Star Date:  November 2016
Santorini, Greece


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


"Ya Su!"  "Opa!"
(Hi - Greek - Opa, an exclamation or sound of acclaim in Greek)




"Those who danced were thought to be insane by those who couldn't hear the music." (Friedrich Nietzsche)



On the edge.  We are all living on the edge whether we like to admit it or not.  We come into this world with an expiration date.  We never know when that moment arrives.  Leo Buscaglia, a doctor from UCLA, remarked, "If you knew you were going to die in 3 days what would you do different with your life?"  Do it now!  You never know if you have 3 days, 3 months, 3 years or ???  Enjoy the moment, the Now, enjoy the day is one of the common principles in all world philosophies and religious teachings.

Literally living on the edge describes life on the island of Santorini, Greece.  Firastefanos is perched precariously on the edge of a massive volcanic caldera.  This volcano blew about 3500 years ago, shocking the known world.  The force of the impact was so intense that it destroyed any surrounding life and left a 1000 ft. high crater.  This is one of those places on earth that shouts spectacular.  The view, the whole environ is brilliant, as if the Greek gods, our Creator, Source, Infinite Consciousness, Mother Nature, Dao, Shiva, Buddha, Allah, God opened an exhibition in the most exclusive art gallery on the planet.

Joseph was here 50 years ago, I was first here 30 years ago, and aside from the annual New Year whitewash and cleaning, not much has changed.  We both rode donkeys up the steep cliff side, the only way to climb to the top of the caldera.  Times have changed.  This time we arrived at the small international airport in the middle of the island.  Olive groves have disappeared as more people moved in but the cliff top villages perched on the edge, some homes even hewn into caverns, remain the same.  On the caldera's edge sit the exclusive hotels.  All the touches have been added for small but exclusive 4 or 5 star hotels or villas (rooms start at $100 - ending at $5000).  With infinity pools and views unmatched elsewhere, it is a place to pamper yourself.  Sit back, relax, melt into the pool, and dream your way into oblivion.  We splurged for a few nights and ended up staying in a converted windmill on the top of the caldera.  On the very edge of the caldera we shared a hot Jacuzzi at sunset, gazing over infinity, sipping a glass of red wine and enjoying a piece of chocolate cake.  A dream incarnate.   

Blue dome roofed churches dot the cobblestone paths and matrix of stairs overlooking the sea.  Cats hide in the many nooks and crannies, surrounded by vibrant red or pink geraniums, blue wooden shutters, canaries singing in cages, old 'bubbas' sitting in the sun, music playing in the background.  A post card view at every turn.  Actually visitors 'become one' with the cats, only moving when the chance for some exquisite food presents itself.

Old Greek ladies welcome you as you walk by and invite you to stop in their shop.  No pressure here, but then we arrived just after the summer tourist rush, when it was a bit cooler and a bit quieter.  It is a place for weddings and once in a lifetime photographs marking the event.  We even came upon a lively "Big, Fat, Greek Wedding", complete with live music, dancing, singing and tasty food.   

Firastephanos is known for its quiet, serene surroundings.  The only thing to do here is relax, read, sun bathe, walk, eat and sleep.  The next day: repeat.  It is the island of romance and we decided since the air ticket from Tirana, Albania was only $28 (including a discount on our room) we should celebrate our 15 years together in style.  This is where the rich and famous come to play, so why not us???  As with the bride and grooms we have seen here everything starts out like a fairy tale.  The honeymoon lasts for a while then reality bites.  We have had our ups and downs, like any normal couple, compounded by the fact that we have been in each others space 24/7, while traveling the world.  That is a true test of love.  We say we are on our 14 year 'honeymoon', and why not?

If the Love is strong, we can live with each other's imperfections and focus on what is important.  Slight positive changes happen gradually but the fact is we can only change ourselves, rather than falling into the vicious 'blame game' and pointing the finger at everyone else.  Admit it, we all do it.  We learn great lessons from those around us, that is why they are in our lives. They are holding a great big mirror reflecting our actions and very existence.  Accept this responsibility.  Self responsibility in our lives changes the dynamics and heads us down a stronger, happier path.

Happiness comes from within.  If we search for happiness in the things and people outside us, these things can always be taken away.  Instead if we focus on strengthening and keep our inner peace and joy, our outward lives will reflect this inner strength.  It is the best gift we can give our partners, our friends, our families, our world.

And so Joseph & I bumble on in one of our most difficult tests in life, human relationships.  We are both unique, one of a kind individuals; in this world but not of it.  Observing, allowing, attempting to live from the heart, and Loving.  Our Love is strong.  This exotic, amazing world we travel spurs us on and excites us, fueling the fire within.  Our contentment within opens us up to the wonders 'without'.

Santorini is one of the most romantic islands in the Aegean Sea.  The thunderous fury of Nature left its mark on  Santorini forever.  Greece's last volcano still smolders today.  The entire center of the circular island sank into the sea following a massive volcanic explosion 3500 years ago.  The explosion set off a tsunami which wiped out the advanced Minoan civilization on Crete 70 miles to the south.  Some scholars theorize that Santorini was part of the lost continent of Atlantis that disappeared under the sea during the explosion.  What remains of Santorini is the largest caldera on earth, 7 by 14 miles, making it a spectacular sight to behold.  From the caldera's edge it is possible to gaze out on the small islands completing the circle.  The villages perched on top of the red and tan layers of rock look like snow or frosting on top of a cake.  A glowing orange sunset, lighting up all the whitewashed homes and churches permanently embeds a vision of awe in your minds eye to carry with you from this fairytale island.

Atlantis.  There is an ancient tale of a lost island, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.  Told from generation to generation, it was written about by Plato in 375 B.C.  Atlantis, created by the sea god Poseidon, consisted of 9 islands, surrounded by 9 rings of water.  In the center was a large hill.  The center island was prosperous and the people content.  It contained 2 large temples with walls of gold and silver and dome roofs covered in copper.  In 1967 an ash covered city was discovered.  Buried at about 1500 B.C. it possibly has ties with the lost Atlantis.

We were told by a local that the Greeks feel deep down in their souls that Santorini may someday return to dust.  For this reason the highly superstitious villagers have erected over 250 churches of all sizes to ward off another cataclysmic eruption.  Whitewashed, with the postcard perfect blue or white domes, there are Byzantine, Orthodox, and Catholic cathedrals.  Something for everyone and hopefully all are doing their job to preserve this awe inspiring gem in the Aegean Sea.

A great way to see the thousands of Cyclades Islands is to buy a ferry ticket or pass to the neighboring islands such as Ios, Paros, Naxos or Mykonos.  Each is known for a different feel or ambiance.  Choose one that suits your mood.

Santorini, is basically a dry rock island; punctuated by cliffs, villages, and terraces filled with olive trees, tomato or eggplant gardens, goat paddocks and vineyards.  Santorini has some of the best wines in the Aegean and nothing conjures up a feeling of relaxation more than watching the sunset, perched at a table on the edge of the caldera high above the Aegean, sipping a glass of fine wine.  Wine appetizers or mezes, even for vegans, could be 'dolmadakia' (stuffed vine leaves) 'spanikopita' (spinach pies), tomato 'kerftedes' (tomato fritters prepared with cherry tomatoes), 'fava' (split pea puree), fried slices of eggplant.

Main gastronomical Greek dishes include Greek salad, 'moussaka' (layers of eggplant covered by potatoes and baked) 'gemista' (rice stuffed tomatoes and peppers) 'melizanes' (fried eggplant), 'falafels' (platters with salad, chips, falafel balls, hummus, babaganush - a baked eggplant sauce).  Meat, seafood, goat cheese, yogurt, also are highlighted in many traditional dishes.  Top the meal off with 'baklava' or (honey soaked phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts). 

If you are going to taste all these mouth watering delights in the main port town of Fira, it might be a good idea to walk the 587 broad zig zagged steps up from the port.  This is where the cruise ships anchor.  Now visitors have the choice of walking up, catching a cable car or a donkey.

Switching over to the opposite side of the island, through vineyards and olive groves, we explored the relaxing little mountain village of Pyrgos.  We also spent a day in the cliff side, artistic center of Oia.  The views were once again spectacular, many with working old windmills turning in the breeze.  The little shops of artisans were unique and fun to poke through.  

We rented a studio on the opposite side of Santorini, within 5 minutes of  Perivolos Beach.  Life was completely different over there.  Just a lazy beach strip with various colored tourists, ranging from rare to medium rare to well done, lounging on the beach.  A highlight was definitely Charlinas Restaurant with Greek Night every Thursday.  Kind of like saying Chinese Night in Beijing, but worth the effort to walk down the beach.  A real old fashioned evening of local singing and dancing.  Before we knew it we were smashing plates on the floor and dancing in a circle with other happy patrons of this little bar and restaurant.  And that was without drinking the dangerous local liquor, Ouzo.  Ouzo has a distinct licorice flavor and is distilled from the must or remnants of grapes pressed for wine. It can be flavored with spices like anise, mint, or coriander.  This strong drink has sent many a person spinning on the dance floor.  Greeks love food, music, dancing and ouzo.  With this combination you are guaranteed a fun night!  Opa!!




And so it goes.........................................Next all roads lead to Rome, the intriguing, historic center of the European world.  Until then let's remember to not judge those around us, they may hear music that we don't.  Take care and Thanks for Keeping in Touch!




Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph




Travel notes:

1 US Dollar equals .94 Euro

Mylos Hotel +30 22860 23884,
Bus from airport to Firastoni Sq.

Just up from the hotel -
'Why Not Souvlaki' - great falafel gyros for 3 Eu.
Further up for a great view of the sunset: Onar Restaurant.  Classy, medium priced, unlimited sunset views.

Down from the hotel - Vanilla Restaurant.  Great roof top views and tasty food.

Up the hill in walking distance, about 10 min, is Anestis Tavern, in Imerovigli.  No view, next to a super market but good home cooked meals at a reasonable price  phone 22860 25374

Perivolos Beach:
Honeymoon Beach Hotel,
Phone +30 6942 619482

Charlinas - Greek Night Every Thursday

Big Super market - they will pick you up to shop at their store.  Worth stocking up as prices are quite high for food in Greece.




Striking windmill against the azure sky. A
postcard at every turn.



Count the churches in every photo.
Every photo has at least one church in it.


Living on the edge describes life on the island of
 Santorini, Greece.


Enjoying our walk at sunset.


Churches of all sizes.


Distant edge of the caldera.


My Big, Fat Greek Wedding!

End to another spectacular day.


Olive tree outside our converted windmill room.


Bougainville and geraniums accent the
blue and white architecture.


Visitors 'become one' with the cats, only moving when
the chance for some exquisite food presents itself.


Enjoying the gastronomical delights
at a local cafe.


Villagers have erected over 250 churches of all sizes
 to ward off another cataclysmic volcanic eruption.


Hopefully all the churches are doing their job to
preserve this awe inspiring gem in the Aegean Sea.


Wandering the cobblestone alleys of Fira.


Exquisitely painted interior domes.


A pomegranate tree in the backyard.


When we first visited 40 years ago the only option to
climb up the caldera edge was walking 587 steps or
riding a donkey.


Morning meditation; gazing into infinity.


Our front yard, including a Jacuzzi perched
on the edge.  Perfect place to melt away stress.


Perivolos Beach.  Life was completely different over
there.  Just a lazy beach strip with various colored
tourists; rangingfrom rare to medium rare to well
done, lounging on the beach.


Charlinas Restaurant - Greek Night every Thursday.


A real old fashioned evening of local singing and dancing.


Before we knew it we were smashing plates on the floor
and dancing in a circle with other happy patrons
of this little bar and restaurant.


 And that was without drinking the dangerous local
 liquor, Ouzo.  Opa!


Old windmills turning in the breeze.

The other end of th
e caldera; the cliff side, artistic
 center of Oia.







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