Yep the press releases are true. Santorini lives up to the hype. This little island in the Greek archipelago of Cyclades in the Aegean Sea manages to take away the breath of first-time visitors and returning travelers alike. It provides an otherworldly spectacle, with cobalt-blue waters coming face-to-face with the caldera’s black sand, and whitewashed houses contrasting with the azure sky. It’s a charismatic piece of paradise on earth, epitomizing the hedonism associated with the Greek island life.

Santorini is the result of an enormous volcanic explosion more than three millenia ago. Such cataclysmic event, legend says, helped in destroying a powerful ancient civilization; but it ironically paved the way for the creation of paradise. The island today draws people by the shiploads for its famed sunsets, which provide spectacular introductions for a sybaritic nightlife.

Of course, such beauty comes at a price. Precariously hanging on the brink of overdevelopment, solitude is fast becoming a luxury in a place where tourism is the main lifeline. Being a visitor in Santorini, which has become a regular stop on cruise routes and Mediterranean package tours, means you have to share the place with the crowds especially at the height of summer. That said, once you’ve done the obligatory classic route, it’s easy to step away from the frenzy and into more secluded sites, where authentic Greek culture is the norm rather than the exception.

First published in TravelBlog on July 13, 2010.

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