As sunset approaches, as the sun falls over this equatorial Disneyland, the crowds flock. You’ve seen the pictures, you’re looking at more now. There’s something mystical about this place. That something is slightly lost as thousands gather daily, herded from cruise ships by tour bus on this small, but bustling, unprotected island at the far end of the Greek archipelago.
Maybe it’s the windmills, the brilliantly painted rustic, adobe walls, the bright blue domes perched perfectly atop white walls.
Whatever it is, this sunset drags in the crowds (see below if you don’t believe me. Sure, people travel to experience Santorini, but this is the number one stop for any visitor to the island. If sunsets are famous–and maybe they are–this is very possibly the most famous sunset in the world.
I would be a fool to argue against such a distinction. But sunsets are special because they invite you to lose yourself in the world, to admire pure beauty and to undertake the admiration singularly. In an era of constant electronic distraction, the information rat race nudging us all to “stay connected” and multitask, sunsets are powerful. Perhaps the crowds become a distraction, in some way making the visitor it’s not just there’s, clamoring to get that one seat at the edge of the ruins that puts everyone else out of site. I fought that urge. I didn’t feel like it was mine. But it was special, it was breathtaking.
I was lucky enough to spend a few days with my family on the island. This gave me the ability to head over one morning for sunrise. Somehow this was a singular experience, devoid of another soul. I watched as sunshine intermittently broke through a cloudy sky and in a sweep, illuminated the Oia cliffs. The colorspray was just as awesome, if not better than sunset. If you visit, go in the morning. Enjoy these photos and see all of them in the Santorini gallery.
You can approach from Thira on stone paths through Imerovigli until you tread on volcanic rock toward the most unlikely of places. Looking left of the trail, the oceanic caldera ripples, inviting you to take a refreshing 1,200 foot plunge. Warning: not for those weary of height.
In broad daylight it seems just as magical, just as improbable and unreplicable.
See all my photos from Santorini here!