The Local Side of Santorini, Greece

While traveling in Chile I met a girl from Santorini, Greece. We were similar age, both traveling alone and staying at La Sirena Hostal in Los Lobos near Pichilemu on the coast. I listened envious as she talked about her annual program of working during the summer months in Greece and then traveling the world in the winter. For me my longer trip was a luxury, an every-seven-years mini-retirement way of life, with the years in between spent settled and working. For Sunny her life seemed one big adventure!

Sunny, me and Liebe

After a few days surfing and drinking wine we parted ways as all backpackers do. But before we took off she invited me to visit her in Santorini. Since my trip was heading to Europe after Chile this was perfect!

Skip to end of May, sitting in my Barcelona apartment and planning out the final stages of my trip. Timing and flights worked out for me to stay my last week of travel on Santorini, so off I went to live the local life, Grecian-style. (The “local life” by the way apparently consists of beach time, healthy Mediterranean foods, iced cappuccinos, motorcycle rides, meeting up at the local cafe, and dancing under the stars. I could live this life!).

I’d been to Santorini in 2003 and always knew I would be back. Yes it’s touristy, but damn if it isn’t one of the most picturesque islands I’ve seen:

Oia Santorini at dusk

Getting to see the local way of living through Sunny and her family/friends put a different spin on my experience from my first visit, proving yet again that there are many sides to every travel spot. I was there long enough to get a routine which was really nice. My days were spent jogging in the morning, soaking up the sun during the day, exploring some new part of the island in the afternoon, and watching World Cup games at night – USA games made for some late nights with the time difference!

Here are some views from Sunny’s place and Kolumbus Beach which is just down the cliff outside her front door. There’s a rock tunnel you can swim through if you jump off the point on the far left:

Walking on Kolumbus Beach

This is the unfiltered sunset glow reflected off Sunny’s house:

Sunset glow on Santorini rooftop

Kolumbus beach


My first day there we went to the local Sigalas Winery for sunset – it was amazing. Dolmas, hummus, crisp white wine, and the best view for sunset:

Sigalas winery sunset in Oia

Wine and apps in Santorini

Sunny’s father is an amazing artist in Oia, Santorini, painting his work on massive weathered doors. Here is Sunny getting ready for a night out in his studio:

Barbarella art studio in Oia Santorini

A trip to Santorini isn’t complete without capturing the cliffside white-washed buildings of Oia, Thira and other small towns. Santorini is a volcano island and the towns are perched on the cliffs of the caldera, a huge circular rim of land that formed when the center collapsed post-eruption. The buildings really are this white and the water really is that blue. It’s incredible.

White-washed houses of Greece

Self-portrait in Oia

Santorini at night:

Santorini at night

Windy stairways every which way:

Winding stairs and pink flowers


Oia at dusk:

Oia at dusk

On my last night we heard the phosphorescence was in top form in the ocean so we headed to Kolumbus Beach for a late night swim. It was so cool, I wish I could capture it on camera but you have to just dive in. It felt like swimming through a starry sky! Here are some long exposure shots we took that came out kind of spooky:

Greece written in lights on Kolumbus Beach

Long-exposure shot in Greece

I love the Mediterranean!!