Talk about feeling like you're in a painting!

A Vermeer, perhaps.

We just happened to pick the perfect time to hike up to the very top of the island, up the steps of "the zig zag church," right as the sky was turning rose gold. Seeing the main village, the Chora, perched on the edge of that cliff, teetering above the terraced rocks below, drenched in liquid sunshine and golden light – it was quite a magnificent site. 

And the mountains went on forever, reverberating like an echo...

and eventually melting into the arms of the sea.

360° vistas at every turn that just got more and more impressive the higher we climbed.

I wish I knew who this couple was so I could share this picture. I think it's so romantic.

It was a little nerve wracking to see people inching further and further out on the edges of the rock. Just a few more inches and it's a straight, 1,400" drop.

The view to the east, out into the sea, was just as dramatic. 

Even though we were high up, the island is so tiny, spotting our hotel (and any other notable location) wasn't hard.

If this looks a little frightening – like we're sitting on the edge of a wall that doesn't have anything to keep us from falling to our deaths – you're absolutely right. On the other side of this wall we're sitting on is nothing but a few hundred foot free fall down to rock. I couldn't help but think that this is exactly the type of thing that would never fly in the states. The entire climb up was awfully tricky – no fences, no ropes, no walls, no signs. Just uneven steps and slippery dusty paths and loose rock to climb. Even being up at the top was downright dangerous, for adults and certainly for kids. It was slightly dizzying and a bit nerve-wracking to say the least. People were not only scattered out on the far edges of the cliffs, practically dangling above their certain death, but people were climbing up to sit on top of the church's domed ceiling, marching up narrow steps jutting out into the air with nothing beneath, etc. I couldn't help but think that one little toe-catch on a pebble, one small stumble from a misstep, and you could quite literally and quite easily launch yourself straight off the cliff. Scott and I had death grips on the kids' hands (to the point of practically cutting off their circulation!) most of the time but it's pretty incredible how well they can identify the situation and use good judgement. 

On the way back down we found the perfect spot to sit for a bit and watch the sun disappear behind the mist into the mountains. 

The four of us saddled up together, cozying into a little burrow of rocks, everything quiet and peaceful, the wind getting louder and the air getting cooler, sitting on the very edge of a rock jutting hundreds of feet up out of the middle of the Aegean Sea, it occurred to me that this was most definitely one of the best, happiest, most amazing and special moments in my life (...so far).