A single mention of Greece would bring squeals from the general public considering the fact that it is typically described as a true heaven by most tourists. I don’t know about you, but it definitely makes me wonder sometimes, does it actually live up to its reputation? I therefore decided to pay a short visit to the Greek islands: Santorini to testify to its postcard beauty and Crete, to check out the dark horse.

I spent a total of five days in Greece, two days in Santorini and three days in Crete. Admittedly, Santorini can be depicted as all the words that are synonymous with picturesque, it is swift on sweeping you off your feet; Crete on the other hand is something else, it slowly grows on you and just leaves you dazzled with delight.

When I first set foot on Greek soil, I was frankly a bit disappointed. I’ve spent months gaping at all the beautiful pictures of Santorini on my friends’ Instagram and Facebook profiles. I was under the assumption that the whole of Santorini looked like Oia, the only part of Santorini that occupied a big chunk of your romantic dreams. Little did I know that only 10% of the entire island looked like the pictures on the internet! If you rent a car and drive along the island, you’ll discover the true landscape of Santorini – which is a desert of nothing! The ground is literally screaming for moisture, the grass so dry that it would have driven away any kind of herbivore and this was not exactly the sight that I signed up for.

If you speak to the locals about the beaches, the ones that are commonly mentioned are Perivolos, Perissa, Kamari etc also known as the black sand beach, red beach. I know, such catchy names, don’t you think? Please do not be fooled like I was. Thinking that the beaches might be able to offer a redemption, I drove to a couple of them in high spirits. When I got to the black sand beach, I quickly left my sandals in the car because I was indeed a tad too eager to sink my feet into some soft sand. Lo and behold, the sand felt prickly, a complete let down of the visuals of warm sand that slips around your feet I had in mind.

With every bad thing comes a good side, and vice versa. I hope I haven’t completely ruined Santorini for you just yet. There is the most amazing gyros pita (Greek version of kebab) store called Obelix that will change your perception of kebabs for the rest of your life.

Did I mention that it’s easy on the pocket too? Most things on the menu cost less than 3 euros, what a way to stick to your budget! Additionally, the boat trip to the nearby volcano is definitely one for the books. Imagine yourself sitting on a quaint maritime sail ship reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean that brings you to an active volcano. From the peak of the volcano, you get spectacular views of the Aegean Sea and a quick soak in the hot springs nearby.

I’m sure those who have been to Santorini are just waiting for the mention of the famous Oia sunset. Tourists flock to this village every evening just to catch the sun drowning in the horizon. There are a few ways to have an unforgettable and desirable sunset experience.

One should make a reservation with the restaurants on Ammoudi Bay and near the cliffs that offer a spectacular dining experience which comes with a view of the sunset.

Alternatively, you could join a sailing trip or rent a private yacht to appreciate the beauty of the island and see the sunset with unobstructed views.

Unfortunately, the word limit does not allow for a Greek island showdown. I would have to save my Cretian experience for the next time!