Under the Greek Galaxy

Posted by on Aug 11, 2008 in Travel Tales | 2 comments

Under the Greek Galaxy

Greece was amazing! From the sun-kissed hard black islands and the white and black jerzees of the Santorini cliff-hugging houses to near perfect chiseled faces and bronzed torsos..the Gods and Goddesses were really wise enough to come down to earth and settle around the Mediterranean coastline! It is there that I tried my first octopus! And the surrounding could have not been anymore perfect. I sat there, facing the crater that once was, but now is a deep blue cobalt dish of salted water, surrounded by plates and plateaus of black rock. I am in the village of Oia, staring into the afternoon slants of a grapefruit sun, reflecting golden on an ink-blue bed of satin-water. Beside me is a plant which fruits chillies. Yellow, lime-green and vermillion red. My gorgeous waiter, Yorge, suggests that because I am an Indian, I might try rubbing a few seeds of these chillies on my octopus. He says this in his broken English,and as I always have done, I follow the local advice…and oblige! ‘ You are loving spicy Indian woman you should add a chilly to the dish!’ Maybe what it should read as is: “You are loving spicy,(meaning, ‘you love spices’) Indian woman(addressing me?)-You should add a chilly to the dish!”

Anyways..so back to the octopus. It was grilled to perfection. Hints of pepper, lemon and rosemary. I thought I tasted some soya-sauce in the jus, but I doubt the Greek use that ingredient. It tastes like calamari in more ways than one, but the gorgeous colour post the grill, made it even more appetizing visually.
In Santorini you end up doing nothing.Nothing more than lazing around the maze of pathways surrounding the terrain, reading books, staring at the cauldron, watching the sunrise, and talking to your soul.

Every nook you turn to is a frame of a photograph, waiting to be bound. The wake-up call..passion-fruit sunrise, drenched by oranges and mauve.For breakfast, you can feast on quaint colourful houses, white-washed walls, with royal blue doors and hot-pink bougainvillea creepers sensuously climbing from pillar to post. The lunch would be a dish of a lazy cycle parked. And a lazier cat sun-bathing. Early supper would include a gorgeous sunset waiting for you up the cliff. The best that got saved for the last, is the night-cap. A delectable selection of diamonds encrusted in a velvet blanket of the sky, served especially for you, under the Greek moon.
Our trip to Greece was fairly well-spread. A couple to three days in Athens, followed by a  few idyllic days at Oia, and hopping on to the island of Paros.
Let me take you out from the city of Athens, across the darkening waters of the Aegean to the beautiful volcanic isle of Santorini. And sit with me for a while by the old stone quay, as the last church bell peals from the cliffs above and the orange melting sun tries once more to set the surface of the sea afire.
Row after row of bright white verandas decorated with requisite blue umbrellas hugs the side of the mountain, and a maze of paths for pedestrians and donkeys have been hewn out of layers of volcanic rock. For centuries, farmers in Santorini have herded their donkeys up these narrow lanes in order to transport fish, grapes, olives, and other goods from the port to the villages above. Although Santorini now boasts a cable car and a dependable, if not hairpin-twisting, roadway, the sounds of clanging bells and hooves on pumice and cries of “Yassoo!” are quite common.I am going to stay  here awhile, and listen to some distant kantathes music being carried in the evening air.
Santorini is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the universe; it’s also the only inhabited caldera on earth. Thousands of years of seismic activity has physically shaped Santorini. And, where land has sunk, lava has flowed, and people have perished, legends have been born. The archipelago of Santorini consists of Thira (the main isle and bustling capital), Therasia, Aspronisi, Palea Kameni, and Nea Kameni. Several millennia ago these five were one, and the entire island was known as “Strongili,” or “round.” In fact, if you look at a map of Santorini, the original, circular outline of Strongili is apparent!

Next stop was Paros.On the ferry to Paros, we spotted this sign:

Do not visit Paros if…

…you don’t want to come more than once! Paros has “the magic” that makes you addicted.

Perhaps its true!Paros is one of the largest islands of the Cyclades with approx. 120 km coastline, situated about halfway between Athens and Santorini.  Sunny beaches and a laid back economy, sums up Paros in short. There are long wide stretches of sandy beaches,tucked away tiny little bays, while on the other end there lies enclosed an extraordinary “sculptured” rock-beach (“Kolimbithres”). The typical countryside with its gentle, terraced hills and magnificent rock formations, endless vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees is overwhelming.

I would love to go back to Santorini and spend at least a month on the rocky mazes of the settlement,harrowing the artists to challenge their touristy work,gazing at the perfect ushers, keep the tiny bookshop lady up late in her store, force the coffee-shop owner to try mixing some Kalmane in his Arabica, or simply, just sit on a white and blue deck,sip Ouzo with lemonade(ok, trust me on this one..its horrible with water!) while the sun starts a tantalizing red kiss along the alluring edges of the Cyclades volcanic rim.

You know, its not always Greek, when you understand the language often untold.
PS: Thanks Bharat Gupta, for the wonderful images

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  1. Wow!!!
    You’ve described it brilliantly. So well written; you can imagine the place and fall in love just by reading the blog.

  2. Thank you so much Bharat. And really appreciate that you could let me use some of your images! I will put it up soon,on this post.

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