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Sumptuous Santorini

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7 January 2010

Guida Jardim, a Wexas Europe holiday expert, recently returned from the Greek island of Santorini, in the Aegean Sea. Here, she makes her recommendations of what to see and where to stay.

I’ve been to several of the Greek islands but Santorini was unique, the scenery was stunning and the sunset was breathtaking. The best place to see the sunset is in Ola, on the North tip of the island. Get there early to grab a good spot as a lot of tourists make their way to this little town.

In Fira, a small and scattered town directly across from the caldera (the volcano which is still active today), the Majestic Hotel is one of the two I would recommend staying in, as it is ten minutes walk from Fira town centre. All the rooms are very spacious, modern and minimalist, all have a balcony and will either a have a caldera view or a pool view, with the sea in the distance.

There are three pools, one of which is heated, a main bar and a pool bar and two restaurants, one à la carte and one gourmet. There is also a fitness centre and a spa. The food at the à la carte restaurant was exceptional and the hotel staff are warm and very attentive.

The other hotel in the area I recommend is the Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites, which is situated in the city centre and is within a few minutes walking distance (down cobbled streets) of tavernas, boutiques and trendy bars, great for a little entertainment after your evening meal.

The Aressana is a family run hotel and once inside you will forget that you are, in fact, in the centre or town. The hotel has many hideaways where you can relax, read a book or enjoy time with your companions in peace. There is the Tefsion Kallos Spa where you can have beauty and relaxation treatments and also a fitness centre.
The restaurant here, Koukoumavlos, has a menu designed by Greek chef Nikos Pouliasis and they try to grow their own produce within the hotel grounds.

The island has many beaches ranging from sandy to pebbly, but all very organised in offering sun lounges, umbrellas and water sports. One thing that is a must is a trip to the caldera. It’s just a 20-minute boat trip over to the volcano, where a guide will lead you up and around while explaining the history of it as well as how the islands have been formed. This lasts for about an hour, then its back on the boat to the hot springs where people can go swimming - though this is not suitable for those with heart problems or asthma due to the sulphur.

Kamari, on the south east side of the island, is famous for its beach, which extends all the way to Monolithos. There you will find hotels, restaurants, bars and shops to suit everyone. The official name of the village is Episkopi Gonia, from the interesting church of Panaghia Episkopi, which was built in 1100. The best time to visit the church is on 15 August during the feast of the Virgin Mary when the locals celebrate with a large festival. Also, on 24 September the church of Panagia Myrtidiotissa, celebrates another festival, where the food and the wine is plentiful.

The Afroditi Venus Hotel and Spa is a good hotel to stay in as it is situated on the beachfront and has everything you need on your doorstep, all you, need for a relaxing holiday.

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