Tag Archives: house on santorini

100 posts – a centenary rave

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane…
by those who could not hear the music.”

Angela Monet

No doubt there are thousands of people who thought I was insane when I first came here… but perhaps Ms Monet is right, “they just can’t hear the same music… or in some cases, any music at all”.

[DISCLOSURE: It’s a stunning Sunday afternoon in Oia and although it’s against blogging rules… I am sitting down to write this with some lovely Santorini chilled Rose. This means there is every chance that this post will quite possibly suffer from a gradual but steady decline in poise, style, logic and eventually… reason].

It’s been about nine months since this notebook started it’s life as a blog. In that time there have been a number of things that have happened as a direct result of this digital diary. I have become aware of so many talented, creative, diligent, intelligent, funny and caring people who blog around the world. This has been the most pleasurable aspect of this whole experience. Another aspect of blogging that I have loved is the fact that it has motivated me to go searching this magnificent island for images that otherwise I might never have seen. I know this has been said before by endless numbers of bloggers… it’s cliché.. but, in my case at least, it’s true. I know for a fact that since this blog started I have been a lot more aware of photo opportunities, often my mind making mental notes about going back to a place to take pictures, or just quickly pulling out my small Pentax and clicking away.

This morning for example… it is was a  g l o r i o u s morning on Santorini, and my favourite large cruise ship is in port (Grand Princess), so rather than have coffee on the balcony at home I took everyone to the winery to enjoy the late-autumn sun and the “not so bad” view from up there:

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the volcano asleep in the deeeeeeep blue…

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the island bathed in winter sunshine and the ships floating in what
must surely be the most magnificent natural port in the world !

The autumn/winter light is truly magnificent… not nearly as harsh as the summer sunlight. In fact it’s almost like having a soft filter over your eyes as you look out to a view that, even after all these years, still triggers denial messages in my brain. This can not be real the brain says… you must be looking at a postcard or a photograph or a painting. Alas… it’s real !

It was quite different last night though… when we had one of our rather frequent power outages in Oia. The light wasn’t anywhere near as abundant as you see above. But then we are used to it, we are prepared for it and as you will see below… even that situation brings it’s own magic when you live in a cave house. We may not have had lights… but the small candle windows I dug when building this cave tend to add their own charm, in a humble sort of way:

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But enough of the cave…. even though I know that a lot of you want to read a lot more about it – I promise to be a good boy and write more about what it’s like to “live in a cave” in the near future .

In the meantime…this is the 100th post, so let’s get on with it.

There have been some great experiences in the past nine months as a result of this blog. I have discovered numerous other blogs by people all over the world who decided to “find their passion and make it happen”. I have also come across people who are elegantly expressing their passion through their blogs, be it for design, travel, cooking, languages or simply for “life” itself. It really is a wonderful form of self expression. Some bloggers are more diligent than others, some blogs have an agenda that’s not always discussed, some are clearly obsessed, some are simply expressing the hidden frustrations of the writer, some are hysterical, some are thought provoking and some showcase the hidden talents of incredibly creative people who are (for some unknown reason) stuck in a holding pattern…. living a life that is not yet fully aligned with their passion, or indeed their talent.

For me personally it has been difficult. Never been used to making my views and/or thoughts very public…. so this has taken a bit of getting used to. Having said that this blog was never going to be about cushion-covers or wall paint. Whilst I fully understand that most people are not really interested in my views and they simply come here to have a look at some island pictures…I was never going to hold back from writing about passion, dreams or the problem with feeling “comfortably numb”.

I am also extremely grateful that at least some of you agreed with me on the concept of “RESPECT – spreading the one-word message” and have gone out of your way to email your photos. Frankly… it’s worth maintaining this blog just to promote that simple message to anyone willing to visit & read that page, or becomes motivated enough to write our message on some spot of their favourite part of the world.

In the coming weeks the blog will change… but I have decided to keep it going.

There is much to be done on this island and the blog will help raise awareness on many issues. There are also a lot of places to see and discover in Greece and indeed all over Europe. I very much look forward to exploring and sharing these with you.

To all those that have visited and left your comments regularly…  I thank you sincerely. Your comments have encouraged, challenged, inspired and sustained my writing.

To all you “lurkers” that visit the blog often and never leave a comment…shame on you. If something is worth reading, then its worth commenting on… good, bad or indifferent. Still, I’m a nice guy and as Neil Diamond said to the tree-people during the Hot August Night concert “I’m singing for you too”…

But seriously… you should  consider “coming out”. Not much fun writing to yourself…and even less fun writing for ghosts.

In keeping with blogging tradition on the occasion of the 100th post…here are some things about me you may not know (you may or may not give a
flying fig about all this of course and I wouldn’t blame you… but here it is anyway)  ;-)

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Not easy writing things about yourself, so I figured  we can start with the questionnaire used  on the guests invited to “pretend school”, sorry…. Actors Studio.

Favourite word: I have two (or one and a combo).

– simplicity

– understated elegance

Both represent a way of being and a personal style that I admire greatly.

Least favourite word: (another combo) reality-TV

A sound or noise you love: At the end of a long day… get a crystal/glass tumbler, pour some single-malt whiskey (or your favourite drink) in it and “two” ice cubes. Then bring it to your ear, close your eyes and shake….

A sound or noise you hate:  Hmmmm… lots of those. Sound of people nagging about all that’s wrong with the world… but never doing anything about it  OR politicians starting a speech by saying “my fellow ………ns”

A profession other than yours you would love: Architect, Disney Imagineer

A profession you would hate: Politician

Your favourite curse word: Depends on mood…

If God exists…what would you like him etc etc etc: Just a BS question …not worth an answer !

Other nonsense:

Fave cuisine: Mediterranean / Japanese. Having said that, I am an absolute foodie…so most good food cooked well is a delight to me.

Fave meal: Linguini a la vongole… I have tried hundreds around the world, but I think I make the best, if I say so myself (it’s only taken me 25 years lol).
I love the ritual of the dish and I think that fresh clams and pasta are the perfect flavour combination.

Fave flavour/taste: Norwegian smoked salmon… with a squeeze of lemon juice and ‘nothing else’.

Fave band of all time: that would be Floyd… (the pink variety)

Fave music: Love most kinds… but jazz is my music, with classical a close second. Oddly enough… i love classical for the perfection of composition by the masters, where as I love jazz for its’ improv beauty… the imperfections that make it unique. What master Miles used to call the “one-note off” sound.

Fave instrument: Cello… the only instrument that comes close to a human voice. Many focus on the melancholy of it, but for me… its the resonance !

Fave country: Europe…. yes yes yes, I know it’s not “a” country… yet. But I love being in it. Love being a European and I love having the incredible choices that it offers me in terms of travel, culture, endless discovery and experiences. I want a T-shirt with “my name is M… I’m a European” !

Fave city: Rome – the city, the people AND the coffee (the only place in the world you will find a barista dressed better than the patrons… and the patrons are often dressed to kill ).

Fave mode of travel: train (the slow-luxury kind), ship (the old-luxury kind)

Fave sport: Test cricket

Fave insult: “he is not a Greek God…he’s just a god-damned Greek” (from the inimitable Brian G. upon meeting his daughter’s new boyfriend).

Fave words of wisdom: “when it’s all said and done Michael…it’s only the great adventures you remember” (from the unique & wise Rex Lopez).

Biggest regret: There can never be enough years… enough lifetimes, to learn all the things I want to learn about !

Something you completely believe in but can’t prove:

1.  Every city has the newspapers it deserves

2.  In every news story you read… the first two lines are the news. After that its personal opinion.

3.  Nothing is beyond the reach… of the singularly motivated human mind.

Fave quote about women: “Passion is the best make-up for a woman… but, cosmetics are easier to buy” ~  Yves St.Laurent

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Sisterhood of Travelling Pants & Summer Lovers

Although neither of these movies will ever enter the Movie Classic Hall of Fame… you would be amazed how much interest there still is about where they were made.

Just so happens that the houses used for both films are only metres apart… and if I lined up the shot I figured we could get both in one pic:

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 Travelling pants in the foreground (blue door) and Summer Lovers in the background. Both silly films… but the scenery has mesmerised people worldwide ever since. I can’t blame them.

Just as an aside… the “Pants” house almost became my office of sorts… but the owner asked a bit too much than I was willing to pay for what is really just a small room with a bathroom. A friend has since rented it and currently lives there.

So to all of you movie buffs…there they are as promised.

I will be doing more on the Summer Lovers house soon…including some close-up pics of the inside and owners ;-)

Need to apologise for not posting as frequently as I normally do…but a lot is happening here and time has been against me. I did however manage to take Alessi and Rex for a sunset walk this evening and we took some good shots. Lots of people in Oia at the moment enjoying the great weather and fabulous sunsets. More on that tomorrow…

Whilst I was (as usual) watching the sunsetters, Alessi noticed that Rex had found a friend.

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I think she’s cute…

I hope you can drop by for a real Oia Santorini sunset treat tomorrow night ;-) 

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.

 

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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?

 

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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….

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TIP OF THE HAT

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 – 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 ;-)

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

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

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

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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…

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

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

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

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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 – Sunset magic

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There are sunsets and there are sunsets. But the sunset in Oia? 
Well….that’s in a class of its own! 

 

The rare times that I go to watch the sunset I usually take more photos of the “sunsetters” (the hundreds that flock to Oia nightly). Its fascinating to watch people as they watch the sun sink in the Aegean horizon. But every now and then something special happens. This photograph was taken by Allison (my wife) late last summer… 

 

 

Oia Santorini – Time

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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

 

Oia Santorini – the Great Walk of Santorini part II

Thank you for your great response to our first part of the walk last week…. your comments are always appreciated !

It’s an odd thing, I don’t think there are many people that haven’t seen an image of Santorini somewhere… be it on TV, magazines, movies. Yet there is so much of this island that most people have never seen (including locals). Last week we brought you images of the middle part of the great walk between Oia and Fira. This week Alessi and I went on another adventure… doing the first part of the great walk (closest to Oia). Once again we were stunned by what we saw.

By the way… just for the record, the whole family was invited to join us…. but alas, the girls don’t do mornings.

 

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Once again we started walking up the path… many of you asked if its an established path? The answer is YES.
It took years to make, but as you will see it was worth the effort…

 

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Oia was behind us and my island (well it s not “my island”, but its under my house so I’m claiming it  lol ) was looking like a little dot
in the blue caldera (btw, since a few of you have asked… the name of the small island below Oia is St. Nicholas – tiny church on it in honour of the saint –
but thats another “special post”). 

 

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As we got higher the magic started to unfold in front of us…

 

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Tiny little memorial (with scripture inside)… 

 

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as always… overlooking the village is a picturesque little church. A lot of history here, but we had a long way to go
so we kept walking… 

 

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the path leads higher, but its easy to walk and the scenery keeps your mind off the climb…

 

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some of these retaining walls were built centuries ago… one can imagine the Venetian soldiers
(who had several forts on this island) walking
along this same path…

 

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no doubt the path would look different in the middle of summer… but at this time of the year
the hills are wearing their most vivid colours. Then… we were almost at the top and the view opened to this!

 

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suddenly it was an assault on the senses. We looked around us…

 

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behind us was Oia in the distance…

 

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above us was the small church we knew signalled the top of the hill. But, to our right…. well to our right was something extraordinary…

 

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its views like this that make you start whispering to yourself…

 

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we walked closer to the small church…

 

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tiny ancient outbuilding next to it…

 

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the church is modest, humble…the very essence of simplicity. 
Its’ understated elegance speaks volumes about the island, the country and its’ people.

 

The following images, photographed from the courtyard of this church…don’t need words. At least not mine. I couldn’t possibly do the images justice.
Let your own mind create words for what you see…

 

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there are times when words are simply inadequate…

 

 

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Look closely…a third of the way down the edge of the cliff there is a little white church. Its below Imerovigli, facing the volcano
and its under an old Venetian fort. Next Sunday we will take you there…

Hope you enjoyed the walk with us ;-)

 

You can read part one of our Great Walk adventure here 

 

Note: All pictures are subject to international copyright laws and can not be used in any form without permission.