan ruins…
(Apparently, the kids weren’t the only ones in a bad mood on Santorini).
So we didn’t get up to much.
Then, I remembered.
Yannis had mentioned a pool.
Exactly the thing we needed.
So, we got our stuff, and took a walk (no cabs remember).
This is what we found:
This was our salvation in Oia.
Beautiful setting, nice clean cool pool, umbrellas and chairs, kids for my kids to make friends with, views out to sea, and all we had to do was order a drink.
We gladly ordered the compulsory yummy drinks, frolicked in the cool water, and got sucked into ordering dinner and staying as late as the sunset.
We had a blast.
We headed back to our cave house via a new route.
Through the parts of Oia we hadn’t seen yet.
More stairs, and narrow streets, and masses of tourists who were out to see the sunset.
Oh, and tired, whiny and fighting kids.
It’s a miracle we made it back to our place unscathed.
Except we didnt…really.
My 5 year old adventurous son went ‘exploring’ at a running pace, at night, ducking in and around tourist hoards, in the maze that is Oia.
Thankfully, 15 minutes after we started FREAKING OUT, we found him.
He said he just ‘asked a nice man’ to help him find us.
Ugh, I’m just going to say it;
I could have skipped Oia and likely Santorini all together.
(Even the sunsets…gasp!)
I know, I know.
But it was really busy.
And touristy….almost like just a facade.
Part of the lacklustre experience was our fault for sure.
We didn’t attempt much here.
I mean, we didn’t even leave Oia.
Have you slept on the edge of the caldera on Santorini with kids?
Was it worth it for you?
Next stop, Naxos.