Remembering the Unforgettable Beauty of Santorini

It had taken me a long time to write about Santorini. Every time I tried to start before, nothing would come to mind. Words didn’t seem to be enough to capture the beauty of this small Cycladic island. Perhaps there are other places as beautiful, but Santorini (also known as Thira), remains the most beautiful and the most romantic place in Europe for me.

Oia, Santorini

The blue-domed buildings that is quintessentially Santorini is in the small village of Oia up in the mountains.

I was undergoing personal issues when I arrived in Santorini. I didn’t expect much in this place; I even thought I’d get more depressed. After all, a lot of people have told me that it was the perfect place for a honeymoon. Being newly single, I didn’t expect Santorini to offer me refuge.

Santorini, Greece

Wouldn’t you want to live in a house like this?

I was wrong. Not only did Santorini soothe my soul, it also made me realize that yeah, things were as it should be. There was no room for regrets or what-could-have-beens. What was important was for me to live the moment and to look forward to the days to come.

And that’s exactly what I did. In my four days there, I did nothing but walk around its silent and empty streets which, during early spring, were thankfully devoid of the hordes of people that are usually there during the summer season. I walked one path after another, encountering nobody except the occasional local.

Santorini, Greece

I encountered only a few people in my walks around Oia and Fira.

In Fira, I spent hours lying down and reading on benches overlooking the caldera, ate gyros (because they were cheap) at sidewalk restaurants, and listened to Mass conducted in Greek. In Oia, I saw firsthand those blue-domed buildings that have long symbolized this Greek island, and took a lot of pictures, hoping that I could capture the perfect image that would encapsulate all that is Santorini.

Santorini, Greece

Loved seeing the houses hug the cliffs in Santorini.

Santorini, Greece

In Fira, I entered a church like this to hear Mass conducted in Greek.

However, if I were asked what my itinerary was, I would be hard pressed to give an answer. I didn’t have a list of things to do or places to see (even though there are a lot of things you can do there!). When I walked around, I took my time. I wasn’t in a hurry. Time, actually, was of no consequence to me in Santorini; being there was more than enough for me.

Santorini, Greece

I spent hours lying on benches, reading or taking a nap…

Santorini, Greece

…while other days were spent just going around Fira.

I waved at and talked to locals, amazed at their friendliness to strangers. When they let me, I petted some of the numerous Aegean cats I saw on the streets, taking pictures of them framed against the backdrop of the caldera.

Santorini, Greece

A beautiful Aegean cat.

I walked one empty side street after another, amazed at how serene and beautiful everything was. I surprised myself when I thought that yes, I can settle someday, if it were in a place as beautiful as Santorini.

Santorini, Greece

Even highly touristy Oia was devoid of people!

The doorways of Santorini are something to look at, too. They seemed to be set off from the rest of the house, apparently leading off to nowhere. I loved their vibrant colors and the mystery they pose. They seemed to be always closed. Were there people living behind those doors? What was it like to live on a cliff and see beauty around you every time you walk out the door?

Santorini, Greece

Lots of doors were like this. Where were the people?

Santorini, Greece

The doorway that seemingly led to nowhere.

Even Caveland, the very affordable hostel in Karterados where I stayed, was a treasure. It had a long history; it used to be a winery before it was converted to a luxury hotel, and later on, a backpacker’s hostel (I found it through Hostelworld). I welcomed the daily 20-minute walk from Caveland to Fira, welcoming the cold in exchange for seeing new aspect of local life every time I passed by.

Santorini, Greece

I loved seeing this windmill every morning on my way to Fira.

Santorini, Greece

I could easily imagine myself working in this outdoor office in Caveland.

Now, almost a year later, the memories of my brief stay in Santorini still remain with me. Details might have been lost, but those don’t matter. What I will never forget was the utter rightness I felt when I was there, when everything in this beautiful Cycladic island welcomed me with open arms and gave me the respite I had needed for a long time.

This is my entry to the February 2013 Carnival of Europe which I am hosting, with the theme “Most Romantic Places in Europe.”

 Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!


  1. says

    Talk about living in the “moment” and “slow travel”! Your experience defines both perfectly! It must have been glorious to wander about at your leisure and soak up all the local color and charm that Santorini has to offer. And your exquisite photos capture your experience brilliantly…no hordes of tourists, just the locals, the neighborhoods, the charming houses and the sublime Mediterranean at your doorstep! Truly inspiring, I really enjoyed reading this introspective look of your time in Greece.
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..Bramasole Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil—the Elixir of Life

  2. says

    @ Debbie: Thank you. It’s very much worth it to go there, wherever you are. It’s ironic though. Your blog name is “European Travelista” and you haven’t been there? haha
    @ Razlan: Lots of people would really want to get married here. Such a romantic place! I’m sure you’ll get your wish someday 😉
    Aleah recently posted..Remembering the Unforgettable Beauty of Santorini

  3. Missy says

    Such a shame you do not have that “true, endless, and almost-non-existent kind of love” to share the most romantic place with. :(

  4. Peter says

    Peter here,

    As I scrolled down the page, I tried looking at the best photo, but I found moving from one to the other. I think you have great photos here. It is a nice thing you are doing. Also I read your profile…I am a freelance writer too…Great and God bless the work of your hands.

  5. says

    i wish i would have personal issues too that will lead me to santorini! 😀

    aleah, this is another inspiring post!
    baka mapanaginipan ko ang greece mamya dahil sa blog at photos mo!

    i’ll surely google back your posts about greece and other beautiful countries in europe once i get a chance in this lifetime to travel and bring my family there. *wishful thinking*

    as i’ve always mentioned, you’re blessed!
    docgelo recently posted..CHIANG MAI SERIES : DOI SUTHEP

  6. says

    Fantastic photos – you caught the island’s magic. Loved the cat photo in paarticular. Our stop in Santorini wasn’t as magical – a harsh, cold wind blew dust and dirt most of the time, we were bombarded with tourist touts that thought we must have been from one of the cruise ships and had appropriate ‘good deals’ for us. . .but we’ve vowed to return and find some of that special place you’ve described so well.
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Beyond Waikiki

  7. says

    What a beautiful post, Aleah! Santorini has long been on my places to visit and your gorgeous pictures just made it inch up to the top of the travel list a little bit more. I’ll keep it in mind to visit in the Spring because it looks like you have the whole island to yourself. Glad it offered you solace when you needed it. I can totally live on those cliff houses too :)
    Mary @ The World Is A Book recently posted..Five Fun and Free Things to do in Santa Barbara with Kids

  8. says

    Aleah, thank you so much for taking us to Santorini. As we close our eyes and imagine the pictures that you took, we could hear the sound of the waves of Aegean Sea and the cool breeze and the blue domes. Whew! Can’t wait for our future honeymoon in this lovely island.

  9. says

    While I didn’t have deeply “personal issues” going on while visiting Santorini last year, I can’t help but feel awkward among honeymooners (as you noted) who were quite easy to spot – holding hands, kissing all the time. hehe!

    There were areas full of tourists (especially those coming from cruise ships) but one that really gave me a quiet moment was walking from Fira to Oia. That was a very scenic hike!

    Anyway, you do have a great eye for capturing the incredible beauty of this island!
    Dennis recently posted..Serengeti: Day 2

  10. says

    @ Marisol: I’ve read your post on Santorini. So romantic :) Yeah, I wish I could go back in a happier mood too!
    @ Reena: I feel the same. There are some times that my expectations of a place are dashed by the reality of it, but Santorini was definitely not one of them!
    @ Jessica: Thank you, will check out your blog soon :)
    Aleah recently posted..Remembering the Unforgettable Beauty of Santorini

  11. says

    Wow! With every story, post, article I read…every show I watch…I am ever more convinced that Santorini is the place to be. Just…be. It’s great that you seem to have had the island mostly to yourself; always nice when you’re feeling melancholy and have the time to just soak into a place. And the pictures! They really capture the stunning scenery and quaint elements of the villages. Great post – thanks for sharing!
    RobRob recently posted..Driving Luxury Loyalty at Fairmont

  12. says

    santorini is really great island but i suggest you that you had better see Alanya, İzmir, İstanbul … in Turkey. All of them have got great historical places, lovely beach and great nightlife :)) thank you for infotmation that it is about santorini

  13. Maleha says

    I love your blog, like you I love to travel also. Santorini is one of my dream places. How did you get there? like you I also want the inexpensive travel :)

  14. says

    @ Laurel: I agree. I’m glad I went there despite my initial hesitation.

    @ Jen: It’s much more beautiful in person!

    @ Jill: Yes it is. :)

    @ Bursa: Someday, I’ll get to visit Turkey. I need to save up for it first haha

    @ Maleha: Check my Europe posts, you will find a lot of helpful posts. :)
    Aleah recently posted..The Hot Springs of Chiang Dao, Thailand

  15. says

    I feel like I must’ve commented on this post… But if I did, I’ll redo it… Your photos are gorgeous and Santorini is a place I definitely know I want to visit. In my mind it always seems like a dream with the most amazing panoramic cliffside views of the sea. Glad you found peace there. =)
    Christine |GRRRLTRAVELER recently posted..Review: The Towel Topper


  1. […] Santorini is indescribably beautiful. Full of pastel-colored stone houses, being there made me dream of having a simple, quiet life in an island, with nothing but tranquility around me. Santorini is beauty personified, from the friendliness of its people to the quiet elegance of its surroundings. I’m not for staying in one place, but Santorini made me realize that somewhere out there, there’s a place which can make me want to establish roots. […]

  2. […] A 5-star resort located in San Fernando City around 20-30 minutes from San Juan, Thunderbird Resort Poro Point is a must-visit, not only for their building designs which are Santorini-inspired, but more importantly, for their Saturday night Japanese buffet from 6pm to 10pm. (Read my post: The Beauty of Santorini) […]

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