Travel black book: The draw of Santorini

Travel black book: The draw of Santorini

Who: Singaporean Tam Kwan Yuen, 28, is a watercolour artist. The bachelor is having a solo exhibition of the work inspired by his travels from March 7 to 15 at Artcommune Gallery, 02-43 Bras Basah Complex. For more information, go to

Favourite destination: Santorini, Greece

Why: The relaxed atmosphere and laid-back culture of the Mediterranean, the unique white-washed and blue-roofed architecture, the history of the area and the majestic islands set in the deep blue Aegean Sea are the main attractions. The lifestyle there is amazingly suited for artists and people who love a slow, relaxed pace of life. It is also the most ideal subject matter for my paintings.

I visited Santorini in September last year with a fellow artist, Jayson Yeoh, 52, from Malaysia. We were in Greece to attend Watercolor International II, an international watercolour exhibition where our works were displayed.

After the exhibition, we went sightseeing around the country, sketching and painting. Sitting in a cafe in the afternoon, sipping orange juice and sketching the hotels and rugged landscapes of Santorini were simple yet great pleasures for me.

Favourite hotel

Anemomilos Suites (Fira, Santorini; tel: +30-22- 8602-2623; is conveniently located near the heart of Fira, the island's main town, making it an easy launch point for sightseeing. The hotel has a swimming pool and its spacious rooms offer fantastic rooftop views of the town.

The owner of the hotel, a bearded, friendly old man, made us feel at home with his gentle, fatherly demeanour.

We had a pleasant chat over a bottle of wine, which he offered us when we came back to the hotel from a night out, and drove us to the airport for free, even though we had stayed only one night.

Service and amenities are good. The price is also very reasonable - less than $80 for two people a night.

Favourite place to eat

The sun was setting after a day sketching around Oia, a town in the north-west of Santorini, and we decided to walk to the western end of town to have our first dinner on the island at Ochre Wine Bistro (Oia, Cyclades 84702; tel: +30-22-8607-1808;

The long walk was worth it for the magnificent views from the restaurant. With the sea breeze, quiet ambience and good service by a beautiful Greek woman, it was a relaxing and satisfying meal.

I recommend the grilled salmon or sea bass and the moussaka, an eggplant and mince meat casserole, and the lobster pasta for two, if you are willing to splurge. It is great, but costs €60 (S$91).

A meal here typically costs €20 to €30 a person, which may seem expensive, but the quality of the food and the relatively large portions make up for it.

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