Fer Geerts, the Dutch model maker who lovingly created an incredibly lifelike replica of his beloved Greek island of Santorini, is still waiting out the pandemic, hoping to return to the islands. But in the meantime, he displays it in northern Europe so other people can enjoy his handiwork — and whet their appetites for their own return to the fabulous Greek islands once more.
Geerts says he adores the Greek way of life, including the food, the sun, and the people. His favorite place is the Cyclades archipelago and, in particular, Santorini.
The model of Santorini consists of 22 parts which are pieced together like a puzzle. Geerts worked for more than twenty years on the painstaking labor of love, which he made from scrap material, including styrofoam, wood and cardboard.
The model, built with love over the span of all those years, in between his and his wife’s visits to the island, is almost five meters (fifteen feet) long and two meters wide. Beach chairs, terraces, window shutters, and all other details on the model have been recreated with stunning precision.
When Geerts placed the model in his backyard last year, it helped him and his wife get through the hardships of lockdown. As they sipped red wine and gazed at the sun glinting on the blazingly white buildings of the island, they could almost imagine themselves in their beloved Greek island once again.
Asked by Greek Reporter on Monday what he thinks of this year’s vacation prospects, he replies “I think that there will be more tourists this year, also in Greece. All the countries do their utmost for their economy to make this possible.”
However, the Dutchman says he is being careful at the moment regarding travel to his beloved land of Greece. “I don’t have plans yet myself for this summer, but when you ask me now, I think that I will not go abroad.
“Covid is still everywhere and traveling remains difficult this year! Each country has its own restrictions and in several countries code red or black is near,” he says resignedly.
“But you know, also this year fortunately I have my own model of Santorini here,” he adds with a wink.
Sixty-seven-year old Geerts, who has been visiting Greece regularly since the 1980s, told reporters last year that he would love to fly to his “second homeland” tomorrow if he could, but the coronavirus crisis stopped him from doing so.
“We will not take the risk to travel this year. Fortunately I have a model that I can put outside. With a red wine and a parasol you can get a little bit of Greece here,” he explained to interviewers from the Dutch website omroepbrabant.nl.
Over the Winter, as northern Europe was in lockdown for various periods of time, Geerts and his wife busied themselves, making the months a little more bearable by sharing the beautiful to-scale model with the public.
“I do this together with my wife, Wil,” he notes to Greek Reporter. She is the artist who created the evocative paintings of Greece and her people in the background of the display in a shop window in the Dutch town of Etten-Leur; together with the model, they filled the window for a month during the difficult Winter of 2020.
The Geeertses also showed the model and paintings in a front window of a travel agency in Antwerp, Belgium as a way to promote travel to Santorini and UNICEF charities at the same time.
“My goal is to make people happy and that as many people as possible can enjoy this model,” the craftsman explains. “That’s why I also created my website. In this way it is possible to reach people all over the world.
“At home the model is normally placed inside my hobby room, so I can also see it in the winter when it is dark and cold outside.
“Last week I placed the model outside (for the first time this year) on a place in front of our house where everybody who was passing by could see it. It was on the birthday of our king on the 27th of April, which is a special day for every Dutchman, and the weather was good. The people who passed by liked this very much,” Geerts tells Greek Reporter.
Although the size of the original model is still the same, he says “I am working on small pieces (as shown in the detailed photo) and later on when I have enough pieces, maybe I will combine them with the model.
“The funny thing is that I keep discovering things that I almost forgot I had made,” he once told omroepbrabant.nl in an interview on his original model.
The Dutchman adds that he is counting down the days to when he will visit Greece and the Cyclades again. Until then he will be enjoying his miniature Santorini from his garden once again. To take a closeup look at his amazing labor of love, you can visit his website, here.