August 15-August 21, 2021
Our Honeymoon in Santorini, Greece: What We Saw/What We Ate in Oia
To hear about our first international trip to Europe as a married couple, quiet sunrises paired with cappuccinos, unbelievable sunsets paired with bubbly champagne, breathtaking views of white-washed buildings and blue domes, fresh greek yogurt with honey, and a week’s worth of relaxation and photos -- keep on reading!
If you asked us three years ago, “Where is your dream honeymoon destination?” Santorini, Greece would’ve been at the very top of our list.
Canceling Our Honeymoon
In 2019, we booked two tickets for our original honeymoon destination. Back then, we didn’t know that we would be moving to the east coast shortly after our wedding, nor that we would end up needing to cancel the original trip due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When dreaming of a honeymoon destination, European countries and remote islands come to mind. Greece, Italy, and Australia were at the top 3. Although Europe would’ve been a dream, we decided to stick to destinations that were closer to the West Coast of the United States - that way, we saved on not only money, but travel time as well. And while a trip to Australia is still very much on our Bucket List, we soon learned that August was not the ideal time to visit if we were looking for a summer vacation (June to August is generally their winter season).
With those learnings, we chose an island in French Polynesia. Original dreams led us to Bora Bora, but after finding out the steeeeep budget needed for a dream trip to Bora Bora, we happily settled with a trip to the nearby island of Moorea. Equally as beautiful, and typically not nearly as crowded with tourists: the ideal island escape.
As you already know, 2020 happened and changed up our plans. Covid-19 caution was in full-force for international travel and we ended up moving to the East Coast. Since moving, we wanted to use our airline credit for a destination closer to Boston but discovered that the airline would only redeem our credit if we were to stick to the same destinations listed on our original itinerary.
That was until our flights were rescheduled about 1 month from our rescheduled trip in August 2021. The new flights pushed our travel days significantly, so with that inconvenient update, we were able to receive a full refund.
With the funds redeposited into our accounts, with Covid-19 travel restrictions lifted for tourism in most countries, and with the safety of our Covid-19 vaccinations, the world was our oyster at that point for a new honeymoon destination. Now that we were closer to Europe in 2021, we ended up going with our first choice: the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece!
Day 1 & 2: Travel Day + Arriving in Oia
This was my very first trip to Europe, and our very first international trip as husband and wife. Lucas has flown to Germany and other international destinations due to the military, but I was yet to step foot on European soil.
Excited with built-up anticipation, we prepared to fly out on the evening of Sunday, August 15 from the Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). In order to fly to our layover in London, we needed to test negative for Covid-19 through a PCR or rapid antigen test. Greece, on the other hand, only required a vaccination card. With the regulations in mind, we took the PCR Covid-19 test within three calendar days from our departure date. The testing location advertised online that results were available within 48-72 hours, but we later found out that there was a backlog and results could take up to 7 days. With that new information, we haphazardly searched for a nearby testing site for a rapid test and luckily we found one on the morning of our flight.
Once that moment of stress passed, and we successfully made our way through airport security, we were ready to enjoy the journey to Greece!
The flight from BOS to our layover at London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) was about 6.5 hours. (Fun Fact: The flight from BOS to SEA often takes about 5-6 hours, so not too much of a difference!) In addition to flight time, there was also the time difference to consider. We were set to leave BOS around 9PM, but arrived to London at 9AM local time.
We flew on British Airways for both legs of the journey and Lucas and I were pretty happy with their service. Not only did they check for negative Covid-19 test results, and provided wipes to each passenger (to wipe down tray tables and seats), they also politely (but assertively) enforced their mask policy throughout the whole trip. If I remember correctly, I watched one movie before falling asleep and before I knew it, we arrived in London!
WOW... was all I could muster when we first witnessed the vast London Heathrow International Airport. This was my first experience seeing an airport with SO many stores and restaurants, some of which include: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, I mean… WOW… lol. Although tempting, we managed to stray away from all the luxury stores. We exchanged U.S. dollars for Euros, picked up my obligatory postcards, ate breakfast at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant, and stocked up on Milka Hazelnut Chocolates (my favorite!).
We had 3 hours to wander in the massive airport terminal before our 4-hour flight to Thira International Airport (JTR) in Santorini, Greece (again, time difference here as well, so we landed around 6PM local time). With the exception of a screaming child in the row directly behind us, we made it to our honeymoon destination safely and with hearts full of excitement!
The JTR airport was much smaller than LHR, and very congested. Luckily, we planned ahead of time and hired a private airport transfer to take us from the airport to our hotel. We barely left the airport doors when we immediately saw our driver holding up a sign with Lucas’s name on it.
He weaved us through all of the other tourists and drivers, and led us to the vehicle that would be taking us to our hotel in Oia. If you’ve ever seen a photo of “Santorini,” you were more than likely looking at an iconic photo of the blue domes and white buildings of Oia. Oia is known by many as a romantic location filled with luxury hotels, souvenir shops, and great restaurants. We debated on whether or not we wanted to stay in Fira or Oia, but with the goal of watching sunsets from our hotel room, we were advised that Oia would be ideal. (For a budget-friendly option, you can also check out the towns surrounding Oia that are only one bus ride away!)
We stayed at the Luxus VIP Suites, found right in the center of Oia, amidst the iconic blue domes. We stayed in Suite #1, which featured its own private balcony and a cave-style room. The interior aesthetics were a dream come true, and the staff was very friendly. After receiving a map of the town from our hostess, we freshened up from the flights and searched for snacks. We wandered down the marble pathway that we’d become all too familiar with by the end of the trip. While taking food “to-go” (they also referenced this as “take-away”) was not very common amongst some of the shops, Skiza Pizzeria Cafe allowed for to-go orders and was close to our hotel room.
With hands full of Greek Yogurt with Honey and a Margarita Pizza, we retired for the evening at our quiet hotel. After spending the last 24 hours in airplanes and airports, we were ready to be away from the crowds. (I’d like to take a moment to say that Greek Yogurt with Honey in Greece hits SOOOO differently than in America. It’s one of the things from Greece that I still dream about since we’ve been back home.) We concluded the evening by munching on our delicious findings from the comfort of our hotel room’s balcony.
For past trips, I have typically squeezed in as much as possible in order to maximize the trip. However, for our honeymoon, the two main goals were: relaxation and convenience. Lucas and I both agreed that our honeymoon was going to be one of very few trips where convenience was going to tower over budget. So with that mindset, we kicked off the start of our honeymoon vacation!
Day 3: Exploring Oia
Day 3 was set to be the day for adventure (aka the day with the most walking... lol). Still jet lagged, we naturally woke up just before sunrise. We quickly made cappuccinos (using the machine provided to us in our room) to enjoy as we watched the sun rise above the mountain to our left. The golden hues started to pepper the white-washed buildings and blue pools, and after a few quiet moments, our first full-day in Santorini began.
We went to search for breakfast and decided on the restaurant found just a few steps away from our hotel room, Terpsi n Oia. This was where we fell in love with Santorini’s cappuccinos and freshly-squeezed orange juice. For breakfast, I chose an Omelette (prepared deliciously!) with a side of Greek Yogurt with Honey and Mixed Nuts, while Lucas chose the Scrabbled Eggs with a side of Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit. A delicious breakfast with a stunning view!
We found some much-needed sunscreen before heading to Day 2’s main event: Ammoudi Bay, which was about a 15 to 20 minute walk. It’s important to note that the “15-20 minute walk” could easily turn into 30+ minutes during the return trip back to Oia because of the winding staircase with 250+ steps. Walking down to Ammoudi Bay was a breeze, but hiking back up was a whole different story. I’ll share more about that later ;)
The crystal blue waters were definitely a sight to see, and watching the boats float in and out of the bay kept us pretty occupied that morning. For fans of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, one of the scenes was actually filmed in Ammoudi Bay.
For lunch, we had reservations at Sunset Ammoudi by Paraskevas. Although we came for lunch, we were told that the restaurant had a beautiful view at sunset. I had Ceviche, while Lucas chose to try Sea Bass. We contemplated dessert but after seeing the daunting staircase that we had to climb back up, we decided to wait instead.
If walking up 250+ stairs doesn’t sound appealing to you (lol), there is also the option of renting a car or ATV to drive down to the bay. Given that we had nothing else planned for the day (and could take our time going up the steps), we were satisfied with our decision of saving the money we would’ve spent on a rental.
After rushing to the air conditioning of our hotel, we decided that a nap was well-deserved, and while I was asleep, Lucas went searching for more greek yogurt and honey for us to snack on once I woke up. It was early afternoon by this point, so once the midday heat cooled off, we sat outside on our hotel room balcony and simply soaked in the sunset views (and people-watched! lol).
For dinner, we walked along the marble pathway over to a restaurant recommended to us by our hostess, Thalami. I knew that I wanted to try fresh Tzatziki, so we ordered some with Pita Bread to start, followed by a Greek Salad as an entree for me and Lamb Chops for Lucas. Lucas ended up picking the winner that evening because the Lamb Chops were incredible! Especially with a glass (or two!) of red wine.
Day 4: Checking Into Our Second Hotel
We decided to try and start each day before sunrise. There was something truly peaceful about watching the beautiful town of Oia wake up before tourists sprinkle every corner. Having the ability to see it all from the comfort of our hotel room’s balcony was something special that we did not want to take for granted, so it was actually easy to wake up early each day.
In search of breakfast, we found ourselves at Terpsi n Oia once again. The location was too convenient and the food was amazing the first time, so we decided on round 2. We ordered the fresh orange juice and cappuccinos once again, but changed up our entrees. I ordered the Croque Madame, and Lucas ordered Hazelnut Pancakes.
By the time we finished our meal, the early morning fog had completely burned away and we were looking at another day in Santorini with blue skies and even bluer water. We spent the morning shopping for souvenirs - both for ourselves and for loved ones. To find out what treasures we found to take home with us, you can watch the video I made here!
We had just enough time to walk back to our hotel room and pack up before our late check-out of 1PM. We were staying in one other hotel during our stay in Oia, and we chose the Art Maisons Aspaki & Oia Castle Suites for the second half of our trip. This stay was extra special too because we chose to stay in the Honeymoon Suite!
The Honeymoon Suite was nestled within the cliff of the west-facing part of the island, an ideal location for an epic sunset view from the comfort of your own room. This was especially ideal for us because we were trying our best to minimize contact with large groups of people, and let me tell you - sunsets in Santorini have a way of getting people to gather… shoulder to shoulder...
Our hotel room was located right underneath Oia Castle, a public and very-known spot to watch the sunset so you can imagine how many people gathered to hold a spot along the ridge-line waiting for sunset, sitting there for hours before it arrived. It was a special treat for us to have the same view but from the comfort of our own space (and with a private spa pool!).
The cave-style room with a rainfall shower was already plenty for Lucas and I, but pair it with a bottle of champagne waiting for us in a cool ice bucket, and a private balcony complete with two lounge chairs, a spa pool, and the most epic ocean view you’ve ever seen... We were in heaven!
Staying at Art Maisons was our very first experience staying at a luxury hotel. Breakfast was complimentary and made-to-order every morning with an amazing view, and if you were staying at the Art Maisons Oia Castle location, you also had access to the amenities of their sister property, Aspaki Hotel. This includes a shared pool lounge area with bar service, as well as a restaurant for lunch and dinner (reserved solely for guests staying at Art Maisons).
While waiting to check into our hotel room, we ended up having lunch there and we were the only guests at the time. It was rather peaceful not having to wait for a table, or hear the hustle and bustle of the busy streets surrounding us. Instead, we had a stunning panoramic view from the comfort of a shaded and breezy outdoor patio... all to ourselves really.
We replenished from the heat with ice-cold sodas over a Shrimp Pasta dish for me, and Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki for Lucas. The service was great and the fresh fruit and greek yogurt for dessert was perfection! By the time we finished our lunch, our room was ready, and we spent the rest of the evening from our balcony enjoying the priceless views.
Sunset in Oia is beautiful from wherever you get to watch it on the island, but watching the sun set above the water, completely unobstructed from any building, right from the peace and quiet of our own space, was entirely dreamy and forever appreciated.
After each sunset, the crowds who gathered to witness the beauty would all clap. I found that small, yet special, tradition so much fun. Here we all were, present to watch a sunset worth traveling thousands of miles for, and at the end of every show, everyone joins in to show their appreciation of such natural beauty with an applause. We love it!
Following sunset, our concierge made late dinner reservations for us at Oia Gefsis. I sipped on a glass of Greek red wine, while Lucas enjoyed a Manhattan. After a Tzatziki and Pita Bread starter, I chose the Greek Lobster and Pasta dish, and Lucas tried the Lamb Shank. While I thought there was going to be room for dessert, this one ended up leaving us stuffed!
We meandered down the streets back to our hotel, popping into shops here and there. I didn’t quite expect it, but the nightlife of Oia was decently buzzing, even around midnight on a Wednesday. It was a vacation destination afterall.
Day 5: A Day of Relaxation
We probably spent hours looking at the view from our hotel room, and I still wish we enjoyed it even longer. After spending only a few hours in Oia, I completely understood why it would inspire so many artists to create here - painters, photographers, etc.
We wandered down the steps from our room down to the breakfast area. It had a view of its own, and given that we were the first guests ready for breakfast (right at 8AM), we chose the best seat in the house - right on the corner of the balcony with a 360 degree view. The morning consisted of watching sailboats float in and out of the bay, watching other tourists struggle up the 250+ steps like we did just the other day, and enjoying a well-prepared breakfast.
Arguably, we enjoyed the best cappuccinos of the trip (we had two each morning!), along with fresh fruit juice and a warm bread basket supplemented with all kinds of jams and butters. After having Omelettes and each finishing with a familiar bowl of Greek Yogurt and Honey, we were fueled and ready for a day of relaxation.
That is, a day of relaxation… after we finished an important errand that morning: our Covid-19 rapid antigen test. In order to fly back to the United States and in order to fly back to our layover in London, we had to test negative for Covid-19 in addition to being vaccinated. Luckily, the concierge of our hotel mentioned that there was a pharmacy that was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel that offered rapid Covid-19 testing. (I recommend always double checking on what your airline requires regarding travel, but luckily British Airways and American Airlines accepted rapid antigen Covid-19 tests at the time.)
Because we decided to get tested early on a Thursday morning (before the crowds of tourists arrived Friday-Saturday), there wasn’t even a line when we arrived. It took less than 20 minutes, and then we were walking away with our negative test results.
We ended up spending the rest of the morning wandering into art galleries in search of pieces to hang up on our walls back home. We selected two pieces before we worked up an appetite for lunch. Now I know we could’ve explored and tried new restaurants, but the Lamb Chops that we had on Tuesday night at Thalami were so good, we just had to go back. We started lunch with Tzatziki and Pita Bread as an appetizer (again... lol), Lamb Chops for me, and the Grilled Octopus for Lucas. As always, another meal enjoyed with a view, under a covered patio with a fresh ocean breeze.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the spa pool until sunset. This time, the evening sunset was complimented by a saxophone player in the distance filling the evening sky with sounds of jazz as we witnessed the sun meeting the ocean.
For dinner after sunset, our concierge made reservations at Karma for us, which was well-known for its Greek dishes. We decided to be a little adventurous for this meal - we chose a Fried Feta with Honey and Sesame Seeds to start, two glasses of wine, Original Soutzoukakia for Lucas (kebabs of ground minced beef, lightly fried before being bathed in red wine with herbs and tomato sauce, cooked in the traditional Smyrni style), and Garides Kataifi for me (oven baked shrimps wrapped in crisp filo strands, or kataifi, drizzled with Santorini cherry tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese).
Day 6: Our Last Full Day
Day 6 started before sunset up at Oia Castle. As I mentioned earlier, Oia Castle was known by many as the place where many tourists gathered to watch the sunset every night. Many argue that it’s the best view in all of Oia, and luckily our hotel room was practically right underneath it.
We walked up about 10 steps and we were there. There were some others who were also posted to watch the sun rise above the mountain, but for the most part it was still quiet and peaceful. We set up some cameras, and took a seat on the ledge to watch Oia wake up that Friday morning. We only had one full day left on this beautiful island and we were determined to enjoy every last minute of it.
In contrast to yesterday’s agenda of getting tested for Covid-19, Friday’s agenda really was to just relax and see where the day took us. We entertained the idea of booking some kind of boat cruise or island tour, but decided against it. We both wanted to spend one last day slowing down before life sped back up again once we got back to Boston.
We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast at the hotel once again, with our lovely server. We picked all of our favorites again: greek yogurt with honey, fresh fruit juice, amazing cappuccinos, bread basket with jams; but instead of the omelette, we tried the scrambled eggs instead. Trust me when I say that these scrambled eggs were not prepared like the scrambled eggs back home in the States. And to make the meal even better, we topped it off with Nutella pancakes.
The rest of the morning and afternoon’s plan? The pool and balcony. Read, people-watch, swim, soak in the sun, repeat.
We wandered over for a quiet lunch at Aspaki, and had familiar favorites before we made it back to the hotel to start packing up our belongings. Check-out was 11AM the next morning, and we knew we wanted to enjoy the sunset that evening, as well as the sunrise and breakfast before heading out the next day, so Friday afternoon was the time to try and fit everything back into the suitcases.
Our last sunset did not disappoint, and words can never describe its beauty. Photos can try, but in my opinion, they still can’t do the view justice. There's an obvious reason why these sunsets make thousands of people travel to stand witness.
When we checked-in to Art Maisons on Wednesday, our concierge made arrangements for us to have a fine-dining experience at Aspaki for our last night in Oia. We were really looking forward to the experience but were told that the chef was feeling ill and could not make it into work that evening. Although we were bummed, we completely understood. Instead, our concierge didn’t miss a beat and rearranged for us to have dinner reservations at Roka Restaurant, a very popular restaurant in Oia (and we discovered why!).
While we still plan to have a fine-dining experience at Aspaki one day, Roka Restaurant ended up being my favorite meal during the entire trip. Their menu was set with traditional Greek recipes, so although I was a little intimidated on what to choose at first, Lucas picked the Lamb and I chose the Skioufikta, Greek Handmade Pasta (traditional pasta with caramelized onion, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, “Xinoturi” from Ios). Wow, wow, wow… It was my favorite meal, and I’m craving it as I write this. :')
I would fly to Greece again, just to eat that dish every night if I could… lol. It was the best way to conclude our trip to Santorini, but I so wish we discovered that dish earlier in the trip. I would’ve eaten there multiple times!
We walked back to our hotel with stomachs satisfied, and our hands were actually full of treasures found along the way. After seeing an artist hand-painting 3D glass pieces along the walkway, we couldn’t help but want to bring a couple of pieces home!
Day 7: All Good Things Come to an End...
Our last day in Oia arrived… It was a somber morning waking up to that Saturday sunrise, realizing that it was our last time waking up to that view. Regardless, we woke up feeling grateful and content.
With bags already packed, we took our time enjoying cappuccinos on the balcony, watching the island wake up one last time. When breakfast opened at 8AM, we were first in-line, ready to enjoy familiar favorites once again, trying our best to make each bite last.
Our flight to London wasn’t until the evening, so our private airport transfer wasn’t picking us up until 4PM. Instead of wandering awkwardly around the city with our luggage in tow between 11AM to 4PM, our hotel allowed us to store our bags at the front desk while we relaxed and hung out at the sister property’s (Aspaki’s) lounge area.
We spent our last afternoon drinking cocktails in the ocean breeze, snacking on Shrimp Pasta (it was that good - we ate it three times during this trip… lol), and soaking in the Santorini sun one last time. We brought clothes to change into for the plane, and by 4PM, our hotel’s porter (Costas!), met us at the pick up spot with our bags in tow.
We made it to the airport in 20 minutes, and although it was a smaller international airport, we went through security in only 30 minutes. And that was it. It was time to go back home.
Annnd that's a wrap!
Our trip to Greece was everything I ever could’ve imagined and more! Although our honeymoon trip was delayed and rearranged multiple times, the wait was all worth it. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to safely travel during an unprecedented time, and I am entirely humbled by the experience. Thank you, Greece, for sharing your beautiful islands with the world! Lucas and I can’t wait to be back soon!
Cheers to our honeymoon adventure!
Storytelling by Gen
Travel diaries from explorations and adventures.