Tag Archives: living on santorini

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Michael’s law…

There is a law for everything it seems… and almost everything has a law that governs it. The universe has laws, societies have laws,  computers have laws
and so does human behavior. This last one is a tricky one of course… it’s ever evolving and it can be very random at times. But nevertheless there are laws for human behavior as well…. and it’s occured to me that we need to add another one to the list. This one is really a sign of the times… and henceforth it shall be known as Michael’s Law …. which states:

You don’t do anything important in your life…
unless you Google it first !

Let’s face it… it’s a fact. Whatever you want to do, need to do, dream of doing… of any real importance in your life, chances are you will Google it first. You will search, explore, compare, become informed…. and THEN, and only THEN,  you will act. True?

You don’t have to answer that…. if you are a person in any developed country, almost  anywhere in the world, you will Google things at least half a dozen times a day…. or if you’re like me it will be many more than that. It’s a verb for God’s sake… it has become an essential part of everyday life. So in my mind… my argument stands. Michael’s Law is valid. “You do NOT do anything important in your life unless you Google it first.”

Now…as you know, I am a cave dweller. I live on a small island… which, some would say, is quite pretty. It’s an island that a lot of people visit every year and an even larger number wan to visit and a far greater number dream of visiting.
So…. given Michael’s law, a lot of people Google Santorini every day looking for whatever it is they are looking for. But as I said earlier…. humans are random little creatures and by association… so are their Google searches.

Over the past two years that this little blog has been going there have been many search terms that have surprised, entertained, ammused and in some cases… left me with that WTF look on my face…. you know the one !

People follow patterns for the most part… you know what I mean by that. Views, hotels, sunsets, weddings etc etc etc…. all the boring stuff.

But then…. I have my “random” friends and it’s THEM that I love reading.
Over the years there have been some classics, many of which I have now forgotten… but there are some I want to share with you. (Please keep in mind that these are ACTUAL search terms that were registered on the blog…  they were not made up for the sake of this post).

There are the searches that are very specific:

-  how far is Santorini from Greece
-  is there a ferry from Santorini to Oia
-  how far is Oia from Santorini

ok….. so obviously these are people who have heard of Santorini, but have never been here or know too much about it…. which is fair enough.

But then it gets curiouser and curiouser….

-  hope all is well with have a happy easter Santorini   -  (huh? who Googles that?)
-  how do peanuts grow in santorini
-  luckiest homes in santorini    -  (whattttt ?????)
-  donkey geece satorini    -  (hmmmm…ok )
-  how do I make dreams about Santorini     – (ahmmmmmm????)
-  how to live cheap on Santorini     – (that one is actually rather  sane compared         to the others)
-  what do you eat in Santorini    - (as opposed to….?)

these are only a glimpse…. and I mean a “tiny” glimpse, of the kinds of things that I see daily on the blog search lisitng. I know that for some English is not their first language… but  “how do I make dreams about Santorini”  kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it ???

Then there are the really special ones… like this:

- “How to hypnotize my wife while on holiday in Santorini”

yep, this is a real search folks…. this man wanted to learn how to hypnotize his wife while on holidays in Santorini. Am I missing something???
Can someone please explain that one to me???

Then… there is my all time favorite search relating to the thousands of weddings that take place every year on this island:

-  “How do I lose my wedding guests in santorini”

you have to feel sorry for the poor schmuck…. he is obviously getting married in paradise, with seemingly a cast of thousands…so to speak. God only knows what was going through the man’s (although it could’ve been a woman) mind… but you have to feel for him/her.

But the all time winner/loser… has to be:

- “does volcano blow in july”

Speechless…………….

Remember:
You don’t do anything important in your life…
unless you Google it first !

please don’t tell me Michael’s Law is not real !

Goodnight from the cave ; )
M

Spiritual Vertigo….

” Hello hello… I’m at a place called Vertigo ” 

I don’t know why…but whenever I hear people talk about the “spiritual” experience of seeing the caldera or Oia for the first time… this U2 lyric comes immediately to mind. It just seems to capture the moment… the moment when someone has obviously experienced something that will stay with him/her for the rest of their lives. I actually start to hum the words of this song as I walk away or passed people… who are clearly having the spiritual vertigo (SV) attack.

Don’t get me wrong…. I am NOT laughing “at” these people, after all I have had many an SV moment myself living here. You would think that after all these years of coming and then living here, it wouldn’t happen anymore… but it does. It can happen often on this island…. you can be walking or riding the Vespa, or just sitting somewhere and you glance out and BANG… an SV attack on the spot. Your eyes land on something which instinctively you know… it is something that most people only dream about, or they are perhaps lucky enough to witness once in their entire lives. Yet… here, you can see it daily.  Other times you could just be going about your business…. walking to work, or picking something up or just driving/riding from A to B…. and you look up. Your eyes see an image that only this sublime landscape could conjure up….and you find yourself transfixed….. mesmerised. SV strikes again !

Let me show you what I mean….

 had just finished doing some painting at the studio and was walking to the car…
looked to my left and woahhhhh….

This was on a cold winter’s day…rain and wind, but suddenly the clouds broke just long enough for this image to appear. For some people it could be almost a religious experience…. but for an atheist like me it is just another SV moment on Santorini.


this was another one I had outside the studio in Firostefani… red horizon,
the two domes lined up and the bluestar exiting the caldera, as it
does every afternoon in late winter…. the picture doesn’t really
capture the surreal visual of the breweing storm over the dark blue caldera…

sometimes you dont even have to leave home to have an SV moment…
this was a sunset that I saw sitting out the front with a glass of red,
in total silence… what the hell do you say when this is infront of you??

another time I was walking up the steps from Ammoudi… and
right under the fort I looked up. The moon was peeking at me
through the canon gaps on the fort wall…

this was another moment that stopped me in my tracks…. the tiny island of
St Nicks….from an angle that no tourist will ever get to see it…
I stood and stared…knowing very well that to the left of that
island rock the depth is almost 1000 metres…. when you snorkel there
and look down… it is just a sheer drop into an abyss

I could go on and on with images taken over the years…but I think you get my point. Although i haven’t shown any caldera pictures the regular readers know the kind of views that a visitor witnesses when looking out over this physical wonder created by a cataclysmic event. Everyone you meet that has been here has their own stories… and their own versions of SV moments. I get them daily, either via email, or just walking around and listening to people talk. But the ones that I love the most… the ones I enjoy watching the most…are the silent ones. The couple that sits for coffee… looks out and says  n o t h i n g  for the next 20 minutes. They are just lost for words…and their minds are trying to process what the eyes are sending back…. You can see it in their eyes. They are having an SV…and they will  n e v e r  forget it !!

Oia – the best gets better !

Been a while… I know, but lots going on. It’s a new season and the whole island is getting ready for what is expected to be a busy season (cruises 20% up apparently). I dare say that Greece will benefit from Egypt’s and Tunisia’s unrest…as well as the general imrpovement in global economic conditions.
So April has started with a bang…. and the whole island is being painted, renovated, refreshed and generally preparing for the season ahead. I said to visitors recently that April reminds me of the joke about the Queen (supposedly she thinks the whole world smells of fresh paint). This is how Santorini smells in April….at least until Greek Easter, which is the “official” start of the tourist season.

The good news is that although I haven’t written much…. I have been taking lots of photos and I will be publishing these in the comming weeks. I think Oia is looking better than ever…. and visitors will again see why it is (I believe) the most beautiful village in the world. Other villages on the island like Firostefani and to some extent Pyrgos  have also made considerable efforts to look their best…. but there is really no comparison to Oia (biased I know… but would argue this with anyone, anywhere, at any time). In fact…. rather than argue or debate this point, I will just let the images speak for themselves :

this is the green on the hills that summer visitors dont get to see… Spring is a magical time to be on the island – btw… if you’re going to have a balcony
anywhere……

 

a glimpse of my neighborhood through the tiny alleys and paths that shape
the caldera side of Oia…

one of the major differences between Oia (certainly the old part of Oia where I live) and the rest of the villages on the caldera…. is that Oia still has the most
number of privately owned villas…. as opposed to the endless hotels of Imerovigli and to some extent Firostefani. This is one of the major factors
in the preservation of it’s character, colour and architectural integrity !

the views of course are sublime from all parts of the caldera…. it’s a physical wonder and (as I like to call her) a “spiritual seducer”

but Oia…. well…. Oia is OIA !


this is a photo from last year… but one of my all time favorites….
it always reminds me of what I used to, and still say to people….
“if you ever come across a more picturesque village anywhere in the world,
please… call me”

Till Thursday… ; )  M

ps: if you have anything specific about the island or island life you would like to read about….please drop me a line or leave a message…. feedback is a blogger’s candy  “-/

pps:  for daily updates please find us on facebook and make yourself known as a blog reader…. you can also take a peek at Allison’s updated blog:  www.AegeanDesigns.com
Facebook:  “oiasantorini”      or   “aegean designs”

 

 

 

Snow on Santorini & sublime sunsets…

Its always the case isn’t it?  Whenever you say something about the weather it turns against you. I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that this year we’ve had a Clayton’s winter (the winter you have…when you don’t have a winter)…. and the next day what happens??   IT SNOWS !

Yes indeed…. snow on Santorini, in March no less. Talk about things to put into the environmental WTF file…. I mean seriously. I have been in a T-shirt since last November – give or take a couple of “cool” days – and now that Spring is here…. it SNOWS !

Can you believe that?

The worse thing is that unlike the last snow storm in 2008…. this one had a bit too much wind for the snow to settle….but luckily it wasn’t cold enough for the slush to turn into ice on the roads (unlike the last time). It was just a nice morning of pretend (Greek-island style) snow blizzard. I know…Greek-island style snow blizzard it’s an oxymoron…. but thats what it was. A mini, pretend snow storm. Just enough to be exciting for some pictures… but a pain in the butt in terms of getting around by car…not to mention by foot. Sadly for me the camera memory card played up and only two images survived:

 

I know what you’re thinking…this guy is having us on, this is not snow, it’s just a bit of frost. But trust me…. it snowed for 3-4 hours, it just couldn’t settle because of the wind. Besides…. it is Santorini we’re talking about, not St Petersburg.

I’m sure if I ran around the island’s high peaks (Pyrgos etc)…. I would’ve found plenty of snow to photograph, but I was too busy painting the studio for that kind of manic storm chasing. Besides, I know by now that a snow storm on Santorini lasts 2-3 hours max…. after that the Sun makes an appearance and winks at us with that “just kidding ya” look. It’s a novelty act…. to be filed away in the ever expanding WTF file ( which…. even since I have lived in Greece, has been growing exponentially).

The odd weather did bring some unexpected pleasures though… the normally sublime scenery I enjoy by living on this island….became almost surreal at times. To call it beautiful is really like saying Sophia Loren was just your average wench. It really is sublime…. and on afternoons like today it just has you searching for superlatives…yet again. Let me show you what I mean:

a sleeping volcano… a sunburst….. a glowing desert storm on the horizon
& the Therassia milk-runner…. all in one shot !

Firostefani at sunset…


unmistakably Santorini…


the blue dome… saying goodnight to the Bluestar ferry…

Had to wait almost 45 minutes to get that last shot… but well worth it, don’t you think?

waving ~~~   ; )

 

 

 

Iterum vivere tu solus….

No matter where you are…no matter what your circumstances… the choices are always yours.  To paraphrase Albert Einstein ….. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”.

We all know it’s not a dress rehearsal… and yet we squander it. We try to play it safe. But Helen Keller was right all along… “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing“.

Playing it safe, or sticking with the familiar may be easier….but you always miss out on the sublime miracles, the great adventures… the exquisite moments.

 

Waking up to this didn’t come easy…. but I would like you to tell me what rare treat ever does. The rarer the treat… the more it’s worth fighting for…

 

 

If our lives are like a candle in the wind…. then there are places to see, things to enjoy, events to experience & footprints to leave on virgin snow.  You’re not always going to win… but you don’t want your flame snuffed out without knowing…without trying…. without taking a shot. As the racing driver said following his win after many attempts: “Some days you’re the bug. Some days you’re the windshield”.

 

No… it’s never easy. But in the words of the Dead Poets “you’ve got to suck the marrow out of life…. or what’s the point”?

Iterum vivere tu solus  ~  You only live once !