My name is Belinda Johnstone and I’m a 29 year old Australian from Sydney. It has always been my dream to live in Santorini ever since I took an overseas holiday in 2006. A short 24 hours is all it took to ignite the dream within me to live on this beautiful island.
I left a little piece of my heart in Santorini and I wouldn’t come back to find it again for another 6 years. I had a picture of the sunset in Oia on my bedroom wall this entire time – reminding me of everyday of my dream to return. I remember feeling so free and uninhibited, maybe it was the frappes, maybe it was the late night dancing and music or maybe it was the free spirited culture of the Greek people, whatever it was I loved it and I wanted it all the time.
Fast forward to 2012 & I was living in Los Angeles studying acting. After 5 short months I wasn’t really feeling it anymore and I knew I needed to recharge my batteries and get a fresh perspective. Where should I go? The answer was blatantly obvious- the Greek Islands of course! So spontaneously I booked a trip to the Greek Islands, 2 nights in Mykonos and 5 in Santorini. Not knowing anyone there I went by myself with only my heart and faith guiding me that this was the right thing to do.
I remember the ferry from Mykonos to Santorini pulling into the port and looking up to the sheer cliff faces of the Caldera with the backdrop of the colourful Aegean sunset – falling in love all over again and knowing this is the place I was meant to be.
After 3 days in Santorini, knowing I had to leave in 48 hours – I made the decision to stay for another month, I simply could not leave this beautiful island again! One month turned into two months and I had made so many amazing friends and was starting to get used to the Greek way of life. My day consisted of going to the beach mid afternoon, sipping on a freddo cappuccino, coming home taking a nap and then getting ready to go out to dinner and then hit up the bars.
It was October and I had to go home, simply because I had 3 wardrobes internationally! One in Australia, one in America and one in Santorini. I found the simple small suitcase I packed for Greece for one week more than enough and that happiness came from not how much I had but how much I was living. After a very sad goodbye to all my new friends and the island I returned to Los Angeles briefly then home to Australia, to see that same picture of the sunset in Oia hanging on my wall.
After 2 months in Australia I knew I wasn’t happy. So I made the decision to move to Santorini for the upcoming summer season of 2013. I didn’t have much time to plan it all as I made my decision only in January and the season kicked off in May. Miraculously, I had applied for my Italian passport and got it pushed through the system within 4 short months and received it the day of my flight back to Greece! I had to have a lot of faith that everything would fall into place.
Feeling ever so grateful, I boarded my Virgin flight and left Australia once more to return to my island of Santorini.
I lived in Santorini for 3 years and it’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Living in Santorini allowed me the lifestyle to work but also to see my friends everyday and go to the beach, coffee or to dinner. I have worked in a couple of tourist bars as a waitress and an MC. Most recently I was working as a Receptionist/On Duty Manager at one of the prestigious Imerovigli hotels on the caldera.
I got to meet new and interesting people everyday from all over the world. From a local perspective I enjoyed walking down the street and knowing most people and being greeted with a friendly “Kalimera!” (Good Morning) even though it might be 3 in the afternoon. I lived a very relaxed and slower paced life which is very different to Sydney.
I’ve always said Santorini picks and chooses its ‘victims’ as in – you know if you have been chosen and will be back, its almost as if you don’t have a choice! Stay tuned as I write more about my experiences in Santorini!