Monthly Archives: June 2010

Santorini Dreaming – a dream comes true…

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

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

The people responded in numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

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

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

just a girl… and her dream !

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

Advertisements

One day…I will

It’s June… and Santorini (unlike a lot of other destinations this year) is starting to get busy. Not quite August-busy yet… but busy enough given the times we are all living through on a global basis. The cruise ships are starting to arrive in numbers (3-5 daily) and the hotels all over the island are filling up. This means people in the streets… and for us people in the shops too. Lots of people… which also means lots of interesting conversations with people from all over the world.

Funny thing happens here… people come, they experience what I call “nature’s perfect storm” of sensory overload and they start to wonder. They wonder about living here, about making the big lifestyle change, about adventures on a Greek island, about magical sunsets, balmy evening walks on beautiful beaches and midnight swimming in crystal clear waters. They wonder about being able to wake up in the morning, walk out their front door with a coffee and be greeted by what is (I believe) the most sublime view on this planet. They wonder about having dinner with friends at a waterside taverna… with crystal clear waters below them and the sound of relaxed people all around them… looking at small fishing boats seemingly floating in the air (the water below them being so clear its almost invisible). They wonder what it’s like to walk through the little narrow lanes and go for dinner or drinks at one of the almost countless bars and restaurants the island has to offer. They wonder what it will feel like to feel free of daily city rituals, to not have to drive in traffic or hear sirens before they even get out of bed. They wonder what it would feel like to go for their morning walk… along the cliff-tops of Santorini. To look out and see things so beautiful that the brains finds almost impossible to comprehend. They wonder…

They also ask a lot of questions. What’s it like… what made you do it… was it hard/difficult… how did you decide? How much does it cost… is it easy to find a house… is it easy to renovate… what’s it like in winter? Their brain obviously switching from left to right thinking. Practical… then romantic… then back to practical… and back to romantic. They run scenarios through their heads… they pose questions and they attempt to address all the issues their “logical” self is putting forward. Some get very excited… others get quite frantic, almost beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of living here. They can “see it”… “feel it”.

Holiday over… it’s always hard to board planes and boats, go through airports and long flights home. Long conversations take place and no doubt lots and lots of notes written. All kinds of planning, to-do lists… must-do lists and must-think about lists are drafted and discussed. Alternating between the “logical” self and the “romantic/instinctive” self… they go through all kinds of issues in an attempt to rationalise what is seemingly a “huge move”… the BIG lifestyle change.

Then they return to work, daily routines, morning sirens, traffic and what they have generally grown to accept as “real life” sets in. They still look at the photos, they watch the videos and they go online searching for houses and the “perfect abandoned cave in need of some renovation”. They talk, they plan and… inevitably, they drift from their dreams (not all people mind you… but the large majority). The language changes from “I/we’re GOING to live on Santorini” to “one day…I/we will “.

Obviously Santorini is a metaphor here… you can substitute “Santorini”  for any place in the world… any goal in your life… any dream you have ever had. The issue is not “Santorini”… it’s the “one day”. It is one of the most dreadful, debilitating concepts ever devised by the human brain.
When is “one day”?  Is it proceeded by something that creates it? Is it a special day on which you will wake up a different man/woman and decide to change your life? Is it an age milestone? Is it a moment in life when you will definitively KNOW that it is time for a change? Is it several words uttered by a doctor with a very serious look on his/her face?

How do you/will you know when ONE DAY has arrived?

I don’t know why… I have no idea where or why it started, but I have always had a problem with the “one day” concept. I am a VERY patient man… and I will wait and wait and wait, till something is just right… or at least I think that the odds are working in my favour. But the “ONE DAY” is almost always something I am working hard to bring about… never waiting for it to simply happen. I remember visiting my parents every year for over twenty years whilst still living in Australia. Every year I would bring a present for my mother… almost always something to do with the kitchen (she loved her gadgets and small appliances for the kitchen). One day I asked what a cabinet at their holiday home was… what was in it?  I opened the cabinet and was stunned. There… in neat rows, all stacked away were most if not all of the small appliances I had brought her over the years. Forget the OMG moments… this was a WTF moment.

“What are all these things doing in here”? “One day… when we need them, we’ll use them” was the answer.

ONE DAY??? When is that ONE DAY?

The following year I made the trip home again. Unfortunately it was because I had lost my mother. That “One Day” never came.

If there is one thing I have learned in life… it’s this: If ONE DAY is part of your plans… put a line across it and substitute it with an actual date. A real date. Otherwise… “one day” never comes _

Visually Orgasmic

“Been trying to describe it to friends back home Michael… but can’t find the right words. How would you describe it? What words would you use?”
“Visually orgasmic”… I offered !

The American couple (in their 70s) both looked at me with a certain sepia-tone expression. “Did he say what I think he said?” said the wife in a southern drawl. “Yes he did… and I agree with him (laughing), just don’t think I can write that on the post cards (loud laughter)” said the husband.

This was one of dozens of exchanges with visiting tourists to the Aegean Designs store during last week. The words I used were not new to me… it’s a line I have used for many years to describe the small part of the planet I have chosen to live on. I use it for affect… but mostly because it is absolutely true. If you don’t believe me… then take a look at a small set of photos (taken with a broken camera – no viewer screen) as I walked from one of our shops to the other late in the afternoon.

The following would come close to being one of my favourite photos I have taken on the island. The scene looked sublime… images forming on the water below in total silence, as I waited for the right moment (bit tricky when you don’t have a viewer on the cam). I am so pleased the moment wasn’t lost…

This wasn’t a photography hike… or me waiting with high-end cameras to “capture the moment”. This was a walk home and these were taken almost randomly with a broken cam. But this is not just any place folks. This is not just any island in the sun. This is photographer’s paradise. This is Santorini…. a place so damn photogenic, it really is “Visually Orgasmic”.

PS: If you can think of a better term I’d love to hear about it ;-)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

Tip of the hat !

Berta…the beautiful señora from Madrid, gave us a mention in her own delightful blog and for that we send her kisses. If you haven’t as yet travelled with me and Berta then do yourself a favour… her photos are amazing and her blog ( toiledejouy ) is like a venus fly-trap !

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have to apologise for taking leave without notice for the past 2 weeks… but was very busy and just needed a brake for a while. To all those that wrote… I am not going to stop blogging and if anything I am looking forward to a summer of great images and stories to share with you ;-/