Tag Archives: Ammoudi

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..

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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

Oia Santorini – Scenes of a Greek island summer

August in Greece… the islands buzzing with excitement. Most of Europe is on holidays and it seems a vast majority chose Greece as their destination of choice. The islands are a cauldron of nationalities… almost every imaginable language is heard as you casually walk through narrow streets and lanes… day or night. Santorini… as an island… walks to it’s own beat when it comes to tourism. There is no crisis here… there are no weekdays or weekends. It’s one long summer of lovers and lovers of the island… the two not being mutually exclusive. There is good reason of course… this is not just any island. Of all the Greek islands… this is the mother pearl… the crown jewel of the mythical Aegean Sea. The one they all dream about…

People enjoy waterside dining that can often be a surreal experience. From this
very spot at Dimitri’s (Ammoudi) you can not only watch the sunset and all of the old sailing boats… but after dark you may also/ see some of the largest cruise ships in the world sail quietly passed your table. There are thousands of
waterside taverna’s in Greece… but Ammoudi is in another class.

this is of course the place where your very own cave dweller has been known to enjoy the odd grilled octopus and perhaps…just perhaps… an ouzo or three.

as if that (grilled octopus & ouzo/wine) is not enough… there is a certain sunset that a few people talk about… which can also be seen from your table. Is it any wonder people lose their minds here…

summer is enjoyed in many ways… but lingering on a balmy night at a waterside taverna with good friends… fresh seafood and chilled wine… is not hard to take!

Meantime the village itself is filled with sunset visitors… each wanting the perfect photo… the perfect sunset experience… the desire to somehow capture the magic of the village… to create memories for the future.

my good friend and neighbour waits patiently for the passing sunsetters to buy
some of her home-made produce… she’s a gorgeous lady and I hope you
stop and buy something if you’re visiting Oia (speaking of gorgeous… the three
Italian kids being held by their mother could’ve made the cover of Italian Vogue on any day…beautiful family) !

when sunset is over and the nightly exodus starts you don’t want to be walking against the crowd… it’s like the end of a concert and people are pouring out of the venue just as you’re trying to go in.

but for me… none of that matters because my sunsets are usually spent at home…where the view is a lot more entertaining and I have it all to myself. When this photo was taken I didn’t realise the poignant message of the heading on the magazine page… until much later. A random moment in time that somehow captures the essence of it all ; )

PS: as there are more frequent (short) posts on Facebook than the blog…. you might like to join me there from time to time as well. The name is same as the blog (OiaSantorini)… so make yourself known as a blog reader and I can add you !

Ammoudi – Oia…port under troubled water !

On a balmy hot August night… a sky full of bright stars, the full moon reflecting off the calm, crystal waters… it is a mesmerising sight. Ammoudi is a small port, a pirate’s cove where thousands of people enjoy a memorable lunch or dinner… looking at the small fishing boats and the large cruise ships as they sail silently into the night. It’s one of the most enchanting places on Santorini to enjoy as a couple…or with a group of friends. It’s picture perfect… day or night.

But there is another side to Ammoudi… one that tourists never see. When the westerlies blow at 50+ km an hour… the sea gets angry and it hits the tiny port in a harsh, sometimes savage way. This morning was one of those days. I looked out and saw the wind patterns on the surface of the caldera and you could tell the westerlies were working. It’s “show time” at Ammoudi…

The following images & videos are a rare treat for all of you, but especially those of you that have been lucky enough to have enjoyed  Ammoudi in summer…

It’s hard to see but where the white water is at the bottom of the pic
you would probably see 10-20 cars in summer.

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The waves wash all the way across the car park and beyond. Moments
after taking this shot (while standing on a rock) I was completely
drenched by the wave following this one. Only looked away for a second
to check the previous photo…. and whooosh !

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It was one of these that got me… looking away is not recommended.

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As the waves retreat the white water pours back into the sea.
Every single one of the tavernas would be flooded after today…
something that happens several times during the winter
months at Ammoudi.

But to really give you an idea of the power of the sea on such a day
I decided to record a couple of short
videos. It was a lot of fun to be there…
but it can also get dangerous if you get too close:

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Winter is full of delights and surprises on Santorini and especially in Oia. Hope you enjoyed a peek through my eyes ;-)

PS: Apologies for the “phantom post” that was showing for most of today. I was playing around with some drafts this morning
and one somehow was published ;-(

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also…don’t forget to check out

the cool verse

http://oiasantorini.com/the-cool-verse/

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“Summer Lovers” giveaway – Santorini romance short stories

There are countless places around the world that cater to the romantics. Some rely on man-made scenery, while others rely on nature’s beauty to create the ambience. There are hotels and resorts, casinos and restaurants, tropical islands and mountain chalets.

And then…. then my dear friends there is Santorini. 

I don’t know the number of people that met and  fell in love on Santorini, or the number of people that got married here, or the number of people that came here together and fell in love all over again. My guess is that its a big number… and there is good reason for that. It’s a romantic’s paradise.

Whether it’s the mesmerising view, the wild scenery, the laid back atmosphere, the white cavehouses or the endless blue below…there is a certain magic that can’t be described. It can’t be captured in words or photographs and it can’t be reproduced elsewhere in the world. It is unique. It is the endearing, mystical charm of Santorini.

So recently I was reading some comments, as well as some emails and it struck me yet again how many of you have stories about this island. Stories about your visits here or stories about how you came to fall in love with Santorini from afar. True stories or dreams and sometimes a combination of the two. 

Many of you have described incredible memories you have from this island, while others have described vivid dreams that have played in your minds for years. I was thinking to myself that it would be wonderful to read more of these stories and dreams. To allow many of you to express your thoughts and feelings about this island. To give you an opportunity to reminisce and/or dream.

As you know there are many awards floating around in the blogosphere, under a variety of names and titles. The only award this humble blog has ever given out to it’s readers and visitors has been the infamous “grilled octopus & ouzo” award. Nothing special, I know. But… and it’s a big BUT dear friends. What makes the “grilled octopus” award special is that you can’t just visit the blog to collect it…. no no no! You have to collect it in person, right here… in Oia, Santorini, Greece !

So let me tell you what I am thinking dear friends. I am asking you to write in with your story about your romantic time on Santorini, or your dream of a romantic holiday on Santorini and the writer of the best story will get the award. Which of course means you will have to come here to collect it ;-)

This of course means that you and your partner (I hate that word…but you know what I mean) will need to stay somewhere….somewhere special. So I spoke to some friends and we have arranged 5 nights in two of the island’s most luxurious hotels. We’re not talking simple rooms… or “villas” that face nowhere and you need 45 minutes by mule to get to them. Nope… we are talking luxury that will spoil you for life and endless views of that special caldera blue.

Now… while you are here you will obviously need to have a romantic dinner, so we’ve arranged that. You will need to have a personalised tour of Santo Wines, the island’s finest winery, as well as a tasting of their wonderful wines whilst looking at the volcano below… so we’ve arranged that as well. 

There are also a few other things that we have arranged… but more about that on Friday. Needless to say that you will be made to feel special on your visit to Santorini. Oh and I almost forgot… you will need to collect your award for your wonderful story. For that of course there will be some grilled octopus and some ouzo drinking involved. That means I will have to join you at a table by the water at Ammoudi…(see the photos of the water here) watching the cruise ships sail past Oia on a clear night  as we indulge in some fine taverna food and a glass of ouzo or three.

All you have to do is write your wonderful story in 1000-words or less. That’s it !

There will be a lot more on this Friday’s post with details of time frames for story submission, trip dates, photos and more details of the hotels and other venues involved etc.

Has it got you thinking?

;-) 

 

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 ;-) 

 

 

 

Santorini gym

I’ve said before on this little blog that the reaction from people when I told them I am moving to Santorini was very interesting. There were the “you lucky b….rd” comments, the “I’ve always dreamed of doing that” comments, as well as the “what are you going to do on a small island ? ” comments. 

I had an email from a friend back in Melbourne… latest news etc etc…. then the questions:

(amongst other things)
“Don’t you miss the things you loved in Melbourne… the places you went to almost daily? Your coffee shop? The gym?”

Well….

The gym (MSAC) was indeed very good. Arguably one of the best anywhere. Facilities were fantastic…

fitness_centrepic: MSAC

 

The pic above doesn’t do it justice…. it really is a great facility and one of the only “ground level” gyms with a view, and NO… I don’t have that kind of facility here. But like most things one has to adapt. I don’t have an Olympic size pool to swim in or the latest cardio equipment.

What I have here is a “Santorini gym”…..

gym1

You see….below the house I have this tiny little port (Armenaki) to which I walk down in the mornings…350+ steps down. From there I swim across to the small island of St. Nicholas (top of screen). The water is deeper than a diving pool…. as in a looooooooooot deeper……. as in over 1000 metres. Its clearer than any pool in the world and I don’t have 200 other lap swimmers splashing chlorine all around me. The swim is 500m each way… but this pool changes every day and sometimes (depending on the breeze) a kilometre here feels like 10 in a swimming pool. Then I have to walk all the way up again…

Its simple, clean and the only membership required is living here. Wellness Santorini style !

While we’re on the “adapting” topic…. indulge me for a second longer. Let me show you my office too. No fancy furniture here, no switchboard, no driving for an hour in peak hour traffic to get to it. Just hop on the Vespa and a minute later… voila!

office

As you can see the desk and chair are definitely NOT ergonomic….nor particularly large. But it works for me. A nice cold frappe, a bottle of water
(or some Santorini wine in the evening)  and the mac gets a workout (for those of you into details the Ducati hat is only a souvenir from Italy….
I ride a Vespa – maybe I will ride a Ducati when I grow up and become a “real man”). 

The side view from my office is not too shabby…. but the front view is not bad either:

office2

It’s only a tiny table at a coffee shop…. BUT, it’s at Ammoudi in Oia and… call me crazy, but I like it.

 

Btw… we’ve managed to get Aegean Design a second presence on Santorini. It’s sort of a shop within a shop…. but let me tell you that this place is special (read: very very very special – more on this soon). And if you think the view from my “office” isn’t bad…. take a look at the view from Allison’s new shop:

2ndofficeview
…told you it was special ;-)

PS: the protective circle at the bottom of the pic is where the infamous “Sea Diamond” sank a couple of years ago. How can any idiot who calls himself a captain can manage to sink a cruise-ship in the deepest port in the world is beyond me. But please don’t get me started…  

PPS: I do miss my coffee shop in Melbourne….. wave to Arthur, Gino and the gang back at Cucina !

Till soon ;-)

 

 

 

Oia Santorini – a place to clear the mind

ammoudi1

Its late in the season…. another day of running around for paperwork of all sorts. Applications, permits…more applications. I’m alone on the island and just want to sit somewhere and defrag the brain. I get on the Vespa and ride down to Ammoudi (a full post on this magical little spot soon). The little taverna by the water is empty….so Joy (Dimitri’s partner – owners of the taverna) sets a table for me by the water and I sit there with a glass of ouzo…. my mind clouded with all the bureaucratic nonsense of the day. The water below me is so clear I can see tiny lava rocks 5 metres below the water line.

Within minutes….magically it seems, just like the water my mind becomes clear. I remember thinking “I know there are better places in this world…I just can’t think of them right now”!