Dear sweet Littlest,
It’s been two weeks since we returned from Santorini and our trip is starting to fade into a pale memory. This always happens to me and it always makes me melancholy. Also, I fell down the steps at school on Thursday and sprained my ankle (I know what you’re thinking… Again?) so I find myself on the couch in our apartment and feeling a little blue. (And not the good kind of Aegean-sea-blue.) Alas… some days are like that, even in Australia.
I realized that you were probably thinking “What’s the deal-io with the caves?” There are a couple of different theories about the use of caves as dwellings on the Aegean. One is that sailors created them as makeshift accommodations while they were sailing long distances and another is that the original cave houses were actually stables for donkeys. What occurred to me is that these naturally occurring caves are cool in the summer season and provide a respite from the hot midday sun and the caves maximize the use of space on the island in much the same way that tiered farm land does in parts of Asia.
We stayed at Aris Caves which I recommend enthusiastically. Users of Trip Advisor, a great online source for hotel and restaurant reviews, named Aris Caves the Best Bargain in Europe in the 2008 Travelers Choice Awards. Aris Caves is run by Christa and Ari and thoughtful Christa took such very good care of us throughout our stay. She brought us these lovely easter treats, invited us to use the internet connection in their home and shared helpful tips such as a recommendation for what would become our favourite restaurant, Thalami. When the sun finally came out for good, she told CJ that she was worried that DP and I were missing the best part of the day. As you know, we weren’t missing anything… we were getting the sleep of a lifetime.
We arrived in darkness on a Saturday night. We followed the amazingly strong/speedy/agile porter down 122 steps… and then Christa unlocked the door to our cave. Ta dum. I’m telling you… it was cave perfection. Cave Sweet Cave. I’m including some photographs so you’ll have a better sense of how the place looked and felt. (My habit of taking interior shots is inherited from mom… she always documents the insides of the places we visit. Thanks, mom!)
1. Here’s the sign for Aris caves. Fortunately, Christa showed us to our room upon our arrival… I don’t think we would have found it on our own in the dark.
2. The view of Aris Caves from above. On the far left you can see the corner of the main patio which all guests are free to use. On the right are some of the caves rooms. The first of the open umbrellas marks the spot of our main patio.
3. This was our lovely living room. The cave was so beautifully furnished and decorated. On our second day, I re-arranged the furniture, moving the table down to the room a couple of steps below so we would have more space to move around the cave and, you know, not sprain our ankles. There was also a little kitchen which we used and (wait for it… this is the best part) the dishes were washed, each day, as part of our maid service. We tipped them well.
4. Looking back at the entrance from the living room. We thought that the cave might be dark but it was actually quite bright. CJ said that upon waking on even the cloudiest of our Oia days, she thought it was sunny outside. What she was seeing was the freshly painted white of the caves and walls around us.
5. The cosy loft where CJ slept. (She’s such a very good friend to have volunteered to climb up this ladder each night.)
6. I’m such a sucker for the little details. I fell in love with the pottery in the apartment. CJ asked Christa if she had made it… Christa said that she bought it 30 years earlier from a local Oia potter who was now dead.
7. Our bedroom. I know I’ve already sent you this pic but I was wild about this bed. I had some of the best sleeps of my life in this beautiful room.
8. The hallway from our bedroom to the little balcony.
9. Cave cat extraordinaire. At first, this cat appeared and disappeared like a ghost. After a couple of days, it fell under CJs spell and would snuggle up in her lap looking for affection. (CJ is very good with cats!)
10. Bliss on the main balcony. This is not a great photo but, for me, it’s a perfect reminder of just how relaxed I was in Oia. On this particular afternoon, DP and CJ were 122 steps above me, exploring. No doubt, DP was taking photos. CJ was probably checking out the shops and getting to know the local merchants. I was bundled up snug in a blanket and reading Isabel Allende’s memoir The Sum of Our Days which I adored. Later DP and CJ arrived with food and stories of what they’d seen and discovered.
You have to go to Santorini someday, sweetie. It’s just that simple.