On Santorini and Solitude

SantoriniI wander down narrow stone streets, past bright, whitewashed buildings, past doors painted in shades of creamy blue, past intricate iron gates. The evening sun is still warm. The sea, when I glimpse it, flashes turquoise and silver. I’m on Santorini, exploring the Greek island by myself. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve traveled alone. And I am perfectly content; perfectly at ease.

It’s a few years now since that trip to Greece, but that experience for me was pivotal. Santorini has become for me a touchstone, a reminder when I begin to feel uncomfortable with being alone. When I think back to my time on Santorini, I remember the freedom and the spaciousness of my alone-ness. I remember the leisurely meals, eaten in tiny restaurants overlooking the sea. I remember lingering in those restaurants, sipping a cold glass of white wine and watching the sun begin to set. Sometimes, I’d write. Sometimes, I’d just sit and breathe in the experience of solitude.

Santorini Houses

I remember losing myself in the labyrinth of streets, wandering with no greater purpose than to really see the place. I remember my delight in discovering another whitewashed home with a brightly painted door, another glimpse of the sparkling sea, another perfect vista. I remember rising with the sun, and heading out to photograph in the warm early morning light. I kept thinking, “I feel so content, so happy. This is what it feels like to be alone.”

Santorini DoorI’m feeling much the same way these days. I am comfortable and content with my life just as it is. My work is challenging, and engages me fully. Family life is busier than ever, but still offers rich rewards. I am blessed with good friends. My writing nourishes me.

This is a good place to be. It’s the place I needed to get to after the end of my relationship with Griff. It’s been a long journey, nearly a year now. But these days I feel balanced and healthy and whole.

Does it mean that I want to be alone long term? Not at all. I love being in a relationship, I love sharing my life with a man, I love all that good stuff. I’d like nothing more than to find the right guy.  I know it will happen, and more and more, I feel ready for it to happen. But I feel no rush, no sense of panic. This is a good place to be.

Santorini BoatThe last morning of my stay on Santorini, I tread hundreds of stone stairs down to the beach. It’s early in the morning and there is nobody else around. The buildings are bathed in the soft early light and the sea sparkles a thousand shades of green and blue. At the bottom of the stairs, I find an outdoor cafe, deserted because of the hour. Pulled up onto the patio, beside a table, is a solitary boat. It is battered and its paint has worn away. This boat has seen storms. But as I come closer, I see that it still has oars tucked inside, and nets for fishing. This little boat, I realize, is biding it’s time until the tide is right. And then it will head out to sea once more.

Thanks to Marianne, who runs the CBBH photo challenge over at East Of Malaga. This month’s challenge is “Blue.” Thanks, too, to Transformed by the Journey, whose post on being a single Christian woman gave me food for thought as I was writing this post. When she posts photographs, they are beautiful.

Don’t forget to check out Le Clown’s Official Movember Launch.

And finally, thank you to all of you who come by on a regular basis to read my blog. I realized today that I’ve reached the milestone of 100 followers. I know that there are bloggers out there with thousands of followers, but for me, 100 is a milestone, and I am grateful to every one of you!


About Sally

Poet, seeker, author, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.
This entry was posted in Living Deliciously, On Adventure, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to On Santorini and Solitude

  1. Le Clown says:

    Thanks for sharing a link to Bloggers for Movember. I haven’t had the chance to answer everything yet on ACOF, especially comments on the “eyebrows” post, but I haven’t forgotten you. I’m getting there! Have a great evening.
    Le Clown

  2. kingmidget says:

    I’ve spent too many years wrapped up in the lives and demands of others. In the last year or two I have made an effort to find more and more time for me. I crave the opportunity to experience what you did in Santorini. There is so much I could unpack here, but I’ll leave it at that. Years of family, responsibility, and being what others needed rather than what I needed are pushing me more and more to what you describe here, while also craving the kind of relationship that meets my needs.

    • It is truly liberating to have that time alone – and, at least in my experience, to discover that it isn’t at all frightening to be alone. I hope that you find your way both to some solitude and to a nourishing relationship. (And my fingers are crossed for you and Obama in the election tomorrow).

      • kingmidget says:

        It’s this odd conundrum … I look forward to opportunities to get out and experience life my way. For a long time, when I had the opportunity typically in connection with out-of-town trips for work, I would immediately feel lonely. This summer, I went on a solo vacation. Four days at a cabin in the mountains a couple of hours from home. I reveled in it. It was the first time I really let myself enjoy something like that. I’m hoping to have an opportunity in 2012 to spend a week along the Oregon Coast or in Mendocino, CA. By myself. I worry, though, that I’m becoming like my father … that’s a whole another story. I don’t think I actually am because, even in my quest for those moments, I actually want them filled with people — the people I enjoy.
        And, thank you for crossing your fingers for Obama tomorrow. Who knows, if he loses, I may have to move to Canada. I would be soooooooooo disgusted if Romney were to win, given his tactics.

      • Solo vacations can be so good. It sounds like you have all kinds of good stories to tell about your life and your father’s life. NaNo material? Yes, I’ll have all fingers crossed on your behalf 🙂

  3. Marianne says:

    What lovely photos of Santorini – a place that I have only ever seen wonderful images of, but have never managed to visit. Yet 🙂

    I´m glad you have found peaceful, agreeable solitude Sally. My moments of being alone are usually very short lived as I have been fortunate to share my life with my soul-mate, for the past twenty-five years. I´m sure I would find living alone very difficult, though I´ve had no practice.

    I hope you don´t have too long to wait until the tide turns and you can once again head out to sea 🙂

    Fantastic entry to this month´s CBBH Photo Challenge, and thanks for your links to two VERY interesting and quite different blogs. I can´t tell you how long I have spent at your first suggestion.

  4. I love those little islands – Korcula in the Adriatic is something similar. There is something profoundly satisfying about being alone (although, as you say, relationships are nice too).

  5. Beautifully written! I was there, accompanying your words down the narrow streets of that Greek island!

  6. Good, captivating post. i too am about to head over on a solo journey but to canada. cant wait. great to hear how pivitol this trip was for you and the inner peace you discovered. and congrats on 100 followers

    • A solo trip across Canada. You will love it. I’m somewhat biased, but I think Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world 🙂 Where will you travel?

      • Hey whoops didn’t see you’d replied. Yeah I’m in Vancouver from tomorrow for two weeks. I’d like to visit Victoria for a few days too. I’ve only heard great things about Victoria! Grandparents fell in love with the gardens. I see you live there!

        Also going skiing in Banff, visiting Canmore, Jasper, Whistler and most likely Halifax too. And thats just Canada. Big trip!

  7. It would be easy to get lost in that blue…this is gorgeous, all of it. And I love the analogy of the little boat, biding its time.

  8. El Guapo says:

    Possibly one of the best travel posts I’ve read.
    But that’s what a good writer does.

  9. becca3416 says:

    1. Congrats on 100 followers! Glad to be one of them 🙂
    2. I have been dreaming of taking a trip exactly as you describe for years now. I think it will happen soon.
    3. Being alone is just as great as being in a relationship but in very different dynamics.

    I really needed to read something like this today. Thanks.

    • I’m so pleased that my post came along at just the right time, then! And I’m looking forward to posting some Movember themed posts soon! Thanks for coordinating the Bloggers for Movember challenge with Le Clown 🙂

  10. These photos are beautiful! It’s hard to imagine what it looks like live, I hope I get the opportunity some day to see for myself. Breathtaking!

  11. kp says:

    What a great post!! The tone, texture and photos make me think of the movie, Shirley Valentine; The main character in Shirley Valentine re-discovered the love of her own company and her life in Greece!!! Kim

  12. Debra Kristi says:

    Now you have 101. I switched from the RSS to an official follow. 😉 This is a lovely post. I can’t wait till I get to experience Greece. For now, I have this to hold me over. It was beautiful. I have faith that you will find the right man. You are a prime catch!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Did you ever hear the expression that “problems are opportunities in working clothes”. I’m not sure who coined it but I always think its a wonderful expression. In other words your present sojourn into the singles experience seems to have presented you with a very wonderful opportunity to learn the art of solitude.
    In fact whether we are single or in a loving relationship we all seem to be struggling to embrace solitude and would rather escape into the world of the internet which is now delivered by so many different devices. If you get time I’m sure you’ll enjoy this ted talk on the vanishing art of solitude. By the way, what a beautiful place to bathe in solitude, Santorini! And wow, you’re on the same continent 🙂

  14. Beautiful, I’ve been there, you really captured the essence!

  15. Insight says:

    Thank you so much for this profound piece of share! Had a great read throughout the post and about the country. 🙂


  16. You went there??? Jealous and inspired! But then again, I’ve been itching to go to Greece for years now.

  17. Denise Hisey says:

    Your pictures are so lovely! And I really enjoyed the journey of how you’ve become okay with being alone. That’s not an easy one…
    Congrats on your 100 followers!! A milestone indeed!!

  18. Jo Bryant says:

    amazing shots of a place that I have long desired to visit…thank you

  19. Hi! I’m so far behind on my blog roll, I’m giving my Saturday afternoon to catching up. What an amazing trip that must have been and what good insight into where you are. Thanks for referencing my blog. We live many seasons in this long and winding journey. I trust yours will bring you to love with and from a quality man when the time is right. Until next time!

  20. ferragudofan says:

    wonderful post – and intriguing that it links to the colour blue so well – I love the analogy with the boat. And what a beautiful place for a solo voyage!

  21. CC MacKenzie says:

    Fabulous post, Sally.

    Stunning photography and I wish I was there, now!
    Thank you!

  22. allthingsgeography1 says:

    Excellent Pictures and story of your travel!

  23. Thanks for taking us on your walks and allowing us to intrude in you solitude. I enjoyed this very much. Susie sent me.

  24. susielindau says:

    I would love to go there someday! Thanks so much for dropping by and bringing this amazing link and story!

  25. marrymeknot says:

    Hi, I’m a party guest of Susie’s blog. Wow, gorgeous! I traveled a lot in my early twenties and one of my most memorable life awakening times was when I was in South America. It’s funny how we venture to somewhere so far away to finally feel at home with ourselves. You have planted a seed for me, Santorini is officially on my list.

    • Your comments are so true. I think travelling far away is one of the best ways to get up close with who you are. Thanks so much for dropping by. I’ve been over at your blog this afternoon on my iPhone and am loving it. I’ll return to comment while on my laptop!

  26. tedstrutz says:

    Nice post… Nothing like walking about in a strange place, so early when no one is around. Beautiful photos.

  27. Wow, everything is so gorgeous, I think I need to plan a vacation! Thanks for sharing this on Susie’s blog!

  28. Angelia Sims says:

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous! I spent a lot of time exploring and just being after my marriage ended. It is a very special time in my life that I will never forget. Glad you are embracing it.
    They are memorable moments of self-discovery.

    • Angelia, thanks for dropping by! I love the way you see the time after your marriage, not as a time to be endured, but to be celebrated. I’ve learned more in the last five years than in the 40 years prior to that.

  29. jennypugh says:

    Santorini is truly breathtaking as a place. I have been lucky enough to visit, a few years ago, and just looking at your photos makes me want to return. The way of life there is so different to the hustle and bustle of the UK. I also went to Ios and Naxos, but of the three places, Santorini was my favourite. It’s on my list of places to go again should I ever win the lottery 🙂

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