I was impatient to get to Oia (pronounced ‘Ia’), the north-westernmost part of the island of Santorini. I had only heard about those amazing sunsets and although we were on the island for quite some days and we already had seen the sun going down over and over again, I was curious to see whether the Oia sunsets are really that much more spectacular.
The usual way to get around the island is by buss, and to get to Oia from Fira costs only 1.60 euro (approximately 2 USD) and takes some 20 minutes of a ride on a long and winding road with a gorgeous view towards the low part of the island. However one of the perks of having a Greek fiance is that he has ex-classmates all over Greece, Santorini included. That’s how I met Evgenia and Ioannis, the cutest couple I’ve seen in a long time. They were nice enough not only to offer us a ride to Oia, but also to make a small detour to show us a beautiful chapel nestled on the top of a hill. The old caldera path from Oia to Fira is still passing under the chapel however taking it would be more of an off-road experience than a relaxing walk. While they were waiting for me to snap pictures of the chapel, my lens caught them watching the view.
Oia is the most traditional of towns on the island when it comes to architecture. Or, better to say ‘caving’. The houses at the caldera are caved directly into the rocks and have rounded ceilings. Of course, with whitewashed facades and blue domes on top. Fun fact Ioannis told me in the car: in order to preserve the authenticity of the town, all cables have been put underground and the cobble is kept on the narrow streets that cross Oia.
Knowing locals has yet another advantage: I got to meet some of the most talented artists on the island who turned out to be good friends of Evgenia. I was extremely impressed by the gorgeous jewelry pieces of Christos Papageorgiou and the amazing oil canvases of Mariusz Stokowiec. Christos actually has his working station inside his shop so you can watch him work his magic. As for Mariusz, if you think that his name doesn’t sound Greek, you are completely right. Mariusz came from Poland 15 years ago, fell in love with the island and stayed ever since. His work reflects the mood of the island to an extent words cannot describe, but if you happen to have one of his paintings in your house you are sure to have a piece of Santorini with you.
And as if this was not enough, Ioannis actually managed to arrange us a private terrace to watch the sunset without any disturbances. While everyone else was piling on the ‘most popular’ spot for sunset watching we were quietly sitting on a secluded table – and the sun was performing its colorful show as if only for us.
So now I can confirm: the Oia sunsets are indeed spectacular! But when we were leaving the island, it felt like those sunsets stole my heart…