Tag Archives: what makes life worth living

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...

Advertisements

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” !

dreamtime…

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……

think different…

The case for seeking to live an inspired life !

My argument is simple. YOU and I are snowflakes. We are 1 in 6 billion. SIX BILLION. We are… each of us, totally unique. We are (depending on your beliefs) the result of billions of years of evolution. We are the rulers of our planet. We are capable of the most amazing creativity… the most incredible ingenuity, the most remarkable innovation. We are capable of passion, compassion, vision and reason. We have the unique capability to think unlike any other creature on this planet….

read more:  http://oiasantorini.com/think-different/

the cool verse > Goo Goo Dolls “Iris”  http://oiasantorini.com/the-cool-verse/

No TV… no Starbucks & no sirens !

What makes life worth living?  What does one need in life to be happy?

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take…

but the number of moments that take our breath away”

I captured this image this morning. The mountains in the mist are from the small island of Anafi… across the water from Santorini. It was one of those moments that make you stop and reflect. It’s not always easy living on an island… it’s not always convenient and you don’t have a lot of the things that the rest of the world for some reason considers “essential”.

No we don’t have Starbucks…I consider it a joke when I hear people refer to it as a “caffe” … that’s like saying McDonalds is a restaurant. We don’t have TV either (by choice)… believe it or not it is NOT essential to daily life. But something else occurred to me looking at the image above earlier this morning… I haven’t heard a siren for more than two years now. I don’t miss that either.

On the other hand… not a day goes by that doesn’t have at least one  moment that takes my breath away !

* * * * * * * * *

Her maiden name is Christine Perfect and in 1976 she wrote and recorded a simple ballad that lived up to her name.
Her band was Fleetwood Mac… the little album was “Rumours” and the simple ballad was none other than “Songbird”.

Sublime song written by Christine McVie at her best. I have been fortunate to see this beautiful woman perform this song live twice…
life’s little treats ;-)

the cool verse

http://oiasantorini.com/the-cool-verse/

“Santorini dreaming” essays – enter now !

dream quote 1

 

It all started as an idea over dinner… to make someone’s dream come true. Since then there have been many phone calls, meetings and discussions about how, where and when. I have given you glimpses of the hotels and have outlined what you have to do to enter.

You have waited patiently for this final overview of the conditions of entry and prize listing… so here it is !

Ahem… we have to sound all official now:

 

Grand prize

5 nights accommodation for two on Santorini:

2 x nights at “Volcano View Villas” 

3 x nights at “Andronis Luxury Suites” in Oia

(Please note: the grand prize does NOT include airfares to Greece. Accommodation will be provided between June 15th – July 15th 2010… exact dates to be confirmed at the time the winner is announced)

The winner will also enjoy:

– a romantic dinner for two

– wine tasting at Santo wines

– dinner at Ammoudi (Oia)

– Aegean Designs gift 

We are also arranging many other surprises which will make your stay on Santorini very memorable. You will see and experience things that most visitors never do and you will meet many of the locals in Oia. But most of all… you will have the time to enjoy yourselves in one of the world’s most beautiful villages, on arguably the world’s most dramatic & romantic island… staying in two of the very best hotels it has to offer.

The two runners up will also receive gifts from Aegean Designs as well as discount vouchers from the two participating hotel sponsors.

Conditions of entry 

 An essay of under 1000 words will need to be submitted via email to:

oiadweller at yahoo dot com

Entries will be accepted from Friday 9th October 2009 – Monday 9th November 2009.

Please note that depending on volume received Oiasantorini.com reserves the right to post/publish any or all of the submitted entries.

The winner will be announced on Friday 20th November 2009.

 

I hope this is all taken in the spirit it was meant. This is not a commercial competition by multinational travel agencies. It was put together so that all of you would get a chance to actually articulate your dream holiday on Santorini and a couple of you will get an opportunity to live your dream. It was done in the hope that the whole process will make you think about the kind of things you would love to do, see and experience on your dream holiday on Santorini. You will be doing what millions of people around the world only ever dream about…

For my part I very much look forward to reading your essays and being transported into your vision. I also look forward to spending some time with the winners, enjoy showing through you my little village… maybe watching a sunset and sharing a nice dinner by the water  ;-)

It has taken a lot of work to arrange this… now it’s my turn to sit back and let you put your dreamweaver talents to work. 

Good luck to all !

M

PS: there will be a special “Santorini dreaming” page set up for all information and related posts… please check it for updates and latest information 

 

 

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 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes life worth living…

Starry starry night
paint your palette blue and grey…
 

Have you ever asked your self that question? …. “What makes life worth living?”

It’s too big a question and it’s too broad, some might say… and to some extent I might agree. But have you ever given it any thought?
What makes your life worth living? What are the things that you enjoy doing… what are the things that you are looking forward to? What are the things that you love… that you are absolutely passionate about?

What are the things you couldn’t live without? or at least you wouldn’t want to ! What are the things you want to achieve in your life? What are the things you want to experience at least once in your life? What are the places you want to see, foods you want to taste, sounds you want to hear, people you want to meet? What are the little things in life that really “do it” for you?

What makes your life worth living?

Shadows on the hills 
sketch the trees and the daffodils 

It’s a topic that has been in my mind since I was a teenager for some reason. Sure there have always been the “big” issues that have been central themes… family, career, health, dreams. But there’s always been creating, appreciating, learning, exploring and simply “doing” … but let us forget the big issues for a minute. Let us instead focus on the little things (seemingly little things… but big things in my way of thinking). These are places, colours, people, sights, foods, wines and most importantly images, words and music. What would life be without images, words and music?

I know that the answer to this question is a highly individual thing… so I can only speak for myself, but life’s greatest little pleasures can often be the simplest things… at least for me. Images, words and music play a very significant role in my own “what makes life worth living” conceptual framework. I am an absolute believer in being open to the sublime pleasures that seemingly “small things” can bring to your life. It can be a simple meal, a glass of classic wine, a beautiful piece of music, an elegantly written poem or essay or a sublime image. An architectural detail, a piece of furniture, an industrial design, an invention or a clever piece of copy writing in a magazine advertisement. It’s a fashion combination by an eccentric character in a big city borough or a quirky small-shop owner in a 100-year old family business (I despise shopping centres /malls).

But above all else, in terms of the so-called little things in life… for me it’s words, sounds and images. Music is essential…as are beautifully written words and sublime images. There is nothing like listening to a piece of music that simply transports you. In fact (as a total agnostic) listening to certain Mozart or J.S Bach, is the closest I ever get to thinking that the “hand of god” was involved.

Then there are sublime images. You can look at a live scene or a photograph and simply lose yourself. You can be drawn into it… feel part of it, completely “understand it”. It can make you reflect, dream, wish or simply gasp. Images can have a very powerful affect on the observer…
 

lamp

 

I took this photo the other day when visiting a friend’s hotel and it absolutely mesmerised me. I see this view daily… but the details of this photo just made me think… THIS is the sort of thing that makes life worth living. It’s only a fleeting image of a daily happening on this island… but if you take the time to stop and appreciate it… it really is sublime.

The same thing happens when you read the words of a great writer. There is something about the power of the written word… especially in the hands of a masterful writer. You become mesmerised… immersed, lost in his/her written world. There are far too many wordsmiths to mention here and frankly… we each have our own. We love the way they transport us, capture us, intrigue us, amuse and excite us. A writer… a good writer, a wordsmith… can play with your mind. Create dreams and what I call “memories of the future”. Create short movies and embed them deeeeeeeep in your brain. Of all the skills… I believe it to be the most powerful, wonderful, incredible “human” skill.

Which brings us to the short verses in this post. As most of you would know they are from Don Mclean’s  “Vincent”. I heard this song yesterday, after many many years and thought “this man is a master story teller / song writer”. We all know that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world that are still trying to work out what the “American Pie” lyrics mean. But “Vincent”… that’s just poetry !

We all remember:

” But I could have told you  Vincent 
   this world was never 
   meant for one 
   as beautiful as you ”

He was singing about Vincent… but it’s really Don Mclean and every wordsmith/poet in history that we should be grateful for. Do yourself a favour….Google “Vincent lyrics” and read the whole thing. It just so happens that the music is also great… but just reading the fantastic lyrics is enough to totally transport you into Vincent’s world. 

What makes life worth living? Although the big themes may be basically the same for all… the small things for each of us are different. It’s our appreciation of the sublime little things in life that make it an individual experience.

It’s a question we should all think about more frequently… perhaps it will make us appreciate the special little things all around us a whole lot more.