It was 7.45pm and my Aegean Airlines flight finally landed in Thira, Santorini. The sky had already turned dark. I peeked out of the plane window to check out the small airport building a short distance away, glad to have reached Santorini after 26 hours since I left home in Singapore (due to longgg layovers at Doha and Athens airports). Took my trusty backpack and descended down the steps, where airport buses were waiting to send us over to the building.
Konstantina, a lady from my hotel, was waiting for me after I collected my suitcase and stepped out of customs. We got into a car and along the way, she introduced a little to me about Santorini. I noticed dim lights in the far distance and a general darkness about the island. We reached the hotel shortly, and she led me to check in, then showed me to my room. The quietness of the night at the hotel was rather overwhelming. I noticed the rooms looked dark through their windows. That was when Konstantina told me that I’m the only occupant that night, but she’s expecting more rooms to be occupied the next night onwards. Inside of me, I was surprised by this news, feeling rather cheated by Bookings.com’s claim of “Last room available!”. Thankfully, Konstantina walked further on to show me that she and her family lives in one unit, within the hotel property grounds.
Finally, I got to settle down in my room for the next few nights. After ensuring all windows and doors are locked properly, checking that no one’s hiding in the closet or under the bed, that the room safe is secured, testing that the toilet bowl works and the shower dispenses hot water duly (you never know), I unpacked, realising I had not eaten dinner but didn’t feel hungry. But I needed water and there was no complimentary bottles of water provided. Santorini’s tap water isn’t good for drinking. Although it was just 8+pm, I don’t feel that secure to venture all the way out of the hotel to buy water. The drinking water I had was the water remaining in my bottle from Singapore, which shall do. After a shower, in no time, I was fast asleep on the queen-sized bed. My adventure as a solo traveller in Santorini had just begun.
Santorini is for couples.
So it seemed, or has always been marketed to be.
Indeed, I don’t know of anyone who has travelled solo to Santorini. Heck, I don’t really know many people that had visited Santorini. Santorini is a place for couples, for wedding shoots, honeymoons. Not for friends. Not for family. Definitely not for solo-travellers. Those too had been my impressions of Santorini. It didn’t help that my trip was really impromptu, booked a day before flying. It didn’t help that I’m the classic Introvert, easily feeling overwhelmed by crowds, too much small talk, or activity. Prior to flying, I had felt worried and nervous. Am I doing this right by going to Santorini? Am I really going to enjoy doing this on my own?
Fortunately, it was winter in Santorini, which means very little crowds.
Over the next few days, I was to:
- Have good meals and Greek snacks
- Feel welcomed by the warmth and hospitality of Greek shop-owners, restaurant-owners and my hotel people (review here)
- Meet and explore Santorini with another solo traveller, who also happens to be a designer
- Visit museums including a wine museum and taste different Santorini wines
- Experience different weathers of Santorini, from gloomy rainy mornings to perfect sunny days
- Watch the Santorini sunset (blogpost here)
- Sit and take in the quiet air and mesmerizing beauty of the caldera, with barely no one else on the roads
- Take a walk to another village with no one walking along the road like me
- Take the cliff road on a big coach bus, in daylight as well as in the darkness of unlit roads
- Wonder if I had been robbed, or will be murdered and never found again (blogpost here)
- Acquaint a dog which followed me around everywhere in Oia. He even managed to find me and get INTO a restaurant where I was having lunch! And sat at the base of my table beside my feet, as if to protect me. It was a very strange, strange feeling.
- Have a good time taking photos to document the beautiful blue skies, roofs and doors of Santorini (blogpost here)
I did not:
- Receive strange looks from people for asking for “Table for one” when I needed to eat
- Get harassed by locals or foreigners, at all
- Get robbed even though I was carrying a few hundred euros in my camera bag one afternoon because I had forgotten to leave them in the hotel safe
- Have anything stolen from me
I have yet to:
- Take the cable car down to the old port (it operates just a few times a day in winter)
- Check out the lighthouse and the ancient excavation site
- Visit more villages such as Pyrgos and Perissa
- Visit the red and black beaches
Which means I should visit it again!
If you think you’ll never visit Santorini until you have found The One or saved enough money, I hope this post can help convince you otherwise. Those are perceptions and destination-labelling. There ARE solo travellers in Santorini. When you stop feeding yourself a certain way of thought, you realize, you’d only been trapped by your own limits and others’ perceptions.
Break out of it. The world is awaiting your exploring.
More posts on Santorini!
• Guide to Visiting Santorini in Low Season
• Ode to Santorini’s Shades of Blue
• Chasing Santorini’s Sunsets, Alone
• Checking in: Dream Island Hotel in Santorini
• That time I thought my new friend in Santorini is a thief/murderer
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