Tag Archives: oia in winter

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

Exquisite Moments…

To paraphrase an anonymous quote…

We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents.
We do not choose the time of our birth, the country of our birth,
or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing.
We do not, most of us, choose to die;
nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death.
But within this realm of choicelessness….
we do choose how we live.

Long ago I learned that life is not one long “spectacular, glamorous event”… it is not one big party, or living on the crest of a wave. It is not about chasing instant gratification or eternal bliss….

It is about appreciating the special moments… the exquisite moments in life. Sadly… most people are usually too busy chasing the aforementioned to even notice them…let alone truly appreciate them. Yet… these are life’s real treasures. Those moments in time… the exquisite moments !


Beautiful weather, like being in love, is a philosopher’s stone which turns our ordinary days to gold. But not the whole day … For it is never the whole day, never all our life which is transformed in any happiness, but only the exquisite moments.

– Nan Fairbrother

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… !

An empty village & a winter’s sunset

It’s cold…it’s wet…it’s windy. It’s almost the middle of December and…well, winter has finally arrived on Santorini. Over the weekend the temperature  probably dropped by 8-10 degrees…. but still a comparatively mild 5c today.
I say comparatively mild because friends in Frankfurt were telling me that it was -7 during the day and a brain-numbing -16 at night. Yes… it’s winter in Europe, and what a wonderful thing that is…

Here in Oia the temps are nowhere near what our German friends have to endure, but it’s cold enough to keep tourists away. The village is quiet again… very quiet (read: empty). My favorite time of the year has come around again… so I thought it was about time I took you for what has become our annual winter-sunset walk, just so you can see what I see at this time of the year.

10am… if this was summer there would be hundreds of people walking
“the marbles”. Today….it’s just moi!

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looking the other way…. it’s still just me

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even the kids at Atlantis (bookshop – on the left..resident all year) have not bothered to open their doors on this miserable, wet morning.

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Rex as always is on the look out… but all he can spot is the sublime sunburst

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and guess who is all grown up now…. and copying his big brother

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winter sunsets have a different charm to those of hot summer… a lot more
subdued, a lot more subtle. I prefer them…

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this was a cold evening by Oia standards… and quiet, very very quiet..

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the Kastro restaurant terrace is now empty… the sunset watchers long gone,
the house of the “Sisterhood of traveling pants” (blue door) is in need of repairs and the Summer Lovers house (center-top of the picture) is all boarded up

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the path leading to the fort is empty…. and for the first this year, I get to watch
an Oia sunset…. a l o n e. Not many people can say that…

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alone on the fort… bliss

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a look to the left reminds me of the unreal / surreal place I am lucky enough
to call home…

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this is my favorite pic so far this winter… have never taken the neighborhood
from this angle. This is the path home as I return from sunset watch…

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the night lights switch on as I make my way down….the village peacefully quiet

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a picture you don’t see very often… the neighborhood on a cold winter’s night.

It hardly seems like a year ago that we went for our last winter sunset walk… and our New Year’s Eve at the fort…. but it has been. A lot has happened in the past twelve months and a lot more is about to happen over the next year.  Living in a small village in the Aegean has its drawbacks… but it also has its great benefits. As the cold winter nights set in and daylight disappears early afternoon… there is a stillness,  a zen-like serenity which you simply can’t buy in the city. You may not want it of course…which I can understand, but if you do… then this is a blissful time indeed. It’s time to be creative… to learn new things… to weave new dreams and to contemplate how to make insanely great things happen in the coming year ahead. So while you’re doing whatever this winter… if you happen to think about a caveman sitting, reading, dreaming & listening to his music by candlelight… send me a wave   .::   ; ~}

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Thank you for the overwhelming response to the (only half-finished) Aegean Designs blog/site. Allison has too many orders to complete before Xmas so we have taken the main catalog off-the-air (although it is still available to existing customers by request – just leave a comment either here or at the AD blog and we will send you the links). Today also marks the first post on Allison’s blog… something she has wanted to do for some time but simply did not have the time to…. you can read her first post here.

More pics this Thursday…. !