Wherever I go, I hunt for bookstores. Not so much the chains like Barnes & Noble or Chapters. They serve a purpose, but one is almost like the other no matter where you go. My favourite bookstores are those one-of-a-kind independent types that reek of flavour and individuality.
I didn’t expect to find a bookstore in the town of Oia on the island of Santorini. Santorini was one of our stops on a Mediterranean cruise that Jo and I did recently. Oia is perhaps the most frequently visited place on the island, famous for its white buildings topped with blue roofs that hang precariously on steep cliffs above the sea.
On the day we visited, Oia was crawling with tourists like us. The main walkway was clogged with people snapping pictures of the spectacular views or poking their heads into the many quaint shops that sell ouzo, olive oil soap, gold jewelry, figurines of the goddess Athena, and all shapes and sizes of matia, the legendary blue eye that wards off evil for those who wear it.
The bookstore could have been easily missed, sandwiched as it was between the many shops selling novelties. Jo, ever the observant one, noticed it first.
“You’ve got to see this,” she said, pointing to a sign outside.
The Atlantis Bookstore is more cave than building. To enter, you must take a flight of steep stairs to the region below.
The bookstore is a network of small rooms, each one packed with books.
There were signs everywhere – quotes from books, quotes from authors, invitations to participate in literary events, invitations to browse the racks.
And even a sign from the proprietor.
At every turn, visitors were encouraged to wander, explore, pick up books and read.
A highlight of our visit was the discovery of an unusual object hanging above a very low doorway. Jo, who journals on each day of our travels, described it this way:
The funny part is that someone had bound a pillow to the top of the door, where no doubt, many had experienced a a blow to the head if about 5′ 4″ tall and not looking.
The Atlantis Bookstore in Oia was an inviting and unique place to visit. For booklovers like us, it hit all the right marks – warm, welcoming, with a diverse selection of books, in a setting both beautiful and inspirational. Perfect!