Tag Archives: greece

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

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Aegean seachange…

– “What on earth made you move to an island in Greece ? ”
– “If I need t0 explain it to you… you’ll probably never understand ! ”

Its July…. the island is teaming with people from all over the world. All age groups, all kinds of people, seeking to enjoy a holiday on the Greek islands. For many its a holiday they had planned for years, or a dream wedding, or an island-hop adventure, or a second visit to an island they fell in love with years earlier. Each visitor has a story…their own personal story.

Many people have been visiting the Aegean Design studio since it opened. A surprising number of people actually. Some happen to walk passed, others have heard about it somehow and seek it out. Most are very curious as to how it came about and they will ask questions… many questions. They want to know how, when, why and what. They want to understand, they want to hear the story and listen to the rational behind it. However…it often makes me wonder if they really want to know “our” story or do they want to mentally compare it to the story/vision/dream they themselves have deep in their minds.

You see I have a theory… my theory is that there is a seachange lurking inside everyone. Its like a short movie that plays inside their heads, over and over. Sometimes it has taken years to create the movie, other times the movie was started as a result of a more recent event like travel, seeing a documentary/travel show, seeing an image in a magazine or a web site or a blog. Some read a book or they have a long conversation with a friend about an old movie made in an “exotic” location. Whichever way the short “movie” was created in their minds it is now their dream, their personal mental adventure, their ultimate “escape” plan.

According to my theory most people ask a question about life on the island and as soon as I start telling them the story I can see their minds drifting. Their own movie kicks in (so to speak). Its not me they are thinking about…its themselves. How does my adventure compare with theirs, is that what they would’ve done, is that how they would’ve handled things. Their thoughts often spill out and they will say things like “I’ve always wanted to do that” or “my dream is a house in …..” or “I see myself doing that one day”. Other times they say nothing. They just tilt their heads and listen with a broad smile on their face…. and you can tell they are dreaming.

Not everyone dreams of a seachange on an island or another country of course. Some people simply want to move house or change a job, or pursue a career or achieve a goal. The term “seachange’ simply symbolises a burning desire, a passion, a dream (at least in my mind). The interesting thing is that from all the people I meet and talk to its those with a clear dream, passion and/or desire that seem happiest. They may not have accomplished it yet… but they know what it is and they are somehow working towards it.

Having that “short movie” in your mind may seem (to some) as a luxury, an indulgence or a guilty pleasure. But I see it differently. I see it as a driving force, a reason for being, a lifeplan.

I think everyone should purposely become the director of a short movie called “My Life”. Write your own script, scout your own locations and “choose” the role you want to play in it, as well as the roles for anyone else you want in the movie. Choose the soundrack of your life, the scenes you want in it, the surprises and the highlights. Choose your co-star/s and set out to cast your own movie rather than leave it to chance. In short…. be the director  and star of your own movie/life. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up being an “extra’ in someone else’s.

 

PS: promise to post a lot more that I did this past week. Lots of pictures and stories next week ;-)

The colours of Oia

A lot of people have the idea that Santorini…. and especially Oia is full of white, sugar-coated houses. But not so. Whilst the white-washed houses are many, the village of Oia is alive with colour…glorious colour !

 

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As it often happens with European and especially Mediterranean villages… somehow it all looks totally co-ordinated, even though its not.
From the sea… looking up, Oia looks like a master has painted it on the cliff face.

 

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These images offer only a tiny glimpse… but believe me when I tell you that colour is everywhere. The endless Aegean sea below maybe the backdrop, but the colours of Oia leave memories that last a lifetime.  

 

Oia Sunrise & life decisions

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”  

–  Beverly Sills

 

These words can burn in your brain like a red-hot syringe. For years they ran through my mind.

This morning I woke up early and had a coffee outside. This is what I saw…

 

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Oia – Santorini.

Yep…. good decision!

 

 


Mount Olympus & the Pantheon of ancient Greek Gods

There were a lot of places I wanted to visit as a child… like Pella (birthplace of Alexander) and Stagira (birthplace of Aristotle), but none were more important to me than Mount Olympus. It probably started with my ancient Greek history lessons while still a student in Greece, but it always stayed with me. The entire myth of the pantheon of the gods, their battle with the Titans over the mountain and the reverence of the ancient Greek people for the site fascinated me. To this very day I can imagine the ancients looking up at the mountain seeking guidance and spiritual enrichment. While it seems illogical to us now… one always needs to keep “context” in mind when dealing with history, ancient or otherwise.

This mountain represented everything that was sacred, powerful and spiritual to ancient Greeks. Everything that occurred in their lives was a result of the actions and wishes of the occupants of this mountain top. 

 

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The village under the mountain is a regular and favourite stop for me on the way to Northern Greece when visiting family. It’s a picturesque village in summer and a gorgeous wonderland of snow in winter. Litohoro is the popular starting point for all climbers and hikers of the mountain and it has grown considerably in recent years. The views of the mountain above and the coast line below make it a unique “alpine” village. It offers the best of both worlds in a tiny, spectacular package.  

 

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On the day that Alessi and I drove up there were clear skies and bright sunshine…unlike other times during winter when the whole mountain was covered in snow. During our last visit, fog and low cloud completely covered the peaks, making photography next to impossible. On this day however, it seemed perfect for our adventure… almost inviting us to explore and be enchanted by its beauty.

 

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It wasn’t long before the summit peaks became visible and the dramatic slopes became clear. I felt strangely privileged somehow. I can’t imagine the ancients ever contemplating climbing this sacred mountain. Evoking the wrath of the Gods was not something they would’ve risked…. electing instead to conduct pilgrimages to the low foothill sacred village of Thion. Being up here felt very special…    

 

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Then suddenly there they were….Poppy and her sisters, dancing in the light breeze,

 

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and the lush mountain scenery was breathtaking. It’s almost the middle of summer but the air was crisp and visibility perfect. The mountain wanted us to see it in all its mythical majesty….

 

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The whole of Mount Olympus was declared a national park in 1938 and the summit was first climbed back in 1913. It is known the world over as the mountain of the Gods and it’s name has been quoted in ancient history infinite times. It may not be the highest peak in the world…. but it must surely be one of the most famous mountains on this planet.  

 

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The whole mountain is covered in many different types of trees and this gives it unique colour depending on the time of year and the weather on the day. The lush green changes from light to dark almost hour by hour…. almost inviting you to sit and watch it. Once again….(like all sacred historical sites the world over) its one of those places that makes you think, your mind drifts and you go silent…lost in your own thoughts. 

 

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Suddenly…. in between the mountain conifers, we saw the summit peaks…the home of the ancient Gods. The Pantheon. Still covered in snow, it looked every bit as majestic as I had always imagined.   

 

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The map provides some context as to our viewing location….at Prionia. That’s as far as you can drive… at least in a normal car. But its far enough…

 

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it is my personal belief that nobody should be allowed to climb the summits of Mount Olympus. This is not a high peak by any measure, so it surely presents no challenge to mountaineers. It is a mystical, spiritual place and in my humble opinion it should remain untouched by day-trippers. Some things deserve to remain in the imagination…to be seen and admired from a distance. Olympus is not just a mountain…. 

 

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When I saw these my first thoughts were that for all of us that live in cities the world over… a visit to a mountain is something that should be compulsory. 
If only to remind us that no man-made structure could ever hope to match the beauty of nature. 

 

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Speaking of nature…. this is not “just” running water. Once again…if you live in a big city…. chances are you have never tasted “pure water”. It is a sad fact that all of us are now used to thinking that water purified with chemicals is perfectly “normal”. But…alas, it is NOT. This natural spring is fed from the mountain top and let me assure you…. you can taste the difference.

 

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As we started to make our way down we took one last look at the majestic mountain peaks in the background. The light had already changed and so had the colour of the tree-covered slopes….

 

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This is by no means a detailed overview of what you will find if you visit this part of Greece. There are waterfalls and streams, ravines and ancient caves
( some were once inhabited by hermits who became saints), monasteries and churches, beautiful small lodges & wonderful restaurants and of course…. magnificent ancient ruins at Thion (Dion), the sacred city of the ancient Greek world.

There are many picturesque mountain villages and miles of coastline below…. and then of course there is the mountain.

Not just any mountain….but Mount Olympus, home of Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite and and and …..

Hope you enjoyed our adventure ;-)

 

PS: for more information on Mt Olympus and surrounding area you can drop me a line on oiadweller at yahoo dot com

 

 

 

Oia Santorini – dreaming of a different life

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Santorini dreaming !

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mark Twain ii 

 

The image above was taken only days ago….but I had dreamed of the scene for 20 years. The dream was real all that time. It wasn’t a big dream, it wasn’t an extravagant dream. It was a simple dream…. of a different life!

Easter on Santorini.

 

eastereggs2Photo: kathimerini

 

Easter is the biggest celebration on the Greek calendar. Every church, every village & community will be decorating and celebrating in their  own unique way. This wouldn’t be an Oia Santorini blog, if we didnt rush around from village to village and capture as many Easter images as possible for you…..now would it?  Do drop in over the weekend to see how Easter is celebrated in Oia and around Santorini.