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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
August 10, 2005

The View from Santorini…

Santorini is a magical island, set deep in the Aegean, in the shape of a reversed “C”, the open area of the “C” is the Caldera, the great hole opened in the earth about 3600 hundred years ago when the volcano that lives here had a very bad time and blew its lid, taking with it, so say historians, Minoan civilization and spawning the myth of Atlantis.

At the south end of the island is Arkotiri, where reside some of the finest ruins of the Minoan age, a town abandoned by its citizens before the catastrophe and now a remarkable monument to the advanced civilization that existed on the southern edge of this marvelous island.

This is my fourth visit to Santorini; I have been seduced by its magic. The first two times I was here I stayed down in Kamari, the black sand beach town that looks out on the eastern Aegean, a place to lie in the sun, sip cool Santorini wines, read and go snorkeling.

The last time I was here, we arrived on a cruise ship and spent a day wandering the island while meandering our way by sea to Istanbul.

When we decided to return to Santorini, I attempted to book us back into the beach hotel in Kamari but couldn’t: they were flat out booked solid through the whole month of August. As, it turned, was most of the rest of the island. I ended up booking us into a new hotel called The Majestic, at the south end of Fira town, with stunning views across the Caldera on one side and a clear view out to the sea from the other.

Yesterday, driving around the island, on the narrow roller coaster roads, I thought about how this fourth trip was changing my view of the island and that it told me something about myself and my time in life.

Even when I came here first in 1991, I was “beyond” Fira. It is the clubby town, full of expensive shops for cruise ship passengers and inexpensive lodgings for young backpackers, noisy bars and boisterous youth on motorbikes, challenging their mortality on the often dangerous roads.

Ia, at the far end, where we will end this trip at Hotel Perivolas, is a quieter town, classically beautiful, not as crammed in the late hours of the night; it only has one bar.

We ate one night this trip at 1800, one of the two best restaurants on the island. The table behind us was inhabited by a dozen Hollywood folks, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and the producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

While Ia draws the global glitterati, it also draws people like some friends of mine who are here working on a coffee table book on Santorini and its cave houses. It is a mellower town and I realized on the twisting road between Ia and Fira that I am at a mellower time in my life. Kamari was good for its time. The Majestic has been a good transition place. It is brand new, a fully equipped resort with spa, contemporary architecture that evokes traditional Greek without aping it and modern amenities, including wireless internet in the lobby.

Tonight I will go to Ia to stay for the final portion of my visit and I am looking forward to the mellower town in this mellower time of my life. I am on vacation and off this island the news of the world ticks on while I do my best to live outside of it for a few days, hoping to gain new perspectives and a rejuvenated spirit.

It is not that the events of the world are not important; it is that the silence of the island gives them a different perspective. Living, even for a moment, outside of events allows those events to have deeper, more resonant meaning and to help me, individually, decipher which are really important – to me – and which are not.

When allowed, vacation is a place to permit our value systems to coalesce and firm, to sort themselves out and to settle in our hearts for the next round of life.