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 weekend away in Valencia – part II

So yes, we did spend the long weekend of May 1st in Valencia, a great place for some down time if you want to enjoy some sun and sea. The day we arrived was not 100% sunny so we thought to leave our “exploration activities” for day II. And when I say exploration activities I really mean two things: the City of Arts and Sciences and THE BEACH.

The City of Arts and Sciences is really an amazing place to visit especially on a sunny day. I really did not know what to expect as all the pictures I could find online made the place look a little bit secluded and very much “out of the way”. Actually, not at all. It’s really easy to reach by bus, it’s full of people of all ages (of course there are many families with young children which is really unavoidable I guess on a Sunday…), and it’s also on your way to the Malvarossa beach, therefore the combo of City of Arts and Sciences & beach really makes sense.

The first tip for those of you who want to visit the City: take your time. We really though a couple of hours would be enough, but NO, you really need at least 3-4 hours to feel confident you’ve seen everything. We went for the combo ticket that gives access to all three main attractions: the Planetarium (Hemisfèric), the Museum of Sciences and the Aquarium (Oceanogràfic). From all three places, I would 100% recommend the Oceanogràfic, as it’s one of the most fun and at the same time serene places I’ve ever visited. There are so many cool species of aquatic (and not only) life to see, it’s a lovely walk through the different facilities and, of course, you get the chance to see a live show with dolphins which was my first time ever and had me cheering on my chair like a kid.

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I really felt equally excited and relaxed when we left the City. I also found a profound joy in taking some time to look at animals, especially sea life. I’m currently going through one of my most stressful times in life, but something about nature made me feel very relaxed (I’ve never really been a nature person and still don’t consider myself one!!)

The beach was another great experience in Valencia. Although I’m not a huge fan of the long sandy beaches like Malvarossa (I much prefer the smaller rocky ones, they always feel more “raw” and more clean for some reason!), it was so great being close to the water and sun…I really love Belgium and Brussels in particular but I don’t think I will ever stop missing the feeling of pure bliss you can get from the sun, the sea and blue skies on a warm afternoon (you can take the girl out of Greece, good luck trying to get Greece out of the girl.. *feeling sentimental about homeland*)


We were already fed but had great ice cream. Malvarossa has a lot of nice places to sit for a bite or a drink (or an ice cream or horchata!), but if you go in the morning/early afternoon do try and have paella and Pepica. Unfortunately we only made it to the beach in the late afternoon, when Pepica is closed, however this place comes highly recommended from so many people – locals included. Of course, as everything else on the beach, it feels really touristic, however there is a lot of great food and views to take in, so give it a try!!!

Travel

A weekend away in Valencia – Part I

I’ve said many many times before that money spent on traveling is money well spent. You buy a ticket to a place you’ve never been to before, you also buy wisdom, fun, new experiences and future memories you’ll keep close to your heart.

At least that’s always my goal when I click Skyscanner’s “everywhere” options for cheap plane tickets!!

That’s how the boy and I picked Valencia for the long weekend of May 1st. It was close, it was cool, it was (relatively) cheap. Did we enjoy? WE ABSOLUTELY DID and I can recommend Valencia to anyone looking for a sunny destination not too far from most places in Western Europe.

Valencia is a really pretty city with great buildings and big wide avenidas with palm trees that made me feel like we are in Havana, Cuba.

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The place is sunny (obviously) and has a beach (duh), but these are not the only highlights. It’s also a place with welcoming people, great places to eat and drink and an overall vibe that’s very close to that of Athens or Rome (if you’ve ever been to any of these places). I really felt like home from the moment we stepped out of the metro (which is really the easiest way to get from the airport to the city. Once you land, follow the signs to the airport’s metro station where you will also find a tourist office. Just ask them to sell you a card topped up with the exact fair from and to the airport and you’ll be set. I would not recommend buying tickets for transportation within the city if you’re only staying for 2 days. The bus ticket costs 1.5 euros and we really only used it the day we wanted to go to the City of Arts and Sciences and to the beach.

We stayed at Colón, a very central area that I would totally recommend. It might not be as dreamy as leaving in Ciutat Vella (the Old City), but it’s definitely a great neighbourhood as it’s close to so many interesting areas full of life, bars and restaurants!

Speaking about Ciutat Vella, this is where our exploration started visiting all the touristy attractions – including the Mercat Central, Valencia’s Central Market. In general, I love food markets and I make sure to visit them every single time I travel somewhere. I love watching food, watching people buying and selling food, watching people enjoy food, everything really. The Market is a really great place to spend a couple of hours – trying different juices for 1 Euro a glass (definitely go for the orange juice – Valencian oranges are uber-famous), buying chocolate treats and photographing sea food.

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Do look out for the sea food section, not only delish, but totally Instagram-able as well 🙂
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Have you ever seen a more impressive bacalao???
Outside the Market there is also plenty of things to do. Eat street food, buy souvenirs, wander the narrow streets of the Old City or make a pit stop at a tapas place for a bite and a glass of Rioja (after which we literally took a 3-hour nap as we had woken up at 5am to catch our flight!)

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In the evening, we went for a stroll at the Russafa neighbourhood, which is full of little bars and tapas restaurants – just pick anything with a terasse and cold beer, the rest will follow pretty easily.

That was our first day in Valencia. A pretty great Saturday if you ask me. Part II of our trip coming up soon 😍

Valencia mini-guide:

Where to eat: After your visit to Mercat Central, try the street food that you will find parked right outside the main entrance of the market – think Mediterranean cuisine, lots of vegetables, olive oil, but also fried croquetas and rice dishes that are just heavenly. If you fancy sitting at a proper table, then pay a visit to La Rentaora Bodega. 

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Being in Valencia, you should also definitely try horchata, especially on a warm sunny day (even if you’re not a milk lover – I definitely am not – you should give it a try!!!)

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Where to drink: Russafa has really a huge number of low-key bars where you can enjoy a cold beer on a warm Valencian evening. I was a little bit too tipsy that night to take pictures (regretting this now, but hey, that’s life!!), but you can find cool recommendations here.

Where to shop: You should totally pay a visit to El Corte Inglés, Valencia’s biggest and most renown department store. It’s really convenient that they are open also on a Sunday, so do not hurry if you feel like there is not enough time to do everything on Saturday. Most shops on Calle Colón – one of Valencia’s main shopping streets – are also open on Sunday. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Zara and Mango as the Spanish brands are usually cheaper in Spain! (Not too much cheaper though, something in the range of 5-10 euros – so no stress there either!!)

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.


City life · Travel

A walk by the sea

Taking a walk by the sea is totally #worthlivinit. I’m lucky enough to come from a city that sits by the sea, I grew up seeing a bit of blue every day and this is probably the one thing I miss the most now that I’m living in Brussels. It’s no wonder we’re all drawn to water, we all want to take a walk by the sea, river, or lake wherever we can find them.

I was home this past weekend for a few days, my first days off actually after Christmas. It was a lovely break, so happy to see my family, my beloved friends that I can’t bear living away from, taste my mom’s food, have some cold espresso and see the SEA.

I think it’s magical that one can just take a moment off work and go for a walk there at lunch time. See these colours or even go for a swim just in the middle of the day. And then go back to whatever your job is. You know how Greece is going through such hard times financially and even socially. And I’m not saying that it is completely unfair what my fellow Greeks are going through now (of course I’m Greek, I just don’t want to be pretending I’m suffering the same, I don’t live in Greece and I cannot even start imagining what it’s like to have this everyday uncertainty), but I just can’t get sometimes how such a beautiful country is going through such major s^&*it.

Whatever troubles you, try to find your sea. Take a few moments, take a big breath, and everything will seem instantly easier. More manageable and brighter.

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Ladies and gentlemen, behold the luckiest people on earth on a casual Monday afternoon.
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Nothing better than the sea and some art.
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Yes I want this apartment facing the people mentioned above!
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City life

Green power 

Ahhh Spring is the best time of the year…it’s the change from cold to warm, from dark to bright, from in to out. 

We have this amazing thing in Brussels that I hadn’t seen in any of the other cities I’ve lived in: amazing backyards even in the middle of the city centre. I live very close to Place Flagey, which for Brussels connoisseurs, is like one of the most central areas, full of concrete and with no trace of green.

Yet, this is what I see from my balcony every morning….it’s the image that makes me calm down, keep away any bad thoughts or stress I have for the day ahead, kind of my own meditation app right outside my window. 

I love having my coffee here in the morning, this morning actually for the first time with my summer night dress!!! I know it won’t last, but oh Brussels your good weather makes you so much more #worthlivinit.

City life · Travel

A sunny day in London

Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kissing spring is all I could think of this past weekend. I had to be in London for work during the week and I thought it was a great idea to stay over the weekend as well and spend some time with my friends (the absolute #worthlivinit material!)

With this view from my office, the weekend can actually wait….

What I wasn’t counting on was the glorious weather – sun and high temperatures made these past few days unfrorgettable. I’ve told you again how weather can influence my mood (this is no news really, it works like that on everyone). What I hadn’t shared with you is another observation of mine: that good weather in northern countries such as Belgium or the UK is a f@&3:£ing big deal. Everyone and their aunties are out at a park/hosting a barbecue/attending a barbecue. And that’s it. People are talking about it for days and days, building up anticipation, then the weekend with the good weather is here and you need to go out and enjoy the sun otherwise you’re the BIGGEST sucker.

 

Coming from a country where sunshine is the norm, I always thought people exaggerated with the good weather. Until I became one of those people.

So what did we do this perfect sunny Saturday in London?

We visited a museum.

 

Art piece at the entrance of the V&A.

We went shopping.

 

We had drinks at a rooftop.

We ate the cheapest bagels in town (OMG, this place is like a bagel heaven, which kind of my preferred heaven of all).

We were happy as hell.