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.

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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.

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The restaurant at Yaliskari beach is definitely worth trying.
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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.

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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).


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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

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.

Travel

Short road trip at the south of Peloponnese 

If you ever find yourself in the south of the Peloponnese region in Greece you will know everything about the essence of #worthlivinit.

In my opinion, this is the most beautiful place on earth and the most “Greek” of all the regions in the country.

I have an amazing recommendation for a short roadtrip should you ever find yourselves in the south of Peloponnese: Elafonisos and Monemvasia – two places made out of heaven.

You can reach Elafonisos by boarding a ferry from the port of Pounta. This is one of the smallest ferries you’ll ever see, it’s also one of the shortest rides (approx. 10 minutes), so no need to worry about that.

The ride is also darn beautiful:



The cost of the travel is also pretty cheap: 12 Euros one way for two passengers plus their car (no matter how big or small your car is). There are ferries leaving the port of Punta every half hour from early in the morning to 10pm (or even later the busiest months of the year). You can find more info here.

Once you reach Elafinisos, follow the signs to Simos beach. It’s 4 kilometres from the port, and you’ll start squeaking like a baby mouse once you see from afar the see getting closer to you. It’s the most green sea I’ve ever seen, the most beautiful colour, like an emerald waiting to be conquered. The amazing thing about these beaches in Greece is that they might look like you’re at the Carribean, the water is however much more “swimable” – serene like a pool, with little boats floating here and there and no sharks 🙂

Simos is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to, you should definitely plan a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood! There is also a cafe nearby to cater to your need for water and a snack – nothing too exceptional though so make sure to have your own provisions.

We took the boat back and drove to Monemvasia to enjoy the sunset. The drive is not too long, so if you leave Elafonisos around 5-5.30pm you can reach Monemvasia around 7pm. You should go visit the castle which hides a beautiful two inside its walls full of little resto’s and coffee places where you can enjoy a drink and the amazing view.


Life · Travel

7 days in Paradise 

Today my vacation starts. My out of office message has been set, but I still need to get into the right mood. This year I’ve been very busy and very stressed, and I’ll be even busier when I come back in 15 days. But what I want to achieve in these two weeks is to not worry about a thing. And to really believe to my core that every little thing is gonna be alright.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set off to a roadtrip to the south of Peloponnese. I really have high hopes for this trip, it’s supposed to be super beautiful and I can’t wait to spend the time with my boyfriend at the beach and little taverns. I want to swim, eat and read. Nothing more, nothing less. 

I hope you’re all having a great time wherever you are with people you like. I’ll be keeping you updated on my trip. Keep me updated on yours!!!

The first leg of our trip involves a short boat ride at 6.30am….THE BEST!!!
Food

Mediterranean gnocchi recipe

When the weather gets warm (and thank God it has – yes, summer is officially in Belgium people!), my cooking choices always revert to the Mediterranean diet – simple stuff, almost no meat, lots of olive oil and herbs.

I tried a new recipe with gnocchi the other day that I really enjoyed making and eating so I thought toshare it here with you. I actuallycamepup with it right on the spot, as I had a few vegetables in my fridge that I need to consumer before I leave Brussels this weekend (I’ll be gone for three weeks and every time I have to travel for such a long time there is always a cleaning the fridge procedure going on, I hate throwing food away!!!)

So this is really easy peasy and here’s what you need to have to make it happen (serves 2):

A 500 gr pack of gnocchi

Two tbsp of olive oil

1 aubergine (chopped in cubes)

1 zucchini (chopped in cubes)

A handful of porcini mushrooms (sliced not too thinly)

Half an onion (thinly sliced)

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (each cut in 4 big cubes)

1 tbsp concentrated tomato sauce

3/4 cup water

Herbs according to preference (I used oregano and dried basil for this one)

Salt & pepper to taste

A pinch of sweet paprika

A few capers

A few kalamata olive oils to taste

1 garlic clove (unless you cook this to take to work for lunch the next day or to serve on a first date, in which cases skip the garlic)

 

How to make it:

We warm up the oil in a normal pan, adding the onion once the oil is hot and cooking it until soft and slightly brown.

Add the vegetables and cook for a few more minutes, until everything in the pan has a nice golden touch because of the olive oil.

(Note: I usually cook in low temperatures to make sure I can control the process. On a scale from 1-9 I would cook the vegetables on 6).

Lower the heat (in my case, I would take it down to 4) and add the tomatoes, the salt, the pepper and the herbs. Add the tomato sauce and the water. Stir well so everything comes together nicely and let cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Cook the gnocchi (follow the advice on the packaging, it always works well with pasta).

Dry the gnocchi and add in the sauce for a final spin.

Serve warm or not so warm, with or without cheese, with or without a glass of chilled wine. So easy like summer should be 😉

 

 

 

Life

A perfect way to spend your Saturday afternoon

Summer is officially in the city and most of my friends are already on holidays… I still have a few weeks to go before I board that plane to Paradise (aka Greece), so I’m totally in the right lazy mood, but really on holidays yet….so….staycation it is!!!!

We had the perfect lazy afternoon on Saturday, stayed at the balcony with cold drinks just shooting bubbles in the sky…times like these make me feel so young and carefree….