Monthly Archives: May 2009

O the romance of it all !

There are lots of weddings on Santorini every year…. that’s looots, as in 3 zeros, as in thousands. People from all over the world come here to get married, each couple having it’s own special reason for choosing this magical island. 

The weddings range from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are people that have traditional weddings, others totally non-traditional (read: on the volcano itself). Some do it discreetly….in their own hotel, or even their own balcony over looking the magnificent view… along with half a dozen friends and/or family. Others have more elaborate weddings….hiring an entire hotel and decorating it like a magical kingdom out of a fairytail. 

Then there are my Japanese friends. I say this with a big smile on my face….you really have to hand it to these young people. They often come here alone, they get married on a balcony by an official and then proceed to walk through the whole village trying to take their own wedding photos. Now….go with me on this. The bride quickly changes into runners (sneakers) under the wedding dress and she usually carries the tripod. The groom is carrying camera, lenses, his jacket, flowers and any other props they may want to use in their “professionally” taken wedding photos. So off they go… from roof top to roof top, looking for good angles of the caldera….he sets up the camera while she props herself in front, on, or against something. He sets the shot, clicks the timer and runs like hell to get in the shot…. often having to go back and do it again…and again…and again. Meantime the bride has either changed back to her “wedding shoes” or is pulling the wedding dress like hell to cover the sneakers she is wearing. Oh…and this is often done in the middle of the day ( a curious phenomenon seemingly applicable only to the Japanese)…. which means in mid-summer it is at least 35C. They are both perspiring like mad and the Japanese bride usually has a small umbrella to protect her snow-white skin from the harsh sun. But do they care?

Nope…. you often see their faces beaming with happiness that they are doing what they want, in the place of their dreams. You see them kissing under the frilly umbrella, then quietly packing the “set” and moving on to the next location so they can do it all over again and again and again. THAT is romance Santorini style as far as I am concerned ( I also love the way the locals often come out and offer them cool drinks…right there on the roof tops).

On the other end of the scale you have the rich-bitch bridezillas. Our friend Kat, the local hairdresser, tells us stories of women that throw a fit because the flowers look wilted, or they don’t like the suit on the official marrying them (they are lucky he didn’t turn up in his sandals). They complain about the heat, or the cars or the balcony decorations, or or or… I am always amazed how the guys marrying these women can’t take a hint of things to come.

But the large majority of couples getting married on this island are just ordinary people who had a dream (there is that word again). They save their money, bring their family and friends and they get married in the way they have fantasised…often for years. Simple, elegant weddings, usually at sunset overlooking one of the most stunning views in the world. You watch their faces and you know…you know that this is what they have wanted to do ever since they decided to get married. In fact….it often starts long before that. One or the other had visited the island and fell in love with it. Or…they met here, or they saw it in a movie or a poster or a video… and decided THAT was where they wanted to get married. Do you blame them?

Looking out over the caldera view does things to you….even to someone that has been looking at it for more than 25 years. People get mesmerised, their mind drifts and they become lost in their own thoughts. I remember last August I saw a couple get married on a hotel balcony. The bride looked gorgeous and her groom was beaming. They had less than half a dozen people there as they stood side by side. They got married as their friends watched and they kissed…then turned and looked out at the view. I would’ve given anything to read their thoughts at that moment. The next afternoon I was taking photos of the sunset and I saw them sitting on a roof top… alone but together. No words were spoken between them as they watched the red August sun setting. As the last traces of the sun were about to sink into the Aegean horizon… they turned and kissed. They looked at each other…hugged and then sat there looking out to the endless blue below them. No words necessary….their “dream” fulfilled !

There are of course people for whom money is no object. They can afford to do things with a bit more style and if they can afford it… who can blame them. Last night I came out just after sunset…looked down below and saw this:

sailship2

It’s one of the regular sunset sail boats from Oia…. but this time the sails were lit up and there was a wedding on-board. My picture does not do the image I saw justice. But I can tell you that it looked fantastic. For them…looking up at the village all lit up, it must have looked like a dream. They must have money…sure. But they also have impeccable taste and you’ve got to love that…

It makes no difference how simply elegant or extravagantly people get married here…they are true romantics.

Cheers to them and all the romantics everywhere !

 

 

Oia Santorini – sound of silence…

We always knew there was a very old room at the back of the first cave…it had been filled in with all the rubble from the original work done to the cave many years ago. It took a week to dig it out (more pics on that soon) and then it took me several hours to dig this candle window, as well as two more. It was winter, bitterly cold outside, but deep inside the cave, well…. that’s a different world.

 

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It’s a weird thing to be several metres underground in a raw cave. There is something very primal about it. The candle light reflected off the raw “aspa” cave walls and there was something that most of you living in big cities simply wouldn’t know about……”the sound of silence”.

No….I don’t mean quiet, I mean  s i l e n c e !

Complete silence…to the point where all you can hear is your heartbeat and your mind.

So what would you do in this blissful silence?

 

bathchair

 

Well I don’t know about you… but I got myself some nice Santorini red wine, put on some very soft music (which echoed amazingly in the cave) and sat there for a couple of hours thinking about what this bathroom is going to look like. Candle light flickering…. with what seemed like soft sense-around-sound. Bliss….

~~~~~~~~~~~~


TIP OF THE HAT

Her name is Michele and during the day she makes a living as a management consultant….. but deep down she wants something else.
Look at her beautiful blog  “My Notting Hill” and discover what this elegant woman really wants to be….

Michele was gracious enough to mention the caveman in her blog yesterday…. and for that we tip our hat in gratitude.

Oia Santorini – Dare To Dream

So much has been written about people’s dreams in life. So much more will be written in the future. The gurus will sell books, the creatives will make us dream with movies, ads and images, the vendors will sell dreams and the masses will buy them. It’s one of the main forces in life.

For many a dream will remain nothing more than a wish. For others… escape. Many will dismiss their dreams as fantasy. Many will force themselves to stop dreaming and “just get on with life”. Others will not even allow themselves the sheer pleasure to dream and many more will be conditioned to think that dreaming is a “waste of time”. 

 

OIALAR~1

 

I did NOT take this photo. I wish I knew the name of the wonderful photographer that did so I could give him/her credit.
But I have had it for so long I can’t even remember where I found it. I used to collect lots of images of Oia before I found the cave. I used to look
through my image files and dream of living there. But this image was powerful…I remember thinking I want to see this view every night…it made my dream real and it made me keep going.

People are funny about life dreams. Some declare them openly whilst others keep them deep inside them. The world…it seems, is not kind to dreamers. There is fear and hesitation in sharing your life dreams because we have all been curiously conditioned to think that dreams are an extravagance. They are a luxury that we can’t afford…if we are to believe the self-proclaimed “practical” types. 

Yet…. without dreams we are nothing !

Dare to dream,
Because only by dreaming,
will you ever discover
who you are, what you want,
and what you can do.
                     – Julie-Ann Ford 

If it wasn’t for the dreamers nothing of what we deem wonderful, incredible, artistic, insanely beautiful or insanely daring would ever have been accomplished. If it wasn’t for dreamers the world would be without so many of it’s treasures and human kind would be without most, if not all, of it’s greatest accomplishments. If it wasn’t for dreamers life as we know it simply wouldn’t be the same…

Yet…the world frowns. Parents, teachers, leaders and societies tell us that dreaming is wasteful…its meaningless, its not reality. As people we become conditioned to believe that dreams are somehow separated from “real” life and there is “little point in dreaming”. Try telling that to the folks at NASA or Disney or the Wright Bros, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison, or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or….

The negative conditioning is relentless…its all around us. Those that dare to step out of the “norm” are frequently chastised and ridiculed. The pressure to stay within the accepted boundaries is enormous and omnipresent. Conformity and commoditisation are the order of the day. 

Yet…just imagine how boring and lifeless the world would be without dreamers….without the seemingly “crazy”, those that dared to dream and set out to make their dreams a reality. The explorers, the writers, the sculptors, the painters, the poets, the movie makers, the architects, the fashion & industrial designers, the builders of monuments, the engineers and Disney’s “imagineers”. Where would we be without them?

Its easy to scoff and ridicule and its far less time consuming to tell a child to “stop dreaming” than it is to sit down and share the dream, ask questions, try to see it through their eyes and offer your full support. Its much easier to find excuses, to procrastinate, to call others “lucky” or to not dare to dream. Its safer, its easier and its much less taxing to stay within one’s comfort zone. But to what end?

Moving to Oia was a dream…but by no means a grand dream. Hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) have moved and will move, all around the world every year. They are not “lucky”, they are not “special”, they are not “extraordinary”. They are just people who dared to dream and set about making their dream a reality. They worked hard, they suffered setbacks and they no doubt got frustrated  and disappointed along the way. But they did it. They took the steps, they took the risks, they took the setbacks and they kept going. Their lives may often look idylic… but only they know what it took to make it happen. The point is… they dared to dream!

If this blog and all the others like it, do nothing else but convince you to dream about how you want your life to really be… then they have collectively done a great thing. Anything that encourages people to have positive life dreams can only result in greater personal fulfilment.
In this blogger’s humble opinion there is no mystery to dreaming, its not a special skill that only the “lucky few” possess. Its a pleasure you should allow yourself and not feel guilty about. Dream often, dream vividly and dream freely….and teach your kids to dream BIG, one day they’ll thank you for it! 

PS:  If some people can dream of flying, landing on the moon or building pyramids or the Eiffel Tower…surely we can dream of a better life !

PPS: To read about some other people who made their dream come true… visit Vicky here !

 

This page has been moved from it’s original place. To read comments made by readers click here !

 

 

 

 

Oia Santorini – looking out the window of life!

Depending on where you live, or how you live, you probably spend several hours a week looking out your window…we all have a window that we like to sit in front of and look out. A few of you have asked what it’s really like to live here…. “dont you get sick of the view?”, “doesn’t it get boring after a while?”.

I’ve always felt that looking out your window… you see your life. You see yourself essentially. The view from your window is either what you’ve dreamed about and achieved, or perhaps what you have to look at… till you make your dream come true. Some dream of looking at fields of gold, be it vines, olive trees or endless farmland. Others dream of a Tuscan countryside scene, or lavender fields in Provence, or a lake or a mountain-range. Others simply want to look at a glorious garden that they have painstakingly shaped over many years. Whatever the view is… it says a lot about you and where you are in your life. If the image you see is the one you have always wanted to see…you have made it happen. If it’s not, then you are still working on it. Either way the view you see out your own window didn’t get there by chance (with some exceptions). The choices we make everyday… place us in front of our windows. What we see when we look out is the result of our choices…or lack thereof.

Using our window view as a metaphor for our lives is, I think, quite valid. We all hear people say “I’d love to look out of my window in the morning and see……”. I used to say those very same words….”I’d love to”.

Then one day… I changed it to “I WILL look out of my window and see…..”.

So, to answer the people that asked “do I get sick of it” or “doesn’t it get boring”…. the answer is NO!

Along with many-many other reasons.. here is why:

sailship

at sunrise I see beautiful ships coming into the caldera….

 

white

all kinds of ships…. big and small 

 

ferry

in peak summer I see a dozen ferrys come and go daily…

 

fishing boat

and the local fishermen returning home at lunchtime
after selling their catch to the tavernas at Ammoudi…

 

 

princess

in the afternoon I watch the big boats leave…
this is the biggest of them all….the Princess 

 

izzy

at sunset I watch my kids watching the old sailing boats
giving visitors a taste of Santorini magic…

 

night

and often…late into the night, as I sit here and type this little blog,
I see the cruise ships leaving…lit up like Christmas trees !

 

If you look out your window and you don’t see the view you want to see, the view you have dreamed of seeing… its never too late.
If you really, really want to… you can make your window view everything you want it to be ! ! !

 

 

 

Oia Santorini – Sea Adele… a classic beauty

I have a confession to make. A house on Santorini has not been my only passion for the past 15 years. There is another object of desire that has held me captive all that time. Sadly I haven’t looked after her for a few years… but that’s all about to change. Her name is Sea Adele and she was hand made by the Australian master boat builder Harry Hammond. She was made in 1954, which makes her older than me by a few years and although I haven’t been really looking after her as well as I should have she is still as gorgeous as ever. I brought her over when we came here (most people called me crazy…but you can’t sell a living treasure like her).  

She made the trip in a container with some very minor scratches here and there, but overall she survived unskathed. It took a lot of running around and paperwork to get her to her new home… but now that she is here I couldn’t wait to take good care of  her. A friend let me put her on his vacant block (a rare thing to find an empty block so close to the village). She has waited patiently all winter, covered in plastic and a few rather large rocks to stop the howling winds from blowing all the covers away. But now…. well now this beautiful craft is about to get a facelift that will bring her back to her glorious best.

For those of you interested in classic boats the Sea Adele is a clinker boat…which means the side planks overlap and she has considerable power for her size. She is a work of art and once she has been stripped, re-varnished and polished she will be turning heads all over this island. Having said all that a boat like Sea Adele is not really a boat..it’s a mistress !

Below are a couple of earlier pictures of  her (courtesy of Woodenboatshop). I am certain once she is finsihed this time she will look even better than she did when she was much younger.

hammond1

 

hammond2

A lot of work is going into the restoration of this beauty and there are many pictures to come…stay tuned ;-)

Gallery

Oia Santorini – Aegean Design…another peek

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Aegean Design has been opened and it seems that most people are sick to death of touristy trinkets made in China or India and sold off as locally made. Visitors to the studio have been so very generous with their … Continue reading

Oia Santorini – Great walk prt III: mesmerising Santorini – Skaros

All images copyright http://www.oiasantorini.com – please read the copyright notice page… ty!  

 

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

                                                                                        – Miriam Beard

I know I have said this before about Santorini…but if there is a place with better views somewhere on this planet I would like to hear about it. Just when you think that you’ve seen everything the island has to offer…. it has another surprise for you. I promised you a glimpse of Skaros and it’s church and last week I took the walk alone… early morning, on a perfectly calm day. The anticipation was high…I’ve wanted to visit this site for more than 20 years, so while everyone was still asleep I got on the Vespa and rode to Imerovigli. Skaros is in front of this village and it is the site of an old venetian fort, destroyed by earthquakes long ago. This is not on the Oia to Fira path, but its a place that is truly magical and should not be missed.

The walk started around 6.45am and already the mythical “Greek light” that photographers the world over talk about was working it’s magic. The deep, blue water of the caldera was perfectly still and the air had a certain early morning freshness about it. I knew it was going to be magical, I just didn’t know the mesmerising extent of the beauty I was about to witness….

 

1

descending down the steep steps the cliff hotels
were still in the shadows… 

 

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Skaros stood tall in front of me…

 

4
walking down the steps I tried to imagine how
the Venetians built their fort all those centuries earlier..  

 

5

this was not a small watch tower…
it was a fort by any standards, although little of it
remains intact today…

 

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as I crossed the narrow passage joining the Skaros rock
to the main island I glanced either side of me, 
it took my breath away ! ! !
(this is the Oia side view)

 

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to my left was Fira and the cruise ships
that had already arrived…

 

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I’ve seen Oia from afar so many times before….
but never from this spot, in this light…

 

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the other side was just as breathtaking, I just stood still
and took photos…

 

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I wanted to get to the other side so I followed
the tiny path around the old fort…

 

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with the sun rising the magical light was changing,
creating new shadows below…

 

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the tiny path kept taking me around to the other
side but I was finding it difficult to look down
instead of all around me…

 

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the full majesty of the Santorini caldera below me…

 

19

at the very tip of the rock I noticed the remnants
of what must have been the fort watch-post for pirate ships;
I stood on it, my heart racing with excitement…

 

21

there are certain times when your eyes see something
that your brain simply can not process.
What can you possibly say when you look at this ?

and then I looked down… 

 

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and there it stood… the mythical church of Skaros…
my twenty-plus year wait was finally over…

 

22 
I took one last look at Oia in the distance…

 

23 
and started walking down the steps to the church…

 

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and after all these years of waiting to see it up close…. there it was !

 

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there are many churches on Santorini built on
spectacular spots… but none more so than this !

 

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the elegant simplicity I fell in love with on the Greek islands…

 

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staggering beauty below…

 

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the always understated elegance of Greek island churches…

 

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and in front of it… what can you possibly say
about the view in front of it?
It’s 250m up from sea level and at that time of
the morning the light is quite simply inspiring… 

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the narrow passage in front of  Oia (on the right)…

 

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cruise ships below…

 

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on the way back I looked for and found a secret little path
the old locals talk about, takes you around the rock 
instead of having to walk back up to the top…

 

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following the side of the cliff it allows you to look at the rock
formations as you walk around…

 

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I wouldn’t recommend it for vertigo sufferers… the cliff face is
an almost vertical drop to thedeep blue water below…

 

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tiny wild fig tree growing on the very edge of the cliff…

 

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it was time to leave the mystical & magical Skaros and head
back up to the village above. The old retaining walls built
by the Venetians still clearly visible after all those years… 

 

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as I got to the top I realised that most of the guests overlooking
the rock were still asleep and I doubt they will ever venture down
the path to cross over to the Skaros rock and explore the hidden treasures there.
If only they knew what they were missing… 

 

The images posted are only a fraction of those taken during this memorable walk on Skaros. Of all the magical spots I have seen on Santorini I have never been as stunned as I was that morning. It was a morning of discovery and wonder…inspiration and contemplation. Walking back up the cliff steps I realised I had seen something very few people see on this island. The sheer beauty of the place was quite simply breathtaking and it had a profound effect on me as I stood there. I realised, amongst other things, that although I would have made this walk at some point… it was writing this little blog that made me do it that day. It has made me appreciate this magical place so much more, just knowing that I am sharing it with people all over the world.

To all of you that leave comments of thanks…. no, THANK YOU! 

 

PS: also wanted to say hi to the young Canadian couple that came into Allison’s studio this afternoon… hope you enjoyed your dinner in Oia ;-)