Posted July 15, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Thanks to travel agency photographs of bleached white houses with blue-domed roofs built into cliffs high above the ocean, Santorini has been forever imprinted on our minds as the epitome of Greece. It's time to step inside the photo and get to know the people who call the island home, or see the small towns in person as you take a ride on a moped. And when evening falls, you'll feel transformed by the food as you dine in a romantic setting.
Smaro Studios: At Smaro Studios, you'll be treated like a close relative. The inspiration behind the hotel comes from Grandma Smaro and her devotion to her home and family. Her grandchildren rebuilt the house after it was destroyed by an earthquake, redecorating it in the style of her era. Upon arrival, you're greeted with a bottle of Vinsanto wine and mixed nuts, and are encouraged to relax in the hot tub or take in the sweeping views of the Caldera. Room rates start at €100 (about $141; check XE.com for current exchange rates), and include breakfast.
Rent a four-wheeler or a moped: With 13 small towns located within 45 square miles, Santorini begs to be explored by moped. Some claim this is the only way to see the island. Blue rooftops dot the horizon and the endless ocean surrounds you as you zoom along in the open-air. A must-see on your outing is the town of Pyrgos, where you will discover breathtaking scenery at every turn. Rental places run rampant in downtown Fira, so don't be afraid to haggle a bit on prices.
Restaurant Vanilia: Don't let the name fool you, as there's nothing ordinary about this restaurant. The open-air patio overlooking the Caldera, spanned by trellises laden with lush greenery and a drapery of pink flowers, makes an ideal setting to enjoy a good meal. As the sun sets, you can dine by the soft glow of little candles spread throughout the restaurant. The menu features a contemporary spin on Greek dishes with an Italian twist. It's heavy on the seafood but offers a smattering of meat dishes. For cheese lovers, the Saganaki, or fried feta cheese, is gooey perfection.
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(Photo Credit: Carl Unger/Jessica Benedetto)
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