Tag Archives: oia santorini

what’s life all about ?

The first heavy rains have arrived, winds are getting stronger each day and its dark by 5.30……once again, old man winter is here.

A subterranean cave house may seem like a strange place to live in, but it feels oddly protective. The ‘outside’ feels like another world at times. Right now the rain is falling sideways and I can hear the steady tap dancing sound of the rain drops hitting the front door and window. But inside… it’s another world. If I turned off the soft jazz playing in the background I would hear my own heart beat.

So with a nice glass of wine on my desk… I have decided to dust off my keyboard and write a few words and maybe post some photos in between my ravings.

I actually meant to write about this two years ago… and I may have hinted at the topic throughout this blog, but tonight it just feels right. It is a  question that has perplexed many and has been asked throughout human existence. But what is the answer… is there an answer ?

In an article today I read that a palliative care nurse in Australia had been noting the comments her dying patients made during their last days/weeks. Namely the regrets they had about their lives. It seems there are some very familiar themes:

–  “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others
expected of me”.
–  “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”.
–  “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more”.
–  “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.
–  “I wish that I had let myself be happier”.

There is nothing new here… right?

So if there is nothing new here, why do we all make the same mistakes over and over. I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t (shouldn’t) put his/her hand up for at least some of these… if not all. Yet we keep going, until one day a nurse in a palliative care unit is asking us the big question… “what do you regret most about your life? ”

There are many more well-known regrets we can add to the above list of course:
–  wish I lived up to my potential
–  wish I followed my gut feelings
–  wish I was more decisive
and the big daddy of them all…
– wish I had followed my dream !

So why don’t we?  Why do we have to wait for a doctor to tell us the dreaded words before we give up smoking? Why do we have to wait until we are 80 before we realise that all our friends are dead and it’s too late to get back in touch with them? Why do we have to wait until everything is “perfect” before we make a decision to do something we have always wanted to do?

There is a scene I will describe which happened a while ago…but is burned in my memory ever since. A man I knew (father of two close friends) met with his dying wife’s doctor and was told of the likely outcome. He was a tough old Greek, ex-commando… bull of a man. Shook your hand and your fingers were sore for days. Yet now… he was in tears, just staring at the doctor in disbelief. “What can I do doctor?” he asked. “Nothing” said the doctor… “there is nothing that we can do now”.

John (not his name) walked up to the doctor… took his hand and said “I would give you 200 thousand dollars… cash… if you could save my wife”.
I would imagine the soft hand of the surgeon must’ve hurt like hell as John looked at him with both fire and fear in his eyes. The doctor apparently looked at him pensively and said… “I know”.

At that point it was too late for John to change anything… but for most people it is not. They can change their lives tomorrow… but they probably won’t.

So what’s the link to all this with Oia Santorini you might ask?  Well… it’s like this, I get a lot of email from people who either have or want to visit the island. They see the photos, they read the blog, they see images all over the web… and they become obsessed with the island. That’s something I can fully understand because that is ‘more or less’ what happened to me years ago. Most of these emails are just questions about the island, or thank you notes for the pics and the blog, or feedback about their experience visiting the island. But then… there are the “other” ones.

These “other” ones are from people who have somehow decided they want to make the big sea change. They want to come and live here, or to buy a house here…. “just a small apartment but it MUST have the view”.
Of course there are the proverbial tyre kickers, but I am fully aware that there are perfectly well-intentioned people as well. Every move starts by making enquiries and asking questions… there is nothing wrong with that.
Where it starts to make me cringe is when people ask things like ‘is it going to be a safe investment’, ‘is there likely to be political stability in Greece in the future’, ‘is it safe to live there all year round’, ‘would we enjoy living there all year round’, ‘ is the volcano going to erupt’ .

I mean…seriously, can anyone honestly believe that I or anyone else could answer these questions in a definitive way?  Would you even want someone else to answer these questions for you? Wouldn’t you want to find out for yourself if you would like the locals, or enjoy winters in isolation, or could handle island life? Would you (or should you) even take someone else’s word for such issues?

To me it seems like people are saying “take the risk out of this… and I may try it”. In other words… “make my decision safe for me”,”tell me I can’t lose”, or “there is no risk involved”…….

There is a condition the shrinks often refer to as “the tyranny of the shoulds“. It tends to hit people after 50 and more likely past 60. It is the stage of regret… the ‘shoulda/coulda’ syndrome. You don’t need a nurse in palliative care to ask you questions… your own brain will do it for you. That’s when you hear people say things like “I shoulda bought that place”, “I always wanted to visit…”, “I shouldn’t have wasted all that time”, “if only I had gone to see for myself…”.

My point is that whatever it is you want… a house on an island, or a job or an adventure, go after it. You can ask questions… and you should, but in the end it is you that has to make the move and take the chance. Dont wait for the palliative nurse or the good doctor’s last words.

I can’t give you a difinitive answer to the ‘what life is all about’ question. But I do know that making a decision to experience something… is a hell of a lot better than living with “what if” !

* * * * *

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the now famous red sunset in October !

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under the August moon…

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autumn sunburst…

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room with a view…

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morning tranquility !

till soon ; )
M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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tales of summer….. part I

It’s been a long hot summer… and it’s been quite some time since I wrote in the pages of this here notebook. But as the verse says… everyone does need a little time away.

It was always going to be an interesting summer, with all that’s happening around the world… and especially Greece. Most people here were pessimistic at the start of the season and a lot of tourists were no doubt anxious with all that was happening in Egypt and elsewhere. Alas…Santorini is not Greece and despite all that was going on hundreds of thousands of visitors came to the island and had a wonderful time.

As you know I like to take the odd photograph or three… but this summer I probably took more than normal, partly because there was a lot going on, but also because I started to really enjoy my photography once again…. after a short period of almost no photographs at all.

As I started to prepare for this return post I found myself looking through the photo archive and realised it has been a wonderful summer…. with lots of visitors and guests, family and friends. It’s been a long summer, a hot summer… but a summer full of new experiences, chance meetings, happy reunions and the start of many new friendships with people from all over the world. That’s the beauty of living on an island that is visited by people the world over…

But enough of my drivel, let’s look at some photographs and let them speak for themselves….

as always there were sunsets… lots of sublime sunsets, which were made
even more enjoyable because of the people we watched them with…

there have been many nights when the sun was really showing off…
luckily I was there to shoot it!

having a glass of wine in the evening with this happening in front of you…
will always be a humbling experience

on a nightly basis the island puts it’s magic spell on visitors… many
of whom will never forget the sunset they saw in Oia

it would have to be one of the most fantastic shows on earth…
and it’s different every night

there are sunsets all over the world of course…
but Oia has party tricks that no other place can match…

in fact… even for a person that lives here it often feels too surreal for words

and sometimes…. well, sometimes the show continues well into the night
because soon after sunset we have a full moon and very special things
happen in Oia on the night of a full moon…

the caldera puts on her fancy frock… and the beauty is blinding

it was on such a night that we had a great function for our visiting friends
from Subaru Australia…. held at the sublime terrace of the Red Bicycle
in Oia. Following a fantastic dinner we had an auction for one
of Allison’s hand painted table cloths from Aegean Designs…
all proceeds went towards the care of Oia’s stray animals.
The winning bid… 2,300 euro
Huge thanks to all those present on the night!

of course… those in the know are very aware that the best show is often
NOT at sunset… but at sunrise. The only problem is that most
visitors sleep through them and are oblivious of the majesty they
miss out on…

that’s not to say that during the day the view is shabby…
we don’t do “shabby” in Oia…

because… as you know by now, Oia is Oia…
the most picturesque village in the world  ; )

* * * * * * *

parts II  & III later this week…
pointers will be posted here and Facebook!

lastly…

as I type this on the Mac,
I feel compelled  to express my deep sorrow…

“we are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is habit…”
Socrates. 

Thank you Mr Jobs !

Michael’s law…

There is a law for everything it seems… and almost everything has a law that governs it. The universe has laws, societies have laws,  computers have laws
and so does human behavior. This last one is a tricky one of course… it’s ever evolving and it can be very random at times. But nevertheless there are laws for human behavior as well…. and it’s occured to me that we need to add another one to the list. This one is really a sign of the times… and henceforth it shall be known as Michael’s Law …. which states:

You don’t do anything important in your life…
unless you Google it first !

Let’s face it… it’s a fact. Whatever you want to do, need to do, dream of doing… of any real importance in your life, chances are you will Google it first. You will search, explore, compare, become informed…. and THEN, and only THEN,  you will act. True?

You don’t have to answer that…. if you are a person in any developed country, almost  anywhere in the world, you will Google things at least half a dozen times a day…. or if you’re like me it will be many more than that. It’s a verb for God’s sake… it has become an essential part of everyday life. So in my mind… my argument stands. Michael’s Law is valid. “You do NOT do anything important in your life unless you Google it first.”

Now…as you know, I am a cave dweller. I live on a small island… which, some would say, is quite pretty. It’s an island that a lot of people visit every year and an even larger number wan to visit and a far greater number dream of visiting.
So…. given Michael’s law, a lot of people Google Santorini every day looking for whatever it is they are looking for. But as I said earlier…. humans are random little creatures and by association… so are their Google searches.

Over the past two years that this little blog has been going there have been many search terms that have surprised, entertained, ammused and in some cases… left me with that WTF look on my face…. you know the one !

People follow patterns for the most part… you know what I mean by that. Views, hotels, sunsets, weddings etc etc etc…. all the boring stuff.

But then…. I have my “random” friends and it’s THEM that I love reading.
Over the years there have been some classics, many of which I have now forgotten… but there are some I want to share with you. (Please keep in mind that these are ACTUAL search terms that were registered on the blog…  they were not made up for the sake of this post).

There are the searches that are very specific:

–  how far is Santorini from Greece
–  is there a ferry from Santorini to Oia
–  how far is Oia from Santorini

ok….. so obviously these are people who have heard of Santorini, but have never been here or know too much about it…. which is fair enough.

But then it gets curiouser and curiouser….

–  hope all is well with have a happy easter Santorini   –  (huh? who Googles that?)
–  how do peanuts grow in santorini
–  luckiest homes in santorini    –  (whattttt ?????)
–  donkey geece satorini    –  (hmmmm…ok )
–  how do I make dreams about Santorini     – (ahmmmmmm????)
–  how to live cheap on Santorini     – (that one is actually rather  sane compared         to the others)
–  what do you eat in Santorini    – (as opposed to….?)

these are only a glimpse…. and I mean a “tiny” glimpse, of the kinds of things that I see daily on the blog search lisitng. I know that for some English is not their first language… but  “how do I make dreams about Santorini”  kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it ???

Then there are the really special ones… like this:

– “How to hypnotize my wife while on holiday in Santorini”

yep, this is a real search folks…. this man wanted to learn how to hypnotize his wife while on holidays in Santorini. Am I missing something???
Can someone please explain that one to me???

Then… there is my all time favorite search relating to the thousands of weddings that take place every year on this island:

–  “How do I lose my wedding guests in santorini”

you have to feel sorry for the poor schmuck…. he is obviously getting married in paradise, with seemingly a cast of thousands…so to speak. God only knows what was going through the man’s (although it could’ve been a woman) mind… but you have to feel for him/her.

But the all time winner/loser… has to be:

– “does volcano blow in july”

Speechless…………….

Remember:
You don’t do anything important in your life…
unless you Google it first !

please don’t tell me Michael’s Law is not real !

Goodnight from the cave ; )
M

Oia – the best gets better !

Been a while… I know, but lots going on. It’s a new season and the whole island is getting ready for what is expected to be a busy season (cruises 20% up apparently). I dare say that Greece will benefit from Egypt’s and Tunisia’s unrest…as well as the general imrpovement in global economic conditions.
So April has started with a bang…. and the whole island is being painted, renovated, refreshed and generally preparing for the season ahead. I said to visitors recently that April reminds me of the joke about the Queen (supposedly she thinks the whole world smells of fresh paint). This is how Santorini smells in April….at least until Greek Easter, which is the “official” start of the tourist season.

The good news is that although I haven’t written much…. I have been taking lots of photos and I will be publishing these in the comming weeks. I think Oia is looking better than ever…. and visitors will again see why it is (I believe) the most beautiful village in the world. Other villages on the island like Firostefani and to some extent Pyrgos  have also made considerable efforts to look their best…. but there is really no comparison to Oia (biased I know… but would argue this with anyone, anywhere, at any time). In fact…. rather than argue or debate this point, I will just let the images speak for themselves :

this is the green on the hills that summer visitors dont get to see… Spring is a magical time to be on the island – btw… if you’re going to have a balcony
anywhere……

 

a glimpse of my neighborhood through the tiny alleys and paths that shape
the caldera side of Oia…

one of the major differences between Oia (certainly the old part of Oia where I live) and the rest of the villages on the caldera…. is that Oia still has the most
number of privately owned villas…. as opposed to the endless hotels of Imerovigli and to some extent Firostefani. This is one of the major factors
in the preservation of it’s character, colour and architectural integrity !

the views of course are sublime from all parts of the caldera…. it’s a physical wonder and (as I like to call her) a “spiritual seducer”

but Oia…. well…. Oia is OIA !


this is a photo from last year… but one of my all time favorites….
it always reminds me of what I used to, and still say to people….
“if you ever come across a more picturesque village anywhere in the world,
please… call me”

Till Thursday… ; )  M

ps: if you have anything specific about the island or island life you would like to read about….please drop me a line or leave a message…. feedback is a blogger’s candy  “-/

pps:  for daily updates please find us on facebook and make yourself known as a blog reader…. you can also take a peek at Allison’s updated blog:  www.AegeanDesigns.com
Facebook:  “oiasantorini”      or   “aegean designs”

 

 

 

Oia – most beautiful village in the world

 

There are countless villages on this wonderful planet of ours… many of them are special… many are beautiful and some are stunning. But there is only one Oia !

I have been known to say to people “if you find a more beautiful place anywhere in the world…please call me and let me know”. People have been known to reply “that’s one phone call you’re never going to get”.

 

You see… it’s not just the village itself… it’s what’s below it.

and the things that go on daily in the caldera below it……

and the effects of light…season…weather and the time of day

it’s the way this village has been built and the way it’s charm has been retained over the many centuries…

it’s the unique ambience and timeless beauty…

and arguably the most visually sublime outlook that any village in the world has been blessed with !

I am clearly biased…but every time I get a chance to walk around my little village it never fails to amaze me with its simple… yet dazzling beauty. These images offer but a tiny glimpse of the village.. but it’s enough to make anyone wish that some day…some how… they will walk these paths and climb these steps… watch a sunset and soak in the majesty that is Oia Santorini.

* * * * * * *

Now that the season has all but ended we will start to focus on bringing you more Aegean Designs images and enable you to browse and shop online. To the dozens of people that visited the studio and have since emailed seeking to buy on line… we hear you and we will try to have as many designs as possible on line for you to choose from. The initial catalogue will only be visible on Facebook so it would help if you have an account on there.

Please drop by this blog on Monday for details…

ps: back blogging in full flight again… promise ; ))

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 !

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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 _