Oct 25, 2018

Heaven on earth? Kandy Shepherd

When I mentioned I was going on a holiday to Santorini in Greece, I was surprised by how many people told me it was their favourite destination. “Heaven on earth” and “the most beautiful island in the world” were some of the descriptions. Santorini had a lot to live up to!

Santorini did not disappoint!

I just got back and have to say I loved it too! I went not only to enjoy the ambiance and see those famous white-washed buildings with the blue roofs but also to swim in the Aegean waters of the caldera or volcanic crater from which the clifftops of the islands rise. It was the third swimming holiday I’ve done with the swim tour company*. This means going out on a boat and swimming around the islands of the caldera with a group of open water swimmers—we even swam around the (still active) volcano, where the water was suddenly warmer from the sulphur springs.

Swimming around the live volcano! I'm the second swim cap from the right.  (Photo by The Big  Blue Swim.)

 I did the first two swims with my husband, this time we were joined by our twenty-five-year-old daughter. She loved it just as much as we did. Each time, we have swum with an amazing group of swimmers, this time was no different. Disclaimer: I am no athlete but love to swim and it is a joy in the buoyant, shark-free waters!

Yummy Greek food

My daughter is a dietitian and she really enjoyed observing the healthy Mediterranean diet at first hand. On the days we swam we ate at small, family run tavernas offering home-style cooking that was absolutely delicious. My favourite? The wonderful Santorini ways with the locally grown white eggplant (aubergine)!

We saw much of the islands from the water, the white buildings looking like frosting on the cliffs. When the swim ended, we braved the local buses to see as much as we could in our remaining few days on Santorini. The white and blue buildings did not disappoint in their elegant simplicity and the blue roofed churches were magnificent. And always there was the vista of the beautiful blue sea. 

Just walking the stone-set streets of the towns of Fira and Oia was wonderful, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the contrast of hot pink bougainvillea against blue doors and, of course, browsing the gorgeous boutiques. Then there was the archaeological excavation at the site of the ancient town of Akrotiri—engulfed by lava and ash from the volcano explosion some 3,600 years ago. It was fascinating to see the evidence of such an advanced civilisation—right down to the efficient plumbing systems.

Those pots are more than three and a half thousand years old!

 I’ve written three books with Greek heroes. Will there be another set on Santorini? Watch this space!

Have you been on a trip that met your expectations? What about one that disappointed? Or perhaps one that is on the bucket list? We’d love to see your comments!

*For the people who’ve asked me about The Big Blue Swim, click on the name. 


  1. Oh I am so jealous of your swim holidays, Kandy. Still working on the hubster! :-)
    The Greek Islands most definitely lived up to the hype. Naples was a major disappointment!

    1. I absolutely love these swims, Amy, and I'm sure you would too! I'm totally with you on the Greek islands.

  2. Kandy, that sounds wonderful. I'm not sure I'm energetic enough for long distance swimming, but any excuse to go back to the Greek islands. I was in Corfu earlier this year and it was delightful. As for Santorini - not for a very long time and it was winter, definitely no swimming. Yet it was stunning. There are so many places I'd love to see and lots to revisit too.

    1. Annie if only we had the time and the resources to travel more - there's such a lot of world to see! Though I'm not complaining as I have been fortunate enough to have travelled recently and I know you have too!

  3. Thoughtful blog, thanks for sharing