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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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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!