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). I grabbed my trusty backpack from the overhead compartment, and descended down the steps from the plane, where airport buses were waiting to send us over to the building.
Konstantina, a lady from my hotel, along with her partner, were waiting for me after I collected my suitcase and stepped out of customs. Her partner took my suitcase and we got into a car. Along the way,Konstantina introduced a littleabout Santorini to me. In the far distance, I noticed dim lights and generally, a darkness about the island. I don’t know what to feel about this, but deep inside, I wondered if it would be a wrong decision to come to Santorini alone.
We reached the hotel shortly. The guy parked the car while Konstantina checked me in officially, before leading me to my room.
The quietness of the night at the hotel was rather overwhelming.
The rooms looked dark through their windows. That was when Konstantina told me I’m the only hotel occupant for the 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 Booking.com’s claim of “Last room available!”. Thankfully, Konstantina walked further on to show me that she and her family live together in one unit, within the hotel property grounds.
Finally, I got to settle down in what would be 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 were 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, even though there was something impurity floating inside (this trip was before I installed a water-filter at home).
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 seems, 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, nor family, and definitely not for solo-travellers. Those, too, had been my impressions of Santorini. It didn’t help that my trip was impromptu, booked a day before flying. Certainly it didn’t help that I’m the classic Introvert, easily feeling overwhelmed by crowds, too much small talk, or activity going on around me. Before coming to Santorini, I had felt worried and nervous. I’d questioned myself:
“Am I doing right by going to Santorini? Am I really going to enjoy doing this on my own? Will things really be ok? Will I feel awkward? Is it all going to be couples everywhere?”
Fortunately, it was winter in Santorini, which means very little crowds.
Over the next few days in Santorini, 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 (hotel review here). Be them young or old, no one batted an eyelid each time I ask for a table for one customer
- Make friends 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
- Sit and take in the quiet air and mesmerizing beauty of the caldera, with barely anyone 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 cheated and 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 odd, but rather heartwarming 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 hundreds of euros (all the cash I brought) in my camera bag one afternoon because I’d 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 Santorini again!
Santorini (Oia) is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. By a stroke of good luck, I came to this island in off-season, when there were very few crowds, which made my trip more special and less overwhelming.
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.
The world is awaiting your exploring.
Visited: Jan 2016
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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