I arrived in Santorini after dark, so my bus ride from the airport into the town of Karterados offered me glimpses of little else than the island’s billboards and rural storefronts, and then in typical Laurel Ann fashion, I walked straight past the discreetly marked driveway for my accommodation.
(Lucky for me, I came across two young women about a kilometer down the road who were able to point me in the right direction.) I finally rolled into the reception of Caveland tired and stressed, only to have all my worries wiped away by the bubbly and fast-talking Lauren, who had arrived only a few days before to work at the hostel after a three-month stint making beds in a beach town in Portugal.
Caveland was possibly the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in.* The property is a former eighteenth-century winery where you stay in converted “caves,” each with an ensuite bathroom. They offer sunrise yoga, free breakfast, and have a pool and two dogs. It was their first week of operation for the season, as the island was just waking up after its tourist-less winter, so I was one of only seven guests there at the time, which made for a very cozy social atmosphere. We ate breakfast, cooked dinner, played cards, and talked together. We hailed from all over (Brazil, France, Australia, USA, Hong Kong), so much of our conversation was devoted to sharing and comparing information about our home countries, which is one of my very favorite parts of traveling.
My first morning on the island greeted me with a sparkling view of the Aegean and a blindingly blue sky. Over breakfast, I made plans with two of the other girls from my room, Kim and Renata, to hike to Oia, the blue and white cliffside town of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame. It was a fabulous day; the weather was perfect, the trails not too strenuous, and the endless vistas nothing short of spectacular. Once we got to Oia, however, we found it eerily empty, and it took us nearly an hour of wandering to find a place for dinner that had a view and wasn’t obscenely expensive. Apparently we were there just a few weeks too early to find the bustling Greek island we see in the movies. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over a few bottles of local wine before hailing a cab to take us back to Caveland.
The following day was significantly chillier, so the girls and I took a driving tour of the island. We saw its red and black sand beaches, a lighthouse, and several more charming little towns. After returning to our hostel, we took a quick stroll around nearby Fira, the island’s capital, before settling in for a chilled out evening. I woke up early the next morning and left paradise all too soon to return to the hustle and bustle of Athens.
*Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the place because I'm not a real blogger.