There is something exhilarating about being on an island in winter. Dry, brown grass and unrelenting wind rushing around corners. Closed up hotels and restaurants. Empty pools and forlorn stretches of pebbled beach. It’s elemental. It’s wild. It’s lonely. And I like it.
Santorini is the place you’re thinking of when you imagine Greek islands decorated with white-walled, blue-shuttered houses, clinging precariously to steep rocky cliffs above the aquamarine Aegean Sea. Except that the bustling summer time villages are now quiet, visited by only a handful of tourists and home to the few locals who stay for the winter months. The silent streets however, only add to the island’s romantic wildness.
The days were sunny, the sky bright and blue, the wind icy, penetrating and laugh-aloud invigorating. Wrapped up to my eyeballs, I stuck in my earphones, blasted some good tunes and spent a few days striding up hills, through vineyards and along ghostly promenades, all while being blasted by a wind that blew away the doubts and fears that came a-creeping in the darkness of night.
Fira Town and the Old Port, Santorini. Tourists from cruise ships arrive to this port and have to walk – or ride a donkey – all the way up that long, steep path to Fira. The ones I saw on a blowsy day were sweating; I can only imagine the exertion of doing that climb in the summer.
Travelling on my own can be lonely at times. And the demons know just when to bite. But in the brightness of day, with hours stretching ahead for me to do with exactly as I please and my walking shoes on (and having phoned home for supportive and loving words), I can only smile. Of course, a coffee, taken the long, lazy Greek way, doesn’t do any harm!