The Austrian Ambassador (Dr Ziegler) and I

About a month ago a colleague forwarded a Facebook post to the group.

‘Ambassador in Cyprus for a day?’

As part of the International Women’s Day celebrations in Cyprus, women across the island could enter a competition and the prize was to spend a day with a female ambassador in Cyprus and learn more about their work.

All you had to do was send a short video (up to two minutes) with a brief introduction about yourself, why you’d like to be an ambassador for a day and why International Women’s Day is important.

Truth be told I didn’t know much about an ambassador’s life and I was really happy that there was no age limit to enter (I felt a bit frustrated lately with the amount of events or initiatives only for people under 30 years old) so I thought I’d send a video. I had nothing to lose and I love making little videos.

Unsurprisingly, two minutes were not enough to express all my thoughts but I tried. This was the video I sent.

I didn’t really expect to win. I’m older than probably most of the participants and ,well for those you’ve known me for a while, I’m infamous for my bad luck (don’t forget, during the first of what was supposed to be a few years of travelling and teaching English, I spent it in Italy, half of it locked inside due the global Covid pandemic).

Against all odds though I did win and I was matched with the Austrian ambassador in Cyprus, Dr Eva Maria Ziegler.

We had a little chat on the phone beforehand during which she explained that due to the current lockdown situation in Cyprus there weren’t many events planned this period so there was no point spending a whole day with her just in the office. I was pleasantly surprised with her honesty and openness from the get go, even over the phone.

So the plan was to meet her a few days later at the Austrian Embassy and have a chat. But she first invited me to the (virtual) Press Conference on Francophonie (the annual international celebration of the French language) and the celebrations planned by embassies across Cyprus as well as the Ministry of Education and Culture. I couldn’t believe I was part of a Press Conference which consisted of various ambassadors in Cyprus as well as the Minister of Education and Culture. What a surreal experience that was!

I knew about Francophonie as I happened to be in Brussels two years ago on that day, during which there was live music next to Manneken Pis, but I didn’t realise that was also celebrated in Cyprus with events planned and all.

A few days later I went to her office and we had a long chat. What an amazing experience it was to visit an embassy!

I can’t remember the last time I learned so much in such short space of time. I can’t possibly document all I’ve learned but I’ll share the highlights.

Dr Ziegler’s father was a diplomat, so she was familiar with that way of life since she was a child. Although she originally studied music management (and law) she found it hard to get into it and decided to follow in her father’s footsteps. She had an incredible career. She worked for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and she worked as an Austrian ambassador in Milan and in Lebanon amongst other countries.

We talked about politics, travel and she shared amazing stories from her ambassador life including the story of the extraordinary life of a 103 year old Jewish lady who ended up living in the Buffer Zone in Nicosia (and sadly recently died).

What she loved most of the ambassador life is the variety as embassy work is not just about visas and passports but also organising cultural events and initiatives as the embassy is given a cultural budget, as well as meeting a diversity of people from all walks of life. And of course an Ambassador gets to travel as every 4 years postings end and you get to apply for a different country. I would love to live the ambassador life!

The worst part of her job that she doesn’t enjoy as much is writing reports and long meetings. I don’t blame her!

After our chat I got to meet her PA, Mr Antonopoulos, A Greek-Austrian who’s been working as a PA in embassies for a few years. Similar to the ambassador, he loves the variety and travel that comes with the job. What he doesn’t enjoy is moving.

All in all it was a great experience, it’s not every day you get to meet an ambassador, let alone an honest, fun, easy to chat to one, as Dr Ziegler. I’ve learned a lot and it gave me a few ideas on what I’d like to do in the future.



Why International Women’s Day is Important.

Why is International Women’s Day important?

For the same reasons Pride and Black Lives Matter are important. Because gender, racial and any other discrimination shouldn’t exist in the 21st century, your sexual orientation, gender and skin colour shouldn’t define your ability or right to do anything.

Because women still get paid less, are expected to marry and have a family and put that above anything else.

Because women are still considered ‘property’ of the man in some countries and are punished for getting raped.

Because old white men decide whether a woman should be ‘allowed’ to have an abortion.

Because although women fought hard to be given the right to vote, there are hardly any women who make it into politics (for obvious reasons).

Because a woman although considered ‘weak’ ironically has to try harder to prove that she can do the same job as a man. Doesn’t that make her stronger?

Because posting a photo of her in clothes she likes regardless of how ‘sexy’ they are considered or even sometimes posting a photo of her smiling somehow gives a man the right to harass her.

Because it takes years of hard work, self-love and self awareness for a woman to feel confident and strong enough to be who she is, with no fear. Because even today, employers would hire or promote a man, even though a female candidate with more qualifications and experience has also applied for the same position.

Because being sensitive and expressing your feelings is considered a weakness and ‘womanly’.

Because a woman for some reason has to justify her choices and if she acts like a ‘man’ is considered a slut, but if a man behaves the same way, ‘that’s just how he is’.

And the list goes on…

Living in a white male dominated world is tough, but women across the world will keep fighting for what’s theirs until racist, deeply embedded in the society patriarchy finally diminishes.

Here’s to all women across the world who never give up, here’s to those who suffer in silence because they are terrified, here’s to those who wake up every morning looking after their children, here’s to those who stay in bed because that’s what they want to do, here’s to all of us, regardless of our life choices.

It took me years to feel confident enough to be able to believe in myself. I was in a long term relationship in which I was told I wasn’t slim enough, educated enough, hell even good enough to write a blog. But I’ll never let any man or anyone else make me feel this way ever again, because I’ve always been a strong, confident, independent woman.

It just took me years to realise and I hope by posting this it will help women across the world realise it faster and not waste time, pain and tears.Here’s to women.

May we keep fighting and conquering the world, a little bit at a time, with a smile or tears in our face, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. #internationalwomensday


Why we need International Women’s Day

For myself and thousands of women, every day is International Women’s Day.

Every day, sometimes small things e.g. being stared at or wolf-whistled because you wore a beautiful dress you love and sometimes bigger things your colleague gets the promotion you deserve more than him but he apparently is ‘more confident’, remind women across the world why we need to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Why? Because although we achieved a lot compared to 100 years ago, there’s still so much more to fight for.

There are still women who are treated as objects, sold, abused, forced to get married from the tender age of 12, when they are still children, there are still women who are stoned or beaten to death because they dared to ‘look’ at another man, or even for being raped.

In more privileged societies such as the one I live in, we still have a lot to fight for too.

We are still considered ‘weak’ in a million different ways just because we are strong enough to show we have feelings and emotions and brave enough to be vulnerable, because we are all humans. But society still considers that a weakness. How sad.

We are still seen as ‘sluts’ instead of the male equivalent of ‘players’ if every now and then we need and want to satisfy our sexual needs.

It’s still incredibly uncomfortable for most men to listen to women talk about something natural like giving birth or their period but it’s OK for women to put up with sexist and racist jokes.

The majority of CEOS, pilots, comedians, police officers, doctors and so many other occupations it’s still men. Yes, we made progress but even in our day and age there’s blunt and obvious discrimination against women.

Also, women are still in most societies, expected to give birth and look after their children and if they chose not to do so, not compromise, ‘there’s something wrong with them’.

We are made to feel inadequate if we don’t look ‘pretty’ and are forced to work on our ‘imperfections’ but if we make an effort we are too ‘girly’ and ‘soft’. For men appearance doesn’t even affect their career prospects or their life in general.

I won’t even mention equal pay. There’s A LOT of work to be done there too.

Why is this still happening? Well, mostly because of society. We still live in a male-dominated society that teach us since we are young that we are not as strong or capable and for women to follow their dreams they have to fight harder and ignore all the abuse and discrimination thrown in their path.

We have to fight harder to get that promotion, to earn more money, to be seen as capable as men and to achieve that we have to first be considered ‘crazy’ and ‘wild’. We have to break the barriers if we want to see significant change and we have to try a hundred times harder than a man. That’s the sad reality.

When the first suffragettes protested and demanded the right to vote, they were ridiculed and arrested. They were ‘insane’, how dare they demand equal political rights? And this is only one example.

Being a feminist is not about not shaving or not letting a man help you your groceries, or being seemed as equal to men. We are not equal, we are different. But is about being offered equal opportunities and equally represented in conferences, festivals, courts, the Parliament.

So here’s to all women, famous and not famous who changed the world.

To all women who fight against discrimination every single day, to every day heroes, our mums, grandmothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, to us. We are awesome.

Please don’t give up the fight, even when society deems you ‘crazy’ or ‘too emotional’ or ‘not confident enough’, keep going, that’s how we’ll change this.

Happy International Women’s Day.

PS I’m not on my period. I’m just passionate about this.


Pie’m every woman…

Happy International Women’s Day! Shout out to all the incredible ladies out there.

But I hope one day we are treated as equals and we don’t need to celebrate International Women’s day. We can instead celebrate Incredible Human Beings day.  A day to recognise and show our love to amazing every day human beings, every day heroes who make our lives better sometimes just by being there.

Like Chris and Helen, two of my favourite humans.

Today, we finally made it to lunch. I’ve recently discovered this little Pie and Comic book shop on Carlton place, Piecaramba and naturally, I wanted to give it a go. The pictures on their webpage and Tripadvisor looked incredible, I love pies, I love comics (Batman!), I love anything local, independent, different and creative and Helen and Chris were as equally excited for pies as I was.

We didn’t know when we arranged this a week ago that this week is actually British Pie Week. What are the chances!

On our way there, Chris came up with some of the best/worst pie puns one could make up, one of which I chose as a title to sum up today. Thank you Chris!


‘Oh pie there’ (Oh hi there) when we walked in

‘Pie’m every woman’ (I’m every woman) to the music

‘Jesus pie-st’ (I don’t know why but the waiter said Jesus Christ)

As soon as we sat down the lovely waiter/manager came over talk to us how it worked since we’ve never been before.

There were so many options to choose from, including Vegetarian and Vegan I struggled to pick just one, although Helen and I came up with new pies to recommend to the chef, a breakfast option (bacon, baked beans, cheese, and scrambled eggs on the side?) and maybe one for cheese lovers (I’m not going to even attempt to list all the delicious cheese combinations one can have).

After much deliberation and changing my mind three times I  went for the El Bandito (Free Range British Chicken with Spanish Chorizo and tomatoes), Helen had the Piecaramba (Chillie beef burrito pie finished off with melted double Gloucester) and Chris had the Pieoneer (traditional mince beef and onion pie in red wine gravy).

It was delicious! Fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection, flavoursome. I almost finished it, I rarely manage to finish a pie but it was so tasty I couldn’t resist.


Thank you to the lovely waiter/manager for his recommendations and for being so patient when I could not decide what pie to have or what to drink.

I loved everything about PieCaramba. Small, cosy space with colourful, rustic and modern decor, awesome music (tune after tune, shout out to the playlist creator), scrummy, homemade pies, reasonable prices (I paid £6.75 for the pie and my delicious Passionfruit ice tea) and super friendly staff.

Needless to say, I’m definitely going back to try Chick Norris next, the waiter’s favourite and browse their comic books selection.

I love this place already. It’s amazing to have a different, out of the norm option and another great local, independent shop.

Great job guys!

Thank you to Helen and Chris for all the laughs. Always a pleasure. I guess without realising we celebrated the first ever Incredible Human Beings day.

I can’t wait for our next outing!