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”

 

 

 

Snow on Santorini & sublime sunsets…

Its always the case isn’t it?  Whenever you say something about the weather it turns against you. I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that this year we’ve had a Clayton’s winter (the winter you have…when you don’t have a winter)…. and the next day what happens??   IT SNOWS !

Yes indeed…. snow on Santorini, in March no less. Talk about things to put into the environmental WTF file…. I mean seriously. I have been in a T-shirt since last November – give or take a couple of “cool” days – and now that Spring is here…. it SNOWS !

Can you believe that?

The worse thing is that unlike the last snow storm in 2008…. this one had a bit too much wind for the snow to settle….but luckily it wasn’t cold enough for the slush to turn into ice on the roads (unlike the last time). It was just a nice morning of pretend (Greek-island style) snow blizzard. I know…Greek-island style snow blizzard it’s an oxymoron…. but thats what it was. A mini, pretend snow storm. Just enough to be exciting for some pictures… but a pain in the butt in terms of getting around by car…not to mention by foot. Sadly for me the camera memory card played up and only two images survived:

 

I know what you’re thinking…this guy is having us on, this is not snow, it’s just a bit of frost. But trust me…. it snowed for 3-4 hours, it just couldn’t settle because of the wind. Besides…. it is Santorini we’re talking about, not St Petersburg.

I’m sure if I ran around the island’s high peaks (Pyrgos etc)…. I would’ve found plenty of snow to photograph, but I was too busy painting the studio for that kind of manic storm chasing. Besides, I know by now that a snow storm on Santorini lasts 2-3 hours max…. after that the Sun makes an appearance and winks at us with that “just kidding ya” look. It’s a novelty act…. to be filed away in the ever expanding WTF file ( which…. even since I have lived in Greece, has been growing exponentially).

The odd weather did bring some unexpected pleasures though… the normally sublime scenery I enjoy by living on this island….became almost surreal at times. To call it beautiful is really like saying Sophia Loren was just your average wench. It really is sublime…. and on afternoons like today it just has you searching for superlatives…yet again. Let me show you what I mean:

a sleeping volcano… a sunburst….. a glowing desert storm on the horizon
& the Therassia milk-runner…. all in one shot !

Firostefani at sunset…


unmistakably Santorini…


the blue dome… saying goodnight to the Bluestar ferry…

Had to wait almost 45 minutes to get that last shot… but well worth it, don’t you think?

waving ~~~   ; )

 

 

 

the cool verse – words that burn !

If you haven’t visited thecoolverse page for a while……

 

 

 

 

you should……. click here !

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

Ammoudi in winter… an ever changing landscape

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape”.
Andrew Wyeth

Since late last season I have been meaning to go down to Ammoudi to see what’s happened, but wanted to wait till the rains had eased. There have been changes down there…that much we knew, but I wanted to see it for myself and take some pictures for the blog…. so I waited till last weekend, for a glorious end-of-winter Sunday, to venture down to one of my favorite parts of Oia & Santorini in general.

For those of you in the Southern part of this planet I know it’s a scorching, wet summer…. but for the rest of us in the Northern part it is a completely different story. Some of the temps recorded in Europe and the US are nothing short of ridiculous  ( how does -30 Celsius sound to you?). You can get a nose-bleed just thinking about how cold that is…. let alone have to live in it. But here on the island it’s a different story this year…. winter has not even arrived yet, let alone arctic cold. We have had nothing but sunny warm days and a couple of spectacular thunderstorms…. hardly a winter by European standards.

So on another magnificent Sunday morning I decided it was time to inspect the “changes” that had taken place down at Ammoudi. We decided to take the steps down (which have also been greatly improved and are looking better than ever after the work done on them all through last summer and autumn).

 

the house from the “Sisterhood of the traveling pants” movie is looking in need of a paint job…. but still beautiful as it basks in the winter sunshine…

 

Looking up one can see an old Captain’s house just below the old Fort,  towering
over the port below… one can only wonder how many anxious nights
this Captain’s family spent waiting for a glimpse of his returning ship.

 

Over to the left the empty “sunset-side” of the village awaits the start
of the season… and the thousands of nightly visitors that will climb on
every available rooftop and wall to catch a glimpse of the fabled Oia sunset.

 

 

Ammoudi itself is deserted in winter…apart from some local fishermen and
those very few that live in the handful of houses in this tiny pirate’s cove.
For those that have enjoyed many a balmy evening at Katina’s taverna…
it is a different image in the middle of winter
as you can see in the background.

On the other side it looks just as deserted… even the fishing boats have been
taken away to shelter from the angry westerlies that can hit Ammoudi
so hard during the winter months.

 

It seems Dimitri will be doing what he always does come March…repainting his
taverna and getting ready for the thousands that will enjoy unforgettable
evenings by the water during the long summer season.

 

Those of you that remember my post on Ammoudi from last winter will remember the flooding that occurs when the westerly winds hit Ammoudi. This year
it seems that the boys at Katina’s have decided to take more drastic steps
to avoid water damage. That wooden panel is sealed with silicone against the walls and along the ground and is high enough to keep out the tons of sea water
that washes onto the restaurant terraces every winter.

The well known path leading to the ever popular tiny rock beach…as well as
the picturesque volcanic island of St Nicholas appear normal at first glance…

 

and the local villager is enjoying a magnificent morning’s fishing on the
huge lava rocks along the path…

but then suddenly it all looks very different… the path is now covered by
tons of black lava rocks… the result of a collapse of the cliffs above, effectively blocking all access to the small beach and the island.

I climbed up to the side of the cliff to give you an idea of the damage…you can clearly see the path on the right of the image, whilst it is buried under
tons of lava rock just below where I am standing…

Keep in mind this happened before the end of the season, just after the first rains,
but luckily at night. The black lava rock is much heavier than granite…
so this would not have been a good place to be standing when these pebbles fell…
And just in case you think the rocks you see look small….

these are the same rocks at ground level…it would not have been a good look to be standing under these as they fell…

So where there was once the narrow path to the tiny rock beach and
the closest access point to St Nick’s island…. there is now a huge pile
of very heavy volcanic lava rock… not likely to be shifted in a hurry.

It;s quite an amazing thing to see just how disruptive something like this rock slide can be. Keeping in mind that this is only about as tiny as rock slides on this island get…one can only imagine what the landscape here looked like soon after one of the many earthquakes…. let alone THAT day…. the day that all this was created in the first place. The longer you live here…the more you realise that the three days the eruption occurred those thousands of years ago …. would not have been a pleasant weekend to be on Santorini.