Tag Archives: oia

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 !

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”

 

 

 

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 !

Santorini winter…(the one you have when you don’t have a winter)

“Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail” they say…. and if that is the case then we are in for an interesting March…. but for now, we are still enjoying what has turned out to be a glorious winter on Santorini & Southern Greece in general. A winter like this really highlights the immense beauty of this island…. the special, softer sun light bathes the landscape and highlights the lush color thats resulted from the considerable rain we had late last year. The sugar-coated houses offer a photographer a completely different glow in winter and so does the caldera itself. The blue of the water is different… darker and more mysterious, as is the sleeping volcano itself. Winter sunlight reflects off the lava in a way that saturates the black shiny rocks and makes them look very dark purple. Then of course there is the blissful silence. You can walk for an hour in Oia… and other than the odd dog bark, you will hear “nothing”. Chances are you will not see anyone either of course…. which makes it even better to take your time and walk around with your camera, select your shots and not have to worry about thousands of tourists getting in your way.

unmistakable Oia…..

 


the simplicity of a roof top garden in Oia

 


a quiet moment with Alessi…

 


glorious light and sublime images…

 

I am sorry about the delay on this post….partly because I’m suffering from terrible flu at the moment…and partly because I had to post this more than a dozen times before wordpress decided to accept it without crashing….just what you need when your head is throbbing and your nose running. There are many more photos from our Sunday morning walk…hopefully will post them later this week. M