An Insider’s Point of View
Interviews For You
Background of Christina and Alexandra

Twin sisters, Alexandra and Christina share the same ideas and big dreams about creating authentic Greek holiday experiences, and sharing their love about Greece and Santorini with people from all around the world.After studying and working abroad for 6 years, in the field of tourism and hospitality management, they decided to go back to their roots and returned to Greece. They are now running, along with their mother Nicoletta, a complex of holiday houses of great history and character in Santorini and Patmos, called “Nicoletta – Your Island Home”. The bond of Alexandra and Christina with Santorini goes way back. In the 18th and 19th century Oia thrived, thanks to its merchant fleet. At the beginning of the 20th century, when ships started being steam operated, Oia’s ship owners had to modernize their fleet switching from sailing boats to steam ships. Since there were no industries on the island that could manufacture the steam engines, Oia’s ship owners took their families and moved to Piraeus, Athens’ main port. Among these families was the girls’ great-grandfather,Loukas Nomicos. After his wedding to Nicoletta Alafouzou, they moved to Piraeus where they had five children. The ties with their origin were never cut, since Loukas Nomicos, continued to take his entire family to Oia where they spent their summer vacation. One of his sons, Dimitris Nomicos (the girls’ grandfather) followed in his father’s footsteps and built a summerhouse for his family on the ruins of his ancestor’s property, allowing for his daughters, Nicoletta and Loukia, to be able to spend their summers in Santorini. In 2004, Nicoletta Nomicou went to work as a tour guide on her beloved island and simultaneously started renovating the family’s properties in order to rent them out.In 2014, Nicoletta’s own daughters, Alexandra and Christina, joined their mother in order to continue and develop what their mother had started. Today, Nicoletta, Alexandra and Christina, have the honor and pleasure to share their family’s story and their love for their island with visitors from all over the world.

Santorini Through The Eyes of Alexandra and Christina

Intoxicating, mysterious, spectacular, lunar, evocative and the list never ends; will you describe Santorini in five words?
A: Colorful, multifaceted, sensational, volcanic and wondrous! C: Breathtaking, colorful, lunar, magical and unique!

Black, red and white sand with dark blue waters; the beaches of Santorini have nothing to be jealous of the other of the Cyclades. You actually know that! However, which is your favorite?
A: My all-time favorite beach is Columbos, but the passed few years I have discovered a new mysterious haven. It is called Kambia beach and it is close to Akrotiri. It is quite far away from Oia (45 minutes drive), so I usually go there for a full day. It is one of the less known and remote beaches in Santorini. It is a volcanic pebble beach, with very few sunbeds and a small tavern, which is perfect for a quick bite. The sea is calm and clear, the scenery is very serene, and above all not too many people know it!! C: Columbos! Untouched from mass tourism, and not equipped with sunbeds or a beach bar it offers optimal relaxation. It is only a 10 minutes drive from Oia, and what makes it special is the beautiful volcanic black cliff that overlooks the beach and creates shade. Columbos also has an underwater volcano! It is not visible, therefore not many people know about it!

From the town of Fira hanging on the imposing cliffs, the traditional village of Megalohori and the preserved settlement of Pyrgos to the windmills of Oia and the medieval settlement of Emborio, Santorini has millions of wonderful locations. If you had to choose your favorite location in Santorini, what would that be?
A: I love so many different places in Santorini, but my favorite location is Armeni. Armeni is a picturesque bay, which only numbers a few houses. It is at the foot of Oia’s cliffs, and is only accessible by the path and steps linking Armeni with the center of Oia. It is a 10-15 minutes walk, and the way up is quite steep. It is a small fisherman’s port, but it is also perfect for swimming. It is one of the very few spots inside the caldera that one can swim while enjoying the breathtaking view. The reason I love Armeni is that I have amazing childhood memories from there, since our grandfather has a beach house there. He took us for fishing and taught us waterskiing. Imagine waterskiing in the heart of the caldera! Nowadays it is one of the very few undiscovered places in Oia. C: I just hope it remains undiscovered, as this is what makes it so special!

As for photographers, where would you advice them to capture the most beautiful pictures of your island?
A: The lighthouse of Akrotiri, the village of Pyrgos, Vlychada beach, and along the path that connects Oia to Fira. C: …and Oia of course!

It is certain that you will fall in love with the magical sunsets in the island of Santorini; from Ammoudi and the windmills of Oia to the castle of Skaros in Imerovigli and the lighthouse of Akrotiri, you will get amazed from the astonishing colours of the sunset in Santorini wherever you are. Which is your favorite spot for watching the sunset except Oia of course?
A: I love watching the sunset from the top of Pyrgos! C: My favorite spot for watching the sunset is Akrotiri. Oia is on the one tip of Santorini and Akrotiri is on the other one. So while watching the sunset in Akrotiri you can actually also see the entire island, including Oia. It is truly magical!

Not even a mile away from the romantic settlement of Oia, you will find Thirassia; an island that seems like time has stopped in another era. The unspoilt beauty of Thirasia will seduce you with the whitewashed houses that are scattered on the wild beauty of the black earth of the volcano. Have you ever visited Thirassia? If yes, could you please describe to us your experience?
A: I have visited Thirasia a number of times but mostly for eating at the taverns on the small port called Korfos. I once visited the main village of Thirassia and it looks like Santorini 50 years ago, since it still has not been affected by tourism. C: I am very ashamed to admit that I have never walked up the village of Thirassia. I have visited the port, which is very touristy, and I have explored by boat, the shores of Thirassia, and the bays that it forms. That was actually very interesting! There used to be some old mines on the one side of Thirassia, and we used to go there as kids and play. Nowadays, these mines were turned into a luxurious villa, which is belongs to Perivolas hotel, which is in Oia. The villa is surprisingly beautiful, and completely respects the landscape.

Santorini is one of the most famous destinations in the world. However, it has an unexplored side. If you were going to give advice to a traveller, where would you recommend him to go to acquire a complete image of the beauty of Santorini?
A: I would recommend the village of Pyrgos. It is absolutely beautiful, and has been very well preserved since it was declared a protected settlement in 1995. Wandering through its cobblestone alleys feels like stepping back in time. One should also visit the cultural village, whose exhibition called “Santorini of the past” enables visitors to comprehend Santorini’s rich cultural identity. C: I would also recommend Pyrgos. What makes Pyrgos so special is that from the top of it you get to see not only the caldera view that you get to see from the other villages, but also the vineyards, and the fields of Santorini. This always reminds me, that what makes Santorini special is not just the caldera and its pretty view, but the richness of its volcanic soil that allows it to grow the unique tomatoes, white eggplants, fava beans and of course the vines!

Hiking in an active volcano must be an experience of a lifetime! Have you ever gone for hiking in the volcano of Santorini? If yes, could you please describe your experience?
A: Yes, we have been numerous times on the volcano. To be honest when we were kids we got quite disappointed on our first visit to the volcano. We expected boiling lava! The boat trip is great but the actual walk on the volcano is not that special, and during summer it can get very hot. We mostly recommend the sailing tours, where you also have the opportunity to sail around the volcanoes and swim in the hot springs. C: I think we visited so many times the volcano that we got used to it! The volcano is not that exciting, but its landscape is very unique I think, so it might be interesting for visitors.

Wine tasting in the island of lava; it must be an incredible experience! Have you ever visited any of the wineries of Santorini? If yes, could you please describe your experience?
A+C: We actually worked in a winery when we were 17 as a summer job. It was such a great experience! Many visitors were quite surprised not only by the excellent quality of our wines, but also by their great history. Santorini’s vines are amongst the most ancient vines in the world, since the Phylloxera illness that killed almost everything in Europe in the late 19th century, did not affect the vines of Santorini. The Asyrtiko wine variety, whose origin is Santorini, is considered nowadays as one of the highest quality varieties in Europe. It is also interesting to note that the most important characteristic of Santorini as an island is its volcano, and hence its volcanic nature. Its volcanic nature is responsible for the island’s most famous feature; its breathtaking landscape. Nevertheless, there is much more to appreciate, than just the obvious. The diversity of the Greek cuisine reflects the geographical diversity of Greece. Likewise, Santorini’s unique food and wine culture is directly affected by its volcanic nature. Therefore, wine tasting can play a vibrant role in experiencing Santorini, since it gives the chance to visitors to get a real taste of Santorini!

Although the archaeological site of Akrotiri is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Aegean, it is sometimes gets ignored. Would you recommend to someone to visit this unique monument?
A+C: We highly recommend to everyone to visit Akrotiri! It is one of the most ancient and most important historical sites of the Mediterranean. Even for those who are not the biggest fans of museums and archeological sites, Akrotiri can be fascinating, since it gives the chance to visitors to broaden their Santorini experience, and learn more about the development of its rich sociocultural identity and its history. The important thing is to have a good tour guide!

The agricultural products of Santorini in combination with its delicious recipes in the high-class restaurants and the cozy taverns are renowned all around the Cyclades. In fact, 2013 was the year of gastronomy in Santorini. Could you please tell us two or three of your favorite restaurants/taverns? 
A: That is such a hard question. There are so many good restaurants in Santorini. I could make a whole list! My top three are Psaraki, Katina and Metaxi Mas. C: Rokka, Sunset, Psaraki!

Your favorite shop in Santorini!
A: I love the shop in Santo Wines, the winery of the union of Santorini cooperatives. The shop sells a great variety of local wines and products! They even have an online shop! C: My favorite shop is B.LOOSE in Oia, which sells Greek cotton clothing. The clothes are handcrafted and very unique.

Your favorite spot for enjoying a cocktail with a view!
A: There is a Mexican restaurant called Senor Zorbas that serves amazing margaritas. A Mexican restaurant in Santorini sounds a bit misplaced, but the drinks are very good and the view is simply unbeatable. It is also perfect for watching the sunset. C: The perfect cocktail spot for me is Katharos Lounge, overlooking Katharos beach and the sunset. It is very close to Oia, on the way to Ammoudi. It serves original delicious cocktails and the sunset view is divine.

An unforgettable moment of yours in Santorini!
A+C: There are so many unforgettable moments! The most recent one was the wedding of a beautiful couple that stayed in one of our houses last September. Their wedding took place at the terrace of our house during sunset time. They came all the way from the US to get married in Santorini, just the two of them, with no guests. We had the honor to share this very special moment with them. It was such a simple ceremony, but so heartwarming and moving, and the view was simply the perfect wedding setting. It is also so rewarding for us hosting and meeting such exceptional people, and being part of their holiday experience.

Your favorite experience in Santorini!
A+C: Our favorite experience is having friends over in Santorini and showing them around the island. We never get bored of it! We still love doing the “touristic things” and sharing the beauties of the island with our friends.

Your Top 5 List!
A: Sailing tour, wine tasting, the archaeological site of Akrotiri, cooking class (Selene restaurant offers very interesting cooking classes), relaxing on a black sandy beach. C: Sailing tour, the walk from Fira to Oia, eating in a fish tavern in Ammoudi, the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the sunset view from Akrotiri.

Share with us your mystery!
A+C: Santorini has so much more to offer than just the obvious. Moreover, Santorini can have the negative image of an overpriced and extremely touristy destination. Nevertheless, there are so many worth noting efforts by individuals in Santorini, who carry a true sense of hospitality, love and respect the island, as well as strive to develop and share high quality tourism. That is also what we are trying to do! Therefore, visitors who are really interested in having an authentic and high quality holiday experience will find numerous options in Santorini. On the other hand those who are not interested in such an experience, will stick to the main touristic attractions. The main point is that Santorini is not just the cliché destination seen in postcards and magazines. There is so much more to discover!

Do you have anything else to tell us for your beloved island?
We would only like to clarify that Santorini is not only for honeymooners or couples. It is also perfect for groups of friends or families with older children (some villages such as Oia are not very suitable for babies or young children due to the steps and cliffs). Of course we have many couples staying at our houses, but we also have students, friends, backpackers, or families traveling together. Santorini has something to offer to everyone!

Gallery from the Houses of Alexandra and Christina