This is the story of an unforgettable sunset in Oia. The quaint white city of Oia is perched on a cliff overlooking the Prussian blue waters of the Aegean sea and reminiscent of the one thousand ships launched in the name of a beautiful face.
Oia is famous for the turquoise blue domes, doors and windows dotting the white washed homes against the cloudless blue skies. The windmills stand sentinels against the elements. The cobbled streets and pink bougainvilleas captivate visitors. Little boutique shops sell hand made soaps made from olives, jasmine, oranges and lavender. The geranium filled boxes overhanging the balconies and windows give one the impression of being in Provence.
The ancient castle overlooking the town and the sea comes alive as the evening approaches. Hours before sunset people start making their way up the path to the castle, the restaurants, cafes and bars facing the sea.
Three hours before sunset every chair and stool are taken. We decide to keep walking until we reach the very top of the wall marking the edge of the town and overlooking the cliffs and the sapphire waters of the Aegean. We set camp on the roof of a local’s home. Feet dangling into the void, a sheer drop into the sea, I ignore my vertigo and instead focus on the bright sun still shining high in the horizon.
Soon we are joined by others, little groups: young couples, families with children, friends and students. Some sit on the sloped roofs of the villas below us. While waiting, we enjoy drinks and ice-cream. Our little groups camping on top of Oia begin chatting softly, passing on drinks and sharing the precious experience. We become friends with a little group of University students from Great Britain.
It is a peaceful friendly moment suited to the magic Oia casts on its visitors. All is quiet except the soft chatting among our little groups and occasional laughter drifting over across the waters from the parapets and walls of the castle and the chairs and stools of the neighboring cafes, bars and restaurants. Below us on the dirt path we notice donkeys making their way home after a day’s work. Everyone settles down waiting for one of the greatest shows on earth to begin.
As the sun begins to set in the horizon, the laughter and chatter become softer. The world seems in transit, moving quietly and silently to merge into a new day. One can understand why in some cultures the new day begins with the sunset and not the sunrise. Boats with white sails ride the darkening waters below.
Silence takes over as Helios bids goodbye among bursts of yellow light bathed in streaks of orange, red and gold. The sea reflects the brilliant skies. As the sun finally sets, the crowds hanging on the castle’s parapets, the roofs, the walls and the tables erupt in loud echoing cheer, followed by clapping and a standing ovation worthy of a Broadway performance. The sun makes its final exit. All is dark. All is calm again.
“Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?” — Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Text by NILOFAR BAWA