Oia in winter – calm before the storm

As you may have read in the previous post there were power disruptions… so this post is in fact a prequel to the last post about the stormy weather…

* * * * * *

Forecast was for storms… and it had been raining all day. Skies looking ominous and the big pond below me looking like a blue/grey silk sheet has been gently set over it. The pre-storm colors of the caldera (Santorini in general) are really quite incredible. Summer visitors never get to see any of this… but those brave enough to visit in winter get to enjoy the “grand show” that is a Santorini thunderstorm. The landscape is so dramatic… so overwhelming, that the gathering dark clouds of a big storm just make it look completely surreal. I have said on many occasions that this (the caldera) is the world’s greatest amphitheatre. It’s as if it was made to stage major shows… shows of a grand scale… shows for which no man-made venue could ever be considered suitable. In my mind… other than a major volcanic eruption, a major electrical  storm is the next best thing. So tonight… I thought I would go out just prior to the storm and take some photos of the neighborhood… under storm-lighting…so to speak.

there are many paths up to the village centre…all with a lot of steps
and each with it’s own unique charm…

the path I prefer  is a very winding narrow path that
weaves it’s way through the neighborhood… giving me time to soak in the details which, suprisingly… I find endlessly fascinating. Some of these houses, rocks, caves & retaining walls… have been here much much longer than most
of the western world countries have existed.


as I’m walking up the clouds are gathering fast…not a lot of time or light, left for photos …and the “big” show is about to begin…


the path meanders around all kinds of houses… old and new


in this case you can tell that although this house is old…. the renovations
and the “owners” are new…. this is why the house was freshly painted in
November. They obviously don’t know the effects of a winter in Oia can
have on a freshly painted house. They will be doing this again come March…
then, they will know !


the path reaches the last section…which is also the steepest… in summer,
by the time you’ve reached this stage you can hear what the diner’s at Lotza
cafe are whispering to each other – the acoustics on the caldera side are
quite incredible… but we won’t tell the tourists that ; )


It’s at this point that I like to stop for a sec and take in the daily/hourly-changing vistas below…this on the left side…



and this on the ride side. The  path corner behind the blue dome is a spot that offers fantastic views of the village looking back. I call it “Japanese corner”….
at least a million photos are taken from that spot annually… and that, is a fact  !


looking up… the captain’s houses are mostly empty… the section of the village
that you  hear the most laughter and cheer in summer….is now eerily quiet

houses have been locked down and boarded up in readiness for the
winter elements… which, on the caldera side can be severe…


the inimitable charm of Oia…. houses likes these were probably built more than
800 years ago (as was my house)… and have walls 2 feet thick…still lived in by
those lucky enough to have inherited them…. or made it their dream to
buy them…


one of my favorite spots on the whole island… the view being
quintessential Oia… iconic… stunning !
If you look on top of the highest dome on the right…you will see a tiny ball of black fluff…. her name is “Nugget”… my stray (one-eyed) cat…. a survivor,
always at the highest point looking out for danger (stray dogs).


The “marbles” as the main path is known by locals…. are empty, only
Dimitiri’s cave (icon painter – first arch on right) showing any sign of life…

Meantime the clouds had gathered and things were looking ominous. This was going to be a big storm….lightning had already started and looking spectacular, as they always are at this time of year in Oia. If I had better cameras I would’ve stayed there to capture the majesty that is a thunderstorm over the caldera… but alas my little Pentax and I were headed back. But before I left I had to take another iconic photo…one which millions have taken during the day… and night, during summer…. but hardly anyone gets to take in winter, just before a thunderstorm.

This villa… “Aspaki”, is perched 300m above sea level… with uninterrupted views … it is exquisitely painted and it elegantly stands watch over the caldera below. It’s been in thousands of magazines and no doubt exists in a million photo albums and slideshows… but I dare say not many people would have a photo of it in the middle of winter… so this is a treat.

PS:  All of the above was written for Thursday’s post… but as you read in the last post things went downhill soon after the last photo was taken. I was right that it looked like it was going to be a big storm and a fantastic show… and it was. But the storm (at least in some parts of the island) was a lot bigger and more fierce than what people tend to call “enjoyable”. It did a great deal of damage to the main town of Fira, as well as other parts of the island… but oddly it did nothing more than deliver plenty of water and an incredible light show to Oia itself. The old locals like to say that “Oia has a different God”… mainly because a lot of the weather that punishes the rest of the island rarely affects Oia the same way… maybe they know something that most of us “newbies” don’t.  But even to an atheist that saying sounded very true on Thursday night…

So…finally, after three days and many attempts, this post is complete. I hope you enjoyed the photos and I look forward to taking some more this week  ; ))

PS: If you want to glimpse at some of our Christmas decorations check out Allison’s latest post here . Have a great Sunday and an even better week… !

9 responses to “Oia in winter – calm before the storm

  1. Love your winter and storm pictures,and seeing the well-known Oia landscapes in a different light,for as you rightly said ,so many thousands of people have taken those same shots in the summer time,(or spring or autumn in my case) .Keep the pictures and blogs coming.I look forward so much to them,and now have Alison’s own to look forward to and read,as well

  2. Thanks so much for the pictures. I loved your use of the natural light. Oia is so beautiful whatever the season. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Loved the ‘marbles’, Dimitri’s cave and Aspaki… the light that offers sanctuary. Can’t begin to imagine your wonderful natural theater. I love watching storms roll in from the sea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hello Michael,
    It’s that amazing time of year in Oia again and I’m so happy you share it with us. Love taking these strolls with you. Hope that all is well after those fierce storms. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
    Catherine xo

  5. Beautiful Pictures!! The city looks so empty and beautiful!
    I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!!
    Have a great day and thanks for all these great photos of Oia!

  6. Caro Michael,
    Thanks for t taking us on yet another fascinating/meandring tour. I can imagine winter walks along empty streets are heavenly – walking on clouds. African winds here in Umbria. Warm, but humid. Yet another green Christmas. Wish you a merry family weekend and an exciting New Year., Michael! Bacione, Ingrid

  7. Happy Christmas Michael! Love that you find the beauty no matter the weather. Sorry to hear of the storm damage but glad you were spared. Looking forward to more photos of the changing seasons with just your eye for beauty! Wishing you a spectacular holiday season with family and friends!

  8. Hi Micahel

    Ever since we decided to visit Santorini in December, I have been following your haunting blog and pictures of life in Oia. Now that we are in Oia (26,27,28 Dec) I have this feeling I am sharing a village with an acquaintance.

    Oia in winter is so much different from the bustle of September–there are so few souls here that it seems like a third of the dogs decided to join our retinue :). Waking up in our cave house and seeing the caldera in twilight over the three solicitous dogs that kept a watch on us is an experience I will not easily forget.


    • Rao…thank you for your lovely comment… Oia is indeed quite different, but no less exquisite during December and the winter months. Enjoy the serenity and the company of our local stray friends ….. it is a unique glimpse you are getting right now…. normally reserved for very few locals and the canine population of Oia. Hope you enjoy and capture your time in images. Very best to you for the New Year… M

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