No, it’s not me or anybody I know that was missing in Santorini. It was our pre-booked accomodation, not an airbnb – although you’ll find them on there – just your regular run-of-the-mill holiday apartment. But now that we’ve established it, that is what was missing, our apartment.
I should probably rewind before I start to place blame on why the apartment was missing. We had pre-booked the apartment through booking.com, we had correspondence with the apartment owner confirming that they would accept our 2 year old despite the fact that it said no children allowed. Also we weren’t wanting to pay for three people, when in fact the third person – albeit not a full sized person – was not going to be catered for. But I digress, we did have prior communication and we were asked when we would arrive in Santorini. We provided this information – it was later than their permitted check in time, the latest check in listed was 10pm, we landed at 10:10 with an estimated arrival in Kamari of no later than 10:30.
So this is where it gets complicated, we never heard back nor did we receive confirmation that our late check-in was ok. But our payment was taken and based on this we assumed it was fine. In my experience staying in rental apartments the host/owner always confirmed arrival time. Perhaps the responsibility should have in fact been on us.
And now back to the night of our arrival, it was an on-time flight, seamless travel to the location on the map where we were advised our apartment was.
But, the apartment was not there – it was “missing“.
Now it was almost 11pm, we could’n’t find our apartment and after walking around the dark streets of Kamari, we tried to call the number provided via email only to find it was not connected. Has anyone ever tested the number of their destination before they left just to make sure it works?
But here we were, 2 year old in tow wandering the back alleys of Kamari with no idea how to navigate, nor find our apartment. But then over a balcony a welcoming voice asked us first in Greek and then English what we were looking for. Obviously we looked out of place wandering those streets.
She would be our saviour for the night, after trying to locate the apartment herself by walking the streets with us – in her nightgown no less – she accepted defeat. She was furiously googling, trying to find our apartment and trying to make calls on our behalf to locate the apartment that just didn’t seem to be on the map.
After almost 30 minutes of wandering the streets our guide proclaimed she would get the car and we would then proceed to drive around, venturing to streets that were a little further and following some leads from her Google searches.
There was a moment of apprehension getting in the car with a stranger in the middle of a foreign country – with our baby. But we outnumbered her and sometimes you just get a vibe for people, of course you could always be wrong. Fortunately we were not.
Our haphazard private-car tour of the back streets of Kamari still proved fruitless, our apartment still could not be found. We did make contact with booking.com but they seemed to not be in as much of a hurry as us to find our accommodation before midnight at least.
It was time to give up, our host would offer one last favour. She called her cousin, woke him in the middle of the night and demanded they give us last minute accommodation in their rental apartments – reminding them we had a baby and they must comply.
They did and were most welcoming, a big thank you to Polydefkis Apartments for taking us in. Our only regret is that we couldn’t spend the week there. Our original apartment booking was finally found the next morning by our booking.com contact from the night before. They were going to honour our booking and refund the missed night only. So we left Polydefkis and went to our original apartment.
The apartment was as expected, exactly as the photos showed and only a stones throw from where we had been wandering the night before. It was not marked though and not in the location shown on Google maps.
So everything worked out and we made a great friend, catching up for drinks and a casual chat about life in Santorini and Greece.
So my travel tales of Santorini are not really of Santorini at all – or maybe they are, a glimpse of the true Santorini spirit of being welcoming and hospitable. Santorini is beyond a doubt absolutely beautiful, but I found myself wanting more. We visited her famed Oia and Fira, both stunning with picturesque views. But after taking the instagram worthy shot, where do I go from there? Santorini has been overrun with tourism and for me, it left me wanting.
Take the local bus to explore the island, not only is it cheap and reliable but it is arguably the best local bus experience I’ve had. Rather than buses they use air-conditioned coaches. Whilst you’ll transit through the Fira bus terminal more times than you like, it’s a great local experience. They’ll even start playing music, but I couldn’t discern what time it was accepted to start doing this.
But as it was picturesque I can provide my photo essay below, but as for travel advice and tips I’m coming up short. Some people were overwhelmingly lovely and welcoming – none as much as our saviour of the first night. But as for finding Santorini’s local culture we came up short. As for finding the best food around, we came up short.
Food was expensive and it more-often-than-not felt like a place where people were just trying to take their photos. But go if you want the shot, enjoy lounging on the beach and paying far to much for fresh juice and cocktails.
A shoutout to Koralli Restaurant though, they have €1 take away espresso, I needed it and their food was delightful and not overpriced. It was also Greek food, a plus.