Tag Archives: building a cave house in oia

Oia Santorini – sound of silence…

We always knew there was a very old room at the back of the first cave…it had been filled in with all the rubble from the original work done to the cave many years ago. It took a week to dig it out (more pics on that soon) and then it took me several hours to dig this candle window, as well as two more. It was winter, bitterly cold outside, but deep inside the cave, well…. that’s a different world.




It’s a weird thing to be several metres underground in a raw cave. There is something very primal about it. The candle light reflected off the raw “aspa” cave walls and there was something that most of you living in big cities simply wouldn’t know about……”the sound of silence”.

No….I don’t mean quiet, I mean  s i l e n c e !

Complete silence…to the point where all you can hear is your heartbeat and your mind.

So what would you do in this blissful silence?




Well I don’t know about you… but I got myself some nice Santorini red wine, put on some very soft music (which echoed amazingly in the cave) and sat there for a couple of hours thinking about what this bathroom is going to look like. Candle light flickering…. with what seemed like soft sense-around-sound. Bliss….



Her name is Michele and during the day she makes a living as a management consultant….. but deep down she wants something else.
Look at her beautiful blog  “My Notting Hill” and discover what this elegant woman really wants to be….

Michele was gracious enough to mention the caveman in her blog yesterday…. and for that we tip our hat in gratitude.

Oia Santorini – looking out the window of life!

Depending on where you live, or how you live, you probably spend several hours a week looking out your window…we all have a window that we like to sit in front of and look out. A few of you have asked what it’s really like to live here…. “dont you get sick of the view?”, “doesn’t it get boring after a while?”.

I’ve always felt that looking out your window… you see your life. You see yourself essentially. The view from your window is either what you’ve dreamed about and achieved, or perhaps what you have to look at… till you make your dream come true. Some dream of looking at fields of gold, be it vines, olive trees or endless farmland. Others dream of a Tuscan countryside scene, or lavender fields in Provence, or a lake or a mountain-range. Others simply want to look at a glorious garden that they have painstakingly shaped over many years. Whatever the view is… it says a lot about you and where you are in your life. If the image you see is the one you have always wanted to see…you have made it happen. If it’s not, then you are still working on it. Either way the view you see out your own window didn’t get there by chance (with some exceptions). The choices we make everyday… place us in front of our windows. What we see when we look out is the result of our choices…or lack thereof.

Using our window view as a metaphor for our lives is, I think, quite valid. We all hear people say “I’d love to look out of my window in the morning and see……”. I used to say those very same words….”I’d love to”.

Then one day… I changed it to “I WILL look out of my window and see…..”.

So, to answer the people that asked “do I get sick of it” or “doesn’t it get boring”…. the answer is NO!

Along with many-many other reasons.. here is why:


at sunrise I see beautiful ships coming into the caldera….



all kinds of ships…. big and small 



in peak summer I see a dozen ferrys come and go daily…


fishing boat

and the local fishermen returning home at lunchtime
after selling their catch to the tavernas at Ammoudi…




in the afternoon I watch the big boats leave…
this is the biggest of them all….the Princess 



at sunset I watch my kids watching the old sailing boats
giving visitors a taste of Santorini magic…



and often…late into the night, as I sit here and type this little blog,
I see the cruise ships leaving…lit up like Christmas trees !


If you look out your window and you don’t see the view you want to see, the view you have dreamed of seeing… its never too late.
If you really, really want to… you can make your window view everything you want it to be ! ! !





Oia Santorini – Aegean Design…another peek

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Aegean Design has been opened and it seems that most people are sick to death of touristy trinkets made in China or India and sold off as locally made. Visitors to the studio have been so very generous with their … Continue reading

Oia Santorini – Great walk prt III: mesmerising Santorini – Skaros

All images copyright http://www.oiasantorini.com – please read the copyright notice page… ty!  


Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

                                                                                        – Miriam Beard

I know I have said this before about Santorini…but if there is a place with better views somewhere on this planet I would like to hear about it. Just when you think that you’ve seen everything the island has to offer…. it has another surprise for you. I promised you a glimpse of Skaros and it’s church and last week I took the walk alone… early morning, on a perfectly calm day. The anticipation was high…I’ve wanted to visit this site for more than 20 years, so while everyone was still asleep I got on the Vespa and rode to Imerovigli. Skaros is in front of this village and it is the site of an old venetian fort, destroyed by earthquakes long ago. This is not on the Oia to Fira path, but its a place that is truly magical and should not be missed.

The walk started around 6.45am and already the mythical “Greek light” that photographers the world over talk about was working it’s magic. The deep, blue water of the caldera was perfectly still and the air had a certain early morning freshness about it. I knew it was going to be magical, I just didn’t know the mesmerising extent of the beauty I was about to witness….



descending down the steep steps the cliff hotels
were still in the shadows… 



Skaros stood tall in front of me…


walking down the steps I tried to imagine how
the Venetians built their fort all those centuries earlier..  



this was not a small watch tower…
it was a fort by any standards, although little of it
remains intact today…


as I crossed the narrow passage joining the Skaros rock
to the main island I glanced either side of me, 
it took my breath away ! ! !
(this is the Oia side view)



to my left was Fira and the cruise ships
that had already arrived…



I’ve seen Oia from afar so many times before….
but never from this spot, in this light…



the other side was just as breathtaking, I just stood still
and took photos…



I wanted to get to the other side so I followed
the tiny path around the old fort…



with the sun rising the magical light was changing,
creating new shadows below…



the tiny path kept taking me around to the other
side but I was finding it difficult to look down
instead of all around me…



the full majesty of the Santorini caldera below me…



at the very tip of the rock I noticed the remnants
of what must have been the fort watch-post for pirate ships;
I stood on it, my heart racing with excitement…



there are certain times when your eyes see something
that your brain simply can not process.
What can you possibly say when you look at this ?

and then I looked down… 



and there it stood… the mythical church of Skaros…
my twenty-plus year wait was finally over…


I took one last look at Oia in the distance…


and started walking down the steps to the church…



and after all these years of waiting to see it up close…. there it was !


there are many churches on Santorini built on
spectacular spots… but none more so than this !



the elegant simplicity I fell in love with on the Greek islands…


staggering beauty below…


the always understated elegance of Greek island churches…


and in front of it… what can you possibly say
about the view in front of it?
It’s 250m up from sea level and at that time of
the morning the light is quite simply inspiring… 


the narrow passage in front of  Oia (on the right)…



cruise ships below…



on the way back I looked for and found a secret little path
the old locals talk about, takes you around the rock 
instead of having to walk back up to the top…


following the side of the cliff it allows you to look at the rock
formations as you walk around…


I wouldn’t recommend it for vertigo sufferers… the cliff face is
an almost vertical drop to thedeep blue water below…



tiny wild fig tree growing on the very edge of the cliff…



it was time to leave the mystical & magical Skaros and head
back up to the village above. The old retaining walls built
by the Venetians still clearly visible after all those years… 


as I got to the top I realised that most of the guests overlooking
the rock were still asleep and I doubt they will ever venture down
the path to cross over to the Skaros rock and explore the hidden treasures there.
If only they knew what they were missing… 


The images posted are only a fraction of those taken during this memorable walk on Skaros. Of all the magical spots I have seen on Santorini I have never been as stunned as I was that morning. It was a morning of discovery and wonder…inspiration and contemplation. Walking back up the cliff steps I realised I had seen something very few people see on this island. The sheer beauty of the place was quite simply breathtaking and it had a profound effect on me as I stood there. I realised, amongst other things, that although I would have made this walk at some point… it was writing this little blog that made me do it that day. It has made me appreciate this magical place so much more, just knowing that I am sharing it with people all over the world.

To all of you that leave comments of thanks…. no, THANK YOU! 


PS: also wanted to say hi to the young Canadian couple that came into Allison’s studio this afternoon… hope you enjoyed your dinner in Oia ;-)







Oia Santorini – VespaCam: Oia Sunset

VespaCam :  you are riding around this magical island…you see something beautiful, you stop… “click”, back on the Vespa and vrooooommmm ! 


something like this for instance…

sunset1which on closer inspection looked like this…. how can you not take a picture ?

Btw…if you look closely the tiny dot in the sea is not dust on your screen, it’s a twilight sailing boat. Lucky people ;-)

Oia Santorini – Summer Lovers

It was a just a small budget movie released in 1982. At the time the Greek Islands were already popular with young tourists from all over the world, but this silly little movie became a fantastic international commercial for the Greek tourism authority. Its just light hearted escapism, but the soundtrack was great and the images captured the imagination of millions around the world. For many this was the first glimpse they had of the magic of Santorini & the Aegean lifestyle and I know that many millions of people made a vow to themselves that “one day” they will get to the island.

Twenty six years later the house used for the movie is still here in Oia…now a curiosity shop. For all of you that first saw the island in this film and have visited as a result or are still dreaming about visiting one day…the following pics are for you ;-)


the house sits on the “other side” of Oia, facing the sunset view but not the caldera and volcano…


the wall sign still proclaims it as the “Summer Lovers” house…


although not facing the volcano it still commands a spectacular view…situated above the steps leading down to Ammoudi port…


also faces the Kastro (old Venetian fort) where the “sunsetters” gather daily to watch the magical sunset show; the old abandoned
ruins you can see were once Captains houses that were abandoned after the 1954 earthquake…


just above the house are Oia’s two windmills..


and the side entrance to what I think is the best restaurant (kastro) from which to watch the sunset and enjoy good food….


the photos were taken around 6pm…but the keen sunsetters were already in position, two and a half hours before sunset…


for all of these people this will be an afternoon to remember… their cameras capturing sublime images, their dream of watching
the sunset from Oia-Santorini fulfilled!

Hope you enjoyed the short tour of the Summer Lovers neighbourhood ;-)

Oia Santorini – John & Molly… a love story

There are thousands that fall in love and come to Santorini…or come to Santorini and fall in love with each other and the place. Millions of people over the years have memories of this magical island and Oia could tell many love stories…if only she could. But not all lovers in this gorgeous village are visitors. There is a special love story thats home grown.


JohnMeet John. If John was human he would be a fine gentleman…very proper, probably wearing a bow tie for afternoon tea.


molly1This is Molly. A precocious female… very alert, self-assured and not afraid to mix it with anyone.

John & Molly are strays in Oia, two of many dogs that call Oia home without belonging to anyone in particular. How they met is a mystery, but there is no doubt in any local’s mind that somehow these two dogs have formed one of the most loving and close relationships on the island.

As is the case with many long lasting human relationships the two of them are total opposites. John is shy, introverted and very quiet. Molly on the other hand….well, lets just say that Molly would be a Hollywood starlet if she was human. She is tough, loud, obnoxious at times, will chase and bark at anything and anyone. But she is also sweet and playful and she knows how to be the absolute centre of attention.

The two of them spend all day, every day together. At times one may wonder off while the other sits quietly…waiting. John will follow Molly around the village and they will pose for photographs or visit their favourite places to be fed by locals. In summer food is plentiful and the couple live comfortably, but winters are harsh and they often adopt a local home as their own for the entire winter season.

They do all the things that couples do together:

john & molly 1they go for walks and check out the neighbourhood …

JM&Aplay with the kids…


J&Mroofor they will sit on our roof at sunset….


and check out the view below…just as any couple does in Oia



or they will find a cushion and relax at sundown…


J&Msleeptwo years ago while the cave was being renovated during winter, I let them stay inside… John always staying very close to her!


J&MbedYou would never believe these are homeless wild dogs. They roam the cliff-face and sleep in abandoned caves when they have to.
But this is a loving couple by any definition and we are all very glad they have called Oia their home.

Oia Santorini – Time


Time is the wisest counsellor of all.  ~Pericles

Forgive me for indulging… but many of you have sent emails and left comments about your own dreams and life aspirations. One of the most common themes is time. Time is something that I have tried to understand as far back as I can remember. It’s a concept that has such a deep impact on our lives and yet… it is barely touched in formal education (at least in western cultures). Understanding time, the impact and effects of time & the lessons from time, are not issues that most people think about a great deal. Instant gratification and feedback at the speed of thought are the new standards, especially for our kids.

In making the decision to come here there were many discussions about time. There were comments about missed opportunities, regrets, dreams and secret desires. Comments about “timing not being right” and “time will tell”. Comments about “having plenty of time” and “one day I will…” .

When younger and working in newspapers my editor used to call me a “young man in a hurry”. I wanted to get things quickly, get promoted, get more money….. and get it all NOW! Time was not my friend and patience was not in my vocabulary.

But I was an observer… a silent student of those around me and the late 80’s was a fascinating time. In the corporate world there were a few players that were using time and strategy to achieve incredible things. I watched people like Robert Holmes a Court and Rupert Murdoch patiently building their empires and using time exquisitely. I saw the ’87 crash and the effect it had on the markets and the economy at large. The lessons were not lost on me. Three years later the markets were recovering but many of the get-rich-quick players had vanished. I remember talking to my old friend Rex Lopez who asked me about the lessons I had learned. I told him “time and gravity”. On this planet nothing goes up for ever…. and time, well time has a way of working for you or against you, depending on how well you understand it. He smiled, nodded and said “make time your friend”.

I needed to learn to be patient. I needed to understand time better… to have a different perspective on things. The first thing I did was take up Bonzai trees as a hobby. This is “not” a pass time for those in a hurry for results. The full beauty of a Bonzai tree (when grown from seedling) takes years of care and shaping. You start with an end in mind… and you slowly work at it. With patience, persistence and passion for what you’re trying to do… you end up with something that is exquisite.

This is where the conversations prior to moving to the island come in. Many said “you’re so lucky”…. but they didn’t walk miles and miles in the stifling heat looking for the right cave, they didn’t run around for half a dozen  years chasing paperwork and they didn’t  live in a hole for a year, breathing in volcanic ash while the renovation work was being done. I guess “lucky” is all about perspective. People tend to make many assumptions when they hear about those that make a decision to live a different life. They assume that you can easily afford to do it…or that you obviously have nothing to hold you back….that somehow all the planets aligned to make it possible. But that’s not how life works.

There were many “Sophie’s Choice” moments prior to making the decision to move. But something like this does not happen in an instant. From the moment an idea enters your mind, or a passion is discovered, or a dream becomes an obsession, it is a long process….a continuum if you will. You have to patiently align your life to your dream. You have to work at it and patiently make it happen. Everyone’s life has circumstances and everyone’s dream is different. But making dreams come true is a formula and understanding time, having patience and being passionate about your dream are surely the key elements.

There is no such thing as a “universally audible tick-tock”. But no matter what your dream is – opening a shop, writing a book, travelling, living in another country or changing your career – it takes time, patience & passion.  The sooner you start aligning your life to your dream the sooner you will live your dream. Time is infinite…life is not. The much talked about “one day”…doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen !

Just my humble opinion…


If you are into great photography and an interesting read… you might like to visit the following two ladies and their wonderful blogs:

Carla loves photography

Soto Il Monte Vineyards