Flavours of the Aegean.

Santorini, Greece | 36°23’N, 25°27’E | August 2009

As the days get shorter and a little colder in London, I’m finding myself looking back at the summer that’s come and gone for some much needed sunshine and cheer. Despite the feverish tourist crush come summer-time, Santorini definitely still makes it into my list of mustseeplacesbeforeyoudie. Here are some of the unforgettables from this dramatic little island in the Aegean for both the foodie and tourist in you…

Captain AntonysPrivate Dining redefined @ Captain Antony’s Taverna

We stopped off for lunch at Captain Antony’s, a charming sea-side inn just off the approach road towards the Red Beach. After a whirlwind of a morning quad-biking along Santorini’s south coast, some fresh seafood and much needed respite was in order. Seriously, compared to the usual baby-octopus variety we usually see in London, the octopuses here in Greece must be on steroids or something. Absolute bliss when grilled – plump, tender with a charred sweetness only an open fire could produce. Perfect with the lemon butter dressing it was served with. Deep fried white-bait was as it should be – crispy and fresh enough to feel it had just come straight off one of the little boats by the shore. And the infamous Greek Salad… not the watery, soggy kind in workplace cafeteria salad bars… but the real stuff. Crisp Green Peppers, JuicySweet Beef Tomatoes, a double kick from the red onion and black Kalamata olives, topped off with a good block of Feta and swig of extra virgin olive oil.

Greek Salad and Grilled OctopusGreek Salad and Grilled Octopus

View from SantoWinesThe stunning views from SantoWines

In spite of the hot climate, they make some very decent wines on the island. We only had our quad-bike for the day and my life would not be complete without a visit to one of the island’s wineries. Cue in SantoWines on the west coast of the island towards Fira – probably worth a pit-stop for the breathtaking views of the Caldera alone. They have a wide selection of reds, whites, rosés and dessert wines for tasting, but their stars are undoubtedly the Nykteri (a bold crossbreed between a Riesling and a Pinot Grigio) and the VinSanto (a subtle yet complexed dessert wine…just the right balance of sweetness without going overboard).

Santo winesNykteri and VinSanto

Tholos Heaven on Earth at Tholos Resort, Imerovigli

After a couple of days on the black sands of Perissa, we swapped beach-bumming and quad-biking to the peace of Tholos Resort in Imerovigli, a dazzling settlement perched a 20 minute walk above the Island’s capital, Fira. Yes, that’s our very own private jacuzzi and veranda overlooking the Caldera, all courtesy of a free upgrade to the honey-moon suite (tragic isn’t it! =P). What you will immediately notice is that there are probably as many stray cats as there are local Greeks on the Island – and boy do they know how to live the high life here, stretched out on the veranda like Cleopatra herself. Leave your breakfast unattended for a couple minutes and they will show no mercy.

Breakfast at Tabby's...Breakfast at Tabby’s…

CalderaSantorini’s Caldera

Albeit a little touristy, don’t miss the guided boat tours which take you to the Caldera’s Active Crater, Thirassia and Oia. The view from the top of the caldera is truly spell-binding. The deep, hypnotic blue of the Aegean sea is the perfect backdrop for the barren, other-worldly Caldera. I thought we would be ushered straight into a tourist trap when we stopped on the shores of Thirassia for lunch. With a name like Captain John’s Taverna, I half-expected a British fish and chip shop lost out at sea. However, the piece de resistance here is the Seafood Souvlaki – freshly made, marinated and grilled to perfection.

Seafood SouvlakiSeafood Souvlaki

OiaCatch the sunset at Oia

And finally, the real reason people from all corners of the globe and all walks of life dream about Santorini – its sunsets. Oia, supposedly the island’s best sunset spot, was packed like a football stadium as the evening set in… pathways, stairways and alleyways crawling with sunset-chasers marking their territory as prime time approached. Cheers and applause broke out for Mother Nature herself as the red sun disappeared over the horizon.


Sunset from our suite balcony

But for us, the best seat in the house was away from the crowds and on our very own private balcony at Imerovigli. A sunset as it should be – just you and me… And what a sunset…