Tag Archives: caldera view

It’s a beautiful day !

“Tis the season to get ready” so to speak. The calm before the storm…or the madness before the madness. Which ever way you want to describe early spring on Santorini… it is the “busy” season. This is when everything happens in preparation for the season ahead. Almost every shop, every house, hotel and restaurant is either being repaired, re-build or repainted. The tradesmen are frantic and the owners are pacing up and down as they watch the slow progress being made on their properties (smoking countless packets of cigarettes in the process – they still haven’t quite worked out that it doesn’t make the work faster or better or even reduce the stress they are obviously experiencing).

But it’s spring… and spring everywhere means beauty in nature. On Santorini… well on Santorini this whole concept is taken to another level. A level that most of you can not even imagine unless you have been to this island…especially during spring. The cliffs are alive with colour… and the blue of the caldera is bluer and more seductive than ever. It’s as if the deep blue water is somehow filtered all through winter… and come spring it has been replaced with a brilliant, crystal clear body of the deepest Aegean blue water you have ever seen. When you stand on top of it…as you do when on the cliffs of Santorini…. you are looking down at one of the world’s natural wonders, an image so sublime your mind doesn’t know how to deal with it.

This morning it is a crystal clear sunny day… with the caldera in all it’s glory stretched out below me. Take a look and see what I saw with my morning coffee:

Looking in towards Fira the blue was blinding. No words necessary… you
just sit and enjoy your coffee… and you gaze…

Later in the morning I went into Fira where the good lady Venus was basking
in the spring sunshine.

On the way back I stopped at a friend’s hotel… this is the view from his office.
Beats the corner office in a big city highrise…which is where he used spend his time.

Off to Athens at around 3.30pm today… a boat ride in the sunshine for a change. Lot’s of photos to be taken along the way and even more in Athens after my meetings. I have wanted to photograph the new Acropolis museum for you since it opened… I’m finally going to do it. Look out for a spacial photographic tour of this unique building later this week. I can’t wait…

Have a great week till then ;-)

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Oia Santorini – being here !

Waking up at 6am…. some weights, a walk or a swim, quick juice and then off on the Vespa. Running around all day, dropping in and out of the studio, meeting with people, checking out properties, seeing people at the winery, a coffee or three, back to the studio… then a ride home in the evening.

Living in paradise doesn’t always mean you have the time to enjoy it. In fact…. if you’re not careful, the same thing that happens in any big city can just as easily happen in Oia and/or Santorini.

If you let it that is…. and I have been letting it lately. A lot !

But then something happens. Something that reminds you that you live in a very, very special place. Something that makes you realise the need to keep in mind why you are here in the first place.

Let me show you.

On the way into Oia village you can’t see the view on the volcano side… only the north side, which is spectacular in itself. But the “real view”, the one that makes your jaw drop to your knees, stays teasingly hidden until you are almost in the village proper. Then, in a fleeting moment…. it opens up. It’s the spot I call the “Oia Pass”. Suddenly the caldera view opens up for you on the left as you drive in… and your eyes can hardly believe what they are seeing. It’s a narrow pass and you can’t really stop there unless you are waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. But the most gorgeous village on earth gives you a teasing little glimpse. It’s like the most beautiful caldera in the world smiling and saying to you  “Pssssssssst….welcome to your dream ” as you’re driving through.

You turn… and your eyes see this:

4 On the left you look towards Imerovigli and the main port….

 

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below is the magnificent cliff side with the beautifully carved out hotels…deep blue caldera opening up below them…

 

5 the volcano and Therassia island ahead…

 

3and a large cruise ship gliding majestically passed.

 

The photo that will do this scene justice hasn’t been taken yet… the photographer that can capture it hasn’t been born yet and the camera that can take in what your eyes can see hasn’t been made yet. But you will have to take my word for it dear friends… there is nothing like it anywhere on this planet.

So, in the mad rush to stay on top of things… to run around and do what needs to be done, I occasionally have to stop here and remind myself where I am, what it’s taken to be here and why I must never, ever take it (or my time here) for granted !

 

 

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 ;-)

 

 

 

O the romance of it all !

There are lots of weddings on Santorini every year…. that’s looots, as in 3 zeros, as in thousands. People from all over the world come here to get married, each couple having it’s own special reason for choosing this magical island. 

The weddings range from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are people that have traditional weddings, others totally non-traditional (read: on the volcano itself). Some do it discreetly….in their own hotel, or even their own balcony over looking the magnificent view… along with half a dozen friends and/or family. Others have more elaborate weddings….hiring an entire hotel and decorating it like a magical kingdom out of a fairytail. 

Then there are my Japanese friends. I say this with a big smile on my face….you really have to hand it to these young people. They often come here alone, they get married on a balcony by an official and then proceed to walk through the whole village trying to take their own wedding photos. Now….go with me on this. The bride quickly changes into runners (sneakers) under the wedding dress and she usually carries the tripod. The groom is carrying camera, lenses, his jacket, flowers and any other props they may want to use in their “professionally” taken wedding photos. So off they go… from roof top to roof top, looking for good angles of the caldera….he sets up the camera while she props herself in front, on, or against something. He sets the shot, clicks the timer and runs like hell to get in the shot…. often having to go back and do it again…and again…and again. Meantime the bride has either changed back to her “wedding shoes” or is pulling the wedding dress like hell to cover the sneakers she is wearing. Oh…and this is often done in the middle of the day ( a curious phenomenon seemingly applicable only to the Japanese)…. which means in mid-summer it is at least 35C. They are both perspiring like mad and the Japanese bride usually has a small umbrella to protect her snow-white skin from the harsh sun. But do they care?

Nope…. you often see their faces beaming with happiness that they are doing what they want, in the place of their dreams. You see them kissing under the frilly umbrella, then quietly packing the “set” and moving on to the next location so they can do it all over again and again and again. THAT is romance Santorini style as far as I am concerned ( I also love the way the locals often come out and offer them cool drinks…right there on the roof tops).

On the other end of the scale you have the rich-bitch bridezillas. Our friend Kat, the local hairdresser, tells us stories of women that throw a fit because the flowers look wilted, or they don’t like the suit on the official marrying them (they are lucky he didn’t turn up in his sandals). They complain about the heat, or the cars or the balcony decorations, or or or… I am always amazed how the guys marrying these women can’t take a hint of things to come.

But the large majority of couples getting married on this island are just ordinary people who had a dream (there is that word again). They save their money, bring their family and friends and they get married in the way they have fantasised…often for years. Simple, elegant weddings, usually at sunset overlooking one of the most stunning views in the world. You watch their faces and you know…you know that this is what they have wanted to do ever since they decided to get married. In fact….it often starts long before that. One or the other had visited the island and fell in love with it. Or…they met here, or they saw it in a movie or a poster or a video… and decided THAT was where they wanted to get married. Do you blame them?

Looking out over the caldera view does things to you….even to someone that has been looking at it for more than 25 years. People get mesmerised, their mind drifts and they become lost in their own thoughts. I remember last August I saw a couple get married on a hotel balcony. The bride looked gorgeous and her groom was beaming. They had less than half a dozen people there as they stood side by side. They got married as their friends watched and they kissed…then turned and looked out at the view. I would’ve given anything to read their thoughts at that moment. The next afternoon I was taking photos of the sunset and I saw them sitting on a roof top… alone but together. No words were spoken between them as they watched the red August sun setting. As the last traces of the sun were about to sink into the Aegean horizon… they turned and kissed. They looked at each other…hugged and then sat there looking out to the endless blue below them. No words necessary….their “dream” fulfilled !

There are of course people for whom money is no object. They can afford to do things with a bit more style and if they can afford it… who can blame them. Last night I came out just after sunset…looked down below and saw this:

sailship2

It’s one of the regular sunset sail boats from Oia…. but this time the sails were lit up and there was a wedding on-board. My picture does not do the image I saw justice. But I can tell you that it looked fantastic. For them…looking up at the village all lit up, it must have looked like a dream. They must have money…sure. But they also have impeccable taste and you’ve got to love that…

It makes no difference how simply elegant or extravagantly people get married here…they are true romantics.

Cheers to them and all the romantics everywhere !

 

 

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:

sailship

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

 

white

all kinds of ships…. big and small 

 

ferry

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…

 

 

princess

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

 

izzy

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

 

night

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 – 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….

 

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

 

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Skaros stood tall in front of me…

 

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

 

5

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

 

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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)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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…

 

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the full majesty of the Santorini caldera below me…

 

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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…

 

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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… 

 

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

 

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I took one last look at Oia in the distance…

 

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and started walking down the steps to the church…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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staggering beauty below…

 

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the always understated elegance of Greek island churches…

 

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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… 

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

 

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cruise ships below…

 

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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…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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… 

 

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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 – Time

wheel

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…

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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