It is easy to surrender to the Greek way of living for I believe that the Ancient Greeks still stir within our souls.
Take LOVE for example. And Aristophanes as our philosopher of choice. We humble humans have spent lifetimes searching for the perfect mate. We have words to describe this: unrequited love; physical attraction; a crush; and, my favorite, chemistry. Words to describe what chemistry is between people cannot do the feeling justice. If you are lucky, you will find at least one person with whom you have chemistry and you will live a long and happy life with them. But chemistry can also turn a good relationship sour, it can bring about jealousy and passion where neither feeling should dwell. It can be youthful or it can hit you when you're in your later years. But what is that which we are searching for - where does that quest come from?
Aristophanes had a way of explaining our desire for a partner that I find most charming. He posited that at one point in human history we were happily attached to our perfect partner, accounting for all types of pairings, and in these perfect pairs we had love, were strong, were emotionally complete beings. However, as we wandered the earth in coupled bliss we also realized that we did not need the Great Gods anymore - what could they do for us that we were not able to do just as well? So we climbed to the heavens in order to dismiss the Gods. The Gods, seeing the human frailty for what it was, struck us down and, upon tumbling to earth, we were separated from our partner. Scattered about the continents and the islands of the globe we now have to search. Search for our missing half. Search for love. Search for the perfect partner. And so we have chemistry to help us determine if this is The One.
That is but a single example of how I see the Ancients dwelling in our souls. The other example can be found in a plunge pool in a cave house overlooking the great caldera of the Tholos Naftilos volcanic vent. If you are fortunate, you have the pool to yourself or you are sharing it with your perfect partner. The sun is hot, the tourist season is yet to get into full swing, and you are brave enough to shed your swimsuit and bask in the ancient air au naturel.
A week in Oia is not long to begin to transform into a Greek, but it is time enough to awaken your Greek soul. The town is simple to navigate, a long stone path winds its way from end to end. Shops, restaurants, homes and hotels line the path and numerous steps leading off the main drag. Everyone who is there for more than a cruise stop is smiling ear to ear and moving at a glacial pace, expertly avoiding the mules and trolleys which move the tourists and the goods (in that order). There are a couple of grocery stores and a bakery at the edge of the town by the bus stop, also where one of the few ATM's is also located. We had a small kitchen in our cave house and stored cheeses, olives, juice and wine in a little SMEG fridge so we could snack at all hours. Our trip to Oia was for love - to fall back into a loving routine following Mr. C's 26 hour spinal surgery just a few months prior.
I was fortunate - I had planned this part of the trip blindly. Not researching the best town on Santorini to stay in (turns out it was Oia), nor which side of the island was "the right one," (turns out I chose wisely), nor which end of town to look for a temporary home (again, luck of the Ancients was on my side). I simply went onto the AirBNB website and looked at small places to stay where we had the entire place to ourselves. Plus a pool. Most of the homes or hotels in Oia are designated as a "Cave House," meaning they are somewhat built into the hillside. This is spectacular, not only because it gives Santorini its classic look, but it also keeps the homes cool during the heat of the day. There are few large trees to leaf out and provide shade, the town is rather a stone and concrete maze which really bakes the tourists and locals alike in the summertime.
Turns out the Gods do still smile upon the humans.
Happening upon a cave house which boasted two plunge pools - one in the living quarters and another on a petite deck, I knew this was the place, and I knew nothing more. The reviews were great, the view seemed unencumbered and it had everything we wanted - a bed, bathroom, space to spread out and, as I said, a pool. Turns out we ended up staying at one of the most popular, most requested, most beautiful of cave houses ever to be listed on AirBNB. Articles on the web have popped up since touting Hector Cave House as THE place in Oia. It makes complete sense - the owner, Giannis and his team of Dana and Dimitris are more than amazing, generous spirits. The location is perfect, the house immaculate, and the view is incredible. We left there with an invitation to return in the off season and friends for life.
In my closet upstairs I have a wonderful Greek wardrobe and in the air is the hope that summer will return to Portland soon so that I can pull the linen from the hangers. Mr. C, who I believe I have mentioned loves to shop, was sharing a backpack with me and at every stop we had to ship clothing home. From Paris; from Athens; from Oia and even from Normandy. I simply could not carry everything and our weather went from cool to warm to hot to cold - we had to buy our clothing in each location. Our outfitters of choice on Oia were Spilia Cave for me and B. LOOSE for him. Our dining of choice, when it wasn't cheese and wine in the pool was whatever caught our fancy. It was an easy trip.