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Out and About with an Irish Expat

September 17, 2022

The monastery Profitis Ilias commands the highest spot on Santorini, overlooking the city of Emporio and to the west taking in Akrotiri. Our guide for the day was Martina, an Irish expat who has lived here for twenty-five years and is a freelance photographer/guide. She assured us she wasn’t a professional photographer, but that she sees her role as taking us to spots where we can find great/unique things to shoot. We weren’t disappointed.

The small chapel at the monastery features some stunning portraits in gold leaf and brilliant paints.

We wandered the quiet streets of Emporio behind one of the cathedrals, discovering little vignettes and dramatic bell towers.

From Emporio we ventured deep into the countryside to a hidden church Martina discovered, she says, by pure happenstance. After a tortuous drive along impossibly narrow roads, our driver, George, could go no further, and we had to hike up a dry stony creek bed, the church façade finally revealing itself. The story goes that when the Muslim Ottoman Turks invaded Santorini (16th-18th c.), they forbade the locals from practicing their Christian religion. In order to preserve the knowledge, some priests spirited away a small group of children to this remote spot, where they lived and learned.

Our final destination for the day was Oia, and it was just as crowded as it had been a couple of days ago. People stand in line along the stone walls overlooking the sea to catch a glimpse and maybe a photo of the setting sun. It’s nuts — as if Oia is the only place on the island to see the famed sunset. Instead, Martina led us down some quieter streets, where I was able to capture this image of a windmill.

At the bottom of Oia, ringing the harbor, are maybe ten or so fish taverns, where you can get a good meal and watch the sun melt into the Aegean. Getting there is a real trick, though: like the rest of Oia, the street is jammed, with cars and tour vans jockeying for space. Our tapas/mezze meal was worth it, however.

One Comment
  1. It is easy to see why this is such a popular destination. I’m glad Martina was able to direct you to less crowded areas. The white buildings are so brilliant. Are they as immaculate in person as they appear in photos?

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