Welcome to my fourth post on Santorini! Today I give you my favourite memory from the trip: a spontaneous evening walk to Skaros Rock, and the one activity I would immediately recommend to anyone planning a trip to the island. A sweaty, sun-bleached trek may not sound all that exciting, but it culminated in one of the most incredible sunsets of my life, and was undoubtedly one of the best things I did in 2015. This is a post I was pretty much dying to sit down and write the second I got back to the hotel room. Four months later, here we are. Or rather...here I am, forlornly scrolling through budget airline price listings for Santorini, my naïve strategy to bring a little sunshine and colour into the monochrome winter months having backfired horribly on me. I can only hope that these photographs might inspire the same level of wanderlust in you!
Caper berries growing wild on the side of the road. (Also wild and native to the island: an abundance of plump, sweet green figs, which we unashamedly snacked on throughout this walk).
Imagine waking up to this view every morning. Having been in a pathetically stunned state since we crested the ridge of the island, I could only liken it to a National Geographic shot.
A quick pitstop at a local cafe for water later, we climbed down the cliff from Imerovigli towards Skaros Rock, a medieval fortress abandoned by its inhabitants in the 18th century. It was only a few hours earlier that I'd noticed it on Tripadvisor and indeed, it doesn't seem to be hugely well-known - with only a few other tourists making the climb down to the promontory, it's a far cry from the sunset crowds at Oia and a far preferable spot to catch the famous Santorini sunset in peace.
It was by a fluke that we noticed these cave dwellings under the main path leading up to the rock. As I gingerly climbed down from the path and peered inside, I felt like an archaeologist happening across a buried settlement.
The sun began to dip closer to the horizon, leaving Skaros Rock awash in golden light. We took our cue to find a place to sit and eat our dinner - sandwiches and fruit - an experience that far outstripped the 'sunset restaurants'. As I sat, perched on a dusty rock and wearing dusty shorts and trainers, my attention squarely focused on the beauty of my surroundings, I felt pure and humbled.
The sun having disappeared behind Thirasia, the boats clustered around the port at Oia for sunset came streaking back across the lagoon, creating sweeping brush-like strokes that my art historian's eye couldn't help but notice.
As dusk fell over Santorini, the lights in the towns along the ridge turned on gradually, glittering and scintillating in the distance. This, the most memorable night I spent on the island, was one marked not by excess of spending and food, but by the natural beauty of the caldera and the pure pleasure of exploring with my own two feet, with not a single Euro in my pocket. If you do one thing in Santorini, please - do this. You won't regret it.
If you've missed my earlier posts on Santorini, you can catch up here: