People flock from all over the world to crowd into Santorini’s Caldera, clamouring over one another with DSLRs and iPhones drawn, because Oia is known for having some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. List 25 puts it at number five, lauding it as “probably the most famous place in the world to watch the sunset”, and if it’s good enough for a site as definitive sounding as List 25, it’s good enough for my blog. Tripadvisor even lists “sunsets” as third top thing to do in Santorini—because as breathtaking and miraculous as it is, a sunset is still something as common and mundane as a thing and is something that can be done.
I’m no good at ranking things or memories. I’ve certainly seen some truly beautiful sunsets, but I couldn’t pinpoint the time or place. Some have happened right at home in B.C., from the office window at my work. Right before I lower the blinds, as I’m dropping all my weight on the rope, I get a clear view of the evening settling into the mountains. Everything is tinted blue—the mountains, the houses, the trees, distant apartment buildings—but as the sun slips into the west, a line of pale pink traces every outline. And if you want me to get truly sappy, some of the best sunsets have been on school roofs and chilly beaches because I was with people I loved, and, as John Lennon (but credited as Lennon-McCartney) said, “love is all you need”.
I think the truly beautiful part about a sunset is not the descent itself, but the effect it has on its surroundings. The colours bleeding from the sky, the glow of the buildings, the creeping of goosebumps as its final rays leave your skin. I had a hard time with the Oian sunset. My iPhone’s sensitive lighting (either bleaching my screen or casting everything in shadow) and my inability to work my DSLR’s manual settings could never capture any beauty that might be there, so after a few half-hearted snaps, I usually gave up and just tried to watch through unfiltered eyes—though this too was difficult, mainly due to, you know, sun rays scorching my eyeballs. It burned a glaring gold, slipped into a harsh scarlet. Maybe my eyes are just pussywillows, or maybe I should own sunglasses that properly protect from UVA/UVB rays, but it was difficult to enjoy. So instead I’d turn away. And certain as the sun setting in the west, the moon was quietly climbing into the periwinkle sky behind the entire crowd’s back. Part of me wanted to shout at them, berate them for choosing this loud sunset over the humble moon, but the bigger part of me is a hipster-esque prat who likes to keep the best things to myself and then share them all-knowingly on the Internet.