Monthly Archives: November 2009

Oia – the “other side” of a mythical land


With everything, every place and even every person… there is always the “other side”. To those of you that have never had the pleasure of visiting my small village… this is what Oia’s “other side” looks like. The village slopes towards the sea and the terraces you see are all man-made over eons… the locals trying to utilise every available piece of land for their crops. Alas… the crops are long gone, but the terraces remain. During spring I promise to take some more photos of these terraces when they have their stunning wildflower-cover all over them (the ancient stone work is also worth capturing). Its’ funny…. looking at these terraces you would never guess the amazing wonder that awaits you over the “other side”.


As I was walking back to the bike I looked down and noticed this bottle top. It’s a local beer brand… but the name somehow captured the moment for me. Just looking at the terraces above, the ancient stone walls, the paths and ancient caves… it just makes you think about the people of this village over the many many centuries of its’ long history. Having spent most of my adult life in Australia…a country that is younger than just about every terrace retaining wall you see in the photo above, I often take a moment to think about the unbelievably long history of Greece…the country I was born in and the special little island I now call home.



Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends !


Below are two of the “Santorini Dreaming” finalist essays:

by Liz Kurmas

I never really had dreams of going to Santorini, although I knew it to be beautiful from movies and pictures.  However, my life and travels had Santorini plans for me that I didn’t yet know.  You see, I was on a spring holiday in South Africa by myself, where I just happened to meet an American traveling the world alone.  He and I spent a fantastic two days together, and too soon it was time for us to move on separately, but we wanted to see each other again.  And so it happened that he did always have Santorini dreams, and it worked out with his travel schedule and my work schedule that we could meet in Greece the first week of July.  We met in Athens and quickly left the city for Santorini, since our time was limited.

From our landing on the island just as the sun set, to our arrival at our oceanfront room at Kamari, to our moonlit walk across the beach to get to a splendid dinner at Cafe Almira, it was clear this was going to be magical.  The next day brought hikes and our first trip to the caldera side, with our first spectacular sunset dinner.  The next morning was the unreal beauty of Imerovigli and Skaros, followed by time in Oia, and late night down at the beach, dancing and singing along the promenade there.  As is our story, it was too soon time to leave each other again, but I really feel Santorini worked its magic on us.

He is back in the US now and we’ve managed to see each other a few times, but the long distance thing is difficult to grow.  Which is where the Santorini dream for me begins…. We both talked about wanting to go back and it happens that your contest travel time would be about exactly a year from when we were there together and I can’t think of anything more perfectly romantic.  I really would love for the island to work more magic for us and maybe not just bring me five more magical Santorini nights, but bring about the chance that maybe he and I could have a lifetime of those nights, wherever in the world they happen.

by Evangeline
I have had a dream of going to Santorini for over 26 years…and I still have it.
Luckily, I have been able to visit 5 times so far and hope to visit again in the years to come.
It all started when my high school girlfriends (Nina and Shanaz) and I saw Summer Lovers – just when we were deciding on a place to visit before we went our separate ways. As soon as we saw the movie, we knew that it was decidedwe’re going to Greece .
In 1983, we made a pilgrimage to several scenic spots show in the movie:  Delos , Matala and Santorini (Oia, Thera and Akrotiri). The experience was quite impressionable and totally unforgettable.  I remember feeling absolutely in love with the caldera, the sunsets, the architecture, and the feeling of being there. I promised myself that the next time, I would stay in Oia (we were staying in Maria’s Place in Thera at the time). The visit to Akrotiri also struck me so much that I ended up taking several courses about the wall paintings while in university.
In 1987, after 4 long years of yearning to come back to Santorini, I came back on my own and spent 6 weeks in Oia (I think it was called Caldera Villas) from May – June. I had the chance to watch the town go from a quiet village to a very busy tourist town.  I was able to visit Akrotiri several times during that stay since I had a student pass that allowed me to visit almost all museums/archaeological sites for free in Greece (thrilling for an archaeology student).
In Oia, I met Yorgos, the hotel owner, Petros the restaurant owner, Dimitri the painter, along with his wife Maria and their 2 children, Sunny and Apollo. I also met Tolis who ran the friendly sandwich/ice cream shop; Yorgos and his British wife, Maggie; Yorgos and Maria; and many others.  Before settling in Oia, I also had a chance to meet a kind ex-soccer player in Thera who ran a bakery and a young woman, Janine, who had just moved from England to live with her Greek boyfriend.  I spent idyllic days just meandering and falling in love with the island and its people.
I earned the typical scar on my right leg (from laying a bare calf on a hot scooter muffler), got salt water in my camera on a scary stormy ride back on a tiny motorboat from Thirasia after attending an island celebration, and realized that I would always get eye infections on every visit on the island as a result of the volcanic ash flying around in the wind. I later found out that some locals thought that I was “the daughter of Sanyo or Sony” (I was/am not).
In 1988, I came back to Oia with Didier and we stayed for a month at Caldera Villas.  This time, I was able to experience the island in a different way – not as a teen, not as a soul-searching idealistic youth, but as someone completely smitten with the village and the person they’re with. Many sunsets, long days on Katharos Beach , lots of wine and lots of cigarettes. Utterly romantic stay.
In 1990, on my next visit (this time with Daniel – with whom I’ve lived for 21 years now), we stayed in Finikia for 2 months for economical reasons.  Maria, the French lady who ran a tasteful jewellery store rented to us a 1-bdrm studio, complete with a growling midget dog at the gate.  We enjoyed many wonderful dinners at the local restaurant run by an ex-sailor, watching the news about the world cup and having ouzo at Mr. Manoli’s little café on the caldera (with his special brined caper leaves and salted peanuts) just past the post office, and again, daily visits to Katharos Beach.  Again, another romantic stay.
On my last visit, with Daniel again, in 1994, we stayed close to the caldera (but facing away since it was no longer affordable to stay on the caldera). It was September and it had been cooler than on my previous visits.  Sadly, having a full-time job involved shorter holidays.  This was a short 2-week visit and did not quite have the same extended and relaxed rhythm as on previous visits.  It was still a beautiful visit, but sadly, for some reason, we have not been back since.
Somehow, life happened, and Santorini became just a dream.  But, for the last 5 years (actually a bit less), it has become a little bit more of a constant reality because in 2005, our daughter, Oia, was born.  Yes, we actually gave her that name and although it is sometimes strange to have to explain a name, it is usually a pleasure to talk about Santorini and why anyone would choose such a name for their child.
My current dream is to visit Santorini again in 2010, with our daughter, Oia.  She would be 5 then and I think that it would be a perfect age to visit.  Several months ago, I had actually begun to scout out accommodations and there seem to be several kid-friendly and affordable places to stay just outside of Oia.  Coincidentally, it was during these online searches that I had come across your blog and also some flickr photos with Maria (the French lady mentioned previously) at an outdoor film festival. Reading your blog and seeing the photos brought back such longing to visit Oia again.  I have since been corresponding with my 2 high school girlfriends and they too feel the same pull.
I think that it would be great to be considered for the contest and to experience the prizes offered, since I am sure we would not be able to afford such luxuries. But, regardless, I think that we will still try to make it to Santorini in 2010.
Thanks for reading,
No… thank YOU to Liz & Evangeline ( I can’t wait to meet Oia)


Autumn sunset fantasia

This post was started yesterday and was going to look quite different. You see… as we always do after stormy weather, we went collecting driftwood. It’s amazing what we find on the western side of the island after storms… some of the driftwood is like work of art. As always we went early morning on Sunday. This post was going to be all about that…

Searching for driftwood…

Alessi shoots the shooter !

But then… this evening (Monday), as I was writing this post – using the driftwood pics from Sunday – I was told to “look outside…quick”.

I did…… & this is what I saw !

these are real colours…

bit more to the right to take the fort (blog column not wide enough)

only so much you can do with the little Pentax… but the close up looks dreamy,
don’t you think?


PS: For the unidentified commenter “One of your readers”…. in answer to your question,  I would love to know why you would want to submit an essay but not want to win.

PPS: To all those who thought I was being harsh towards the procrastinators…you’re wrong. I’m guilty of it myself, so I can hardly chastise others. However…I still believe it is a debilitating condition and I suspect it robbed some people of  an opportunity to  be in the contest with a chance of winning. Big topic this one…perhaps a separate post !

PPS: More essays on Wednesday & the “Living with purpose” post still needs work ;-)

ALSO… if you haven’t seen them already, there are more “Respect” photos on the page… hope you can take a look and leave a comment for those who took time to try and make a difference in this world. If you happen to live in a large city (NYC, London) or anywhere for that matter… I would LOVE to see some “Respect” photos from you.

“Santorini Dreaming” – winning essay !

It is a big commitment… far bigger than I perhaps realised when I first decided to embark on this essay competition. When you’re dealing with people’s dreams you have to be very very careful and considerate. A lot of things had to be taken into account and a lot of thought went into how to approach the whole thing from the start. It could’ve been promoted a lot more… it could’ve been turned into a more commercial exercise, but that wasn’t the idea behind it. What I wanted was to see how people would respond when given an opportunity to fulfil a dream.

What the whole thing proved to me was that (as suspected), there is only a percentage of people that are willing to chase their dream. Some are too shy, some are cynical, some are just not committed enough and some are not used to having the clarity of mind to visualise themselves winning (“as if I could ever win something like this?”). However… by far the largest group, I think, are the procrastinators. “I”ll do it tomorrow”, “I’ll start it next week…still plenty of time”,
“I just can’t think of a good way to start the essay right now”, “I’m not in the mood to write, I need some quiet time to think about this” etc etc etc.

It is a fact that the large majority of essays were emailed in the last 24 hours of the competition. Whilst I fully understand that some people wanted to take as long as possible to think about what they wanted to write… I also know that a lot of that was procrastination. It really is a debilitating condition. One that starves so many wonderful people of so many opportunities.

On the positive front there were hours of wonderful story reading for me. I said at the start that every one of you that wrote in has already won….and I absolutely believe that. You have committed your dream to writing…. that’s more than 99% of the population will ever do. By entering this contest you have placed yourselves in the 1% that takes action. That is willing to work to make their dream a reality. That means your subconscious is already hard at work in making your dream come true…even if you’re not aware of it. I mentioned in one of the earlier posts the story about the guest speaker at a school…who holds up a ten dollar note and asks “who wants this?”. Whilst most kids sit there frozen…not wanting to seem too eager, not wanting to be seen as uncool… one little girl walks over and takes the ten dollar note from the guest’s hand. She does what the others thought about, what they “wanted to do”… but didn’t. She gets the money and chances are… she will also get everything she wants out of life.

No… I’m not preaching. I’m just an observer. This was quite a special prize… worth a good deal of money, but beyond that a chance to experience a special place in the world… under some very special circumstances. Both the hotels involved are dream destinations. Movie stars, prime ministers, millionaires and Sheikhs stay at these places. So it was certainly worth siting down and committing your dreams in writing and many many of you did. I know there can only be one winner, but I honestly believe that the fact you thought about your dream enough to write about it… will go a long way towards making it a reality.

But enough of all that…my sincere thanks to all of you that entered this contest. We already know we will do this again very soon and I look forward to receiving your entries for our next contest.

The winner of the “Santorini Dreaming” short essay is  Christa Hobart and below is her wonderful essay.




I dream about Santorini a hundred times a day.  Whether I glance at a framed postcard in my kitchen that reads “We serve Greek salads here” or when I grab my keys and catch the words “Greece” spelled out in silver beads dangling from my evil eye key chain, I am constantly reminded of my magical times on Santorini.

The first time I was introduced to the enchanting little island of Santorini was in 1982, when like so many others who filled theater seats to see the quirky film “Summer Lovers”, I left knowing I would one day experience it for myself.  A few years later, imagine my delight when one of my closest friends announced her family would be spending a year living in Athens.  I leapt at the chance to visit the country I had dreamed about since leaving that theater in Minneapolis.

Since that first trip in 1985, I’ve returned to “my” island, but not nearly enough to satisfy my soul nor to experience the real essence of the island.  Much like wine that develops a more intense flavor as it ages, on each subsequent visit my love affair for the island grows more complex.  Each time I have set foot on Santorini’s soil I feel as though I am truly where I am meant to be, yet I know I have only scratched the surface of this complex rocky gem.  I’ve tried to explain this feeling to people over the years but I’ve yet to find the words. Perhaps it is a feeling for which there simply aren’t words.  Like falling in love for the first time, there are not enough adjectives to accurately express your emotions.  Rather, I believe, the lure and spiritual charm of the island has to be felt deep within one’s heart.

When I close my eyes and let my mind wander away freely, I always drift to sultry sun-kissed Santorini.  Perhaps it is the hypnotic rhythm of the waves and the pulling of the tide that gently calls to my subconscious.  My mind always fills to the brim with the endless possibilities of time spent on this ancient and alluring isle.  In my idyllic dream what would I do? How would I fill my time in my paradise?

  • I want to view the early morning rising sun and feel how, with each passing minute, the light and warmth begins to awaken and enliven my soul.
  • I want to stroll to a local kafenio and sip piping hot coffee while learning to play tavli.
  • I want to explore the famous ruins at Akrotiri.  The Minoan city surely keeps the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis within its crumbling walls and exquisitely preserved frescos.
  • Many years ago I read “Zorba the Greek”.  A passage from the book has hung on my wall ever since.  The paper has yellowed and is a bit crumpled but it has not been forgotten as I am reminded of my quest every day.  “Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.”  Perhaps now is the time to unfurl my sails and let the warm Cycladic winds fill my dreams.
  • I want to visit the vineyards and see how the assurtiko grape flourishes in the hot and dry fields.   Then stomp the grapes with my bare feet as though I am participating in an ancient mythical Dionysian festival.
  • I want to break a plate while shouting “Ompah” and drinking ouzo!
  • I want to walk along the rugged path that clings to the caldera’s edge from Fira to Oia relishing in the breath taking views that surround me.
  • I want to listen to live bouzouki music.
  • I want to live in the moment.  Why is it in “real life” that we have such difficulty achieving this most simple and obvious task?
  • I want to pick up a paint brush or piece of chalk and attempt to capture the dramatic and ever changing beauty that was created by nature’s hand.  I’m not an artist but I know here I could be.  I can’t imagine a setting more inspirational, colorful and poetic.
  • I want to ride a donkey.
  • I want to taste the bounty of this volcanic arid land.  Fragrant bright yellow lemons, succulent grapes, pungent feta cheese, plump vine ripened tomatoes, freshly pressed olive oil, honey , pistachios and salty olives would all be served around my table.
  • I want to sit down on the edge of the caldera with a bottle of retsina and slowly watch the sun slip to sleep beneath the rolling sea.
  • I want to gaze up at the night sky and watch the stars dancing like millions of fireflies to the heavens as I drift off to sleep knowing I have found paradise.

This is my Santorini Dream.  It plays daily in my mind.  It is serene, intimate, respectful, romantic, soulful, filled with passion and uniquely my own.

Congratulations Christa ;-)

PS: This Sunday… a post I have wanted to do for a while: “Living with a purpose”. I hope you can drop by…  M

Lamenting Oscar…

I have this friend … some of you may have heard of him. He is not your average sort of fellow, in fact most people would consider him outrageous in many ways. But he is a wit , he is an individual, he is stylish and he is nothing if not controversial. I like to have conversations with him whenever things seem mundane or whenever I get the feeling that what I am doing is…well, pedestrian.

We talk about all sorts of things… he of course has very clear opinions about most things and that just makes our conversations more interesting.

I don’t really understand what’s happening in fashion these days Oscar… today’s “look” just seems so ordinary to me, so deprived of style… so lacking in taste.

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”.

I agree with you. It’s exactly the way YSL put it “Fashion fades…only style is eternal”. But fashion is what people need to follow, as they feel the need to conform… they need to be like others, don’t you think?

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation”.

Hmmm… as always you’re generalising Oscar, but for the most part I tend to agree with you. People are afraid to stand out, they are afraid to be different, they feel  a need to conform, to blend in, to be accepted by the majority. But there are exceptions… there is good and bad in everything.

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious”.

Outrageous thinking…but, in your own ludicrous way you’re probably right.

“I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability”.

I sometimes think you are right on that too Oscar…I think he got a lot of things wrong. Life is upside down to start with. When you’re young and have your looks… you have shit for brains. Still… I know that most people wish they were younger and they do all kinds of ridiculous things to delay the ageing or maturing process.

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable”.

You really are quite pathetic…you know that? You have so many views that are just absurd. You really should consider doing a clean out of your brain occasionally. Throw out some of your more ridiculous ideas and points of view.

“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up”.

You’re probably right on that too… hate having to admit it, but I think you are right. Most people find it a lot easier to pick up throw-aways from others rather than come up with something original of their own.

You are a funny creature Oscar. You look like a caricature of a travelling fool… the way you dress and carry on, but you seem to know an awful lot. In fact you seem to have a very clear position on almost everything.

“I am not young enough to know everything”.

I was being cynical you fool…nobody knows everything.

Ahhh…what is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Very funny…. You can be such a smart-ass. But you really do look like a travelling fool… your bags are outrageous and so are your clothes. I bet nobody would dare talk to you during the whole trip. You probably just sit there by yourself and read.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train”.

God…you’re pathetic. Of all the literature you could read, all the newspapers….

“But what is the difference between literature and journalism?…Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all”.

Sadly… you’re right again. The bulk of so called journalism today is over rated personal opinion, or sensationalism. Quite pathetic really and after what the press has done to you I can’t really blame you for hating them. I bet you would love to go back and change some things you did… just so they didn’t have the excuse to write all those things about you.

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past”.

No…I guess not Oscar. But still, I guess you’re lucky in some ways. At least you’ve never really had to deal with the mysterious ways of women… other than as friends. They are intriguing creatures…you have to admit.

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance”.

Damn… that’s profound. How do you come with this shit?
But you are right again… men can be such dumb morons at times. Women see right through us… our intentions are always written all over our faces.

“A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction”.

Keep your voice down fool… there are women listening. I think we should talk about something else… the weather.

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Ok…that’s it. You’re really irritating me now…when you get in these moods you’re really a pain to be with. You can be such a pleasure to talk to… until you get in one of your moods. But I can understand Oscar… you’ve had an interesting life to say the least. You’re certainly no saint… but by today’s standards you’re certainly no sinner either.

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.


As is the case with a lot of thing he said… Oscar is right. Every saint has a past… and every sinner has a future. I think we misjudged him. I guess when he said “I have nothing to declare but my genius” we all took it as a joke… but now, years later, he may have just been right… once again.

“Think different” may be a catchy slogan for Apple now days… but my friend Oscar was doing that a loooong time ago.

I miss Oscar…they don’t make them like that anymore !

100 posts – a centenary rave

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane…
by those who could not hear the music.”

Angela Monet

No doubt there are thousands of people who thought I was insane when I first came here… but perhaps Ms Monet is right, “they just can’t hear the same music… or in some cases, any music at all”.

[DISCLOSURE: It’s a stunning Sunday afternoon in Oia and although it’s against blogging rules… I am sitting down to write this with some lovely Santorini chilled Rose. This means there is every chance that this post will quite possibly suffer from a gradual but steady decline in poise, style, logic and eventually… reason].

It’s been about nine months since this notebook started it’s life as a blog. In that time there have been a number of things that have happened as a direct result of this digital diary. I have become aware of so many talented, creative, diligent, intelligent, funny and caring people who blog around the world. This has been the most pleasurable aspect of this whole experience. Another aspect of blogging that I have loved is the fact that it has motivated me to go searching this magnificent island for images that otherwise I might never have seen. I know this has been said before by endless numbers of bloggers… it’s cliché.. but, in my case at least, it’s true. I know for a fact that since this blog started I have been a lot more aware of photo opportunities, often my mind making mental notes about going back to a place to take pictures, or just quickly pulling out my small Pentax and clicking away.

This morning for example… it is was a  g l o r i o u s morning on Santorini, and my favourite large cruise ship is in port (Grand Princess), so rather than have coffee on the balcony at home I took everyone to the winery to enjoy the late-autumn sun and the “not so bad” view from up there:


the volcano asleep in the deeeeeeep blue…


the island bathed in winter sunshine and the ships floating in what
must surely be the most magnificent natural port in the world !

The autumn/winter light is truly magnificent… not nearly as harsh as the summer sunlight. In fact it’s almost like having a soft filter over your eyes as you look out to a view that, even after all these years, still triggers denial messages in my brain. This can not be real the brain says… you must be looking at a postcard or a photograph or a painting. Alas… it’s real !

It was quite different last night though… when we had one of our rather frequent power outages in Oia. The light wasn’t anywhere near as abundant as you see above. But then we are used to it, we are prepared for it and as you will see below… even that situation brings it’s own magic when you live in a cave house. We may not have had lights… but the small candle windows I dug when building this cave tend to add their own charm, in a humble sort of way:



But enough of the cave…. even though I know that a lot of you want to read a lot more about it – I promise to be a good boy and write more about what it’s like to “live in a cave” in the near future .

In the meantime…this is the 100th post, so let’s get on with it.

There have been some great experiences in the past nine months as a result of this blog. I have discovered numerous other blogs by people all over the world who decided to “find their passion and make it happen”. I have also come across people who are elegantly expressing their passion through their blogs, be it for design, travel, cooking, languages or simply for “life” itself. It really is a wonderful form of self expression. Some bloggers are more diligent than others, some blogs have an agenda that’s not always discussed, some are clearly obsessed, some are simply expressing the hidden frustrations of the writer, some are hysterical, some are thought provoking and some showcase the hidden talents of incredibly creative people who are (for some unknown reason) stuck in a holding pattern…. living a life that is not yet fully aligned with their passion, or indeed their talent.

For me personally it has been difficult. Never been used to making my views and/or thoughts very public…. so this has taken a bit of getting used to. Having said that this blog was never going to be about cushion-covers or wall paint. Whilst I fully understand that most people are not really interested in my views and they simply come here to have a look at some island pictures…I was never going to hold back from writing about passion, dreams or the problem with feeling “comfortably numb”.

I am also extremely grateful that at least some of you agreed with me on the concept of “RESPECT – spreading the one-word message” and have gone out of your way to email your photos. Frankly… it’s worth maintaining this blog just to promote that simple message to anyone willing to visit & read that page, or becomes motivated enough to write our message on some spot of their favourite part of the world.

In the coming weeks the blog will change… but I have decided to keep it going.

There is much to be done on this island and the blog will help raise awareness on many issues. There are also a lot of places to see and discover in Greece and indeed all over Europe. I very much look forward to exploring and sharing these with you.

To all those that have visited and left your comments regularly…  I thank you sincerely. Your comments have encouraged, challenged, inspired and sustained my writing.

To all you “lurkers” that visit the blog often and never leave a comment…shame on you. If something is worth reading, then its worth commenting on… good, bad or indifferent. Still, I’m a nice guy and as Neil Diamond said to the tree-people during the Hot August Night concert “I’m singing for you too”…

But seriously… you should  consider “coming out”. Not much fun writing to yourself…and even less fun writing for ghosts.

In keeping with blogging tradition on the occasion of the 100th post…here are some things about me you may not know (you may or may not give a
flying fig about all this of course and I wouldn’t blame you… but here it is anyway)  ;-)


Not easy writing things about yourself, so I figured  we can start with the questionnaire used  on the guests invited to “pretend school”, sorry…. Actors Studio.

Favourite word: I have two (or one and a combo).

– simplicity

– understated elegance

Both represent a way of being and a personal style that I admire greatly.

Least favourite word: (another combo) reality-TV

A sound or noise you love: At the end of a long day… get a crystal/glass tumbler, pour some single-malt whiskey (or your favourite drink) in it and “two” ice cubes. Then bring it to your ear, close your eyes and shake….

A sound or noise you hate:  Hmmmm… lots of those. Sound of people nagging about all that’s wrong with the world… but never doing anything about it  OR politicians starting a speech by saying “my fellow ………ns”

A profession other than yours you would love: Architect, Disney Imagineer

A profession you would hate: Politician

Your favourite curse word: Depends on mood…

If God exists…what would you like him etc etc etc: Just a BS question …not worth an answer !

Other nonsense:

Fave cuisine: Mediterranean / Japanese. Having said that, I am an absolute foodie…so most good food cooked well is a delight to me.

Fave meal: Linguini a la vongole… I have tried hundreds around the world, but I think I make the best, if I say so myself (it’s only taken me 25 years lol).
I love the ritual of the dish and I think that fresh clams and pasta are the perfect flavour combination.

Fave flavour/taste: Norwegian smoked salmon… with a squeeze of lemon juice and ‘nothing else’.

Fave band of all time: that would be Floyd… (the pink variety)

Fave music: Love most kinds… but jazz is my music, with classical a close second. Oddly enough… i love classical for the perfection of composition by the masters, where as I love jazz for its’ improv beauty… the imperfections that make it unique. What master Miles used to call the “one-note off” sound.

Fave instrument: Cello… the only instrument that comes close to a human voice. Many focus on the melancholy of it, but for me… its the resonance !

Fave country: Europe…. yes yes yes, I know it’s not “a” country… yet. But I love being in it. Love being a European and I love having the incredible choices that it offers me in terms of travel, culture, endless discovery and experiences. I want a T-shirt with “my name is M… I’m a European” !

Fave city: Rome – the city, the people AND the coffee (the only place in the world you will find a barista dressed better than the patrons… and the patrons are often dressed to kill ).

Fave mode of travel: train (the slow-luxury kind), ship (the old-luxury kind)

Fave sport: Test cricket

Fave insult: “he is not a Greek God…he’s just a god-damned Greek” (from the inimitable Brian G. upon meeting his daughter’s new boyfriend).

Fave words of wisdom: “when it’s all said and done Michael…it’s only the great adventures you remember” (from the unique & wise Rex Lopez).

Biggest regret: There can never be enough years… enough lifetimes, to learn all the things I want to learn about !

Something you completely believe in but can’t prove:

1.  Every city has the newspapers it deserves

2.  In every news story you read… the first two lines are the news. After that its personal opinion.

3.  Nothing is beyond the reach… of the singularly motivated human mind.

Fave quote about women: “Passion is the best make-up for a woman… but, cosmetics are easier to buy” ~  Yves St.Laurent

Oia Santorini – traffic delays

I know that some of you think that the view you wake up to is very special…. and it probably is. However, somehow I don’t think any of you wake up to anything like this:


good morning Mr M !


are you looking at me?


Morning traffic… Oia style !


early start for the mule team… the good doctor next door is renovating
his cave house…which means these guys will be visiting us a lot
over the coming days/weeks.


Alessi patiently awaits for the mule traffic to clear so he can go to school…

No… it’s not your average suburban neighbourhood or traffic jam… but then we never signed up for that ;-)

PS: this is in fact the 99th post… the 100th will be on Sunday night. Santorini Dreaming essays all next week… and please keep sending your “Respect” photos... they are very much appreciated !

Respect – from around the world !

There is something very special about seeing people respond t0 something that you believe in. Several of you have gone out of your way to write or somehow display the “one word message’ in your favourite parts of the world around you. For me…sitting on the other side of the world, seeing these pictures is sheer pleasure and gives me a great sense of hope. I totally believe in the power in each of us to make a difference… and surely writing one single word of meaning must be the ultimate in intentional living at its’ elegant best.

Who said that a complex massage can not be delivered in a most powerful, yet elegantly simple way?

If you click here you will see some great examples of several people doing exactly that…delivering a very important message in the most basic and individually empowered way. Thank you to all who cared enough to do this and I hope a great number more of you will follow their example.

Hope you enjoy the RESPECT photos.

BTW…  would love your feedback on how we can spread the word further !

Wave from a small village currently being hit by yet another thunderstorm… brrrrr   ;-)


PS: This Friday is the 100th post… so I guess I will have to follow tradition and reveal some things (certainly not 100) about myself. Should make for some boring reading if you have nothing better to do…

PPS: The Santorini Dreaming essay submissions are now closed. Thank you to all those that entered… I am enjoying reading them a great deal ;-)


Quasi una fantasia (almost a fantasy)

It’s quite amazing what the combination of images and inspiring music can do to people. If words alone have the power to transport you… then surely images and sound combined have the power to transform you. The reaction to moving images of Oia shown to the sound of Beethoven’s sublime Moonlight Sonata was quite special. As a lifelong admirer of this musical genius it was great to see the appreciation of his music by so many. But there is more to this piece of musical treasure than seemingly using it randomly as a soundtrack to my images.

The Moonlight Sonata was written around the summer of 1802 and at the time it made the very top of the classical charts, a place it would hold in perpetuity. The commentators and music critics of the day were often lost for words when trying to describe the piece to their readers. Berlioz wrote of the adagio “the poetry  of which the human language does not know how to describe”.

It was widely suggested that the dreamy musical piece should be played at twilight. Berlioz infact invited Franz Liszt no less, to play the piece in the “dying stages of a single lamp”. Liszt agrees but asks that the lamp be extinguished altogether and he plays it entirely in the dark. His listeners… were transfixed.
Arguably the greatest piano virtuoso of all time… playing arguably the most sublime music ever written for his instrument… in total darkness. How is that for a “moment in time”. According to Berlioz, as Liszt played for his friends “each one of us trembled in silence, overcome with respect, admiration, poetic grief; and wihtout the healing tears that came to our aid, I think we would have suffocated”.

It kind of makes you want to go back and listen to it again huh?

Well… if you do, then while you are looking at the images of Oia you should also consider the fact that the actual name of the piece is not “Moonlight Sonata”. (that’s a nickname attached to it by Ludwig Rellstab who reviewed it and thought it reminded him of landscapes in the moonlight). The real name of the masterpiece is the heading of this post… Quasi una Fantasia ( almost a fantasy) !

Which brings us to the “Santorini Dreaming” essays. For those of you that didn’t enter… Santorini will remain a fantasy, for a little longer at least. But for those of you that have entered… you are certainly a step closer to making your dream a reality. It’s no longer just a fantasy. The fact that you sat down and wrote about it means that your mind now considers it a goal. You have placed “visiting Santorini” into your subconscious and given it a priority. Regardless of whether you win or not you have allowed yourself the invaluable dreaming time… and for that you will surely benefit.

Good luck to all who have entered !


PS: for the procrastinators, you still have time to enter…. competition closes midnight GMT tomorrow night.

PPS: if you have 4-5 minutes or so to spare… and since you enjoyed the first of Beethoven’s sonatas… I thought you might enjoy watching a thunderstorm captured outside the house a week or so ago. The scenery under the brightness of lightning was breathtaking. The background music is again courtesy of the unrivalled genius of Beethoven… this time in his other masterpiece sonata “Pathetique…2nd movement”. If you were lucky enough to ever listen to Carl Haas’ ‘Adventures in good music’ radio program you will remember this piece of sublime music.

PPS: the good folks at Utube decided to remove the original soundtrack I had with this video due to copyright issues so I had to replace it with a public version of Moonlight Sonata… hope you still enjoy the video !

It’s just me having fun in the rain. The video is not really very good quality but it’s a good excuse to listen to the fantastic music…which btw lasts slightly longer than video … enjoy ;-)