Tag Archives: living your dream

Lifestyle Seachange… do you have what it takes?

It’s that time of year again… people have either booked their holiday or are planning it for next year. The approaching summer seems to be the trigger in people’s minds. They start thinking about what it would be like to be on holidays somewhere, what it would be like to live somewhere else…what it would be like to change their lifestyle completely. The seachange has been in their mind for a while, quietly brewing away… and now suddenly it surfaces. Sometimes it can go on simmering for years, other times it happens very quickly (depending on personality and circumstances). Suddenly people want to know things – how much does it cost to buy a house in Oia, how easy/hard is it, how does one go about it, where does one start?

There could be any number of things that trigger an epiphany. From something as basic as a “birthday”, to a separation, a divorce, a story you read about, a movie you see, a death of someone you know or a dinner you have with a friend who is about to do something considered “radical”. All of the sudden you find yourself in bed wide awake… your mind racing, wondering, roleplaying. Can I, what if, I should’ve, I could’ve… the little voices in your head start to whisper to you… torturing you. The dreamer in you starts to wonder… while the always restrictive, logical “coach” tries to talk some sense into you. Wouldn’t be just wonderful… says the dreamer voice – yeah… but don’t even think about, too many things to take care of here first… says the coach.

Welcome to the mental state I call “threshold”. Although the word is used in many different ways… my definition is derived from aviation. A Qantas pilot once explained to me the more technical details of what “threshold” means during take off and landing…. but the thing that I remember and kept is that “crossing threshold means COMMITMENT”.  Once you have gone over that line, invisible or otherwise, you are “committed”.

So people find themselves awake in bed… lengthy dialogues between the dreamer and the coach taking place, arguments back and forth, considering options, debating, more dreaming, visualizing, wishing and/or planning. Threshold is either crossed or it becomes like a solid granite wall 20 metres thick. My guess is that 1% cross over and “commit”… the rest run head-first into the granite and then either drop dead or walk around in a daze for weeks/months or even years. Crossing threshold… or even approaching at the required speed is not for the faint hearted. As I said to someone who asked me to define threshold… “it is the ultimate bullshit filter”. It’s put up or shut up territory… go big or go home.

So now we’re back to the enquiries…. how much is a house in Oia, can I find a 2/3/4 bedroom on the cliff (for under 300k…. because Greece is in a crisis isn’t it? )….. etc etc etc etc etc etc ad infinatum….

My answer is simple… if you want it, come and get it. The how, where and how much you will find out when you’re here. The only question in your mind should be… is the place worth the effort? and if you don’t know the answer to that by now then get ready to experience what crannium hitting granite feels like !

* * * * * *

Haven’t posted any pictures for a while so here are some of my favorites from the past couple of months… enjoy ; )

below is the view of the old fort from a special place…
the “Summer Lovers” villa

a floating resort leaving at night….

Oia at night…. at least my neighborhood..

dinner at Ammoudi… never fails to impress

and one of my favorite shots of all time in Oia… sail boats just after sunrise
magical sight….

Have a great summer everyone….

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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 !


Santorini Dreaming – a dream comes true…

This is a happy story… a romantic story… a story of dreams and hope. It’s about daring to dream and giving yourself a chance to have your dream come true. It’s about “putting yourself in the running” for life’s delicious twists of fate. It’s about backing yourself to win the big prize… it’s about stepping up and believing in yourself. In Australian parlance it’s about “you will never know… if you don’t have a go”.

Some time last year a guy… who happens to live in a cave in Oia, had an idea. Why not give someone out there a chance to “live their dream”. Not just to visit Santorini… but to stay in the best possible hotels and to experience a once-in-a-lifetime holiday on this mesmerising island. So he announced a contest asking people to write about their own dream holiday on Santorini…the way they imagine it…the way they dream of spending time on Santorini if money was no object.

The people responded in numbers.

One girl had a dream… so she wrote an essay, an essay which she planned meticulously … an essay which she took very seriously because she believed it could result in an incredible life experience for herself and her husband.

The girl send her essay to the guy in the cave… and he liked it. The girl’s short essay won the “Santorini Dreaming” prize.

This past week, the girl –  named Christa – was on the island with her husband Tom… and they got to live their dream. They got to live it in style, staying at what I believe are the best two hotels on the island (Andronis Luxury Suites in Oia & Volcano View Villas in Fira). They got to enjoy romantic time alone, as well as time doing the things they had dreamed about. They also got to enjoy some grilled octopus and a glass (or three) of ouzo with the caveman… as promised.

Here is just a glimpse of Tom & Christa’s Santorini Dream holiday:

For their first night we had arranged for them to have a romantic dinner at the Andronis exquisite cliff-top dining area…

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

The photo above has Oia in the background…but just in case you have forgotten what the Andronis cliff-top dining area looks like… here are a couple of reminders…

(Andronis Luxury Suites)

there aren’t many people that sit at this spot and not pinch themselves…
to make sure they are not dreaming ! (Andronis Luxury Suites)

let’s face it …no Santorini dream holiday is complete without cocktails
in a cliff-top infinity pool (Andronis Luxury Suites)

or some quiet time gazing at the deep blue caldera… (Andronis Luxury Suites)

Following their time at the Andronis hotel in Oia… Tom and Christa moved to another hotel (Volcano View VIP Villas) just outside Fira. This time they didn’t just have a suite in a luxury hotel… they had their very own luxury villa, with it’s very own swimming pool and its very own villa manager to look after them. My old friend Niko made sure that the happy couple had the best of everything and they got to enjoy three nights of dreamy luxury on the cliff top of Santorini.

there is no place like the Volcano View villas anywhere else on the island. This is the private domain
of movie stars…Arab sheiks…heads of state and of course (ahem…) Christa & Tom !

somehow I think even Christa’s wildest dreams didn’t have anything like this
in the script…

one can only imagine what Tom (from Buffalo NY) was writing
to his family and friends back home…  (Volcano View VIP Villas)

as he always does…Niko made sure that Christa & Tom would remember this…
for a looooooooooooooooong time to come !
(Volcano View VIP Villas)

But despite all the luxury and the surprises, the organising and the excitement… this is really a very simple story. It was about dreaming… daring to allow yourself the pleasure to dream. Giving yourself a chance to make your dream come true. That, to me, was the very essence behind my original idea for the competition… to make someone’s Santorini dream come true.

From the hundreds of photos taken…I think the following image captures beautifully what the whole thing was about…

just a girl… and her dream !

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I would like to express my gratitude to Andronis Luxury Suites and Volcano View VIP Villas for their generosity and their endeavours to capture the spirit of this contest. My thanks go to Milto Andronis, as well his manager John  and all staff, for making sure that the couple had a very memorable stay at their hotel. I would also like to thank Niko at Volcano View Villas. He is already a legend with his VIP guests so we don’t to further inflate his ego… however there is nobody on this island that can look after guests better than him. If you are looking for the most romantic luxury hotels on Santorini you will not find better !

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

PS: despite some initial trepidation… the Santorini Dreaming short essay contest was very enjoyable to arrange. I would like to thank all those that participated by sharing their dreams with all of us. I hope you all show your support to the sponsors of the contest and I look forward to perhaps arranging a similar contest later in the year… M

PPS: you can read Christa’s winning essay here...

One day…I will

It’s June… and Santorini (unlike a lot of other destinations this year) is starting to get busy. Not quite August-busy yet… but busy enough given the times we are all living through on a global basis. The cruise ships are starting to arrive in numbers (3-5 daily) and the hotels all over the island are filling up. This means people in the streets… and for us people in the shops too. Lots of people… which also means lots of interesting conversations with people from all over the world.

Funny thing happens here… people come, they experience what I call “nature’s perfect storm” of sensory overload and they start to wonder. They wonder about living here, about making the big lifestyle change, about adventures on a Greek island, about magical sunsets, balmy evening walks on beautiful beaches and midnight swimming in crystal clear waters. They wonder about being able to wake up in the morning, walk out their front door with a coffee and be greeted by what is (I believe) the most sublime view on this planet. They wonder about having dinner with friends at a waterside taverna… with crystal clear waters below them and the sound of relaxed people all around them… looking at small fishing boats seemingly floating in the air (the water below them being so clear its almost invisible). They wonder what it’s like to walk through the little narrow lanes and go for dinner or drinks at one of the almost countless bars and restaurants the island has to offer. They wonder what it will feel like to feel free of daily city rituals, to not have to drive in traffic or hear sirens before they even get out of bed. They wonder what it would feel like to go for their morning walk… along the cliff-tops of Santorini. To look out and see things so beautiful that the brains finds almost impossible to comprehend. They wonder…

They also ask a lot of questions. What’s it like… what made you do it… was it hard/difficult… how did you decide? How much does it cost… is it easy to find a house… is it easy to renovate… what’s it like in winter? Their brain obviously switching from left to right thinking. Practical… then romantic… then back to practical… and back to romantic. They run scenarios through their heads… they pose questions and they attempt to address all the issues their “logical” self is putting forward. Some get very excited… others get quite frantic, almost beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of living here. They can “see it”… “feel it”.

Holiday over… it’s always hard to board planes and boats, go through airports and long flights home. Long conversations take place and no doubt lots and lots of notes written. All kinds of planning, to-do lists… must-do lists and must-think about lists are drafted and discussed. Alternating between the “logical” self and the “romantic/instinctive” self… they go through all kinds of issues in an attempt to rationalise what is seemingly a “huge move”… the BIG lifestyle change.

Then they return to work, daily routines, morning sirens, traffic and what they have generally grown to accept as “real life” sets in. They still look at the photos, they watch the videos and they go online searching for houses and the “perfect abandoned cave in need of some renovation”. They talk, they plan and… inevitably, they drift from their dreams (not all people mind you… but the large majority). The language changes from “I/we’re GOING to live on Santorini” to “one day…I/we will “.

Obviously Santorini is a metaphor here… you can substitute “Santorini”  for any place in the world… any goal in your life… any dream you have ever had. The issue is not “Santorini”… it’s the “one day”. It is one of the most dreadful, debilitating concepts ever devised by the human brain.
When is “one day”?  Is it proceeded by something that creates it? Is it a special day on which you will wake up a different man/woman and decide to change your life? Is it an age milestone? Is it a moment in life when you will definitively KNOW that it is time for a change? Is it several words uttered by a doctor with a very serious look on his/her face?

How do you/will you know when ONE DAY has arrived?

I don’t know why… I have no idea where or why it started, but I have always had a problem with the “one day” concept. I am a VERY patient man… and I will wait and wait and wait, till something is just right… or at least I think that the odds are working in my favour. But the “ONE DAY” is almost always something I am working hard to bring about… never waiting for it to simply happen. I remember visiting my parents every year for over twenty years whilst still living in Australia. Every year I would bring a present for my mother… almost always something to do with the kitchen (she loved her gadgets and small appliances for the kitchen). One day I asked what a cabinet at their holiday home was… what was in it?  I opened the cabinet and was stunned. There… in neat rows, all stacked away were most if not all of the small appliances I had brought her over the years. Forget the OMG moments… this was a WTF moment.

“What are all these things doing in here”? “One day… when we need them, we’ll use them” was the answer.

ONE DAY??? When is that ONE DAY?

The following year I made the trip home again. Unfortunately it was because I had lost my mother. That “One Day” never came.

If there is one thing I have learned in life… it’s this: If ONE DAY is part of your plans… put a line across it and substitute it with an actual date. A real date. Otherwise… “one day” never comes _

Oia Santorini: 1-year anniversary… reflections of a cave dweller

It was twelve months ago (just over actually) that I decided to start writing a public notebook about life in Oia. Somehow it seems longer… maybe because a great deal has been written or maybe it’s just been a long year. If I had known what I was getting myself into I probably wouldn’t have done it… but, “live with no excuses and love with no regrets” as they say…!

I think blogging should be called “Hidden… in full view” !

Don’t get me wrong… I have enjoyed every minute of it – well, in truth, maybe not “every” minute… but most of it. It’s a love-hate relationship really. I love the discipline it imposes on you… I use it as motivation to see and capture all the wondrous sights this mystical island has to offer. But on the other hand I dislike the “exposing” aspect… something I suspect a lot of bloggers who are usually fairly “private” people,  find difficult to get used to. I can certainly understand why some bloggers hide behind a pen-name. Now… again, don’t get me wrong. This little blog is not about to make me famous and there is no fear of being mobbed in the middle of Oia… unless its’ by donkeys or stray dogs in the dead of winter. That’s not what I’m talking about. By “exposing” I mean peeling layers off one’s self. Discussing things that have always been considered personal, private, out-of-bounds for people that know me… let alone total strangers.

The good news is that it does get easier the longer you do it… as in it gets easier to open up and talk freely about all kinds of things. I suppose the “mystics” and “new-age sensitives”will claim that openness is good for the soul and writing your thoughts is a good way to cleanse. But that’s the mystics… we all know they smoke bird droppings and talk to playing cards with pictures on them (they all inhale btw).

So here we are…a year later… and 139 posts later. Lots of words and lots of photos… which is what most people tune into this channel for. There are literally thousands of photographs I have taken in the past twelve months… only a small fraction of which have made it in this blog. Photography has been one of the most pleasurable aspects of blogging… and its something that I will continue to explore with great enthusiasm. Its a record in time… of the island, Oia, the cave house, the family and Greece… at least through my eyes & lens. The new blog design will highlight photos a lot more and also feature them in a more referenced way – I know its late in coming… but there are many things happening here which are taking priority at this point in time.

There are things one is supposed to do when reaching this milestone… but I don’t exactly know or don’t remember what they are, so I won’t bother. What I will do however is show some of my favourite photos from the past twelve months. There are too many to include in one post… so this week’s posts will be dedicated to the year that was. This is the first instalment  of memories from the past twelve months:

as a friend of mine said “this picture says it all” !


nature’s show…

beauty  in simplicity…

unforgettable Christmas eve image…

magical Aegean sunsets…

and mystical Aegean islands…

morning mist…

and stormy weather…

ancient sacred sites (300 Spartans)

and images that capture the essence of a Greek island village
in winter (Naxos)

religious traditions…

and magical moments in time…

the staggering beauty of this mystical island…

and the sheer pleasure of being able to experience and share it…

It’s been a great adventure… one which continues. I hope the “dedication” of this blog touches those “undecided” people… those who want to explore and pursue their dreams but who, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to as yet. I hope our adventures serve as reminders to people that you don’t have to be anything special to live your dream… you simply have to want to do it. To take a chance… to realise that the worst thing that can happen is that you may… just may feel “alive” again, doing what you have dreamed about for years. You may actually have some fun breaking your comfortable routine… and doing what most people will only ever talk about.

I’m not preaching… I just happen to believe that sometimes the greatest gift is to encourage people to answer their own prayers……

1001 Santorini nights

Santorini nights…will make you fall in love, will make you dream, will make you forget the world and lose yourself in the arms of your lover. Santorini nights will change you forever, will make you feel special…very very special. They will let your mind fly free and make your heart melt, will make you believe that everything is possible, that our world is a stunning place and that dreams really do come true if you “believe in yourself”.  


1001 Santorini nights

Just imagine it…

Can you?  

I have received so many emails with romantic stories from couples that have visited this island since I started this blog. Wonderful, inspiring stories. I have also heard from so many people that still haven’t managed to make it to Santorini… but dream about it daily. Many people who’s dream it is to come to this island… to “experience it”.

The “1001 Santorini nights” theme is all about these nights. If you have a story about a romantic night spent on Santorini… OR a romantic night you would like to spend on Santorini, I would love to hear about it ( oiadweller [at] yahoo [dot] com). Whether you have been here and you can tell us about it… or whether you have always dreamed about it and you can see it clearly in you mind…. tell us about it. 

What did you do… or what would you do?

If you have been here before you may just get to do it again… and if you haven’t been here but you have always dreamed of coming to Santorini, you may just get your wish ;-)

More details will be announced this coming Monday.

Havagreatweekend ;-)

PS: believe it or not the photo was taken by moi… so there !







Find your passion – Carla Coulson…in her own words

The words “Find your passion…make it happen” is the way this topic started. It was a post that was always going to be written… there is nothing I believe in more than “being passionate about what you do… being passionate about life”. But like “ideas”… passion is not enough. Everyone has ideas but its the execution that makes the difference. Finding your passion is only half the equation. Having the courage to make it happen is another thing altogether.

A few years ago I remember walking through Borders in Melbourne. If you enjoy reading then Borders is like the biggest candy store in town. Different sections depending on mood…you can sit and lose yourself. That day I walked through on my way to my usual sections (most fiction – with the exception of great spy novels – does nothing for me), biographies, business, philosophy, computer manuals (tragically boring …. I know). To get there I had to walk through the travel section and it was there that my eye first caught a glimpse of a book that made me stop. The book was called “Italian Joy” by Carla Coulson.    

If you love reading quality books about personal adventures, inspirational tales of self-discovery, people chasing their dream and making it happen…. not to mention totally sublime book design and simply great photography, then your collection is in my mind quite simply “incomplete” unless you have this book.

Carla left a comment in the “find your passion” post last week that made me think “damn… that’s it, finding your passion is like falling in love”. You just know it when it happens. You feel it. It consumes you !

Lucky for all of us… Carla also had the internal drive to “make it happen”. 

The following is all about Carla finding her passion… in her own inspirational words & images

“I remember distinctly the moment I fell in love with photography. I was standing in the darkroom at my photographic school in Florence, shrouded in silence and a soft red light.  I had developed my first ever roll of film and I was in the process of printing my first image, a little girl laughing. I put the exposed blank paper in the developer, rattled it from side to side and like magic, slowly an image started to appear. The longer I stayed watching the paper in the dark, the stronger the image became, until the little girl laughed right at me. I took my tweezers, gently picked up the photo, studying the blacks and the whites and all the shades in between. I marvelled at the transformation I had just witnessed and the beauty of holding something in my hands that I had created. I went back to the enlarger and picked another photo and repeated the exercise with the same wonder and enthusiasm. Bewitched, I stayed in the darkroom all day, and long into the night.

Since that day I have often thought about my relationship with photography. The closest emotion I have found to describe this relationship is like being in love. 

When you are in love with someone, there is no rhyme or reason as to what you will and will not do, you simply follow your passion. Time no longer matters, you will stay up all night just to listen to their voice or fly to the other side of the world to spend a week with them, when you know the bank account can’t take it. You will do anything for that person; you will fold their washing like it is the most important washing in the world or cross town late at night in the pouring rain to see them, and without giving it a moment’s thought. Love has no fatigue. Your heart leaps when the phone rings and almost breaks when the door opens and your loved one is standing in front of you with a bouquet of hand-picked flowers. The smallest gestures give you the greatest pleasure.

During that first day and night in the darkroom, a fire was ignited inside me. A big burning volcano of fire that still erupts and flows today, that has a life all of its own, as unpredictable as Etna or Vesuvius. It was the first time I remember being ‘in love’ with something that wasn’t a person. I was filled with an unending energy and enthusiasm for life, a passion I never knew existed and I learnt something incredible about myself that I would never have discovered otherwise. I was a passionate person!

I have waited poised, my camera in hand for hours praying the right person will walk into my photo dressed in the right clothes or walking with the right swagger. I have left the house in the rain, the wind and the snow searching for something special and walked up to perfect strangers entranced by their face begging for a photo. I have climbed to the top of a mountain at dawn lugging 40 kilos to get the best light possible and flown half way across the world on a photographic ‘hunch’. I have spent hours, weeks and months carrying my camera in Greece, Italy, France, Australia and India and I have enjoyed those heart flips when I have captured something truly wonderful on film. I have spent my last dollars travelling for a photo and if I could count the hours that I have spent on photography it would make no sense to anyone but me.

And I have never asked why? I just do it like someone in love.

Ten years ago, I gave up the unthinkable, a comfortable life, a cushy job and all the financial perks that go along with it, on a whim, to chase a life and a way of living that would ignite my soul. I gave up a secure future, an eventual superannuation fund and a possible golden handshake on retirement. I swapped all of this for an old camera, uncertainty and hope. In the past ten years my passion for my new way of living hasn’t dimmed.

My reward has been great. I have been rewarded with love. Love for this thing called photography and the relationships, people, places and pure pleasure that it has brought me. My camera has lead my down a path of its own, propelled me to do things I would never have done if it wasn’t by my side, propelled me into places and situations that would have otherwise passed me by. My camera has opened doors and worlds by simply existing and it has allowed me to communicate with people even when we don’t share the same language. My camera has opened up a whole new life for me on the other side of the world, in Florence and Paris, one I still can’t believe is true”.


Italian Joy









Carla Coulson – Photographer





Tip of the hat

That stylish woman from “My Notting Hill” has graciously given this little blog a mention… for which the caveman is very grateful. Speaking of finding your passion this lady has a passion for design which must be a considerable distraction from her consulting work. Lets hope she will be willing to tell us her story  as part of this series soon ;-)