I can’t sit still for more than five minutes if it’s a glorious day outside and there’s trails to hike, walls to climb, bikes to ride, etc. So all that laying-around-in-sand nonsense that happens on beaches around the world never really appealed to me. Better to sweat it out up a steep mountain trail with SPF 50 than sweat it out on a beach towel smelling of Banana Boat.

That all changed last week–all but the Banana Boat–when my wife and I arrived on the Greek isle of Santorini. This stop was a long time coming and something Britnee had been dreaming of since we were suffering in the high heat and humidity of China. And by the time we arrived, after the previous weeks spent fleeing the end of summer in Europe, I was as happy as my wife to be there.

Athens wasn’t quite what we’d expected but Santorini was the Greece we had come looking for: Greek Orthodox chapels dotted an arid landscape between one coast–sea cliffs topped with whitewashed villages–and the other–black sand beaches lined with bars and restaurants. Picked up a the ferry terminal after a 9-hour voyage from the mainland, our hotel host drove us south east to the village of Perissa where we’d stay for six relaxing nights.

Santorini, GreeceBritnee told me that when visiting Santorini you have to choose your village wisely: stay in Oia for the sunsets, stay in Fira for the parties and stay in Perissa for the beaches. We chose beaches, but we still managed to enjoy some beautiful sunsets and one big Red-Bull-fuled party.

Our first two days were quite busy. Day one-we caught the bus to Fira and walked to Firostefani to watch the Red Bull Art of Motion freerunning competition. Narrow paths that wound through the cliff-top village were jam-packed with tourists and parkour enthusiasts, all admiring the world’s best freerunners as they jumped, flipped, dove and danced their ways over the rooftops.

Red Bull Art of Motion, Santorini Red Bull Art of Motion, SantoriniDay two we rented an ATV and braved the roads to visit Red Beach and then Oia for one of the most spectacular sunsets we’ve ever seen. I could have sat in the same spot every single night during our stay, but Oia was on the opposite end of the island from Perissa and the ATV drive was a rather tiring, hour-long trip each way.

So by day three we had one last item to check off our to-do list: lay on the beach. And we pulled it off marvelously. Walking the three minutes from our hostel to the sandy beach, we found two beach lounge beds beneath a thatched umbrella and set up camp for the next five hours. Five hours during which I did nothing… absolutely nothing. Just zoned out, sipped drinks and stared at the sea-a new Mark Johnston record!

Perissa, SantoriniThe following day I couldn’t wait to go back and do it all again. So after a lazy morning sleeping in, we packed a few things and returned to almost the exact same spot, this time breaking up the action with some Tomatokeftedes, Dolmades and Fava at a nearby restaurant. Words can’t express how good it felt to lay so still for so long, soaking up the warmth of the sun while resting my tired body after four months on the go. Occasionally I’d take a dip in the Aegean Sea to cool off… in October!

High above Perissa, SantoriniThen came the toughest decision of our trip- should our last full day be spent back on the beach or do we make the short but steep hike to Ancient Thera for a little exercise? With our visit to Nepal only a week away we knew we had to get up and get moving. But as we climbed the dusty, winding trail to the ancient hilltop city, I found myself repeatedly turning back to stare longingly at the strip of black sand I’d come to love so much.

Santorini you will be missed.

About The Author


Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.

4 Responses

    • Britnee Johnston

      Santorini was so beautiful! We wished we had extra days to explore Oia more. We stayed in Perissa Beach, which was nice but far from the iconic landscape of Oia. Next time we’ll try and stay in Oia instead.