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

My week at Corfu

I was reading Leandra Medine’s account of how she managed to go on holidays with nothing more than a carry-on and I was captivated by her writing of how she “watched the sunset steal [her] vacation” at the end of her trip. And this was my exact feeling when I was leaving Corfu, although in my case it was a bus stealing away one of the best weeks of my life.

This year we did not make fancy plans for our summer holidays so we ended up saying “let’s just go home”. Corfu is actually home for my boyfriend, he was born and raised there and his family still lives there, so we thought to keep it simple. I was happy to go, but totally freaked out as well as this would be the first time I would meet his parents (or anyone’s parents for that matter — I mean parents of a sexual partner, I’ve met parents before of friends, classmates, random parents on the street). Two years after starting dating and one year after living together, it was probably about time.

And yes, I was totally freaked out, because I’ve no idea how to behave in these situations. I want to be my best possible self so that my boyfriend can proudly show me around to his family and friends. At the same time, I get mad at myself for wanting this very thing, like I have to leave my true self on the side….but to cut a long (and dramatic) story short, things went really smoothly. I should probably know by now that lovely children (my boyfriend) come from lovely people, and his parent were no exception. Would probably be good sometimes to write an article dissecting why I get so stressed whenever the “meet the parents” discussion comes up!!

So, Corfu. To put it plainly, I fell in love. And I will go again next year. And I would recommend to anyone I know to go. Again and again. It is such a big island and so full of things to do and see, it can really cater to many different types of tourists: families, teenagers, young couples, older couples, groups of singles, girls’ groups, boys’ groups, anything really, foreigners, Greeks. Maybe mountain lovers will be disappointed, but for the rest, I’m sure there is something for everyone.

IMG_0865
Behold my dream house at Rovania beach.
I catch myself thinking several times per week: what am I doing in Brussels? Why don’t I go back to Greece, things are difficult and people are struggling but all this beauty will heal our hearts. I know of course it’s not that simple, but that week at Corfu made me really relax, take my mind off anything that was bothering, I managed to leave my stressed and anxious self behind and enjoy summer at its fullest.

IMG_0924.JPG
The restaurant at Yaliskari beach is definitely worth trying.
IMG_0887.JPG

Beaches at Corfu are stunning. You can find the very crowded and touristy ones (like Paleokastritsa), the quiet and still-virgin ones (like Rovania) or the friendly and unpretentious ones (like Yaliskari – if you go there try the restaurant on the beach, it’s a lovely spot and the food is pretty spectacular). You can do some kitesurfing at Halikounas or have a completely cosmopolitan swim at the Mon Repo (which is actually IN the city of Corfu – please take me back now!).

The most Instagram-able beaches? Some of the small bays at Paleokastritsa and Canal d’Amour of course. Also, the ground at Canal d’ Amour is very rich in clay so you’ll find plenty of people walking around covered in mud essentially. Which gives you the feeling of this amazing natural spa right on the sea. Gosh, the beauty!

Corfu also has spectacular spots to enjoy the sunset. Cape Drasti and Logkas at Peroulades are great although potentially too crowded. If you manage to snatch a spot at the 7th Heaven Bar at Logkas a couple of hours before the sunset, just stay there and wait for the moment to come. The moment is almost magical – the bar starts blasting dreamy lounge music and everyone goes quiet for the last seconds before the sun is lost behind the hill. The funniest thing is that people actually start clapping once it’s over!! Yeah sun, good job!!

Do you want to enjoy the sunset while comfortably sitting at a restaurant enjoying some of the best food on the island? No problem at all, the Mouragia area is full of restaurants with great views of the sunset. My personal favourite was Andranik — we went twice there to try moth sofrito and pastitsada – two of the most traditional dishes on Corfu (I’m officially hooked on sofrito, it’s probably the best thing about dating a local…!)

The city of Corfu is magical in the evening. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live your day to day life in a place like this. Do you get the constant feeling that you’re living in a movie? Or do you ever get enough of all this beauty and just get used to it? I suspect the latter – like with everything in life – but still, strolling around these little streets, holding the hand of a loved one, can transform you in a way. Thinking back to that moment in the middle of a rainy, stressful day at work, can have an even bigger impact.

IMG_0900.JPGIMG_0902.JPGIMG_0903.JPG

Go visit the Paleo Frourio, aka the Old Fortress, that was keeping Corfu safe from pirates. The views are great in the day time, but at night it turns into a magical place (don’t be afraid to go late at night, there are a great number of tourists and locals visiting event until midnight and there’s also a great bar in the Tower).

Another great spot to visit is the Kanoni, where the views of Pontikonisi and the church of Panagia Vlaherna are one of the most soothing sights you can enjoy on the island. We went for a late coffee around 20.00 and we were lucky to see many planes come and go from the airport that’s just next to the Kanoni. ​

​And then there is of course the music. Corfu has a huge tradition in music, there are hundreds of marching bands in every town and village and it seems that most locals play at least one instruments. They also make for a great sight with all their different costumes, so make sure to try and catch a live performance when you’re there, which won’t be too difficult anyway.

​

​
I was a happier version of myself at Corfu. I’ll be looking at these photos and try to preserve the feeling for as long as possible. Until next time.

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).


img_0359img_0359img_0440

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.

img_0326-1
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

How I detox’d after the holidays 

2017 started off with….a lot of food. As should be expected during the Christmas break, even more so from a Greek mom, the turkey was not the only feeling stuffed at the table. Going back home (or on holidays in general) has always been challenging for me, because it’s not really easy to resist my mom’s cooking or other local delicacies. And here we are with 2 kg (or 5 pounds) more and not-so-happy about it…

I’ve always been neither thin nor overweight. I’ve always had this extra 5 kg (or 10 pounds) that prevents me from wearing tight clothes, and have always fantasized about how if I lost 10kg (or 20 pounds) people on the street would mistaken me for Gisele BĂĽndchen. I’m lucky because I’m tall so I can justify a little more eating as I have more space to fill (is this even a real thing?), but then again I can feel bulky and huge the moment I get a couple of kg more.

I’ve only managed to stay on a diet for a few months back in university, when everything is easier in terms of scheduling, social obligations etc. I’ve been using this diet now and again whenever I want to drop a couple of kg/pounds. But that’s about it for me in terms of dieting. The more you enter the adult life though, the more difficult it gets to stick to a program: you have to see your friends — you eat. You have to talk with your boss — you eat. You have to attend a super interesting conference — you eat. You go on a trip — you eat. You visit your family — you eat. You start dating a guy — you eat. That’s how important eating has become for our social life. And don’t get me wrong. I’m all for eating, I love eating, I love good food and I love sharing it with people. But unfortunately, I don’t love equally exercising and burning calories by doing sports. TBH I don’t love it AT ALL. I can’t find even the tiniest piece of motivation that will make me go to they gym, go for a run, play tennis with my friends, do a few laps in the swimming pool. I know that there are millions of people out there rolling their eyes right now (not that I have millions of readers, but if I had, they would be rolling their eyes!!!), but I’ve really tried pretty much everything out there and nothing gets me motivated. The only thing I’ve found I enjoy is walking. And that’s about it.

So coming back from my Christmas break and getting on the scale was really NOT a good idea. I saw a number I could not believe. I was 3 kg heavier than before the break – how was that even possible? I knew it could not be real weight, I knew it was probably the aftermath of a two-week period full of sweets and alcohol, but still – how was this possible??? And I panicked and really felt bad and angry with myself for letting go. And then of course I started nagging to my boyfriend for it (whom I blame the most for my eating habits since he is the perfect cook and we now live together, so…)

img-thing-1
My life’s motto

What I did not expect was such wise words coming out of his mouth. As I was going over all possible ways to feel less bloated, from eating 2 apples per day (and nothing else) to have him force me to the gym so I would actually start exercising a little, he simply said: “Why panic? There’s a very simple way – cut your portions in half and stop eating bread. Just for a while.” And OMG. Like really OMG. It sounded so simple and easy and I was totally on board, I still don’t know why. But let me tell you, it did work.

So I started the next day the very fun (#not) process of cutting my portions in half. The way to go about it? Just use smaller lunch boxes than usual (I bring lunch with me at work most of time, if I’m not traveling) and have dinner in  small plates or bowls. Like really small. Like a step bigger than saucers (just kiddin’)(#not). Other than that, there are no real rules. I had spaghetti bolognese, risotto Milanese, even mousaka, everything I really craved. But I kept it small and simple. I even had a small slice of cake every day right after work to get my blood sugar levels in order (otherwise I could actually eat a small animal on my way to home).

The other thing I managed to do (and I say managed) is stay away from bread. I’m sure everyone of us has this (at least) one thing they can say no to. For me that is bread (and movies by French auteurs). I could give every other food up, as long as I had a Greek salad with feta cheese and LOTS of bread to go with (yes, I’m that clichĂ©). But I know that bread makes me feel bloated in a matter of seconds and I’ve really gotten weary of that. I know that to stay super fit and thin I should ideally say goodbye to bread for ever. But I’m not ready (or willing) to do that. What I manage to do though, stay away for 5 days, made me feel really good. My belly was a bit flatter, my confidence was not flat at all, and I also had the pleasure of saying to myself “yes, you did it”.

And that’s it my friends. 5 days later, 1.6 kg (or 3 pounds) less. It doesn’t mean I suddenly look that much better. But I do feel a thousand times better, I’m back at my normal weight and can stop feeling guilty about all these delicious meals I had during Christmas. And that’s my tip for you: eat what your heart wants, be happy, just do it with moderation. Cut your portions down a bit, or try to have smaller dinners. Play a bit around with your habits, see what works better for your body and your digestion 🙂 And find that one thing you love, but is also makes your body feel weird, and stay away from it. Just for a while. So you can actually go back to it guilty-free just a few days later.

Here’s to a weekend full of friends, fun and good food!!

 

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 🙂

10891481_10204123171694350_6821309842892117229_n
Winter shot from snowy Greece, yes it happens here too!

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

 

 

City life · Travel

Christmas in Athens

I left Brussels early this year to start my Christmas holidays in Greece (as always-try tell my mom otherwise!)

Before going to my hometown to spend a few days with my family and my closest friends, I spent a few days in Athens. And I really had the chance to remember why Athens is one of the greatest cities in the world to visit even in the winter, despite the crisis and the difficult times the country is going through. 

Before leaving to our respective hometowns, the boyfriend and I decided to spend a few days in Athens – a tradition we started last year and I think we will keep up for many more years to come. We started off our first day with a walk in downtown Athens, around Monastiraki Square – one of the most beautiful areas in Athens. If you’re ever there, you should definitely go for a coffee/drink/light snack at the rooftop of A for Athens. This is a great hotel with a lovely rooftop that offers one of the best views in the city. 

Great view from the rooftop of he A for Athens Hotel at Monastiraki square. Oh the view, oh the Greek sun!!
We continued our walk towards Petralona to visit the amazing cafe that goes by the name “Kyrios Hou” which in Greek means “Mr Who”. I’ve seen so many pictures of this place online that left me with no choice than paying it a visit. It really is one of the most interesting cafe bars I’ve seen, the inside decoration is A-MA-ZING and the home made lemonade as delicious as it gets. The DJ’s music choices are a very welcome addition to complete the picture of the perfect place to have a drink. 

Have you ever seen anything cuter than this space? Everything well looked after down to the last detail (hello marble tiles floor!)

To finish off a great day, what’s better than a cocktail at one of the most lively and colourful covered alleys in Athens. If you now nothing more about this amazing city other than the Parthenon, you should definitely reconsider because Athens’ nightlife is UNPARALLELED!!!! The bars, the energy, the smiles, the pretty crowd is always there, even now, during these very hard times because of the financial crisis. 

Around the historic center of Athens, we can find many little bars hidden behind old shops or covered alleys – one of them being Rehab. A great bar, with great amazing, and a great range of cocktails. I tried the “thirty one”, because once I see tequila and orange in the same sentence, I’m instantly sold, but I’m sure there is  something for everyone!

The bar at Rehab is exactly like I would build my ideal bar wall at home 🙂
I hope you all get to spend these days with people you love, doing things you love, making memories you’ll cherish forever, eating amazing food, taking amazing pictures, laughing, dancing, singing, doing whatever makes your heart feel full. 

Happy holidays!!

Life

The first 3 things to do when coming back from holidays 

My summer vacation came to an end last Tuesday. I woke up in the morning in my family’s summer house, went for a swim, had lunch prepared by my mom, took a car, a bus, a taxi, a plane and then another car and 10 hours later I was back home.

These two pictures are from the beach Mylopotamos, on Mountain Pelion in Greece. This is where my dad;s family originally comes from and we still visit the family house every summer for a few days in August. I don’t think there is a more beautiful place on this planet and my dream is to one day go back at the village (Tsagkarada) and open my own Bed & Breakfast.

It’s always a very difficult process mentally to come back from holidays – at least for me. I’m also always very sad for leaving my family and friends back. However, I’m also happy for the new season that starts, especially in September I have this “back to school” feeling that always gets me excited and keeps me up at nights.

Getting a job after finishing university meant getting into a kind of routine that can be very difficult to break. But I’ve found that setting new goals and keeping my mind busy can help to this direction. So here are three things I’ve decided to do to keep myself busy in the next few days/months:

1.Go on a diet:

I’ve been on a diet very few times in my life and I think the biggest success was to lose 2-3 kg. However, I do believe that a good detox is called for after 3 weeks of non-stop Greek food (yep, you’ve read that right, I think I had pasta like once and that was my only experience with international cuisine…). Since I’m not your typical diet person, I’ve stuck with the one diet that had really paid off for me throughout the years – I did for the first time while a student at university and I re-visit it every couple of years when I feel I get out of order. It promises a loss of 8 kilos in 2 months, which is more or less accurate and a healthy option may I add. I’ll share the diet with you, but please keep in mind that this works for me, but might not work for other people. I also ALWAYS make sure that I don’t feel hungry during the day – if I do feel hungry, I eat a piece of fruit, or a couple of crackers with low-fat cheese.

2.Decide on new activities

I will improve my French and will also sign up at the gym. These two are really radical steps for me! I’ve never tried to improve my French before (it’s been almost 15 years since the last time I took a lesson in French…yes, young children DO NOT need to take French lessons mom!) and I’ve only been to a gym before once but only did a few classes of pilates in the course of a year. This time I’ve decided to actually go the full way and try the instruments, with the ultimate goal of toning my arms and butt, but also strengthen my back a little bit…As for my French, my goal is to be able to have an intelligent fluent conversation with my French colleague by Christmas (I don’t know why I think an intelligent conversation will happen by default…)

3.Adopt a post-summer beauty routine

Again, this is linked to goals: keep summer on me for as long as possible and try to create a new make up process for my newly cut short hair. (Yes, I decided to cut my hair into a lob, i debated for several months with friends, family and boyfriend and despite everyone’s advice to the opposite, I decided to cut it! I’ve never had it this short, but couldn’t be happier with the result!!)

First thing to do is treat my skin after this extensive two-week exposure to the sun. A few years ago I had a terrible experience, when I stepped out in the strong sun right after waxing my upper lip and without any sun cream on. As a result, I developed sun marks (my skin complexion is fair and I have freckles, however I’m tanning nicely in the summer. However, living in Belgium for all these years has deprived me for all the vitamin D I had accumulated in Greece…as a result it has become significantly more difficult for me to get a decent tan in less than 10 days…) Since that horrible event, I’ve started applying sun cream religiously especially to the damaged area of my upper lip. Even like that, every summer the marks make their reappearance and make me miserable. This year however, I found something close to a solution: Lancome’s Visionnaire.

It’s a bit on the pricey side, but I’ve been using it for a little over a week now and I can say the results are already visible. My skin feels firm and hydrated and my sun marks get paler with the day. I also feel it’s done good to an area of my face where I have acne marks from a very bad break out 10 years ago.

The next thing is to devise a good way to maintain my tan. And yes, I’m talking about using a self-tanning product. I know that most people tend to use them before they go on holiday, exactly to not stand out like a fly in a glass of milk (favourite Greek saying), however I find them much more useful and easy to use once I’m back from holidays. Why? Because this way, we can apply the product without getting this weird feeling of your legs looking more orange than your arms, or accidentally forgetting to apply it on your foot, which makes you look like you’re wearing super weird tights! My product of choice this year was Garnier’s Ambre Solaire Natural Bronzer. It was the first time I used it, and I’m really happy about it, although I’m still torn between cream ones and sprays…I guess this is a dilemma to be solved next year!

Lastly, as I extensively mentioned in this post, I cut my hair short, which immediately made me want to highlight the features of my face to make me look a bit less like a tomboy or a 15-year old French girl. What I’m doing every day now is a “half” cat eye and a red lip, but with a lip pencil. I know a lot of people find a cat eye a bit “too much” for morning activities, that’s why I keep to it a half design, I always do it with a pencil instead of an eye liner and the pencil is always brown (so is my mascara). This way I avoid the too harsh image of a smokey at 9am at work.