Heaven Is A Place On Earth (And It’s Called Santorini)

Erica Salowe University of Aberdeen, Scotland


April 24, 2017

This Spring Break has been filled with a whirlwind of travel and adventure, spanning six cities in three countries in fourteen days! My friends and I started our journey in Bergamo, Italy, where we navigated completely foreign streets in search of La Città Alta. Then we hopped over to Milan for a day, and walked nearly ten miles while exploring and sightseeing at the Duomo. Our next destination was Greece, where we joined our Bus2Alps tour group and spent eight days hopping from the heart of Athens to the shores of Santorini, and finally wrapping up at the Pink Palace resort in Corfu. Our wild journey ended with four days in London before we made our way back home to Aberdeen, Scotland. Since we went to so many different places and I had a myriad of experiences, I thought it best to focus this blog on the place I cherished the most (although they were all so incredible, it was hard to choose).

Out of all the places we went, I have to say Santorini stole my heart. The island itself is quite small; a half an hour bus ride took us across more than half its span. On the first day we visited two beaches, the Red Rock Beach and the Black Sand Beach. Red Rock was given its name for good reason—enormous copper-colored boulders created a circular enclosure around where we stood, and we were at a perfect vantage point to admire sapphire blue waves lapping at the shore. An older man sat next to the sea, carving maps of Santorini out of wooden blocks and encrusting them with tiny red rocks from the beach. I bought a smaller map for my aunt, and the man was nice enough to customize it for me by carving her name and the image of a flower on the back of the frame.

The Black Sand Beach was a quintessential island experience: row after row of lounge chairs were set up on the sand under tiki umbrellas, and restaurants connected to the beach brought drinks and food to sunbathing tourists. Since I knew my pale skin was no match for the strength of the sun in this part of the world, I skipped tanning and instead slathered on some SPF50 before diving headfirst into the clear Grecian waters. The ocean was calm that day, and gentle waves rocked me back and forth while I tried to spot fish and other ocean-dwellers below my feet. While I loved the experience of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, one thing I didn't expect (and I caution visitors about) is that the beaches in Greece, at least in Santorini, aren't very sandy. Much of the beach and sea floor is covered in large rocks and pebbles, which can actually be pretty painful on one's feet without sandals! When I come back to Santorini (because there's no question that I will), I'm highly considering bringing some swimming shoes with me at the risk of looking a bit dorky!

The most amazing part of Santorini was getting to visit the tiny town of Oía. Oía is exactly what you'd picture when you think of Greece--white and pastel-colored buildings cluttered together on the mountainside, overlooking rocky coastlines and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Our group arrived just at sunset, and the rainbow sky paired with a reflection of the descending sun on the water was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There were plenty of tourists lining the walkways who, like me, traveled from far and wide to see this iconic view. However, while the crowd was large, no one made noise louder than a hushed tone, as though they didn’t want to disturb such a peaceful and scenic moment. I thought to myself as I looked out at the pastels surrounding me both on land, sea. and sky that if Heaven were a place on Earth, it would be Santorini. Before I left, I bought a little silver ring encrusted with blue and white crystals in the shape of an Evil Eye (a widely popular design in Greece symbolizing protection) as a way of carrying a little piece of the island with me, no matter where I’ll go next.