There is only one reason I went to Santorini. Mom had asked for her ashes to be scattered there. She first went to Santorini in the1980’s with her sister in law. For many years, every summer Mom and Brenda, both then in their mid 50’s, went island hopping in Greece. She fell in love with Santorini. And so did I.
It was just over a year since she passed away and I finally decided it was time to take Mom ‘home’. Before she died she told me she wasn’t sure that she wanted ‘it’ to be Santorini. I think she was worried that it may have changed from what she remembered. And she had since travelled to so many other places she loved. Dalyan, Turkey being one.
After she died, I was not sure where she really wanted to be, her partner and I thought Dalyan. My daughter suggested we took her to all the places she had travelled to. A lovely idea, yet limited by money, I was not sure I could fit in Thailand, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Menorca,Turkey, Hong Kong, and goodness knows where else she had travelled to.
I had three overseas holidays last year and took a little bit of Mom to two of those destinations and one in the UK. I may have broken Turkish law but I knew she loved it here.
And I found the perfect place in Malta too. I chose Marsaxlokk as it is a colourful village that hosts a lively Sunday market, and no one loved a good market better than my mom. Only after I had scattered her ashes I realised that the curtains hanging in a little house overlooking the spot where I left her are identical to the ones my mother had in her home.
Mom had also been an actress back in the 1950’s and one of her very last outings, before she got too ill to leave her home, was to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see The Tempest. I thought she may enjoy being here, in the shadow of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
As time went on, I knew I really needed closure and in my heart I knew I had to take her to Santorini.
Phil and I could only get flights to Crete at this time of the year, yet I was pretty sure that we would be able to get to Santorini from there, by boat. When we arrived we discovered that the fast ferries were not running until 17 April. Our flights home were in the early hours of 18 April. At that point I was thinking that we would only get a day trip to Santorini and have to spend the rest of the week on Crete. As much as I love Crete, I really wanted to spend more than a day on Santorini.
I was not prepared to give up and with the help of a brilliant travel agent, Paleologos, in Heraklion, planned an itinerary that got us to Santorini on the 15 April via Piraeus. We would be leaving Santorini on the first fast ferry on the 17 April at 6pm, with plenty of time to get our flight at 1am on the 18th. This was cutting it fine, as the Sea Cats don’t run if the weather is windy. Ah well, I had taken out insurance and enhanced it to cover unexpected events, given our history of holiday almost disasters. If the weather made us stay longer in Greece, so be it.
It also meant that there would be an unexpected bonus of visiting The Acropolis in Athens.
Mom had made her first journey in Greece from Piraeus in 1980 when she travelled solo, flying to Athens and then getting a ferry to Rhodes. She loved Piraeus and the bustle of getting on and off ferries, so I was pretty sure she had had some influence on these plans. She was going to get her last bit of island hopping in before settling on Santorini.
A twitter friend recommended accommodation in Santorini. What a find! Affordable, comfortable and the owners, Katerina and Nectarios treated us like family rather than guests. And Katerina is a fantastic baker. We didn’t want to leave.
Santorini has a reputation for being expensive and yes there are some places that are eye wateringly pricey. Yet it is still possible to visit and enjoy Santorini on a modest budget.
We were based in Fira, the capital, but I had an inkling that it was Oia that Mom had stayed in, so we took the bus there with Mom in the back pack.
Oia is stunning. I had seen countless photographs and was worried that it would not live up to my expectations. It exceeded them. And I knew this is where Mom was meant to be.
We got away from the crowds and searched for the perfect place. And found it.
Mom wasn’t religious yet I thought being in front of a tiny church was appropriate.
And this field of daisies just seemed to be the right place.
This is the view.
And I chose the right place, as after I had left her in her final resting place, although off the main drag where tourists gathered, everyone who passed the field stopped to admire them and the view. So she will get plenty of visitors. She would like that.