Tag Archives: aegean lifestyle

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

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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 !!

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 !

Exquisite Moments…

To paraphrase an anonymous quote…

We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents.
We do not choose the time of our birth, the country of our birth,
or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing.
We do not, most of us, choose to die;
nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death.
But within this realm of choicelessness….
we do choose how we live.

Long ago I learned that life is not one long “spectacular, glamorous event”… it is not one big party, or living on the crest of a wave. It is not about chasing instant gratification or eternal bliss….

It is about appreciating the special moments… the exquisite moments in life. Sadly… most people are usually too busy chasing the aforementioned to even notice them…let alone truly appreciate them. Yet… these are life’s real treasures. Those moments in time… the exquisite moments !


Beautiful weather, like being in love, is a philosopher’s stone which turns our ordinary days to gold. But not the whole day … For it is never the whole day, never all our life which is transformed in any happiness, but only the exquisite moments.

– Nan Fairbrother

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…

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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… !

An empty village & a winter’s sunset

It’s cold…it’s wet…it’s windy. It’s almost the middle of December and…well, winter has finally arrived on Santorini. Over the weekend the temperature  probably dropped by 8-10 degrees…. but still a comparatively mild 5c today.
I say comparatively mild because friends in Frankfurt were telling me that it was -7 during the day and a brain-numbing -16 at night. Yes… it’s winter in Europe, and what a wonderful thing that is…

Here in Oia the temps are nowhere near what our German friends have to endure, but it’s cold enough to keep tourists away. The village is quiet again… very quiet (read: empty). My favorite time of the year has come around again… so I thought it was about time I took you for what has become our annual winter-sunset walk, just so you can see what I see at this time of the year.

10am… if this was summer there would be hundreds of people walking
“the marbles”. Today….it’s just moi!

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looking the other way…. it’s still just me

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even the kids at Atlantis (bookshop – on the left..resident all year) have not bothered to open their doors on this miserable, wet morning.

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Rex as always is on the look out… but all he can spot is the sublime sunburst

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and guess who is all grown up now…. and copying his big brother

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winter sunsets have a different charm to those of hot summer… a lot more
subdued, a lot more subtle. I prefer them…

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this was a cold evening by Oia standards… and quiet, very very quiet..

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the Kastro restaurant terrace is now empty… the sunset watchers long gone,
the house of the “Sisterhood of traveling pants” (blue door) is in need of repairs and the Summer Lovers house (center-top of the picture) is all boarded up

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the path leading to the fort is empty…. and for the first this year, I get to watch
an Oia sunset…. a l o n e. Not many people can say that…

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alone on the fort… bliss

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a look to the left reminds me of the unreal / surreal place I am lucky enough
to call home…

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this is my favorite pic so far this winter… have never taken the neighborhood
from this angle. This is the path home as I return from sunset watch…

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the night lights switch on as I make my way down….the village peacefully quiet

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a picture you don’t see very often… the neighborhood on a cold winter’s night.

It hardly seems like a year ago that we went for our last winter sunset walk… and our New Year’s Eve at the fort…. but it has been. A lot has happened in the past twelve months and a lot more is about to happen over the next year.  Living in a small village in the Aegean has its drawbacks… but it also has its great benefits. As the cold winter nights set in and daylight disappears early afternoon… there is a stillness,  a zen-like serenity which you simply can’t buy in the city. You may not want it of course…which I can understand, but if you do… then this is a blissful time indeed. It’s time to be creative… to learn new things… to weave new dreams and to contemplate how to make insanely great things happen in the coming year ahead. So while you’re doing whatever this winter… if you happen to think about a caveman sitting, reading, dreaming & listening to his music by candlelight… send me a wave   .::   ; ~}

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you for the overwhelming response to the (only half-finished) Aegean Designs blog/site. Allison has too many orders to complete before Xmas so we have taken the main catalog off-the-air (although it is still available to existing customers by request – just leave a comment either here or at the AD blog and we will send you the links). Today also marks the first post on Allison’s blog… something she has wanted to do for some time but simply did not have the time to…. you can read her first post here.

More pics this Thursday…. !

Oia Santorini – Blue on Blue

Blue is the most popular colour, it is the most calming.. tranquil colour and largely the colour of this small planet we all call home. Blue is also the colour we all associate with the sea/ocean, although these days its getting harder to find water that’s clear… especially near large cities. Fortunately the Greek islands and Santorini in particular, does not have that problem. The small church belonging to a friend that’s near the house was freshly painted and on a calm afternoon it was a good opportunity to snap some pics of  “blue on blue”.

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the light was right and the blue… well the blue is always right in the caldera 

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it’s just a matter of waiting to take the shots you want…
the big blue beyond being the perfect backdrop for the tiny church

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blue on blue…

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Rex took up his favourite position for sunset boat-watching…

 

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followed by his impersonation of the Sphinx !

 

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then it was time for dinner at Ammoudi… and this was the view below the table 
(in case you’re wondering that’s at least 5-6 metres deep) 

 

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I know it looks like an aquarium dear friends… but trust me, this is the turquoise blue Aegean sea

 

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and although it looks shallow… it is not. It is just absolutely crystal clear ! 

 

Now… go with me on this. It’s the end of a busy week. Lots of running around, met lots of wonderful people at the studio… and now it’s Friday evening and I am sitting down at Ammoudi with some nice seafood and a glass of wine. Next to the table I can look down and see the crystal clear waters filled with fish and volcanic rocks.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very aware that this is not the centre of the known universe or the most “hip” spot to be seen… but I can honestly tell you that at that very moment there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

Funny that ;-)