- MARCOS, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM LIFE?
- GOOD QUESTION. BUT I WILL TELL YOU. I WANT ALL LIFE TO BE ABLE TO SEE THIS CRAZY BEAUTY, BREATHE THIS AIR AND FEEL INSIDE THE BEAT OF SANTORINI. ONLY THEN I WILL BE HAPPY.
Marcos, born and raised on the Greek island of Santorini, today is one of the most famous fashion photographers in Los Angeles. Filming Hollywood movie stars for fashion magazines, along the way telling them about a wonderful little land, lost in the vast Aegean Sea. True or not, but, according to Marcos, it was he who convinced Angelina Jolie to go to Santorini to shoot the movie "Tomb Raider". And it was he who then drove the actress along the cobblestone streets of the island and photographed at sunset against the background of the church of St. Nicholas. After that, she even bought a house here, however, no one really knows where it is.
Despite the tangible high cost of life on the island, it is not customary to talk about money. There is no bohemian fuss of Nice or Capri, no palm trees and snow-white beaches of the Maldives or Bali. People come here for another - to feel what Milan Kundera once called the "unbearable lightness of being."
“Some are scared by three-hundred-meter-high cliffs on the tops of which houses are built,” Marcos says, watching another motor ship with tourists swim up to the island. “This land still remembers the last volcanic eruption in 1956. He still cannot calm down - the gods as if envious of the beauty of these places. "
Once the Argonauts called Santorini "Calisti", which in ancient Greek meant "Beautiful." Indeed, local species may have a therapeutic effect. Sitting at the table of a small restaurant, the veranda of which is hollowed out in a limestone rock, and looking down at three neighboring islands, white yachts scurrying between them, the blue sea and the sky without a single cloud, you are swept by an unusual and so strong feeling that your eyes involuntarily turn up tears. For the first time you realize that you can cry from beauty.
Many are convinced that Santorini is the very lost Atlantis. What exactly here, according to Plato, in the second millennium BC, the anger of the gods caused such a strong eruption of the volcano that it destroyed almost the entire island. Then the giant hundred-meter waves in a few minutes wiped out the entire Minoan civilization on the northern coast of Crete. Since then, most of Santorini has sunk into the water to a depth of 400 meters, and only the edges of a huge crater - the caldera - remained on the surface. And if you mentally connect all five points that rise above the sea today, you will get a circle, possibly even once making up the diameter of Atlantis.
The current Santorini consists of the islands of Thira, Thirassia, Aspronisi, Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni. The volcano on Nea Kameni is active, but the locals are in no hurry to leave their homes. And is it really possible to leave here? Every day, poor tourists under the scorching sun make heroic ascents to a 40-meter volcano to look at the smoking crater from above and capture a piece of black pumice. At the foot of the volcano, hot healing springs beat from the earth, forming a mud creek in the sea. The water temperature is 37 degrees, from time to time something gurgles and foams. But then the skin becomes better than after the most expensive SPA: natural dirt is always healthier.
“Climbing a volcano is for tourists,” Marcos tells me. “And the most interesting is the grottoes, about which almost no one knows." We catch a boat and go around the southern cape of the island of Thira. We swim in a narrow gorge in the rock, hidden from prying eyes. A few seconds ahead, only pitch darkness, corroded by the weak light of the headlights of the boat. But the tunnel ends, and in front of us is an underground grotto. The lake beneath the mountain resembles the shelter of ancient pirates: from somewhere above, water is dripping, on the right on the rock is a scattering of blue-blue crystals.
"Local authorities do not let anyone here because they are afraid of upsetting the delicate ecological balance. Due to their volcanic origin, almost the entire periodic table has been collected in the local soil, which is why it gives rise to these bizarre crystals. They also say that the labyrinth of grottoes leads to the center of the island, where the wealth of the ancient Atlanteans is preserved! But nobody knows what it is: gold or ancient books. But you better not write about it, otherwise crowds of hunters will rush here. It is better to limit yourself to a description of churches and blue domes. "
Blue domes are indisputably a Santorini business card. They decorate the most beautiful postcards with views of Greece. True, sometimes instead of blue, locals for some reason paint the roofs in leopard colors, which is why in the evenings, when the lights are lit, Santorini resembles a fairy-tale country, either gnomes or elves.
The capital of Santorini - Fira - is located at an altitude of 260 meters above sea level. During the day, you can go to souvenir shops and boutiques, and in the evening cozy restaurants and trendy night clubs open their doors.
One of them - Enigma - is built in the form of an ice grotto, where even chairs and sofas are made of material resembling ice. A soft blue light and candles placed in the corners only enhance the unusual effect. Pleasantly surprised by the number of beautiful and well-dressed people, most of whom are Americans. “Santorini is their favorite place,” explains Marcos. “Moreover, hippies come here in search of freedom and yuppies to rest and calm their nerves. Some stay, open their workshops, art galleries or shops.” "What happens here in winter?" I am interested.
"The high season lasts from April to October, but in winter you can see the real Santorini. There are no crowds of tourists and bustle. The temperature does not drop below +10, the sun shines. Romantics, philosophers and poets come. Someone writes books, someone - paintings. You come, you’ll see everything yourself. " I nod my head and go up to the club’s open terrace, where I ask Marcos a question about life. His answer then seems childish to me. But after some time, I understand that he is one hundred percent right. After all, happiness is ephemeral, it can only be felt in periods, at some short moments in life. And in Santorini it happens much more often.
The second largest city - Eeyore - is located on the north side of the island. The road from Fira to Eeyore by car takes about 15 minutes (in fact, the whole island can be bypassed by car or by boat in 40-50 minutes). Eeyore offers the most spectacular views, so it’s better to book a hotel here. If you want a local touch, you can rent an apartment with a small pool. Then, in the best Greek traditions, a family who rents apartments and, as a rule, lives in one of the apartments on the ground floor, will treat you with aromatic wine in the evening, talk about the island and, in a good mood, even give sirtaki lessons right on the veranda.
Once upon a time, Santorini served as a refuge for the Knights of the Johannites, who eventually, due to the threat of a volcanic eruption, moved to Rhodes. Since then, only ruined towers and, in some places, Maltese crosses or crossed compasses and a square, engraved on the rocks, remained on the island. And the former knight's fortress serves today as the most picturesque observation deck of Eeyore.
In this town, no longer than 3 kilometers, there are many restaurants and taverns. The main pedestrian street ends at the top of the cliff, where in the Milos cafe-mill from 5 to 6 pm everyone is trying to take better tables and spend sunset under the sounds of classical music. Then you can wander into the ethnic store, buy a couple of scarves from local artisans and go to dinner in a restaurant under the starry sky.
Santorini's pride is local wines. Indeed, contrary to all laws of nature, after the eruption of the volcano through the ashes and lava, only the vine broke through. Therefore, every year, at the end of the grape harvest, the locals arrange real Dionysia - holidays celebrating the god of winemaking, and the young men undergo a kind of initiation ceremony - for seven days they crush the grapes with their feet, extracting the juice, which will later turn into wine. Only after that they get the right to be called men.
Due to the rich volcanic soil, strong sea winds and intense sunshine, the local wines have a special taste and aroma. The main grape variety is Asirtico, but Athiri and Aidani are also cultivated for the white and Vinsanto dessert wine, famous throughout the Greek islands.
The local climate also creates favorable conditions for the cultivation of dwarf tomatoes, the size of cherries. They are served fresh with local cheese or dried in the sun. And despite its small size, tomatoes taste incredibly sweet.
Another feature of the island is black volcanic sands. On the beach, which stretches across the eastern part of the island, the sand is really black as tar. In combination with azure blue water, this creates the optical effect of an inverted sky. And the rest is just like on ordinary beaches: sunbeds, umbrellas, water skiing as entertainment. Only the beach ends not with palm trees, lawns and the hotel, but with a huge rock dotted with winds from red, brown and green volcanic layers. Unusual, but at the same time majestic and impudent.
Yet the mystery of Santorini is not in the black sands and blue domes. Here I don’t feel like spending time, as in traditional resorts: swimming, sunbathing or going on excursions. Here you rest with your soul: all the “benefits of civilization” go away and are not remembered as unnecessary, giving way in consciousness to something more pure and eternal. Here you understand what spiritual harmony is. And then I want to restore this balance only in Santorini and nowhere else.