This post is ridiculously late (a year and a half!)– this always happens with holiday posts as I have a gazillion pictures and always struggle to short list them! Still no excuse!
We travelled to Santorini in July last year before Saajan was born. It’s not the first place that springs to most peoples minds when it comes to travelling with a toddler, but given it was only for a few days we thought “why not”!
We normally plan our holidays a few months in advance at the very least as I’m one of “those” people. However, this was a last minute trip (we booked it a week or two in advance) and it was all a little bit crazy!! It meant I had no time to absorb that we were going and couldn’t quite get myself in to the “mode”. I guess booking last minute doesn’t allow you to build up such high expectations though we did pay an arm and a leg for this trip as Preetam was set on visiting Santorini. I’ve never left packing till the day before. Talk about living life on the edge!
A word of advice (which I really should’ve taken) when booking a holiday – look at the sale page on airline websites, not just the homepage search engine or don’t be extra silly like I was and turn straight to middlemen travel booking sites such as Expedia!! Though sometimes you may find great deals on travel supermarket sites, often you’ll pick up great deals on airline sale pages too. We ended up paying almost double – my mistake!
Pre warning – I didn’t even think to check the small print as having to pay for check in luggage is something I associate with budget no frill airlines not airlines that charge approx £6/700 for an economy class ticket to Santorini. We flew with British Airways and upon online check in, we realised our flights didn’t include checked in luggage so we had to pay an extra £40 PER suitcase PER flight. Day light robbery! I was not pleased at all!
If I thought that was as bad as our holiday plans were going to get … I was wrong! We arrived at the airport and got there 40 minutes before baggage drop off opened, we decided to have breakfast. After filling our hungry bellies, Preetam queued up to drop our luggage – the queues were crazy and definitely not something we are used to! Arjun was patient for the most part but he did get antsy after half an hour or so, so I took him to WH Smiths to pick a magazine or two. Good timing as Preetam was done just as we left the shop. As we approached security I realised that our hand luggage trolley containing Arjun’s (milk, snacks, toys, comfort blanket, change of clothes, hoody, medicine, my medicine) was missing! I assumed Preetam may have accidentally checked it in but we quickly realised we’d left it at home! We had an hour till our flight boarded and there was no way he’d make it home and back in time. The only thing that was in there that I really needed was my blood pressure medicine especially given I was at the early stages of my pregnancy then.
The staff at the airport were absolutely amazing in helping us come up with a plan. FYI if you do forget your medication, Boots pharmacy are very helpful in trying to source it, my issue was I’d had my medicine changed a few days before and I didn’t know the dose. In the end Preetam’s dad and brother kindly rushed to our house, got the medicine and bought it to the airport check in desk. The staff quickly got it through security and to us 15 minutes before boarding! Phew! During that time, I frantically rushed to get the remaining bits that were in the suitcase as unfortunately it wouldn’t have been possible to get a whole suitcase through. In the end we ended up with Arjun’s change bag, my handbag, Preetams rucksack and a whole bunch of carrier bags! What a disaster! To say Preetam and I wanted to kill each other was an understatement but we luckily has a swift moment where we just looked at each other and cracked up – this isn’t the first time we’ve left that damn trolley at home! Last time we realised just as we got to the airport and had enough time to go back. What a start to our trip!
Luckily as soon as we got to the gate, we were kindly escorted to the front as we had Arjun. We were the only ones travelling with a child. It made me feel a tad uneasy. This was the first time he was going to have his own seat and I had no idea how he was going to react. Here were all these couples looking for a romantic getaway and here we were the annoying inconsiderate family onboard!
We’ve not travelled short haul with Arjun before so I was pretty excited for the 3hr 20m flight. I’m not a great flyer and to be honest, I’m pretty useless with Arjun – Preetam generally manages him when we fly as I struggle to stay awake on an airplane.
Arjun was an absolute gem for the most part. I was SO proud of him on take off – this is the first time he was fully awake and didn’t have Preetam’s Bose sound reducing headphones (we forgot those at home too!), or milk and he enjoyed it so much! We looked outside the window and watched the planes on the runway and he excitedly squealed “wee” as the plane took off. He was so excited to be in the sky and giggled as the plane steadied itself giving us little butterflies in out tummy. I was dreading the tears and had braced myself for the mean glares but he did me so proud.
During the flight, obviously we were without the toys I’d packed but the magazines Arjun had selected at the airport included little toys and we only had to open the Thomas the Tank Engine one to keep him entertained for ages. He also enjoyed watching Paw Patrol on the iPad (something we didn’t forget! Yippee!) and playing a colouring game on the iPad. I’d highly recommend taking an iPad on a short haul flight as you don’t get individual TV screens.
I was impressed by the standard of lunch on the plane – it was provided by Urban Eat.
Although it was a short flight, it did feel pretty long!
We decided to hire a car in Santorini as we only had a few days and wanted to make the most of them. We hired a Fiat 500 and picked it up from the airport. The hotel had helped us to arrange this. We’d requested a car seat and we had no issues with obtaining one once there.
We decided to stay at a non cliff located hotel just because of safety with a little gizmo toddler. We found Astro Palace Suites and it seemed to fit the bill – it looked luxurious, had beautiful views from the pool but had the safety of being slightly more inland.
The hotel staff were so friendly and helpful even before we got there.
The rooms themselves are very clean, spacious and the décor is shades of whites and greys and have an airy and tranquil feel. The bathrooms aren’t huge but they were sufficient.
Though we didn’t request one, the hotel had kindly provided a travel cot knowing we were travelling with a toddler. He didn’t end up sleeping in it at night but did use it to play in during the day.
The beds were really comfortable but unfortunately I struggled to sleep – it may have been pregnancy insomnia or because I’m used to sleeping with a pregnancy pillow even when I’m not pregnant so I think it was just me!
We stayed in a room which came with a private pool as the hotel kindly upgraded us. The private pool was spectacular – so clean and well kept. Each pool has it’s own sun loungers and sofa sets. Don’t be mistaken though, the pools aren’t private in the literal sense. They’re private in the sense that it’s your own but your neighbours can see you. Arjun unfortunately didn’t quite get the concept and often ran towards neighbouring pools. Luckily it wasn’t very busy at the time we went. The pools aren’t heated so Preetam and I struggled to stay in too long as the breeze from the hilly make up of Santorini contributed to us feeling cold – it didn’t stop Arjun though!
The main pool has lots of sun loungers, seats and canopies and boasts a beautiful sea view although it can get really windy here. Our towel flew off the sun lounger while we were in the pool!
The spa is a quiet space – I was the only person there at the time which made sense as the beauty therapist informed me that she was the only one that worked there. She was a really friendly girl and although it wasn’t the best massage I’ve ever had, it was a pleasant experience! I didn’t use any of the other spa facilities.
We had dinner at the pool side bar on our first night and they were really accommodating. It was good to see Arjun finally eat something after days of a hunger strike – he enjoyed their cheese and tomato spaghetti and even ordered it himself. He also enjoyed the olives – we couldn’t come to Greece and not have olives! Their warm bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil was divine. I loved the Greek salad too – everything tasted so fresh. There are quite a few vegetarian options on the menu which was good to see.
Breakfast quality was average but lots of choice especially for vegetarians. I’m comparing it to our recent holidays which is probably quite unfair! Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bali and the Maldives are likely to be quite different!
PLACES TO EAT
For vegetarians, we found the selection a little narrow especially as I’m quite fussy which doesn’t help! Most places weren’t very adaptable. Here were some of our favourite places to eat while in Santorini (though they’re not Greek restaurants!):
Santo Wine Winery: This is a must to visit for the views alone. It was absolutely breath taking and I was in awe of natures beauty. It’s so peaceful and tranquil! They did the most amazing fresh virgin pina colada – something I’d been craving before arriving in Santorini! The picture I used for my pregnancy announcement was taken here.
Tabasco: This was an Italian restaurant located close to our hotel. The hospitality was great – Arjun’s cuteness even managed him a free dessert! Preetam managed to get a wide selection of sautéed vegetables and egg and I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza!
Senor Zobras: This Mexican restaurant was undoubtedly our favourite. Not only was the food amazing, but it had the best uninterrupted views. The atmosphere was really chilled out. We enjoyed the nachos and quesadilla and the wedges were delicious too. We’d highly recommend this.
PLACES TO SEE
To be honest, we didn’t have any grand plans when we set off to Santorini. We literally hired the car and drove around with our music blasting, windows down and absorbing the beautiful scenic views around us. Santorini is quite a small place meaning every direction you turn, the view is wow. I don’t think we would have enjoyed our trip as much as we did had we not hired a car – walking around with a toddler would have proved difficult and I probably would have struggled being pregnant too. Also from a safety perspective, there are lots of open cliffy areas, I wouldn’t want to risk Arjun running off. Where we came to such spots, we’d park up and pop out individually as opposed to taking Arjun out of his car seat as we weren’t prepared to risk it. Many young, child free couples hire quad bikes in Santorini – something Preetam and I do wish we’d done before we had kids!
Perissa: Perissa is a beautiful black sand beach. Be careful to not burn your feet as its very hot! We really enjoyed our time here – I loved watching Arjun and Preetam in the sea – Arjun’s naivety at how dangerous something so beautiful can be but watching how safe he felt with his daddy. It was definitely a moment of reflection for me.
Oia: Oia is a cute little town with lots of culture – the famous pictures of Santorini with the white buildings is taken here. It boasts really scenic views and is the best place to watch the sunset … if you manage to get a comfortable spot. It’s extremely busy as a popular tourist spot. There are lots of steps and narrow pathways – something to be mindful of if you are taking a buggy.
Ancient Thira: This was located at the very top of a mountain which many people were walking to. The roads are super narrow and it was super scary driving up! The views were absolutely breath taking – it looked like a post card. It was extremely windy at the top – I didn’t get out of the car and would definitely not recommend taking a baby out.
Kamari: This was another beach area which had lots of restaurants located on the beach. We stopped off at Vassilikos for a spot of lunch – they were really accommodating with our dietary requirements. The view was beautiful with the sea crashing against the shore just a few meters away from where we were sat. Arjun was more interested in stripping off and getting in the sea than his lunch! If you have lunch at the restaurants, you’re entitled to free sun loungers directly in front of the restaurant, however we found the sea quite deep and the beach itself very busy so didn’t stay long.
All in all we had a lovely short break. Greek hospitality was fabulous – everyone was so friendly especially towards Arjun! Many fell in love with his quirky personality and he even got free ice cream sent to our table over lunch by a couple who said he reminded them of their grandson! The friendliness and warmth of the Greek really made our trip so much more enjoyable.
Disclosure: this is a sponsored post either in the form of remuneration or a free product being sent to us for review however all thoughts and opinions are our own.