Tag Archives: living in oia

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

Oia in winter – calm before the storm

As you may have read in the previous post there were power disruptions… so this post is in fact a prequel to the last post about the stormy weather…

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Forecast was for storms… and it had been raining all day. Skies looking ominous and the big pond below me looking like a blue/grey silk sheet has been gently set over it. The pre-storm colors of the caldera (Santorini in general) are really quite incredible. Summer visitors never get to see any of this… but those brave enough to visit in winter get to enjoy the “grand show” that is a Santorini thunderstorm. The landscape is so dramatic… so overwhelming, that the gathering dark clouds of a big storm just make it look completely surreal. I have said on many occasions that this (the caldera) is the world’s greatest amphitheatre. It’s as if it was made to stage major shows… shows of a grand scale… shows for which no man-made venue could ever be considered suitable. In my mind… other than a major volcanic eruption, a major electrical  storm is the next best thing. So tonight… I thought I would go out just prior to the storm and take some photos of the neighborhood… under storm-lighting…so to speak.

there are many paths up to the village centre…all with a lot of steps
and each with it’s own unique charm…

the path I prefer  is a very winding narrow path that
weaves it’s way through the neighborhood… giving me time to soak in the details which, suprisingly… I find endlessly fascinating. Some of these houses, rocks, caves & retaining walls… have been here much much longer than most
of the western world countries have existed.

 

as I’m walking up the clouds are gathering fast…not a lot of time or light, left for photos …and the “big” show is about to begin…

 

the path meanders around all kinds of houses… old and new

 

in this case you can tell that although this house is old…. the renovations
and the “owners” are new…. this is why the house was freshly painted in
November. They obviously don’t know the effects of a winter in Oia can
have on a freshly painted house. They will be doing this again come March…
then, they will know !

 

the path reaches the last section…which is also the steepest… in summer,
by the time you’ve reached this stage you can hear what the diner’s at Lotza
cafe are whispering to each other – the acoustics on the caldera side are
quite incredible… but we won’t tell the tourists that ; )

 

It’s at this point that I like to stop for a sec and take in the daily/hourly-changing vistas below…this on the left side…

 

 

and this on the ride side. The  path corner behind the blue dome is a spot that offers fantastic views of the village looking back. I call it “Japanese corner”….
at least a million photos are taken from that spot annually… and that, is a fact  !

 

looking up… the captain’s houses are mostly empty… the section of the village
that you  hear the most laughter and cheer in summer….is now eerily quiet

houses have been locked down and boarded up in readiness for the
winter elements… which, on the caldera side can be severe…

 

the inimitable charm of Oia…. houses likes these were probably built more than
800 years ago (as was my house)… and have walls 2 feet thick…still lived in by
those lucky enough to have inherited them…. or made it their dream to
buy them…

 

one of my favorite spots on the whole island… the view being
quintessential Oia… iconic… stunning !
If you look on top of the highest dome on the right…you will see a tiny ball of black fluff…. her name is “Nugget”… my stray (one-eyed) cat…. a survivor,
always at the highest point looking out for danger (stray dogs).

 

The “marbles” as the main path is known by locals…. are empty, only
Dimitiri’s cave (icon painter – first arch on right) showing any sign of life…

Meantime the clouds had gathered and things were looking ominous. This was going to be a big storm….lightning had already started and looking spectacular, as they always are at this time of year in Oia. If I had better cameras I would’ve stayed there to capture the majesty that is a thunderstorm over the caldera… but alas my little Pentax and I were headed back. But before I left I had to take another iconic photo…one which millions have taken during the day… and night, during summer…. but hardly anyone gets to take in winter, just before a thunderstorm.

This villa… “Aspaki”, is perched 300m above sea level… with uninterrupted views … it is exquisitely painted and it elegantly stands watch over the caldera below. It’s been in thousands of magazines and no doubt exists in a million photo albums and slideshows… but I dare say not many people would have a photo of it in the middle of winter… so this is a treat.

PS:  All of the above was written for Thursday’s post… but as you read in the last post things went downhill soon after the last photo was taken. I was right that it looked like it was going to be a big storm and a fantastic show… and it was. But the storm (at least in some parts of the island) was a lot bigger and more fierce than what people tend to call “enjoyable”. It did a great deal of damage to the main town of Fira, as well as other parts of the island… but oddly it did nothing more than deliver plenty of water and an incredible light show to Oia itself. The old locals like to say that “Oia has a different God”… mainly because a lot of the weather that punishes the rest of the island rarely affects Oia the same way… maybe they know something that most of us “newbies” don’t.  But even to an atheist that saying sounded very true on Thursday night…

So…finally, after three days and many attempts, this post is complete. I hope you enjoyed the photos and I look forward to taking some more this week  ; ))

PS: If you want to glimpse at some of our Christmas decorations check out Allison’s latest post here . Have a great Sunday and an even better week… !

An empty village & a winter’s sunset

It’s cold…it’s wet…it’s windy. It’s almost the middle of December and…well, winter has finally arrived on Santorini. Over the weekend the temperature  probably dropped by 8-10 degrees…. but still a comparatively mild 5c today.
I say comparatively mild because friends in Frankfurt were telling me that it was -7 during the day and a brain-numbing -16 at night. Yes… it’s winter in Europe, and what a wonderful thing that is…

Here in Oia the temps are nowhere near what our German friends have to endure, but it’s cold enough to keep tourists away. The village is quiet again… very quiet (read: empty). My favorite time of the year has come around again… so I thought it was about time I took you for what has become our annual winter-sunset walk, just so you can see what I see at this time of the year.

10am… if this was summer there would be hundreds of people walking
“the marbles”. Today….it’s just moi!

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looking the other way…. it’s still just me

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even the kids at Atlantis (bookshop – on the left..resident all year) have not bothered to open their doors on this miserable, wet morning.

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Rex as always is on the look out… but all he can spot is the sublime sunburst

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and guess who is all grown up now…. and copying his big brother

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winter sunsets have a different charm to those of hot summer… a lot more
subdued, a lot more subtle. I prefer them…

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this was a cold evening by Oia standards… and quiet, very very quiet..

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the Kastro restaurant terrace is now empty… the sunset watchers long gone,
the house of the “Sisterhood of traveling pants” (blue door) is in need of repairs and the Summer Lovers house (center-top of the picture) is all boarded up

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the path leading to the fort is empty…. and for the first this year, I get to watch
an Oia sunset…. a l o n e. Not many people can say that…

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alone on the fort… bliss

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a look to the left reminds me of the unreal / surreal place I am lucky enough
to call home…

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this is my favorite pic so far this winter… have never taken the neighborhood
from this angle. This is the path home as I return from sunset watch…

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the night lights switch on as I make my way down….the village peacefully quiet

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a picture you don’t see very often… the neighborhood on a cold winter’s night.

It hardly seems like a year ago that we went for our last winter sunset walk… and our New Year’s Eve at the fort…. but it has been. A lot has happened in the past twelve months and a lot more is about to happen over the next year.  Living in a small village in the Aegean has its drawbacks… but it also has its great benefits. As the cold winter nights set in and daylight disappears early afternoon… there is a stillness,  a zen-like serenity which you simply can’t buy in the city. You may not want it of course…which I can understand, but if you do… then this is a blissful time indeed. It’s time to be creative… to learn new things… to weave new dreams and to contemplate how to make insanely great things happen in the coming year ahead. So while you’re doing whatever this winter… if you happen to think about a caveman sitting, reading, dreaming & listening to his music by candlelight… send me a wave   .::   ; ~}

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Thank you for the overwhelming response to the (only half-finished) Aegean Designs blog/site. Allison has too many orders to complete before Xmas so we have taken the main catalog off-the-air (although it is still available to existing customers by request – just leave a comment either here or at the AD blog and we will send you the links). Today also marks the first post on Allison’s blog… something she has wanted to do for some time but simply did not have the time to…. you can read her first post here.

More pics this Thursday…. !

moments in time…that’s what it’s all about

That’s all we have you know… that’s what it’s about…. just moments in time.  Everything we experience is a moment in time. Our finest moments… our worst moments… our boring and sublime moments. They are all tiny segments of the continuum of life. Every photograph… every memorable song… every great holiday… every unforgettable meeting…. they are all moments in time. We see a thousand faces a day… but occasionally we turn and glance at a face… a seemingly extraordinary face… looking at us. Its a split second glance… which can sometimes lead to eternal love or a lasting memory. A split second in time… an unforgettable moment.

The human brain is an amazing instrument… so amazing that we have not even scratched the surface of it’s potential. Through all of our senses it captures and stores these moments in time. It has them neatly tucked away and when the right stimulus comes along… it serves us with a “vivid memory” that can be so powerful…at times so overwhelming… that we feel like we are experiencing that “moment in time” all over again. It can make you smile… it can make you frown… it can make you sad… or it can make your day. It is one of the most powerful forces known.

But for the brain to capture and store… it needs to feel that it is “worth capturing”… that it is indeed a special moment. This will only happen if we are open to appreciating these moments… if we are allowing ourselves the sheer pleasure of savouring the special moments.  In most cases we are so damned busy “planning” and “scheming” that we forget to enjoy the moment. We forget that right now is all we have. The future hasn’t happened and yet and the past is history. Right now is what it’s about… and unless you have the presence of mind to realise that… the right now will also become history. Nothing but a blurred memory because we didn’t take the time to enjoy it as it was happening…in real time. We didn’t seize the moment.

Not understanding the moments in time concept has many negative derivatives.  The worst of these is the ultimate torture…. the dreaded “if only”. If only I had spoken to her/him… if only I had “gone for it” instead of hesitating… if only I had tried…if only I had stopped long enough to enjoy it. The list is endless… and only because we didn’t have the presence of mind to understand the “moment”. That fleeting moment in time which held so much promise… if we  had only “grabbed it” and made it ours.

I vividly remember the night following my first glance of my island home. Following the morning inspection and subsequent discussions… I drove into Oia that evening and took photos of the village then came down to the empty house and just sat on the roof. Glanced out across the caldera and the distant lights of the other villages. It was summer so the heat made all the distant lights flicker like a Christmas tree. I remember thinking to myself  “this is what it will be like”. This is what it will feel like to sit out here with a glass of wine and just relax….
It was a moment in time… but one that I stopped long enough to soak up. It burned in my memory… and I often called on it during the seemingly endless running around when trying to finalise the purchase of the house. That “moment in time” became the anchor… it was my  “end in mind”.

Now it’s different… but I am no less sensitive to “moments”. My sense of presence is acute… and I try very hard to not let familiarity dull my senses. I still glance at my morning view as if it’s the first time… and will more often than not run in to get my camera for a shot like this:

I shot this with morning coffee today. I’ve taken this photo a thousand times…
but I will never take this view for granted.

This afternoon the view… as always… was different again. Most people that live
here would not even look at this twice… I prefer to see it as if it’s the first time !

this is the view I saw from my roof… just try to imagine it at night
with the distant village lights flickering…an unforgettable moment for me…
an inspiring moment !

The moment you realise that it’s all about moments in time… you start to see things differently. You appreciate the moment… you realise that it IS a fleeting moment and you may never see/experience it again. You stop assuming about life… that things will still be there later, or the next day or the next year.
They might… but YOU might not.

As always this is not intended to be a lecture… it’s just a cave dweller thinking out loud. It’s nothing new to any of you. But I do believe it’s worthwhile reminding ourselves… “appreciating moments in time… that’s what it’s all about” !

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I hope that many of you are busy writing your Haiku poems. I am looking for some inspiring words about the island…words from those of you that have visited and feel in love with it… or those of you that have fallen in love  from a distance. What is it… what do you feel…what do you dream about… what does Santorini mean to you. I want to read words that capture the spirit..the very essence… the true meaning of Santorini to you !

Trust me when I tell you that the prize will make you the envy of all your friends and family at Christmas. have had quite a few emails asking for more time… seems that putting three lines together IS a lot harder that writing pages lolol…
funny that ; )))

Entries now close this Thursday 25th Nov (was going to be Wed but I usually post on a Thursday so you get an extra day ). Try your best and have fun with it.
Let your imagination free… there is a poet in all of us!!

An elegant life…

“I saw the angel in the marble
and carved…until
I set him free”

this is the exquisitely elegant way in which Michelangelo described the unbelievably complex way in which he created his masterpiece sculptures. You could surely write 600 pages on the topic… but you could never explain it better than that.

The sheer beauty in his words stems from the simple structure of the message. There is no need to say more… he intuitively knows that where his words stop… human imagination begins. Our minds interpret his statement and create the visual imagery that is required to fully comprehend his meaning. His words allow our brains to do what they uniquely do… to “imagine” and “find” meaning.

I thought about this quote from the genius artist today while explaining my very favorite form of poetry….. the incredibly elegant Japanese art of Haiku. It is based on the most simple of concepts… that of using a limited number of phrases & syllables, to convey a poetic message. The result is a micro-poem which, whilst short on words, is ultra rich in meaning. Now there… is a concept we can all learn from. Using only a tiny handful of carefully selected words, to convey a message that you could write pages about. It is the ultimate art of refined expression… of poetic minimalism… the elimination of the unnecessary… the carving of the marble to “let the angel free” !

Seen superficially Haiku it is a “quick” form of writing poetry… but of course nothing could be further from the truth. It is infinitely harder to say something meaningfully in just three lines…than it is to write three pages. Every word has to be chosen very carefully and placed in the right order for maximum meaning and context. It is the reduction of many words…down to those core words that express the very essence of the poetic message.  It is  p u r i t y of expression.

But for me… the true value of Haiku lies beyond the poetry. It is in the metaphor that I see hidden within it. Haiku the concept… when applied to life… is the search for life’s essential elements. The pure core of your life’s meaning. Those handful of things that are really all you need to exist in a meaningful and satisfying way. It is the doing away of all the clutter, meaningless possessions, redundant rituals and mind-numbing information that we accumulate in our lives. It is also about the frivolous ways we waste our time/days/years. If the number of words allowed in Haiku represented the number of years we had on this earth I suspect we would look at life a lot differently. If the number of lines allowed in Haiku (three) represented the number of people we were allowed to be friends with during our lives… we would certainly chose a lot more carefully than we do now. If the number of  syllables allowed in Haiku represented the number of choices we were allowed to make in our lives… we would “certainly” make wiser choices, with a lot more thought going into each and every one of them.

But the one idea that I love the most is this… what if, instead of being allowed 200 pages to write your life story… you were only allowed three lines. What words would you use… and how would you condense everything to 17 or so syllables? Would it not make you seriously think about your life, what’s important to you and the words you would use to describe your very essence of being? And would it not be a fantastic thing to teach children to do while they are still at school? Pass to them the discipline of refining their future existence to its core values. To seek to understand  and learn to beautifully & succinctly express their purety of purpose.

I think that leading a meaningful life “is” about making great choices. Its about thinking and understanding, refining and finding your pure essence. It is about writing your own carefully crafted formula… the all encompassing equation that will lead you to a satisfying, simplified, purposeful and “complete” life. A life without meaningless clutter and unnecessary baggage. An elegant life. Not saying that mine is… but I will keep trying…

The Haiku concept also applies to our environment… our own ecosystems that we all occupy around the world. What if the same principles applied there? If the same care was taken to make our choices and to select what is the most appropriate ways to represent the interests… the very essence of our environments? How would our choices be different?

This church is perched on one of the most spectacular parts of Oia. It has been there for centuries and rebuild several times following earthquakes. If this was a “typical” resort area… a typical developer such as WEDONTGIVEAFLYINGF@&#ABOUTYOURPRETTYVILLAGE Co would come along and get permission to build a 5star hotel on that very spot. But how would Oia look as a result of such a decision? What would happen to the essence of Oia if an elaborate hotel was to replace this simple but meaningful landmark? What would happen to the unrivaled elegance and authenticity of Oia? Needless to say it would be shattered…

So as you can see… something as seemingly simple as writing short poems, can hold many lessons for all of us. If you take the time to read into Haiku you will understand the understated elegance of this form of poetry. You will learn to appreciate how important choices are… and the beautiful results that can be produced when we apply simple principles of discipline to our expression. Like Bonsai… Haiku has many lessons when we apply it as a life metaphor. It is a wonderful art form and one which you can practice anywhere…at any time. All you need to do is apply your imagination in a disciplined way.

It may change your life ; )
- read more below…

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To help you experience the pleasures of Haiku we will be running a competition over the next seven days. To enter… all you have to do is write a Haiku poem on what you believe to be the “essence” or “spirit” of Santorini. Even if you have never been here… you can write a poem based on what Santorini means to you and/or how it is represented in your imagination. It is about writing three lines that express the very essence of the island.

The poems should be in the traditional Haiku format. For more information on that you can start by reading here:   “The best Haiku ever”

You can also google “haiku” and read more about the art form as well as find many examples of poems. But please try to be as original and creative as you can.

It’s really very very simple… and apart from the fun you will have writing it…
the prize is worth the effort

The winner will be announced on Monday 22 November and will win one of Allison’s special Christmas handpainted aprons from Aegean Designs:

These are professional quality- full length cotton aprons made in Greece and are all hand painted by Allison and valued at 65euro each. This is one of two designs that are released every Xmas in very limited numbers (20 only – half of which have already been pre-ordered … more details on the Aegean Designs online catalogue to be posted on Tuesday).

All entries are to be emailed to:
aegeandesigns [at] ymail [dot] com

and addressed  ” Santorini Haiku”

Looking forward to reading your wonderful words  ; ))

Oia – most beautiful village in the world

 

There are countless villages on this wonderful planet of ours… many of them are special… many are beautiful and some are stunning. But there is only one Oia !

I have been known to say to people “if you find a more beautiful place anywhere in the world…please call me and let me know”. People have been known to reply “that’s one phone call you’re never going to get”.

 

You see… it’s not just the village itself… it’s what’s below it.

and the things that go on daily in the caldera below it……

and the effects of light…season…weather and the time of day

it’s the way this village has been built and the way it’s charm has been retained over the many centuries…

it’s the unique ambience and timeless beauty…

and arguably the most visually sublime outlook that any village in the world has been blessed with !

I am clearly biased…but every time I get a chance to walk around my little village it never fails to amaze me with its simple… yet dazzling beauty. These images offer but a tiny glimpse of the village.. but it’s enough to make anyone wish that some day…some how… they will walk these paths and climb these steps… watch a sunset and soak in the majesty that is Oia Santorini.

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Now that the season has all but ended we will start to focus on bringing you more Aegean Designs images and enable you to browse and shop online. To the dozens of people that visited the studio and have since emailed seeking to buy on line… we hear you and we will try to have as many designs as possible on line for you to choose from. The initial catalogue will only be visible on Facebook so it would help if you have an account on there.

Please drop by this blog on Monday for details…

ps: back blogging in full flight again… promise ; ))

change me…

The boat is gliding through the sparkling waves…. floating on a blue liquid she knows to be sea water but this is somehow different. The colour of the water is iridescent and the sunlight reflection makes it look like liquid sapphire. The air… that too feels different… the light is luminous and the afternoon breeze feels like silk running over her skin. She looks up and sees the island approaching. This is not just any island… it’s “the” island. It’s her fantasy island. She has dreamed about this. She has seen all this in her mind for years. The little white houses on top of the cliff look like sugar cubes and the landscape looks like nothing she has seen before…yet everything she has dreamed about. She is seeing Santorini for the first time and yet…in her mind… she has been here so many times before.

The boat begins to enter the narrow pass of water below Oia… entering the mythical Santorini caldera. There is music playing in her mind and the volume is building up as the boat enters this mystical landscape. There are mountainous cliffs on both sides and then suddenly she looks up and sees the village of Oia… perched on the cliffs. It seems surreal. It seems like a dream… like she has jumped into a storybook that she herself has written. Her mind floods with thoughts. She has so much life ahead of her…so much to experience, so much to feel and see. Up until now she has done what she had to do, what was proper… what was expected of her. Now…this landscape suddenly makes her feel strangely and wonderfully free. She feels like a child again… she feels innocent and playful again. She feels alive

She grips the boat rail…closes her eyes while she takes a deep breath and whispers to herself…”change me”.

No…this is not page one of a paperback novel with Fabio on the cover (sudden images of him with a broken nose following a close encounter with a seagull – ridiculous concept). No dear reader…. this is a lot more serious. This is a what happens daily to dozens of women (and if you change a couple of the words… it just as easily applies to men), who visit my island home.

Few places on this earth have the power to mesmerise you from afar… without having set foot on them. In most cases… once you get there they are a disappointment. Your fantasy is a very powerful dream-machine… one that most “actual” places find it impossible to compete with. Your fantasy is based on your perception of perfection and no place can be perfect. No place can be better than the ultimate paradise you have conjured up in your mind. That is of course as long as your mind can conjure up arguably the most incredible visual display of raw nature on this planet. This is where Santorini is different to most places. As a doctor friend once said to me “it’s the only place I know that’s better than the postcards”. The difference is that it is impossible for your brain to conjure this up on it’s own. The real will always be better than your imagination… and this is where the magic spell begins. Your eyes capture the images… they send them to your brain, which… after an initial denial period, carefully files the images away…. only to retrieve them regularly when you need to experience “mental escape”. So people dream… often for years. They experience daily life with all it’s ups and downs, the happy times and the sad times. But all the while the images remain… the fantasy is alive deeeeeeep in the brain. Add some frustration because life hasn’t quite worked out according to plan… and you have the perfect mental storm for Santorini-fever. It can sometimes be a life-long craving… other times it becomes an ongoing obsession and other times it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changes people for ever.

I’ve seen a lot of people visit here over the years and met many many others that visited the island when younger. By far the happiest of these people are those that came here with an open mind… a willingness to experience, an anticipation fuelled by their imagination. Like our leading lady at the start of this post…. they looked and whispered “change me”. They opened themselves to the island to weave it’s magic. They tuned their mind to the spiritual presence of this wonder of nature. They were rewarded with wondrous memories and life-altering spiritual awakening.

It’s quite amazing what can happen to you if you are open to change… even on a daily basis in your home environment. You can hear a comment or see an image, read a quote or pick up a brochure from a travel agent then sit and dream. If you allow them to change you… chances are they will. It  can be the beginning of something wonderful in your life !

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In the meantime… here is an image to help your mind drift to my part of the world. It was taken at sunset and it was only much later I realised  how poignant the captured image is for the lifestyle I have chosen. The magazine I was reading on the rooftop was open randomly when I decided to take a quick pic… somehow I think the quick pic captured a lot more than a sunset  scene….

PS:  maybe we will continue the adventures of our lady-traveller in another post…

AB ;-)

Santorini Dreaming – a dream comes true…

This is a happy story… a romantic story… a story of dreams and hope. It’s about daring to dream and giving yourself a chance to have your dream come true. It’s about “putting yourself in the running” for life’s delicious twists of fate. It’s about backing yourself to win the big prize… it’s about stepping up and believing in yourself. In Australian parlance it’s about “you will never know… if you don’t have a go”.

Some time last year a guy… who happens to live in a cave in Oia, had an idea. Why not give someone out there a chance to “live their dream”. Not just to visit Santorini… but to stay in the best possible hotels and to experience a once-in-a-lifetime holiday on this mesmerising island. So he announced a contest asking people to write about their own dream holiday on Santorini…the way they imagine it…the way they dream of spending time on Santorini if money was no object.

The people responded in numbers.

One girl had a dream… so she wrote an essay, an essay which she planned meticulously … an essay which she took very seriously because she believed it could result in an incredible life experience for herself and her husband.

The girl send her essay to the guy in the cave… and he liked it. The girl’s short essay won the “Santorini Dreaming” prize.

This past week, the girl –  named Christa – was on the island with her husband Tom… and they got to live their dream. They got to live it in style, staying at what I believe are the best two hotels on the island (Andronis Luxury Suites in Oia & Volcano View Villas in Fira). They got to enjoy romantic time alone, as well as time doing the things they had dreamed about. They also got to enjoy some grilled octopus and a glass (or three) of ouzo with the caveman… as promised.

Here is just a glimpse of Tom & Christa’s Santorini Dream holiday:

For their first night we had arranged for them to have a romantic dinner at the Andronis exquisite cliff-top dining area…

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

The photo above has Oia in the background…but just in case you have forgotten what the Andronis cliff-top dining area looks like… here are a couple of reminders…

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

there aren’t many people that sit at this spot and not pinch themselves…
to make sure they are not dreaming ! (Andronis Luxury Suites)

let’s face it …no Santorini dream holiday is complete without cocktails
in a cliff-top infinity pool (Andronis Luxury Suites)

or some quiet time gazing at the deep blue caldera… (Andronis Luxury Suites)

Following their time at the Andronis hotel in Oia… Tom and Christa moved to another hotel (Volcano View VIP Villas) just outside Fira. This time they didn’t just have a suite in a luxury hotel… they had their very own luxury villa, with it’s very own swimming pool and its very own villa manager to look after them. My old friend Niko made sure that the happy couple had the best of everything and they got to enjoy three nights of dreamy luxury on the cliff top of Santorini.

there is no place like the Volcano View villas anywhere else on the island. This is the private domain
of movie stars…Arab sheiks…heads of state and of course (ahem…) Christa & Tom !

somehow I think even Christa’s wildest dreams didn’t have anything like this
in the script…

one can only imagine what Tom (from Buffalo NY) was writing
to his family and friends back home…  (Volcano View VIP Villas)

as he always does…Niko made sure that Christa & Tom would remember this…
for a looooooooooooooooong time to come !
(Volcano View VIP Villas)

But despite all the luxury and the surprises, the organising and the excitement… this is really a very simple story. It was about dreaming… daring to allow yourself the pleasure to dream. Giving yourself a chance to make your dream come true. That, to me, was the very essence behind my original idea for the competition… to make someone’s Santorini dream come true.

From the hundreds of photos taken…I think the following image captures beautifully what the whole thing was about…

just a girl… and her dream !

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I would like to express my gratitude to Andronis Luxury Suites and Volcano View VIP Villas for their generosity and their endeavours to capture the spirit of this contest. My thanks go to Milto Andronis, as well his manager John  and all staff, for making sure that the couple had a very memorable stay at their hotel. I would also like to thank Niko at Volcano View Villas. He is already a legend with his VIP guests so we don’t to further inflate his ego… however there is nobody on this island that can look after guests better than him. If you are looking for the most romantic luxury hotels on Santorini you will not find better !

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PS: despite some initial trepidation… the Santorini Dreaming short essay contest was very enjoyable to arrange. I would like to thank all those that participated by sharing their dreams with all of us. I hope you all show your support to the sponsors of the contest and I look forward to perhaps arranging a similar contest later in the year… M

PPS: you can read Christa’s winning essay here...