In the end, it is not about the city, nor the streets. It is also not about those picturesque hills or beaches or mountains. And it is not about the local food or delicacies, traditional dances or performances. It is definitely not about the tourist attraction, nor the hidden exotic spots. And, surprisingly, it is not even about the photographs you have taken, no matter how wonderful they turned out to be.

It is always—always, about the people you meet along the way.

From my previous travelling journeys, I realized that the places I cherish the most are places with names and faces; places where stories and dreams are being shared with someone you have just met for the very first time; places where you arrive as a stranger and depart as a dear friend. It is that connection that matters. It is that warm feeling of friendship that lingers—even long after the post-journey excitement fades away. It is that kind of feeling that stays with me after I got back from visiting Karachi, Pakistan, June last year; and it is also that kind of feeling that remains as I was sitting on the plane, leaving Santorini behind.

It is about G, and our casual talk at the reception area.

About how he introduced me to his friends and showed me the best spots in town to eat, hang out, or take beautiful pictures. About how he wanted me to bring a bottle of his family’s wine back home. About how he gave me his phone number and said, “Anytime you need anything, just call. I’m available 24 hours.”

It is about AD who greeted me every morning just because I always walked past his place on my way to the bus station. It is about our small talk every day when he asked me where I would go that day and what I had seen yesterday before giving me that pleasant smile and shouted, “Have a nice day!”—while waving his hands cheerily.

It is about AP who came to my table when I dine at his place. About how he thanked me for coming and told me stories about how he went fishing in the morning and caught the now-grilled sea bass I was eating. About how he told me that the baklava I ordered for dessert was a treat from him.

It is about MS who welcomed me at his tavern and said that he remembered me (“You’re staying at G’s place!”) and sent a free Vinsanto wine to my table when I finished my meal.

It is about F who was watering his plants when I passed by his house. About how he asked, “Hello, everything’s alright?” because he thought I was lost. It is about how we chatted after I told him that I was not lost; I was just wandering around the alleyways to take pictures of people’s fences, doors, and windows.

It is about MA who shouted, “Apa kabar?” whenever I passed by her little shop after she learnt that I am from Indonesia.

It is about O, a friend of G, who gave me a crash course in Greek.

It is about the guy at the bookshop who pulled out a wooden puppet from somewhere and asked me, “Do you know Karagkiozis?”—and when I shook my head, he said that Karagkiozis is a kind of shadow play from Greece.

About how you can move the wooden puppet by pulling on the strings attached to it. “It is played behind a white screen, so people only see the shadows,” he explained, before slipping the wooden puppet into my shopping bag and said, “This is for you. A gift from Santorini!”

In the end, it is all about the people. It is always about the people.

They are the ones who make your journey memorable. They are ones who teach you something new, who enable you to see the world from a different perspective, who send subtle messages that somehow feel relevant to your life. They are the ones who shape the faces of your journeys. They stay with you throughout, because somehow—no matter how brief their kindness had brushed up on you, they have left a part of themselves in you. And whether you realize it or not, you have also left a part of yourself in them.

And that’s exactly why, no matter where you are, whether you’re heading out on a new journey or simply going back from one, you will always feel at home.


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40 Responses

  1. already put Santorini on my-places-that-I-had-to-visit-before-I-die-list last year. Hope you wrote my name at Santorini’s sky so I could go there as well real soon! aaaaaaak…. 😆

  2. Ouchhh.. That’s right! because the people around the place where we are start and finish the journey are make the unforgotable experience… I believe, that their smile usually you remember, really?

    well, I hope I can Go to thats palce… wish me! 😀

    (I’m sorry if my grammar is too bad, i still learn english ^.^)

  3. It is always—always, about the people you meet along the way, completely agree with you. its just a bond between us that makes this world worth to live and our life start to shine…

  4. I always had my travelling with friends, but still I had my own feeling. Sometimes I daydream that I was being myself and not with anyone. Just enjoy the moment that I may never have again. And it feels great 🙂
    What a beautiful journey Hanny, thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thank you! :’) When I travel with friends, sometimes I ask for some time alone, like going out alone in the afternoon and meet up again with them at dinner 🙂

  5. your blog is very inspiring Han..!! planning my trip to travel alone.. hopefully have an experience as great as yours 🙂

  6. I love beautiful captures! Thanks for the great pictures! I’ve always wanted to personally see all those little, multi-colored, house nestled along the hills. Looks, so romantic.

    1. Santorini is one of those places; where what you see in the pictures/postcards are nothing compared to the real-live thrill of seeing it live! :’D So pretty, so beautiful! 😀

  7. I totally agree with you! My best vacation was when I, ironically, went to Greece and stayed with a friend’s family rather than at a hotel. The people I met there, whom I still communicate with six years later, are what made that travel experience my most memorable. I love reading about the kindness of strangers! Your blog is inspiring and beautifully written. Thanks for sharing these special moments with us.

    1. Oh, I’d love to travel alone again one day and staying with a local family there, must be giving you a different kind of experience, more enriching! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  8. Brilliant- amazing how meeting people can make a huge world feel like home. Despite “worldly problems” like politics/war, at the core, we are all people just trying to be people with the best intentions. I’m currently in Israel, traveling alone, and you hit my current nail right on the head!

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We tend to shape our memories of them based on the limited time we spend with them—and our memories of them, over time, will be replaced with one single word, one single interaction, or one single feeling.
Beradadisini Love Letter to Self
I took up a personal journaling project this week: writing a love letter to myself before bed. I work on a thin A6-size handmade paper journal I got from a paper artist, Els. The journal is thin and small enough, so it doesn't overwhelm me. It feels like I am only going to work on a small project.
Standing up for yourself does not have to look aggressive. It does not have to feel like a fight. It's not always about convincing others or explaining yourself and your decisions with the hope that everyone else understands or accepts your choice.
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 life—one word at a time.