Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
~from The Isles of Greece by Lord Byron
We are on the Greek isle of Santorini this week, in a small town on the far western tip of the caldera, called Oia (pronounced eea). We’ve come here for a bit of downtime…a vacation of sorts (yes, we still take vacations)…and to celebrate Kyle’s 45th birthday on Thursday.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a Greek isle, you’ve probably imagined whitewashed buildings with azure blue roofs, perched on cliffs above the Aegean sea. Oia is what you’ve dreamed of. The views here are like postcards, there are hundreds of them, and each one makes you pause so your spirit can soak up the beauty of the moment. It is simply lovely here.
It is well beyond the end of the tourist season here and many shops, restaurants, and hotels are closed. The final few only opening their doors for a few hours each day to catch the last of the tourists dropped off by the last cruise ships of the season. Compared to even a month ago, this place is deserted. And we LOVE it that way. After 3 weeks of running around Ireland and London, this place is a welcoming spot that invites us to slow down, relax, and just be.
They slowly lead/drive us to the far western tip, the “sunset spot” as the town refers to it, where we all sit along the stone walls of some old ruined building on a terrace high above the water and watch clouds roll in over the sea, donkeys climbing the steps of the town, and small fishing boats and huge cruise ships as they pass by. We spend a lot of time in curious stillness on that western tip.
In the late afternoons, we sit in one of the few cafes still open, sipping ouzo or raki, and nibbling on meze, while watching the islands across the way as they pass in and out of the haze of bright sun reflected off calm glassy seas.
And we talk. We talk about what we’ve seen that day, whether it is crazy tourists climbing on the bell towers of one of the many small Eastern Orthodox churches here, or a beautiful vignette of a terraced cave house with a lounging cat, or how we almost got run over by donkeys climbing one of the steep staircases down to a construction site. We talk about what we will do for Christmas, where we will go, and what we will do when we get there. We talk about each other and other people we love who are far away. And sometimes we just hold hands, smiling silently as we enjoy the views. We have found our resilience again. And with that comes a huge surge of contentment. Greece has been good to us.