Tag Archives: aegean storm

My secret lover…

Funny thing happened to us this winter… we never really had one.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a turbulent time in Greece, nor can we say we didn’t have our fair quota of storms and punishing winds. All of these things happened… we just didn’t experience a real winter in terms of cold. The temperatures in Santorini ranged from 6-17c all winter, which is really the winter you have when you don’t have one.

But winter in Oia is not about temperature, or the events on the mainland. Winter in Oia is about serenity, rejuvenation, introspection, a time to think and a time of self discovery. It’s a time to hear your mind’s voice and to defrag the brain. It is a time to enjoy the company of a small, quiet village that just happens to be too ridiculously beautiful for it’s own good…. for most of the year.

Sounds funny if you say you can enjoy the company of a village… but only because you’ve probably never experienced it. A city full of people doesn’t keep you company. It makes demands on you, it controls you, it intimidates you… but it doesn’t keep you company. A big city is like a dominatrix in leather thigh-high boots… a beautiful small village is like a secret lover.

If you do live in a big city… it is almost beyond the boundaries of your imagination to think about walking around with not another person in sight.
It’s only possible in a  ‘day after’ scenario… armaggedon. The difference here is that nothing is damaged, nobody is dead and everything is almost too beautiful for your brain to comprehend. Walking around in winter the mind wonders at times why people choose to visit naturally beautiful places in the peak of summer? Why would you want to share all this with twenty thousand others on a daily basis… when you can have it all to yourself in winter?

There are of course exceptions… and in Oia the exceptions are our wonderful Asian friends… Japanese, Chinese, Korean. They visit in winter… and they get to see sights the summer tourist can only dream about. They take their time, hundreds of photos and much exploring. Some are a bit odd… but then again they probably think the same about me for living here almost completely alone in the middle of winter.

One Chinese fellow asked me where ‘sunset’ was… and when I looked at him funny, he felt compelled to ask again “w h e r e   i s   s u n s e t”?  Speaking very slowly as if I was a sub-60 IQ moron… a descendant of the local mules perhaps. He even made a circle with his hands depicting the sun…. followed by a swan-dive with one hand for the sun obviously hitting the sea. The man was clearly describing sunset to me. So I pointed in the general direction and he gave me one of those “thanks… I hope I didn’t hurt your brain too much” looks  and started almost running towards ‘sunset’. I turned and walked away shaking my head and looking at my watch… it was 12 noon !  WTF?

Another major plus this winter was the fact there were no construction sites near us. No jackhammers at 7am, no mules crapping on the path in front of the house, no Albanians yelling all day long. I know… it all sounds strange to you, when was the last time you had jackhammers pumping, mules crapping and Albanians yelling at 7am at your house? I’m guessing never… but I think you get my drift.

You could sit out the front on a sunny winter’s day and lose yourself in your own thoughts. The eyes send back images and the brain gets inspired. The mind conjures up all kinds of ideas and you get an urge to create.

Then there are the walks. Oia is a joy to walk through at any time… but during winter months it is a storybook. Every corner reaveals another wonder, every step gives you a better view, every ancient doorway hides more secrets. If you are into photography of course it is an absolute delight… the old girl doesn’t have a bad angle. My new camera and I bonded very well this winter and I have many thousands of photos to prove we get on just fine…

All this talk of Oia reminds me of the words of the old master Enzo Ferrari. A journalist asked him why would anyone want to pay such a price for a “car”?
The old master looked at him and smiled “no my son, you don’t understand…
a Ferrari is not a car. It’s a mistress”.

Oia is not a village..

* * * * * * * *

But wait…. there is more !

Had some fun taking some pics of a recent storm at Ammoudi… the small port below Oia. The images are spectacular and for those of you who have been there and know this place as an idyllic spot for a memorable lunch or dinner in summer…. now you will see the “other” side of it. Poseidon was angry that weekend… enjoy ; )  M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41pjf8C4QH0

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Aegean storm… melancholy & reflection

In the ying/yang that is life… you can’t truly appreciate something until you have seen and/or felt the opposite extreme. So it was when faced with the choice of making a trip to Athens… do I quickly fly in (25 min flight) or do I take the ferry in uncertain weather. For me it was a no-brainer. A boat ride on an old ferry in stormy weather was far too delicious a prospect to ever seriously consider any alternatives – especially yet another boring… albeit quick flight. So on a dark, stormy morning I boarded a slow-boat to Athens… purpose unpleasant, cause of problem unknown, travel time uncertain, weather unsettled & state of mind unclear. The trip had been made dozens of times, but not under these conditions… weather or mental.

The blinding bright light of the Aegean summer had given way to winter grey and the island which mesmerises millions of people every year, looked cold, inhospitable & decidedly empty. Yet… there was a zen-like beauty and calmness about it. It looked at peace, resting… enjoying the winter storm and lapping up the life-giving rainfall. It was then I realised that I was seeing something few people get to see… the rarely seen winter “yang” of the summer “ying” that everyone knows all too well about Santorini. These are the sights and sounds that visitors never see… believing instead that all Greek islands are bathed in brilliant light and warm sun rays all year round. The images that follow provide you with a glimpse of an Aegean storm and a day-long trip across this mythical sea.

the rain was falling heavily and the island villages were barely visible…

an almost empty ferry pulled away from Santorini’s port… sailing into a storm

the totally calm summer-blue caldera waters had changed to a dark, unsettled
sea that looked angry…

the little church on Skaros rock looked a lonely place in the middle of the storm

soon the island was left behind… the ferry heading for the open and much
rougher waters of the southern Aegean Sea

In summer… you couldn’t get a seat here if you tried. In winter… well, winter
is a different story. It makes you understand the cycles of life & time…

The starkness of a lonely deck and the angry sea below, make you pause and reflect…

you remember the brilliance of this scenery in summer, but also appreciate
it’s raw beauty on a stormy winter’s day…

you look and reflect… what was and what will be

this is NOT a black & white photo… the water
was simply reflecting the mood of the sky above!

but this IS Greece after all & the skies soon cleared, the Aegean putting on
it’s royal blue best once again…

the first of our island stops was in sight… a tiny jewel in the Aegean,
another summer paradise breathing a winter’s sigh of relief!

We will see more images from the small islands along the way on Wednesday’s post. I hope you enjoyed the boat ride through the Aegean storm and thank you for the many kind comments, emails & good wishes… all greatly appreciated ;-)

M