There is one place since childhood that I have seen photographs of and have just sat there staring. That place is the island of Santorini. I have always been drawn to the white buildings with blue domes overlooking the most mesmerizing of blue waters. So when Imogen and I were planning our trip to Greece, it topped my list of where I wanted to go.
We got to Santorini by way of a slow ferry that took around 8 hours to reach there. It by far had the worst food of the journey–as every other place was filled with amazing food. We tried to sleep a good bit of it, and I ended up running through books I had brought quickly because of it. But it was all worth it as we caught our first glimpse of the beauty of Santorini.
The roads on the islands are steep without much of a guard rail, if any. We stayed on the eastern side of the island, which is famous for its black sand beaches. It was a perfect place to get in a lot of beach time. The black sand was scaldingly hot, but everything was perfect. We had our beachside cafe that we loved that we could always count on to whip up crepes that were out of this world delicious, as well as fresh smoothies. Everything we had from the crepes to the daily caught fish we ate in the evenings was so fresh, it was hard to go back to eating not-so fresh food once we returned to Cambridge. There was even a lovely vegetarian spot we went to on our second night, which had a great Caribbean vibe and salads that were big enough to feed someone for days. Soaking up the sun was exactly what we needed after days of finishing up theses. On our first evening there, we went parasailing at sunset. I don’t really like heights, so I was nervous to do it, but Imogen assured me nothing would go wrong and it was breathtaking seeing the sunset from above such beautiful water. It was definitely a highlight of the trip.
What I had been waiting for, however, was going to Oia, which is the classic beauty of Santorini, and where most of the photos one sees from the island are taken. Oia is famous for its sunset too, and hundreds of tourists come a day to stand at specific spots to capture it. We did not want to fight tourist elbows, however, and opted to see the famosu Oia sunset from the top of one of Oia’s finest rooftop restaurants, 1800, and enjoy some of the best food I have had in a long time and the sunset that was indeed like nothing I had ever seen before in the world. It was simple yet magestic, all at once. Before the sunset, we spent the day wandering through the myriad of streets in Oia, reveling in each turn revealing striking scenery of the city. I know one day if I ever have a lot of money, I would like to return and stay in a cliffside villa in Oia. We meandered down the 300 steps to the harbour and then scaled along the side of the island, jumping from rock to rock, to get a closer look at the turquoise waters as they met the edges of the island. Going back up the 300 steps was a testament of will though in the blistering heat. I felt my asthma of days gone by, clutching at my lungs with each step, and I was grateful for shade in souvenir shopping at the top. I had to keep pinching myself in my mind the entire day, though, as this was one place that I could not believe I was so blessed to be able to see in person. No photograph can truly capture its beauty.
There’s a photo I love that I have seen on Facebook and Instagram a few times of hands filled with glitter and it says something along the lines of what happens when you touch a black girl because of #Blackgirlmagic. There was a moment as we were walking along the shoreline that I lifted my arms in the air for a photo, and as I did I looked around me at the vast beauty that was not just the beauty of Santorini, but also what I had exuded as my own #Blackgirlmagic during my time in Europe. My beauty, wit, style, and boldness of life that had been fully unleashed over the last years felt shockingly at the tips of my fingers. It’s always there. Sometimes it just needs a bit of reminding and revitalizing.