When travelling alone, I am the kind of person who will be spending as much time to do things I am interested in, in places I am most attracted to. It is never about the number of places I have visited or photographed, and it is definitely not about walking around with a tourist map in hand, check-marking the sites flagged as “must-seen” by others.

Travelling alone is about a journey that is taking place inside of me. It is about waking up very early or very late. About enjoying or skipping breakfast. About wandering aimlessly or looking for a particular spot. About sitting in one small patisserie—reading poetry books for 2.5 hours straight or fluttering from one art shop to another in 15 minutes. About coming back to the hotel before dark and writing in my room or going out after midnight to take a peek at the bars or having a very late dinner. It is about what I feel like doing. It is about slowing down and taking a deep breath. About stopping and being still. About following where your heart is taking you. About not being in a rush.

Santorini is the perfect place to do just that. Nobody is scurrying or honking or yelling or cutting in line. It is like seeing the world moving in slow motion, and it is such a wonderful scene to watch. You can see how people move their hands. The way the wind ruffles somebody’s skirt. The color of someone’s eyes. The freshness of the tomatoes on your salad bowl. The shapes of doors and fences and rooftops. The sound of a lizard moving lazily on the gravel path. This is a small island where everybody knows everybody. Where one is always somebody else’s childhood friend. Where people actually go to the beach or to the hills by bringing along their canvas and paints or guitar; then spend hours there, painting or strumming—just like in the movies. Where the streets and shortcuts and alleyways become amazingly familiar to you in just a day or two (“It’s really difficult to get lost here, trust me,” said G—the owner of the hotel where I stayed, when I told him that I have a very poor sense of direction. He was right).

On my first day, I tried my luck (and courage) in taking the shortcut from the hotel to the city center. Instead of following the main road, I climbed the alleyways behind the mini market, walked past people’s homes and establishments, took pictures of everything beautiful while trying to avoid stepping on the fresh donkey manures. I did well. I went out (somehow) at the right alley, just before the bus station at Fira’s city center. From that day on, I got all the courage in the world to take shortcuts and alleyways to some small villages nearby, never once got lost.

Later that day, having seen the photographs, G was surprised knowing that I had snapped a picture of his family’s old cave house. “How did you find it? It is hidden from the street…!” (well, I did take the road less travelled!). G’s father and grandfather was raised in this cave house, a traditional house—built deep into the rock face—of the locals in Santorini. At the moment, most cave houses have been sold or leased as hotels/villas.

“The cave house is empty now, and we’re planning to sell it as well,” said G.

“Must be hard to let go of such a precious family possession. It holds the family’s history,” I replied, reminded of a friend of mine who had recently sold her family’s old house.

G just shot an ‘it-is-OK’ smile.

I wandered around Fira’s city center that afternoon. The sun was shining brightly, but the wind was blowing hard and cold—enveloping me in the fresh and salty scent of the Aegean sea. Wrapped in my pink cardigan, I climbed up past the little shops selling local delicacies; Vinsanto wine and olive oil in pretty bottles, to the stretch overlooking the caldera.

{Note: The present-day crescent shape of Santorini island is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion some 3,600 years ago. This created the current geological caldera; a giant central lagoon, more or less rectangular, and measuring about 12 by 7 km, surrounded by 300 m high steep cliffs on three sides.}

I just sat there for I didn’t know how long; mesmerized by the stunning view and the fact that I was actually here, standing right in the middle of my fairy tale. How far can a dream take you? I would say, far. Really far.


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71 Responses

  1. So I had to check out your other Santorini post (the first I found via Freshly Pressed). I love your writing style – this post (and the pictures!) made me want to be there, too πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for this. I’m still quite new to the whole travelling alone thing, but so far I feel exactly the same way. I too like to get away from the ‘must-see’ places and just get out and explore aimlessly. Great posts!

    1. Thank you! Sometimes you can find new places when you don’t rely on the tourism map πŸ˜€ and more opportunities to connect with other people as well πŸ™‚

  3. Beautiful. And it’s a trip worth millions of memories and smiles. And you write well! Oh! Congrats. πŸ™‚ I’ll walk those alleyways someday.

  4. Thia is great!! I’m going on my first solo trip and I am about to find out what I’ll be looking for in my trip! πŸ™‚

    Great post! πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks!! Looks like you are also a book worm like me! πŸ™‚
        I have been thinking about which book to take along with me on my trip.
        Any suggestions?

  5. “It is about what I feel like doing. It is about slowing down and taking a deep breath. About stopping and being still. About following where your heart is taking you. About not being in a rush.” nipiiiss.. I like this quote!! can I copy it?? πŸ˜€ heeyy, kapan Oz mau dikunjungi jangan yg jauh2 terus dooong… siniii..siinnii.. πŸ™‚

  6. I’ve been travelling alone most of my life – I can’t be waiting for others to get their finances in order, or their holiday requests approved – though I’m always delighted to have friends join me for a while, if it works out that way!

    I always feel much more open to the world – and people around me, when I’m alone, and it feels as if the world has me in its care because of that. I’ve also noticed that I have far more exciting adventures when I’m travelling solo and that people seem much more likely to invite a single lady to tea, than a party of two or three.

    Keep enjoying your trips – they feed the soul!

          1. Can’t wait to read more of your posts esp. travel articles! I’m a writer, too, from the Philippines and reading some of your older posts makes me want to visit Jakarta. πŸ™‚

          2. Wow! That’s so great! πŸ™‚ And you know the word “kababayan”! Do you have Filipino friends? πŸ™‚ I actually plan to visit Jakarta around September this year. Hope to see you when I get there! πŸ™‚

  7. I’m really enjoying reading your blog. Great style. Reading this post made me want to be so bold as to recommend a book (if you haven’t read it already): Victoria Hislop’s ‘The Island’. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Greece and on the islands – this book captures it all beautifully. Some of your writing was very reminiscent of Hislop’s. Happy travelling.

  8. Hi there–just left a comment on your first post about traveling alone–but this one was equally as resonant as that one. I loved your first paragraph about how traveling isn’t meant to be spent doing things on a list that people have already done-that’s called touring. No, traveling is much more of a personal experience, something you engage in–something that allows you to discover… I love it

    1. Thank you! I think it’s best to see things that we’d like to see rather than following other people’s list. In the end, I think our journey is very personal, just like you said, so we need to find our own way πŸ™‚ Rings true to life as well πŸ˜›

  9. Reading your post reminded me where I live and that all these things that you found interesting and beautiful I (and most Greeks) take them for granted and don’t appreciate them much.
    I loved your way of writing!

  10. Love your pictures. Love your writing. I traveled to Santorini 5 years ago and the feel of the greek islands is still so fresh in my mind. It’s a beautiful place to get lost and take in life slowly. You capture it so well!

  11. Wow, I’ve always wanted to go to the greek islands especially Santorini, people say its quite romantic, but urgh just going there on your own is good enough. It’s straight into the list of the places I want to go. Love the pictures too <3

  12. Hello and excellent post! I too am about to embark on my first solo journey across America! I cannot wait to break free from these invisible shackles and head out towards the great unkown. It’s hard to believe in a little less than two months I will be living life on the highway! I enjoy reading your work and look forward to more, I am somewhat new to blogging but I have always loved writting and the written word.

    1. Oh, wow! Sounds cool! America is huge! πŸ˜€ So you’ll embark on a looong journey, I guess! Looking forward to read the stories of your journey in your blog! πŸ™‚

  13. Wow, I enjoy these posts about Santorini so much! The feeling of freedom and your great pictures. I can sense how much fun you had! I am only wondering about one thing, is not it simply the “grass is greener next door” syndrome? Does one really has to go away to be amazed and have so much fun? Can’t we find it in our own environment?

    1. No, I don’t think one should “go away” to faraway places. We can do it in our own environment, I could have that journey inside my bedroom, painting or reading poems—or going as close as to the Botanical Garden in my hometown.

      But I think when you’re in faraway places, you have the chance to taste a sense of ‘freedom’ (esp. when you’re traveling alone). A chance to be yourself—not to be judged and bounded by your friends’ or families’ expectations upon you, a chance to do whatever you like because nobody knows you in this faraway place, the freedom not to be chased by phone calls or emails or deadlines.

      It’s like a trigger in some way.

      When you’ve sensed this feeling, you would want to taste it again in your daily lives when you got back, and I think that’s when you started to think things through, trying to be yourself here and now (because it feels really good to just be yourself!!!), trying to see the beauty in your surroundings, trying to be more open and attentive, to connect with strangers in your hometown. Probably it’s true, that people travel to the end of the world only to learn and appreciate their “home” even more. There’s a quote: No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

      So, I think, in the end, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey itself, that can take place anywhere πŸ™‚

      1. Very true, I think going away and not having the constraints (friends, family, familiarity)results in expanded horizons, with only you there is no one holding you back, no one defining you…you’re doing that yourself.

  14. Inspiring, I’ve always wanted to go to Greece…your pictures and prose are a spurring for me to get that one realized. Thank you, for your writing and sharing…it’s a blessing to find others reading poetry for hours, the courage to take those inner and outer journeys…we’re all here to help one another and often standing in our truth and sharing the experience, means the world to another. Be well ~Kristy

    1. Thank you so much, Kristy! You’re right, I love what you said: “We’re all here to help one another and often standing in our truth and sharing the experience.” This is so true. Beautiful thought! πŸ™‚ Wish you’ll be able to realize your trip to Greece soon! πŸ™‚

  15. ya ampuuunn mahalan ke Santorini dong nipis.. huhuhu… ayooo keciniiih nanti kino ajak liat bintang2 deket banget loooh langitnya!! *ngerayu* ;P

  16. Wow. Just WOW.
    After stalking your blog and read your posts for some time, I’ve decided that you’re AWESOME! =)
    You’re fearless and poetic. And I looooveee the way you write. It’s just something in it that keeps me tracing every word until the very last.
    Keep doing it. It’s beautiful. =)

  17. Hi! What an inspiring post!!! I have been struggling with the idea of traveling alone (never done it before) and this post gave me such an energy boost! Thank you for your inspiration! πŸ™‚

    I was wondering if you have any additional tips for a solo female traveler. Was your hotel a friendly place to meet other people? IΒ΄m afraid of picking the “newly weds” kind of hotel, since the one I stayed in October in Oia was like that, and feeling kind of lonely.

    1. I would suggest you to go to hostelworld.com and stay in a hostel πŸ™‚ They have reviews on the best hostel in town, and what I love about hostels is that they have common rooms where you can meet and talk with other travelers, and most possibly, finding yourself arranging a trip together for the evening/the next day! πŸ™‚

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Legs and Apples
Do it because it’s fun. Because it brings you joy; because it’s meaningful to you. Do it because it gives you simple tiny pleasures. Do it because it makes you smile.
The view from De Klok
I took another digital detox this weekendβ€”I limited myself to a 5-minute screen time on Saturday and Sunday to quickly check my business account. I closed my social media account for the rest of the days.
Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting lifeβ€”one word at a time.