The years might be advancing upon me but as things stand, I am nowhere near prepared to consider myself old. My eyes still sparkle when I see ice cream cones covered in rainbow sprinkles, I still have an irrational affection for all things Hello Kitty and whilst my friends are busy talking potty training and kitchen renovations, all I find myself dreaming about is my next African safari, my maiden voyage to Machu Picchu and that magical day I might finally see the pandas in China.
I am Peter Pan and whatever my date of birth may be, I still feel young at heart (though I suspect there have been many episodes in my life where Pumpkin would have been tempted to replace the word, “young” with “immature”.)
As much as I hate to use the phrase, “my generation,” it is indeed mine that has grown up during some of the most formative and pivotal digital changes in recent times. When I started school, I was writing essays. No, really writing them. By the time I finished, they were all typed. In those year eight IT lessons, I had never even heard of the internet but by my last day, I was proficient at using it. For my 15th birthday, I wanted a Discman to replace my Walkman but ten years later, no one was using either and don’t even get me started on what ever happened to Napster, Will and Grace or Blockbuster video rental.
One thing that has remained, however, throughout all these changing landscapes, has been the dinner and movie phenomenon.
The screens may have widened over the decades, the graphics clearer and the popcorn menu extended to nachos but the fact remains that whether you are 18 or 48, whether you grew up in the 1960s or 1990s, this particular life pleasure is timeless. For as long as there are boys and girls to woo, there will be dinners and there will be movies.
But then comes Santorini, the world-renowned Greek island surrounded by the blue Aegean sea (and if you’re lucky, even bluer skies.) The island has captured the heart of millions of world wanderers but just in case you thought its blazing sunsets, blue and white churches and panoramic hilltop vistas weren’t romantic enough, along came the Cine Kamari Open Air Cinema to silence each cynic that would dare to frequent it.
A short drive away from the ashy, black sand beaches of Kamari lies Santorini’s one and only outdoor cinema and, like so many hot tickets in town these days, this cinema rewards the patient ones (ie advanced bookings are not accepted and it has a first come first serve approach.)
Yes, this is frustrating for those of you accustomed to completing every cell on your spreadsheet before the holiday but on the upside, it does mean you won’t lose a penny if you decide to camp indoors when the heavens open up.
Aside from tourists staying in Kamari itself, public transport options to and from the cinema are limited so it is worth investing in some wheels, which you may recall was one of my key travel tips for Santorini.
Santorini’s Most Romantic Cinema
After a quick dinner along the sea front in Kamari, we hopped inside our hire car and arrived at the cinema around an hour earlier than the official start time (quite possibly the only time I have ever been early for anything in my life.)
Arrival ahead of time is recommended and although it may sound like a waste of precious holiday hours, at the Kamari Open Air Cinema, the early bird easily catches the worm.
Firstly, it is the only way to attempt to grab the best seats in the house but more importantly, it lends you a glorious romantic hour in which to soak up an ambience that I can only describe as enchanting.
As our GPS hinted that we were drawing close to the venue, a collection of shabby-chic style paraphernalia and clapper boards outside confirmed it. What truly lay inside, however, was a closely guarded secret, lurking behind a gated metal entrance. In that quintessentially British way, we took our places in the queue with only a handful of fellow cinema-goers ahead of us.
The only reveal to be found was Tom Hanks’ face splashed across the posters outside but this came as no surprise since we already knew we were there to see Sully, which rather fortunately was on in Santorini even before its UK release date.
The outdoor cinema in Santorini has one screen so there’s only ever one film on at a time and you can check titles on their website. Typically, these are English language films, screened with Greek subtitles and the audience, whilst predominantly comprised of tourists, had its fair share of Santorini locals too.
Despite its deluge of rays by day, Santorini acquires a spiky chill when moonlight takes over so just as soon as we settled into our seats, marking our territory with handbags and scarves, I ventured over to the blanket box and helped myself to an extra toasty, chequered, woollen wrap, large enough for two but cosy enough for the masses.
Suitably smug that we had arrived early enough to absorb the thoughtful touches at Cine Kamari, Pumpkin meandered towards the bar, brushing past the towering, feathery ferns that caressed the last seat in our row. His eyes scanned the menu, its extensive list of cocktails illuminated by the fairy lights woven into branches on trees and lanterns splayed strategically around the communal areas.
“Don’t worry, there are mocktails and teas,” he proclaimed before I said a word, beckoning me towards the bar. His one single sentence determined both how well he can read me and that the venue were catering for their teetotal guests. I broke no boundaries with my Virgin Mojito but surely the only acceptable drink to be ordering at this charming open-air movie night is the Cinema Paradiso?
Whilst browsing the beverages, I couldn’t help but notice the fresh sushi on offer and cursed myself for eating dinner before arrival. Chancing my luck, I threw Pumpkin the “shall we just order a teeny bit more” eyes before ultimately shutting the menu, as a most uncharacteristic wave of self-discipline engulfed me.
A canopy of hot pink bougainvillea drooped above me, weighed down by its own beauty, its intense tones unmarred by the absence of sunlight. In that moment, enveloped with the glow of golden light, hydrated by fruity cocktails and nestled under a duvet with the man who inspired me to explore the world, I couldn’t care less about the internet or Instagram or any of the other technological advances that have ebbed their way into my life since my childhood.
All I could recall was the way in which, seven years earlier, we had been doing much the same – but instead of a woollen throw, it was an Ikea fleece, instead of the Cine Kamari outdoor cinema, it was the sofa in his home (which I am grateful to now be able to call our home) and instead of Tom Hanks landing planes in rivers, it was an all-star cast in He’s just not that into you. Yes, you read right – I was legitimately mad enough to propose this for one of our very first film nights in the early days. Subtle much?!
As for the film, Sully, it is in part due to actors like Tom Hanks that the industry has excelled for so long. I am not pretending for one second to have any qualifications in film critique or film blogging but I personally found his portrayal of Captain Sully utterly compelling, the pilot with nerves of steel who made international headlines in 2009 when he ceremoniously landed an aircraft in the Hudson river, New York, when sensing danger. An incredible story, all the more gripping for being non fictional but perhaps one to avoid if you’re a nervous flyer!
Have you ever been to an outdoor cinema?