So my next stop in the Greek Islands is none other than the mythical Atlantis. Of course the years have changed it a bit and it’s now known as Santorini, one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Of course the reason for the name change is that when the island was Atlantis it was roughly round and inhabited by ancient ancestors of the now Ancients Greeks. Then, sometime around 1,600 BC the island exploded annihilating both that civilization and the ancient Minoan civilization whose ruins I had the pleasure of enjoying while I was in Crete. The plus side of all this cataclysmic destruction is that the current island has a magnificent crescent shape with world class view of the caldera (i.e., crater) from around the island.
Ancient history lesson aside, modern Santorini is (along with a few other places like Ibiza, Hawaii and Capri) as close to paradise on Earth as you will find. It is the model for all the cheesy refrigerator magnets with white buildings brought home from Greece and let me assure you that these refrigerator magnets do not do the island justice.
The whole island is only 28 square miles (78 square km) but that’s still enough
room for an amazing diversity to landscapes, longs stretches of red and white beaches, rocky shores, dramatic cliffs, one major city and my favorite, the small city of Oia. Famed for its spectacular sunset views, Oia also has the most beautiful architecture on the island. Of course perfection comes at a price and Oia is no bargain travelers’ paradise, but that didn’t stop one kindred spirit from making this his home.
As I wandered the picturesque streets of the city I stumbled upon a double temptation, a bookstore and a small sign that said “Play the Chess Cowboy, 10-1 odds!” For a book lover and chess player like myself that sign remains burned in my head like the memory of a dream that lingers after morning. Yet perhaps the best surprise was neither the
store nor the game. Instead, the Atlantis Books’ owner, in addition to being a fine chess player, was an American younger than me who in a stroke of awesome boldness had decided to open up a multi-language bookshop in paradise. To keep costs down his home was built right into the shop with a covert loft holding his bed right above busily stacked shelves.
It’s not often that I stumble upon a lifestyle that would tempt me away from my nomadic existence, but living in paradise, constantly surrounded by friends and new faces along with piles of books would be as tempting as anything would. Perhaps in a few years I’ll take a stab at starting my own business in some sort of paradise and see how it turns out. Until then it’s back to wandering and seeing what else the world has in store.