Tag Archives: greek islands

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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on a hot August night…

Every year on the 15th of August I have a quiet glass of wine with family and friends… partly because it’s almost always a hot august night, but also because I am another year older.

This year it was no different… except now days the quiet wine is usually had at my favourite taverna… watching what many call the best sunset anywhere.

It was certainly a hot August night… in fact every night this August has been hot. The “meltemi” winds did not appear in late July as always… and the island got hot, very very hot. This means people spending all day at the beach and going out at night after sunset. The tavernas, bars & cafes filling up and the buzz of summer echoing through the whole village. For the casual visitor it is the only way they know Oia… but for me it is a welcome sight after months of winter and relatively quieter spring. Seeing happy, relaxed, tanned people enjoying romantic dinners by the water is what island life is all about . You know that each table has it’s own story to tell… each couple or group of friends having planned this holiday for months and often for years. They are finally here… Oia Santorini, at sunset. You can feel the magic in the air…
M

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 in August – a “wall of love”

Summer is in full swing and Santorini, as always in August, is buzzing. Planes unloading thousands of people (an inbound flight every 20 minutes), fast ferries running back and forth from Athens and other islands… and of course cruise ships. Santorini gets more cruise ships than just about any other place in Europe… including Venice.

For many it’s their first visit, but for others it’s a much awaited return to the island of their dreams. They all come to experience the magic, the mystique, the secret allure that this island has.

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Some will sit quietly and enjoy a coffee…. with a “view”!

 

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This is one of my fave coffee shops in Fira. Coffee is good and although
the view looks like it’s a huge outdoor poster ad for cruise ships…
believe me folks, it’s real !

 

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Below there are all kinds of boats & ships…

 

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Each day bringing thousands of dreamers to the island of romance…
 

 

But not everyone sits and stares at the view for hours in Fira. Thousands make their way to Oia daily and in doing so they pass the “wall of love”… where lots of couples stop and leave a small dedication to each other.
 

wall of love

It’s a curious thing that happens. Somehow, every summer, love messages start to appear on this black volcanic cliff face. Couples look for white pebbles, or even bring their own and proceed to piece together love messages for all to see.

 

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From the spray painted “I love you” written in Greek, to tiny little hearts with initials… the romantics stop and let the thousands of passers by know of their feelings for one another.

 

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Over the years it has become a wonderful tradition which gives the young lovers a forum to express their feelings to the rest of us. They almost always work on their masterpiece together… kiss upon completion & try to find someone, anyone… to take a photo of them standing in front of it. 

Love is grand isn’t it?

Long live the romantics of this world !

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Big thank you to the lovely Carla Coulson for her wonderful piece earlier this week… inspirational words from a woman passionate about her chosen art form. Thanks Carla… enjoy your holiday xx

I hope the “Find your passion” posts will inspire other people to share their passion with all of us as part of this theme. If you have found your passion, or know of someone, please let me know… would love to hear from you!

PS: August is Vedema (harvest) month on Santorini. If you know anything about the wonderful wines of Santorini, or would like to, then don’t miss the next post.

Wave from the cave to all of you ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ;-)

Oia Santorini – beauty in simplicity

Psssst… want to go for a walk with me?

Won’t take long and I promise you it’s worth it.

Let me take you by the hand (so to speak ;-) ) and show you a small part of my village… the colour, the architecture, the attention to detail, the beauty in simplicity!
 

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a balcony… with view!

 

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and one with a flag…

 

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a roof top with some colour…oh, and a view,

 

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and a hidden garden that other tourists won’t get to see…

 

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simplicity in design and function…

 

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understated elegance…

 

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and clean simple lines…

 

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a simple root top garden…

 

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and attention to detail… even for signage

 

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of course it helps if your friend and neighbour is a world famous iconographer… you know who I mean!

 

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At the end of our walk I’ll take you to one of my fave spots for dinner and sunset watching… Kastro restaurant.

 

Just a little walk through my neighbourhood. Did you enjoy it?

;-)

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Tip of the hat

 

The lovely Ingrid from Vita Lenta nel Bel Paese has honoured this blog with an award which is very gratefully accepted. I am supposed to nominate 15 new winners which I will try hard to do tomorrow. Thank you so much Ingrid x

 

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I also wanted to say a big thank you to Lucy from   Enchanted by Josephine   (now here is a lady with several passions in life) for giving this small blog it’s first award several weeks back. Although I acknowledged it in the comments I never publicly thanked her…only because I was very new at this and really had no idea how it was all done. Thank you Lucy…sending you a big hug from Oia x


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oia Santorini… some enchanted evening

This week is all about Oia.

I will show you views, architecture, restaurants, shops, alleys & steps, doors, colour and people…. lots of people. Oia is alive once again and I think it’s time we had a closer look at her and her enchanting magic.

First up I wanted to show you what happened below the house as I sat out the front last night. It was an unusual night… the weather playing games with us and the rolling clouds creating some fantastic images. It was June 21st … the longest day of the year. The light was changing every ten minutes and down below me…well, all kinds of things were happening. Let’s take a look together:

 

let it be

First…”Let it be” arrived. It’s a private yacht that visits often and docks at Armeni…a tiny port below us.

 

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Then the clouds started to roll in… but the caldera below was already a hive of activity.

 

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I looked to my left and saw Imerovigli almost covered in rolling cloud…
 

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the first of the sail boats had picked up it’s load of sunsetters and was heading out to the middle…
all on board with cameras in hand.

 

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Soon there were all kinds of boats trying to get the best position for sunset watching…

 

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and as the sun was setting Imerovigli was glowing under the cloud.

 

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I went in to get my small tripod for night shots and when I came back out I found Allison like this…
I think she was enjoying the view!

 

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After the sun sank gently into the Aegean, the sunset boats started heading back to port…

 

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and the larger ships paraded in front of us… heading towards other Greek island magic.

 

All this happened within an hour and a half. The clouds added a special touch to the whole experience… and the sun-setters were happy. They were sailing off and their cameras were blinking like Christmas lights from the boats below. Another enchanting evening in Oia…. another set of experiences for hundreds of people that will be talking about this sunset for years to come. Santorini weaving it’s magic yet again…