If you have teenage daughters, you are probably aware of the popular movie series based on the book, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” which takes place in part on the Island of Santorini in the village of Oia. One of the characters is delivered to her grandmother’s house on the back of a donkey — which one could only imagine was a bit contrived in this modern era. Not so.
Volcanic Topography Requires Donkey Transportation:
The Island of Santorini is the remains of a massive volcanic eruption around 2nd millennium BC (which translates to a really long time ago). The explosion left the incomplete ring of the caldera with the Aegean spilling into its bowl.
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Small villages formed along the top of the crater with its steep sides that fall into the sea. There are stairs down these steep sides to small ports below. It is along these steep pathways that you will run into the donkeys, as they are often used to run people up and down these vertical paths–thank goodness.
Oia — Beyond Charming:
The village of Oia, where we stayed, is so picturesque and charming that it is difficult to believe it is real. The town has two general passageways: one for pedestrians and another for vehicles. The pedestrian pathway makes a Y at the end, with the end leading to a small castle ruin as well as the stairs down to Amoudi Bay.
If you make the trek down (past the donkeys), check out all the brightly painted fishing boats anchored there. Also at the bottom are a few restaurants for when you need a break.
If you walk past the restaurants towards the caldera, along the rustic path, and clamber over a few rocks, you will discover a small but busy swimming hole between the island and a rocky outcropping. This is also the location for a scene in “The Sisterhood.” We were surprised to find that the water is so salty we floated with very little effort.
Places To Look For:
The town is fun and quirky, with numerous little shops tucked into every nook and cranny. Please keep in mind it is not a stroller-friendly place due to the cobblestones and stairwells.
One of our favorite stores included Atlantis Books, a book labyrinth which carries publications in numerous languages. Look for the kitty sleeping in the window, and find the rooftop deck for a little reading of your new purchases.
Another favorite was the antique store Pano Meria Tou Cosmou: Top side of the World. Here, we were waited on by Homer, a most kind and knowledgeable person. Kids will enjoy the store’s collection of marionettes and other oddities.
Family Friendly Restaurant:
We ate at many wonderful restaurants, but probably the most child-friendly was Lotza, located right along the pedestrian path. The prices were reasonable, the food was great, the waitstaff was friendly and the view over the caldera: lovely.
A side note, Oia is famous for its view of the sunset. Folks will fill the town at the evening hour all heading towards the castle end of the village. We actually found this to be a great time to eat dinner, as the restaurants were less busy at that hour. Once the sun has gone down the restaurants fill up!!
Places to stay:
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The hotels, like the residences, are largely built into the walls of the caldera. This makes for great views but limited swimming pool space. Do not assume your hotel has a pool, and if it does have one, it may not be large. If this is a critical feature for your family, check things out first.
1. Mary Lou John Villas: Easier on the budget, well located, apartment that sleeps 5.
2. Canaves Suites: Luxury hotel, with a number of suites that accommodate a family of five, 6, or 7.
3. Oia Sunset Villas: Room that sleeps 5 to 6, 7, or 8. Centrally located, with a pool.
If your kids are teens or young adults, they might enjoy reading the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, and watching the movies. Here’s a 2-DVD pack of the first and second movies, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1-2.
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