Life

Blue Monday (and how to not let it bring you down)

It’s Monday, it’s January, it’s probably cold and wet (unless you’re in Australia in which case what do you even know about this sorry excuse of a day???) and you’re like “why are holidays over?”, “when will I see my family again?”, “how will I get back into exercising and dieting when all I want to do is watch everything on Netflix accompanied by equal amounts of junk food?”, “is it too soon to already ask my boss for my next days off?” (the answer is no to this last one, go for it, definitely NOW!)

They call it Blue Monday, I call it pretty much every Monday, especially those so close to some of the best times I’ve had in ages (see Christmas holiday with family and my closest friends) and then again so far away from any kind of exciting adventure. And on top everything, work, work, work, so much of it that I sometimes can’t think of anything else during the day…

So, what is there to do to get out of this state of mind? (Because at the end of the day it is a state of mind, if you’re healthy and your loves ones are healthy as well and you have a half decent job, most sorrows are not real – they’re just a state of mind).

If you have a large budget: go travel. Book now. A quick city getaway or the vacation of your dreams in Thailand, go and do it. Check dates with the person you want to take with (or not), and go book. NOW. Did you do it? Ok, that’s great.

If you have a small budget: go for dinner and a movie. Sweet and cosy, will really lift your spirits. Also, because on Mondays restaurants and cinemas tend not to be super crowded. What is the movie you should go watch? Good question as in Belgium (at least at the moment), the offer is kind of crappy. Murder on the Orient Express or Molly’s Game might do the trick — they’re good movies AND entertaining as well.

If you have no budget: go Tinder. I actually have never done it (does this make me cool or unreal), but don’t tell me there is no fun checking out strangers online just to see what the offer is out there (and potentially finding someone you know -oops!- or potentially finding someone you don’t know but you kinda of really fancy – double oops).

Whatever you do, have fun. And remember: tomorrow might be another blue day. But it’s closer to Friday 🙂

Travel

A long weekend on Mount Pelion

When it comes to holiday destinations in Greece, I’m sure you all know Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, but what about the rest of the amazingly beautiful places my country has to offer? Like the mountains? Like the sea? Like mountains by the sea???

Yes, that’s a thing in Greece and I happen to have the perfect place in mind to suggest to you in case you are looking for a summer holiday in Greece away from the crowds but immersed in beauty and the blue of the Greeks sea and sky.

Mount Pelion. 

We were there recently for the wedding of two very good friends of ours from Brussels. The wedding took place at the village Pinakates, one of the less known villages of Mount Pelion but a truly beautiful and picturesque one. The wedding was just lovely, the couple really respected the colour and the vibe of the village, keeping it simple and completely traditional (which was a very refreshing change from all the glitter and fireworks going on at weddings these days).


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The day was warm but not too hot, and in the evening especially we definitely made use of our light cover ups as sitting underneath this 800-year old sycamore tree really gave us the chills (both figuratively and literally!)

We stayed at Hotel Stoikos, a traditional guest house with extremely friendly staff and a whole lotta unpretentious-ness. Our room had the most breathtaking view I’ve ever had in a hotel room and I was so happy to wake up there every morning. Life can be good in so many easy ways.


The day before the wedding our lovely hosts had organised a beach party for us at Mediterraneo, a great beach bar at the Ampovos beach of Afissos, one of the most beautiful villages next to the sea. We danced and drank our way through the afternoon and by 10pm we were completely starving.

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Sunset at the Ampovos Beach

Enter the Giorgaros tavern at the central square of Vizitsa, another cute village to explore if you’re in the neighbourhood (unfortunately, there is no website to link to this amazing restaurant, but it’s the only one at the square you can’t miss it, I promise!!!)

How to reach Mount Pelion:

  • The nearest town with an airport is Volos, however there are not so many airlines flying directly there. Next best thing is Thessaloniki’s airport SKG. You can then rent a car from the airport and drive for a bit less than 3 hours and…..voila! You’re in paradise 🙂

 

Life

On birthdays, friends and family

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Today is one of my favourite days of the year. My birthday. Which normally makes me feel sad, but lately I’ve come across a new found sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that make me actually happy to be getting older (to be honest, I would not mind staying in my 30s forever, like in a look, but then again I might be saying the same when I’m in my 40s…)

All in all, life is good. But it’s hard. Not real-problems-hard (this is a category saved for the only issues one really needs to worry about like health or serious financial problems that can impact the wellbeing of one’s family), but I’m-too-stressed-to-think-straight hard. Or stress-makes-me-cry-every-night hard. I was in that place a few weeks back due to a few work-related mishaps that were not really mishaps but I was so stressed they might turn into mishaps that I couldn’t stop thinking about them for almost a month. It was the first time I saw myself like that and I was shocked mostly because I thought I would never be the person who loses their sleep over work. Again, I don’t think anyone should lose their sleep over work. Except for surgeons or lawyers/judges involved in death row/life sentence cases. Because in everyone else’s case, NOONE dies. Noone will get hurt or even fired if I don’t do my job well (except for…me). This is something I had to repeat to myself like a mantra in order to be able to keep things in perspective. In the end, I did my job well and delivered the desired results. But the process left me in shambles.

So, as today I’m getting older (and presumably wiser), I’m looking at what kept me sane during this difficult period (and promise to try to amplify it from now on): it was hands down my friends and family. There is nothing else in this life that will save us from the worst version of ourselves than friends and family. My partner’s support during these difficult weeks was beyond anything I could ever imagine or hope for.  My mom’s tough love made me remember that at the end of the day I’m first and foremost me, not a lawyer, not an employee or a colleague, but me, a human being with needs and sensitivities, a good person who is trying to do their best. And this should be enough to not go crazy over work stuff. I was able to open up my heart to my friends and they filled it with warmth and love and their stories of anxiety for ridiculous reasons or work-related stress that never made them better or more productive.

I’m a very sensitive person and a pessimist by nature. I’m one of these people that think that life before was definitely better than life right now – easier, fuller, more fun. I complain a lot about many different things.I miss a lot of people who are not in my life any more. (Like really miss them. Like feeling a twinge in my chest sometimes when I think about them or see a picture of them. Like this morning. I hate Facebook’s memory lane. It’s the worst.) I tend to linger and get stuck in the past (I’m a caner anyway, what did you expect???).

BUT

I have a great family. I have friends who care for me. My partner is my friend and my family. And I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m looking at this new year in my life starting today and I couldn’t feel more mature and ready to face life and take it as it comes!!!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

City life · Life

How I plan to make time to see my friends 

    I find friends to be the most important thing in life after family – sometimes even replacing family. Living abroad is hard in many ways, missing my friends first and foremost. 

    After several years in Brussels, I can confidently say that I’ve made friends that make this city #worthlivinit. But between short winter days (seriously, the sun is not up until 9am and it’s already dark at 5pm!!!), the cold and the long working hours I often find myself longing more for Netflix than for my friends. BUT NO MORE! 

    I’m determined to see more of my friends in 2017, it’s probably the one resolution that will make my heart feel calm and happy. Not pottery classes, not singing in a band, not learning how to cook, but FRIENDS. 

    But how do I make time to see them more? I don’t go out much, let alone in this cold weather. So I do need to figure out a plan to stick to and make the most of my free time with my friends. Here we go: 

    1. Make more spontaneous plans: 

    In Brussels people tend to make long-term plans to meet up: let’s meet up the weekend after the next!, I’m organising a dinner in February!, are things people often say. Of course busy work schedules and demanding family responsibilities (i.e. children) take priority (and rightfully so), but this should not stop me from picking up the phone at 6pm whenever I feel like seeing a friend and just call them. Let’s grab a coffee in an hour! There’s a good movie on in a couple of hours, let’s hit the theatre! Come by my place, I’ll cook something quick! It’s that simple — try it 3 times per week, it works wonders.

    2. Plan ahead as well

    As cool as spontaneous plans are, try to also plan head a little. This will help you manage work hours better. Pick a couple of days in the week that seem quiet and put your date with friends firm in your calendar. This way your colleagues will know not to schedule calls on that time (useful for people like me working with the US a lot and thus working many times late in the afternoon) and you will also remember not too take up too many tasks that day. Chances are you will probably need to reschedule at least a couple of times, but at least you have something fun to look forward to besides the weekend!!!!

    3. In case of doubt – dinner and a movie!!! 

    The rules of dating apply very well to friendships too I find. You have to live, respect, and enjoy the person you are going out with. Plus, the best date ever is dinner and a movie! This is an easy choice that gives you the chance to talk, drink, eat, laugh/cry/wonder together with your friends. It can also be for a big group (Rogue One) or a more intimate one (Paterson). 

    This is what we actually did last a couple of days ago, after work with two of my best buddies here in Brussels. We went to see Paterson at the Cinema Galeries in Brussels (what an amazing movie theatre!!) I reeeeeaaaallly liked the movie (I found it so calm and beautiful, and the poems recited were so touching and I’m a huge Jim Jarmusch fan anyways) my friend V. found it so and so, and my other friend V. didn’t like it too much. But we had a super discussion about it afterwards over fish and chips at the great Bia Mara – a great choice for late eaters like ourselves. Cool interior design, amazing music choices (Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Clash!) and of course DELICIOUS FOOD. Not only for fish lovers though, chicken and veggie (like my fish) options are available as well. 

    The amazing veggie cheeseballs!
    My new favourite theatre in town.

    Life

    My 2016

    Every wellness blog that respects itself advises that writing down the things we are thankful for can help be happier. I don’t know if this is true or not, but in this spirit I will do that for 2016, a very weird year that I don’t know if I’m happy it’s over or not….

    2016 was mostly a “waiting year” for me, meaning it felt like I was prepping for something bigger that is going to come in 2017. It might be that I moved in with my boyfriend, which has put me into the natural state of thinking about the future, or the fact that I started getting what my new job is about, which means more enjoyment but also more responsibility for me in the new year!

    I love that I did a few good trips in 2016 (most memorably twice to Rome, my new fav city in the whole world!!!!), but I want to do even more and go even further in 2017. Which prompts me to be a bit more spontaneous when booking stuff – I already booked a weekend in Lille for January and one in London for February (thanks tax authorities for returning these 200 euros, best Xmas gift evahhhhh).

    I’m extremely thankful that I have my health, my friends and family have stayed healthy too, I like my relationship and my day job is interesting enough to keep me exited. This little blog is kind of fun too. I love how people from all over the world take a few seconds every now and then to take a read, look at the picture, even leave a comment. It’s a special connection that makes the whole effort really #worthlivinit!!!! 🙂

    So, all in all, 2016 has been a good year. But I have so much more I’m looking forward to in 2017!!! I have the constant feeling that there is so much more to achieve, to experience, to taste and feel and I want to have it all!!!! I guess this is the healthy approach to the new year, we have to be hopeful that better days are coming! White days for sure 🙂

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    Winter shot from snowy Greece, yes it happens here too!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!! And remember to love, love, love, nothing else matters 🙂

     

     

    Travel

    A weekend away in Rome

    Ahhh traveling – it really makes all the difference in the world. For me, there are two kinds of trips: those that are memorable because of the place you visit and those that are memorable because of the people you visit them with. But they have to be memorable!!

    Rome falls in the first category. I was there last February (it was also the very first post on this blog – remember???) and had a magical time, so a few weeks back we decided to go back – this time with another group of friends but following the same concept: take a weekend away from good ol’ Brussels, to one of the best European destinations in my view. And with cheap AND convenient Ryanair flights (how rare is that…), there was no hesitation for another moment: Rome it is.

    We really had a great time again. Visited some super cool restaurants, ate tons of gelato, got lost in the swarms of tourists and fell in love again with the eternal city. We even managed to fit it some artsy stuff, so as not to feel too much like tourists.

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    Tourists or no tourists noone can actually resist this view. 

    I love quick city trips like that, they always make me feel I did something great, fun, relaxing, different than my typical weekend in Brussels (which usually consists of visits to the market for groceries, a bit of (window) shopping around my house, and maybe a couple of coffee meetings with friends at the same places – yes, I might look 31 but I’m really 78 at heart!) My weekend in Rome was exactly as I would dream my every weekend to be – or to put it better as any blogger’s that respect themselves should be 🙂

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    People watching at the Spanish steps is probably my favorite passtime.

    This time around I got the chance to discover a bit more of the Monti area. COMPLETELY BEAUTIFUL in case you were wondering. The restaurants, the cobble-stone streets, the yellow lights at night, the smell of jasmine all around, the people having drinks on the street, the feeling that you’re living in a film ALL THE TIME. I couldn’t recommend it more. So close to all the touristy stuff, well-connected by means of public transport AND a completely charming neighborhood, seriously, what’s not to like?

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    What I haven’t yet done in Rome and I really want to try is SHOPPING. Even looking at the Gucci window made me feel happy, I’m also thinking stalking Alessandro Michele outside the Palazzo Alberini-Cicciaproci (ie Gucci’s design HQ) at some point, snap a picture of him (or two.or a selfie with me.or just me pretending I just saw him.) (Please read this amazing article on him if you don’t feel you know the new Gucci magician very well.) I admire him for the amazing creative push he has given to the house, but then again, I was always a huge fan of Italian fashion, yes truly, I know in our day and age everyone is trying to be the cool, nonchalant french girl with the red lip and the messy hair, but I’ve always longed to be the strong, voluptuous Italian woman (yes Sophia Loren, I’m looking at you), wearing prints (Roberto Cavalli!), embroidery (Gucci!) and glitter (Versace!) I realize just now I’ve never really talked to you about my crazy love for fashion…hmm..I should definitely do some more of that.

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    Most of all (and first of all), such cool trips always are the best opportunity to catch up with friends. We had the most amazing time with my two girlfriends – one traveling with me, one hosting me there. Life is great like that you know, when the only things you need are a good chat and ice cream. And Brazilian sushi which I didn’t even know existed until this trip. To the next one 🙂

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    Where we ate:

    1. Gelato at La Romana: Ok, maybe people that have even read a traveler’s guide to Rome are laughing at me right now, because La Romana is supposed to be like the best gelateria in town anyway (and very famous), but it’s true I hadn’t tried it before. Don’t let the super long queue dishearten you (remember, catching up with friends is amazing, do so while waiting!) Once you’re in, you’ll feel the happiest people on earth. I have my go-to combination when it comes to ice cream – chocolate/pistachio, and I’m picky about the pistachio, and this time believe it was like I was eating an actual frozen pistachio!!! Such rich flavor, so fresh, so true….nothing like I’ve tasted in “gelaterias” outside Rome EVER.
    2. Dinner at Da Bucatino: I was so happy and full when I left this place, I thought I could roll back home like a big ball of gelato. It looks warm, traditional, delicious, busy, happy, like heaven on earth basically. Every single thing we tasted that night left us drooling for more (although we couldn’t have more because we would have a heart attack right then and there). I had the pici pasta with artichoke and bacon, a traditional roman dish, that left me so satisfied that I think I could have it every day. It looks fairly easy to make, I think I’ll give a try once at home hoping I can recreate the experience!
    3. Brazilian sushi at Temakinho: OH MY LORD. Did you even know the concept of brazilian sushi. BECAUSE I DIDN’T. I’m not a huge fan of sushi, I like it a lot of course, but it always leaves me hungry, plus I can’t have like 40 rolls because people stare. But when my friend and host suggested to try it, I was quick to accept the challenge, as I found the Japano-brazilian fusion just brilliant. And I was so glad I did. The food is amazing, the decoration of the place is worth every Instagram post (it has pineapple wallpaper for peete’s sake!), the staff is super friendly and the caipirinha normal was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m sure in a city like Brussels where sushi is really popular this place would make huge money…
    4. Brunch on Sunday at Queen Makeda: this was one of the richest buffes I’ve ever seen for brunch in my whole life and it comes at the price of 19 euros (with coffee and juices included – and I mean as much as you want!) True, the quality of food is top notch and the crowd so happy and vivid, let alone the restaurant itself that it’s a feast for any hipster and their Instagram account. And again people – SO.MUCH.FOOD.ARGH. (I’m actually tired of the latest trend in Brussels where brunch means scrumbled eggs with 2 slices of salmon, one cup of coffee and a glass of juice, and this is at 25 euros just because it’s brunch.) Best to book a table especially if you are a big group, however the place is rather big and could fit 2-4 people easily if you show up early enough.

    What we did:

    Walk around the Monti area. As our last trip was all about Testaccio, this time we thought to stay close to home (my friend who was playing host to us for the weekend leaves right next to the Colosseum, it’s pretty ridiculous and totally gorgeous!!) Walk around, pretend you’re a tourist, take millions of pictures and at night just start wandering in the little streets, it feels so romantic, so authentic, so “European” in a way…the first night we arrived we took a walk around and all we could say was “it’s so lovely” over and over again, it’s really a place that warms the heart.

    What we saw:

    If you happen to be in Rome until November 27, go visit Rome’s museum of modern art (MACRO), where you can live the experience of DIGITALIFE 2016. It’s a great exhibition that plays with the concepts of fluidity, rain, water, fog, but also data, 3D and algorithms. Again, we were treated greatly by the stuff who were very polite and eager to explain and even gave us a short discount when they realized the queue for one of the spectacles was too long to allows us to get in.

     

     

     

     

     

    Life

    What a little bit of bad luck can tell you about your relationships 

    Yesterday morning, I hurt my pinky toe at the corner of the coffee table (major cursing ensued). The night before, my internet connection stopped working mysteriously. Today, I missed my bus and thus my only chance to find the super market open (and have a healthy dinner), due to limping because of said hurt pinky toe.

    Two common things about the mishaps in the above paragraph: (1) bad luck (2) I missed my boyfriend in every single instance.

    Partners are great to have fun with, but the real idea of companionship is founded on longing for the other person when not at your best (or at least so I believe). I have many suitors when I have my make up on, my fancy clothes and good hair. And that doesn’t impress me much. I only care for one when I haven’t showered for three days or I’ve gained gain a couple of pounds.

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    I wanted to call my boyfriend because he was the only one I wanted to be comforted by at that moment. I wanted to talk to him because I knew he was on a business trip and wouldn’t be home when I got back from work. I wanted to hear his voice because it’s the most soothing sound on this planet (I should test him against whales once).

    Who do you think about when your day sucks? Who is the first person you want to call when you hurt your pinky toe?