Tag Archives: living in santorini

Oia Santorini… winter images of a village in hibernation

Thousands of daily visitors, hundreds of tour buses, sunset watchers, cruise ships… it’s non-stop cabaret for Oia during the long hot Greek island summer.

But then… comes winter. The village exhales. Serenity replaces chaos. Total and complete quiet takes over and the village rests. It slides into a familiar hibernation from which it will awake in late February. It’s a time to think, to contemplate, to walk alone and to listen to the voices inside you.

It’s a beutiful time…. in the world’s most beautiful village. Enjoy ; )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9dLrD-xjoc

 

 

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

Happy New Year – dream big & obey your dream !

To all readers new and regular…
I wish you a New Year full of health
great adventures
&
the fulfillment of your dreams !

Dream big… and obey your dreams…
don’t let others talk you out of them…
put a start date on your dreams…
don’t let anything stand in your way…

In the words of an old friend…

“when it’s all said and done…
it’s only the great adventures we remember !”

Happy New Year !

 

Oia in winter – calm before the storm

As you may have read in the previous post there were power disruptions… so this post is in fact a prequel to the last post about the stormy weather…

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Forecast was for storms… and it had been raining all day. Skies looking ominous and the big pond below me looking like a blue/grey silk sheet has been gently set over it. The pre-storm colors of the caldera (Santorini in general) are really quite incredible. Summer visitors never get to see any of this… but those brave enough to visit in winter get to enjoy the “grand show” that is a Santorini thunderstorm. The landscape is so dramatic… so overwhelming, that the gathering dark clouds of a big storm just make it look completely surreal. I have said on many occasions that this (the caldera) is the world’s greatest amphitheatre. It’s as if it was made to stage major shows… shows of a grand scale… shows for which no man-made venue could ever be considered suitable. In my mind… other than a major volcanic eruption, a major electrical  storm is the next best thing. So tonight… I thought I would go out just prior to the storm and take some photos of the neighborhood… under storm-lighting…so to speak.

there are many paths up to the village centre…all with a lot of steps
and each with it’s own unique charm…

the path I prefer  is a very winding narrow path that
weaves it’s way through the neighborhood… giving me time to soak in the details which, suprisingly… I find endlessly fascinating. Some of these houses, rocks, caves & retaining walls… have been here much much longer than most
of the western world countries have existed.

 

as I’m walking up the clouds are gathering fast…not a lot of time or light, left for photos …and the “big” show is about to begin…

 

the path meanders around all kinds of houses… old and new

 

in this case you can tell that although this house is old…. the renovations
and the “owners” are new…. this is why the house was freshly painted in
November. They obviously don’t know the effects of a winter in Oia can
have on a freshly painted house. They will be doing this again come March…
then, they will know !

 

the path reaches the last section…which is also the steepest… in summer,
by the time you’ve reached this stage you can hear what the diner’s at Lotza
cafe are whispering to each other – the acoustics on the caldera side are
quite incredible… but we won’t tell the tourists that ; )

 

It’s at this point that I like to stop for a sec and take in the daily/hourly-changing vistas below…this on the left side…

 

 

and this on the ride side. The  path corner behind the blue dome is a spot that offers fantastic views of the village looking back. I call it “Japanese corner”….
at least a million photos are taken from that spot annually… and that, is a fact  !

 

looking up… the captain’s houses are mostly empty… the section of the village
that you  hear the most laughter and cheer in summer….is now eerily quiet

houses have been locked down and boarded up in readiness for the
winter elements… which, on the caldera side can be severe…

 

the inimitable charm of Oia…. houses likes these were probably built more than
800 years ago (as was my house)… and have walls 2 feet thick…still lived in by
those lucky enough to have inherited them…. or made it their dream to
buy them…

 

one of my favorite spots on the whole island… the view being
quintessential Oia… iconic… stunning !
If you look on top of the highest dome on the right…you will see a tiny ball of black fluff…. her name is “Nugget”… my stray (one-eyed) cat…. a survivor,
always at the highest point looking out for danger (stray dogs).

 

The “marbles” as the main path is known by locals…. are empty, only
Dimitiri’s cave (icon painter – first arch on right) showing any sign of life…

Meantime the clouds had gathered and things were looking ominous. This was going to be a big storm….lightning had already started and looking spectacular, as they always are at this time of year in Oia. If I had better cameras I would’ve stayed there to capture the majesty that is a thunderstorm over the caldera… but alas my little Pentax and I were headed back. But before I left I had to take another iconic photo…one which millions have taken during the day… and night, during summer…. but hardly anyone gets to take in winter, just before a thunderstorm.

This villa… “Aspaki”, is perched 300m above sea level… with uninterrupted views … it is exquisitely painted and it elegantly stands watch over the caldera below. It’s been in thousands of magazines and no doubt exists in a million photo albums and slideshows… but I dare say not many people would have a photo of it in the middle of winter… so this is a treat.

PS:  All of the above was written for Thursday’s post… but as you read in the last post things went downhill soon after the last photo was taken. I was right that it looked like it was going to be a big storm and a fantastic show… and it was. But the storm (at least in some parts of the island) was a lot bigger and more fierce than what people tend to call “enjoyable”. It did a great deal of damage to the main town of Fira, as well as other parts of the island… but oddly it did nothing more than deliver plenty of water and an incredible light show to Oia itself. The old locals like to say that “Oia has a different God”… mainly because a lot of the weather that punishes the rest of the island rarely affects Oia the same way… maybe they know something that most of us “newbies” don’t.  But even to an atheist that saying sounded very true on Thursday night…

So…finally, after three days and many attempts, this post is complete. I hope you enjoyed the photos and I look forward to taking some more this week  ; ))

PS: If you want to glimpse at some of our Christmas decorations check out Allison’s latest post here . Have a great Sunday and an even better week… !

moments in time…that’s what it’s all about

That’s all we have you know… that’s what it’s about…. just moments in time.  Everything we experience is a moment in time. Our finest moments… our worst moments… our boring and sublime moments. They are all tiny segments of the continuum of life. Every photograph… every memorable song… every great holiday… every unforgettable meeting…. they are all moments in time. We see a thousand faces a day… but occasionally we turn and glance at a face… a seemingly extraordinary face… looking at us. Its a split second glance… which can sometimes lead to eternal love or a lasting memory. A split second in time… an unforgettable moment.

The human brain is an amazing instrument… so amazing that we have not even scratched the surface of it’s potential. Through all of our senses it captures and stores these moments in time. It has them neatly tucked away and when the right stimulus comes along… it serves us with a “vivid memory” that can be so powerful…at times so overwhelming… that we feel like we are experiencing that “moment in time” all over again. It can make you smile… it can make you frown… it can make you sad… or it can make your day. It is one of the most powerful forces known.

But for the brain to capture and store… it needs to feel that it is “worth capturing”… that it is indeed a special moment. This will only happen if we are open to appreciating these moments… if we are allowing ourselves the sheer pleasure of savouring the special moments.  In most cases we are so damned busy “planning” and “scheming” that we forget to enjoy the moment. We forget that right now is all we have. The future hasn’t happened and yet and the past is history. Right now is what it’s about… and unless you have the presence of mind to realise that… the right now will also become history. Nothing but a blurred memory because we didn’t take the time to enjoy it as it was happening…in real time. We didn’t seize the moment.

Not understanding the moments in time concept has many negative derivatives.  The worst of these is the ultimate torture…. the dreaded “if only”. If only I had spoken to her/him… if only I had “gone for it” instead of hesitating… if only I had tried…if only I had stopped long enough to enjoy it. The list is endless… and only because we didn’t have the presence of mind to understand the “moment”. That fleeting moment in time which held so much promise… if we  had only “grabbed it” and made it ours.

I vividly remember the night following my first glance of my island home. Following the morning inspection and subsequent discussions… I drove into Oia that evening and took photos of the village then came down to the empty house and just sat on the roof. Glanced out across the caldera and the distant lights of the other villages. It was summer so the heat made all the distant lights flicker like a Christmas tree. I remember thinking to myself  “this is what it will be like”. This is what it will feel like to sit out here with a glass of wine and just relax….
It was a moment in time… but one that I stopped long enough to soak up. It burned in my memory… and I often called on it during the seemingly endless running around when trying to finalise the purchase of the house. That “moment in time” became the anchor… it was my  “end in mind”.

Now it’s different… but I am no less sensitive to “moments”. My sense of presence is acute… and I try very hard to not let familiarity dull my senses. I still glance at my morning view as if it’s the first time… and will more often than not run in to get my camera for a shot like this:

I shot this with morning coffee today. I’ve taken this photo a thousand times…
but I will never take this view for granted.

This afternoon the view… as always… was different again. Most people that live
here would not even look at this twice… I prefer to see it as if it’s the first time !

this is the view I saw from my roof… just try to imagine it at night
with the distant village lights flickering…an unforgettable moment for me…
an inspiring moment !

The moment you realise that it’s all about moments in time… you start to see things differently. You appreciate the moment… you realise that it IS a fleeting moment and you may never see/experience it again. You stop assuming about life… that things will still be there later, or the next day or the next year.
They might… but YOU might not.

As always this is not intended to be a lecture… it’s just a cave dweller thinking out loud. It’s nothing new to any of you. But I do believe it’s worthwhile reminding ourselves… “appreciating moments in time… that’s what it’s all about” !

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I hope that many of you are busy writing your Haiku poems. I am looking for some inspiring words about the island…words from those of you that have visited and feel in love with it… or those of you that have fallen in love  from a distance. What is it… what do you feel…what do you dream about… what does Santorini mean to you. I want to read words that capture the spirit..the very essence… the true meaning of Santorini to you !

Trust me when I tell you that the prize will make you the envy of all your friends and family at Christmas. have had quite a few emails asking for more time… seems that putting three lines together IS a lot harder that writing pages lolol…
funny that ; )))

Entries now close this Thursday 25th Nov (was going to be Wed but I usually post on a Thursday so you get an extra day ). Try your best and have fun with it.
Let your imagination free… there is a poet in all of us!!

the mellow season…

Autumn is a funny season… instead of the frantic pace of the more vibrant spring… autumn is much more mellow. The pace is easier and nature seems to be in no hurry. Everything seems to move in a slower motion to early spring. Even the leaves take their time to slowly change their colours and then…fall patiently. There is no hurry in autumn. Even the weather seems in no hurry to suddenly change. One day it’s cloudy… the next day it’s sunny again. The special autumn sunshine has inspired many a wordsmith and many a verse has been written about the stillness of autumn.

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”
–   Elizabeth Lawrence

On my small island autumn is a favourite season for many reasons… not the least of which is the “light”. There is no better time of the year to take photographs in my opinion. The light is soft…gentle. It makes the scenery seem serene… at ease.

“O suns and skies and clouds of June,
and flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather”

But autumn can also be moody… bright sunshine can give way to dark clouds.. rolling in like a thick blanket. The scenery it creates here is beyond words.
Even Rex had to sit in quiet contemplation !

The steps to Ammoudi are no longer filled with tourists… only the village dogs.

The sunset restaurants are still busy… but the pace is different. people linger all afternoon instead “running” to catch the sunset. There is no hurry in autumn.

This bride and her groom would have been trampled on if this was August… but it’s not. It’s October… and they can relax. Although if you notice the difference in clothing between the bride and the gent with the jacket you would know that this bride probably wishes it was August…

The very next morning the colours were very different again… but no less sublime. The dark skies a reminder that the season of change is upon us. A welcome change from the unrelenting heat of summer and the seemingly infinite number of tourist buses. Autumn takes care of all that… in a gentle and seemingly effortless way. The mellow season has it’s own way..with everything & every one!

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For those of you interested in seeing a sample range from Aegean Designs please search for “ad shop” on Facebook and send us a friend request… mentioning you are a blog reader. We will  give you access as soon as possible and would love your feedback. More on this in Thursday’s post. Wave from Oia ~~~~~

The greatest painter in the world…

Everyone has witnessed nature’s unique displays of indescribable beauty at some point or rather in their life. Whether it’s a sunset, a cloud formation, a sunburst or a sublime sunrise… we’ve all seen them. Sometimes we are lucky enough to capture them… other times we are left wishing. One of the greatest pleasures of living in Oia has been the privilege of seeing natures work from a very unique vantage point. From the early morning sunrise… to the most magical sunsets, to the zen-like stillness under a blood-red sky. There is nobody that can paint like nature does. And if you doubt me… let me just remind you of some of her work over the past twelve months:

~ no words needed ~

the greatest painter in the world…

mother nature !