Category Archives: Current

what’s life all about ?

The first heavy rains have arrived, winds are getting stronger each day and its dark by 5.30……once again, old man winter is here.

A subterranean cave house may seem like a strange place to live in, but it feels oddly protective. The ‘outside’ feels like another world at times. Right now the rain is falling sideways and I can hear the steady tap dancing sound of the rain drops hitting the front door and window. But inside… it’s another world. If I turned off the soft jazz playing in the background I would hear my own heart beat.

So with a nice glass of wine on my desk… I have decided to dust off my keyboard and write a few words and maybe post some photos in between my ravings.

I actually meant to write about this two years ago… and I may have hinted at the topic throughout this blog, but tonight it just feels right. It is a  question that has perplexed many and has been asked throughout human existence. But what is the answer… is there an answer ?

In an article today I read that a palliative care nurse in Australia had been noting the comments her dying patients made during their last days/weeks. Namely the regrets they had about their lives. It seems there are some very familiar themes:

-  “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others
expected of me”.
-  “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”.
-  “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more”.
-  “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.
-  “I wish that I had let myself be happier”.

There is nothing new here… right?

So if there is nothing new here, why do we all make the same mistakes over and over. I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t (shouldn’t) put his/her hand up for at least some of these… if not all. Yet we keep going, until one day a nurse in a palliative care unit is asking us the big question… “what do you regret most about your life? “

There are many more well-known regrets we can add to the above list of course:
-  wish I lived up to my potential
-  wish I followed my gut feelings
-  wish I was more decisive
and the big daddy of them all…
- wish I had followed my dream !

So why don’t we?  Why do we have to wait for a doctor to tell us the dreaded words before we give up smoking? Why do we have to wait until we are 80 before we realise that all our friends are dead and it’s too late to get back in touch with them? Why do we have to wait until everything is “perfect” before we make a decision to do something we have always wanted to do?

There is a scene I will describe which happened a while ago…but is burned in my memory ever since. A man I knew (father of two close friends) met with his dying wife’s doctor and was told of the likely outcome. He was a tough old Greek, ex-commando… bull of a man. Shook your hand and your fingers were sore for days. Yet now… he was in tears, just staring at the doctor in disbelief. “What can I do doctor?” he asked. “Nothing” said the doctor… “there is nothing that we can do now”.

John (not his name) walked up to the doctor… took his hand and said “I would give you 200 thousand dollars… cash… if you could save my wife”.
I would imagine the soft hand of the surgeon must’ve hurt like hell as John looked at him with both fire and fear in his eyes. The doctor apparently looked at him pensively and said… “I know”.

At that point it was too late for John to change anything… but for most people it is not. They can change their lives tomorrow… but they probably won’t.

So what’s the link to all this with Oia Santorini you might ask?  Well… it’s like this, I get a lot of email from people who either have or want to visit the island. They see the photos, they read the blog, they see images all over the web… and they become obsessed with the island. That’s something I can fully understand because that is ‘more or less’ what happened to me years ago. Most of these emails are just questions about the island, or thank you notes for the pics and the blog, or feedback about their experience visiting the island. But then… there are the “other” ones.

These “other” ones are from people who have somehow decided they want to make the big sea change. They want to come and live here, or to buy a house here…. “just a small apartment but it MUST have the view”.
Of course there are the proverbial tyre kickers, but I am fully aware that there are perfectly well-intentioned people as well. Every move starts by making enquiries and asking questions… there is nothing wrong with that.
Where it starts to make me cringe is when people ask things like ‘is it going to be a safe investment’, ‘is there likely to be political stability in Greece in the future’, ‘is it safe to live there all year round’, ‘would we enjoy living there all year round’, ‘ is the volcano going to erupt’ .

I mean…seriously, can anyone honestly believe that I or anyone else could answer these questions in a definitive way?  Would you even want someone else to answer these questions for you? Wouldn’t you want to find out for yourself if you would like the locals, or enjoy winters in isolation, or could handle island life? Would you (or should you) even take someone else’s word for such issues?

To me it seems like people are saying “take the risk out of this… and I may try it”. In other words… “make my decision safe for me”,”tell me I can’t lose”, or “there is no risk involved”…….

There is a condition the shrinks often refer to as “the tyranny of the shoulds“. It tends to hit people after 50 and more likely past 60. It is the stage of regret… the ‘shoulda/coulda’ syndrome. You don’t need a nurse in palliative care to ask you questions… your own brain will do it for you. That’s when you hear people say things like “I shoulda bought that place”, “I always wanted to visit…”, “I shouldn’t have wasted all that time”, “if only I had gone to see for myself…”.

My point is that whatever it is you want… a house on an island, or a job or an adventure, go after it. You can ask questions… and you should, but in the end it is you that has to make the move and take the chance. Dont wait for the palliative nurse or the good doctor’s last words.

I can’t give you a difinitive answer to the ‘what life is all about’ question. But I do know that making a decision to experience something… is a hell of a lot better than living with “what if” !

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the now famous red sunset in October !

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under the August moon…

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autumn sunburst…

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room with a view…

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morning tranquility !

till soon ; )
M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oia Santorini… winter images of a village in hibernation

Thousands of daily visitors, hundreds of tour buses, sunset watchers, cruise ships… it’s non-stop cabaret for Oia during the long hot Greek island summer.

But then… comes winter. The village exhales. Serenity replaces chaos. Total and complete quiet takes over and the village rests. It slides into a familiar hibernation from which it will awake in late February. It’s a time to think, to contemplate, to walk alone and to listen to the voices inside you.

It’s a beutiful time…. in the world’s most beautiful village. Enjoy ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9dLrD-xjoc

 

 

My secret lover…

Funny thing happened to us this winter… we never really had one.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a turbulent time in Greece, nor can we say we didn’t have our fair quota of storms and punishing winds. All of these things happened… we just didn’t experience a real winter in terms of cold. The temperatures in Santorini ranged from 6-17c all winter, which is really the winter you have when you don’t have one.

But winter in Oia is not about temperature, or the events on the mainland. Winter in Oia is about serenity, rejuvenation, introspection, a time to think and a time of self discovery. It’s a time to hear your mind’s voice and to defrag the brain. It is a time to enjoy the company of a small, quiet village that just happens to be too ridiculously beautiful for it’s own good…. for most of the year.

Sounds funny if you say you can enjoy the company of a village… but only because you’ve probably never experienced it. A city full of people doesn’t keep you company. It makes demands on you, it controls you, it intimidates you… but it doesn’t keep you company. A big city is like a dominatrix in leather thigh-high boots… a beautiful small village is like a secret lover.

If you do live in a big city… it is almost beyond the boundaries of your imagination to think about walking around with not another person in sight.
It’s only possible in a  ‘day after’ scenario… armaggedon. The difference here is that nothing is damaged, nobody is dead and everything is almost too beautiful for your brain to comprehend. Walking around in winter the mind wonders at times why people choose to visit naturally beautiful places in the peak of summer? Why would you want to share all this with twenty thousand others on a daily basis… when you can have it all to yourself in winter?

There are of course exceptions… and in Oia the exceptions are our wonderful Asian friends… Japanese, Chinese, Korean. They visit in winter… and they get to see sights the summer tourist can only dream about. They take their time, hundreds of photos and much exploring. Some are a bit odd… but then again they probably think the same about me for living here almost completely alone in the middle of winter.

One Chinese fellow asked me where ‘sunset’ was… and when I looked at him funny, he felt compelled to ask again “w h e r e   i s   s u n s e t”?  Speaking very slowly as if I was a sub-60 IQ moron… a descendant of the local mules perhaps. He even made a circle with his hands depicting the sun…. followed by a swan-dive with one hand for the sun obviously hitting the sea. The man was clearly describing sunset to me. So I pointed in the general direction and he gave me one of those “thanks… I hope I didn’t hurt your brain too much” looks  and started almost running towards ‘sunset’. I turned and walked away shaking my head and looking at my watch… it was 12 noon !  WTF?

Another major plus this winter was the fact there were no construction sites near us. No jackhammers at 7am, no mules crapping on the path in front of the house, no Albanians yelling all day long. I know… it all sounds strange to you, when was the last time you had jackhammers pumping, mules crapping and Albanians yelling at 7am at your house? I’m guessing never… but I think you get my drift.

You could sit out the front on a sunny winter’s day and lose yourself in your own thoughts. The eyes send back images and the brain gets inspired. The mind conjures up all kinds of ideas and you get an urge to create.

Then there are the walks. Oia is a joy to walk through at any time… but during winter months it is a storybook. Every corner reaveals another wonder, every step gives you a better view, every ancient doorway hides more secrets. If you are into photography of course it is an absolute delight… the old girl doesn’t have a bad angle. My new camera and I bonded very well this winter and I have many thousands of photos to prove we get on just fine…

All this talk of Oia reminds me of the words of the old master Enzo Ferrari. A journalist asked him why would anyone want to pay such a price for a “car”?
The old master looked at him and smiled “no my son, you don’t understand…
a Ferrari is not a car. It’s a mistress”.

Oia is not a village..

* * * * * * * *

But wait…. there is more !

Had some fun taking some pics of a recent storm at Ammoudi… the small port below Oia. The images are spectacular and for those of you who have been there and know this place as an idyllic spot for a memorable lunch or dinner in summer…. now you will see the “other” side of it. Poseidon was angry that weekend… enjoy ; )  M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41pjf8C4QH0

tales of summer….. part I

It’s been a long hot summer… and it’s been quite some time since I wrote in the pages of this here notebook. But as the verse says… everyone does need a little time away.

It was always going to be an interesting summer, with all that’s happening around the world… and especially Greece. Most people here were pessimistic at the start of the season and a lot of tourists were no doubt anxious with all that was happening in Egypt and elsewhere. Alas…Santorini is not Greece and despite all that was going on hundreds of thousands of visitors came to the island and had a wonderful time.

As you know I like to take the odd photograph or three… but this summer I probably took more than normal, partly because there was a lot going on, but also because I started to really enjoy my photography once again…. after a short period of almost no photographs at all.

As I started to prepare for this return post I found myself looking through the photo archive and realised it has been a wonderful summer…. with lots of visitors and guests, family and friends. It’s been a long summer, a hot summer… but a summer full of new experiences, chance meetings, happy reunions and the start of many new friendships with people from all over the world. That’s the beauty of living on an island that is visited by people the world over…

But enough of my drivel, let’s look at some photographs and let them speak for themselves….

as always there were sunsets… lots of sublime sunsets, which were made
even more enjoyable because of the people we watched them with…

there have been many nights when the sun was really showing off…
luckily I was there to shoot it!

having a glass of wine in the evening with this happening in front of you…
will always be a humbling experience

on a nightly basis the island puts it’s magic spell on visitors… many
of whom will never forget the sunset they saw in Oia

it would have to be one of the most fantastic shows on earth…
and it’s different every night

there are sunsets all over the world of course…
but Oia has party tricks that no other place can match…

in fact… even for a person that lives here it often feels too surreal for words

and sometimes…. well, sometimes the show continues well into the night
because soon after sunset we have a full moon and very special things
happen in Oia on the night of a full moon…

the caldera puts on her fancy frock… and the beauty is blinding

it was on such a night that we had a great function for our visiting friends
from Subaru Australia…. held at the sublime terrace of the Red Bicycle
in Oia. Following a fantastic dinner we had an auction for one
of Allison’s hand painted table cloths from Aegean Designs…
all proceeds went towards the care of Oia’s stray animals.
The winning bid… 2,300 euro
Huge thanks to all those present on the night!

of course… those in the know are very aware that the best show is often
NOT at sunset… but at sunrise. The only problem is that most
visitors sleep through them and are oblivious of the majesty they
miss out on…

that’s not to say that during the day the view is shabby…
we don’t do “shabby” in Oia…

because… as you know by now, Oia is Oia…
the most picturesque village in the world  ; )

* * * * * * *

parts II  & III later this week…
pointers will be posted here and Facebook!

lastly…

as I type this on the Mac,
I feel compelled  to express my deep sorrow…

“we are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is habit…”
Socrates. 

Thank you Mr Jobs !

Psssst…… have you heard ?

Caldera views ~ a day in the life of a cave dweller…

Among the many ‘strange/odd’  questions I get asked by readers….is whether I ever get sick of the view. Whether it becomes ho-hum, whether it gets boring looking at the same thing on a daily basis.

So… for the benefit of those that have never been to this Santorini and/or have never gazed out over the caldera for any length of time… I thought I would let you into a secret.

“It never get’s boring…. because it’s never the same”. Certainly not the same from day to day, or even hour to hour… depending on the time of year, time of day, weather and even the very spot you sit to look out on this wonder of the world.

I could write pages and pages on this… but figured it’s probably best to let some images speak for themselves. Let’s look at some boats, of all sizes, that typically sail past the house. The following four photos were all taken on the same day… the first three being early morning, all within 30 minutes of one another:

 

 first up was my favorite cruise ship… the mighty Princess, probably one of the largest ships around… almost totally silent as she glides in at daybreak !

 

then… even more quietly, the sublime site of one of the sailing cruise ships that frequent the island. To see this just after sunrise… in the full glow of the early morning sun, is one of life’s exquisite little pleasures.

All this… in less time than it takes me to finish my cup of coffee.

ten minutes later… a young couple (as seen through the binoculars) were sailing
past, probably heading to another island. Just a tiny white spec on the magnificent blue of the deep caldera below me.

All this was just as the island was waking up. The parade is endless during peak summer… with dozens of boats/ships making their way in and out. The light changes… therefore the water color changes and if there is a hint of a light breeze, there are magnificent paintings that appear on the blue surface. It is a living canvas thats constantly changing… always capturing your glance, becoming ingrained in your mind for ever.

And then… then there is sunset. If there is a better somewhere on this planet I’d like to hear about it…

this is a sunset image of the caldera for me… nightly. This is one of at least half a dozen old sailing ships that do the sunset/twilight cruises… offering the most incredible images to those of us lucky enough to watch them from above…

So… to those of you  wondering, the short answer is NO… I do not get sick
of the view ; )

Happy summer to you… or warm winter if you’re down under !

M

Lifestyle Seachange… do you have what it takes?

It’s that time of year again… people have either booked their holiday or are planning it for next year. The approaching summer seems to be the trigger in people’s minds. They start thinking about what it would be like to be on holidays somewhere, what it would be like to live somewhere else…what it would be like to change their lifestyle completely. The seachange has been in their mind for a while, quietly brewing away… and now suddenly it surfaces. Sometimes it can go on simmering for years, other times it happens very quickly (depending on personality and circumstances). Suddenly people want to know things – how much does it cost to buy a house in Oia, how easy/hard is it, how does one go about it, where does one start?

There could be any number of things that trigger an epiphany. From something as basic as a “birthday”, to a separation, a divorce, a story you read about, a movie you see, a death of someone you know or a dinner you have with a friend who is about to do something considered “radical”. All of the sudden you find yourself in bed wide awake… your mind racing, wondering, roleplaying. Can I, what if, I should’ve, I could’ve… the little voices in your head start to whisper to you… torturing you. The dreamer in you starts to wonder… while the always restrictive, logical “coach” tries to talk some sense into you. Wouldn’t be just wonderful… says the dreamer voice – yeah… but don’t even think about, too many things to take care of here first… says the coach.

Welcome to the mental state I call “threshold”. Although the word is used in many different ways… my definition is derived from aviation. A Qantas pilot once explained to me the more technical details of what “threshold” means during take off and landing…. but the thing that I remember and kept is that “crossing threshold means COMMITMENT”.  Once you have gone over that line, invisible or otherwise, you are “committed”.

So people find themselves awake in bed… lengthy dialogues between the dreamer and the coach taking place, arguments back and forth, considering options, debating, more dreaming, visualizing, wishing and/or planning. Threshold is either crossed or it becomes like a solid granite wall 20 metres thick. My guess is that 1% cross over and “commit”… the rest run head-first into the granite and then either drop dead or walk around in a daze for weeks/months or even years. Crossing threshold… or even approaching at the required speed is not for the faint hearted. As I said to someone who asked me to define threshold… “it is the ultimate bullshit filter”. It’s put up or shut up territory… go big or go home.

So now we’re back to the enquiries…. how much is a house in Oia, can I find a 2/3/4 bedroom on the cliff (for under 300k…. because Greece is in a crisis isn’t it? )….. etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinatum….

My answer is simple… if you want it, come and get it. The how, where and how much you will find out when you’re here. The only question in your mind should be… is the place worth the effort? and if you don’t know the answer to that by now then get ready to experience what crannium hitting granite feels like !

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Haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here are some of my favorites from the past couple of months… enjoy ; )


below is the view of the old fort from a special place…
the “Summer Lovers” villa

a floating resort leaving at night….

Oia at night…. at least my neighborhood..

dinner at Ammoudi… never fails to impress

and one of my favorite shots of all time in Oia… sail boats just after sunrise
magical sight….

Have a great summer everyone….

ps: don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for daily updates:

https://www.facebook.com/OiaSantorini

M

Real men don’t blog (redux…)

Given that this little blog has been going for several years… it occured to me that there are some posts which new readers will never find in the archives. So I’ve decided to revisit some of these… the one’s that enjoyed writing and give them a second chance in the spotlight…. a redux apprearance.

“Real men dont blog” was a post that I enjoyed writing and have enjoyed the many dozens of emails I have received from readers (men & women) about this topic. It seems that the kind of conversation that prompted me to write it in the first place…is still raging all over the world and there is STILL no concensus on the matter (don’t really expect there ever will be).

So I found the old post, dusted off the cobwebs and now it’s ready for prime time once again. Hope you enjoy it and would LOVE to hear your thoughts on what is a “real man”  ; ))  .. M ..

click on link below to read post:

REAL MEN DON’T BLOG