It’s never too late to chase your dreams…

Words cannot describe how happy I am it’s finally the weekend.

March has probably been the busiest month so far in 2018 personally, socially and professionally.

Staying late at work planning the AS Away morning, putting together the programme for the day, ensuring the catering arrived on time and other event related issues you can imagine whilst trying to stay on top of everything else, urgent requests, ongoing projects and the list goes on was fun, I love a challenge, but exhausting.

In the evenings and the weekends I caught up with friends and had one of the best nights out leaving me with no time to actually catch up with myself, do my yoga, spend time on my guitar or even write on my blog.

Now I have a week off to catch up with everything, do the things I love and try new things.

Last week I went on an interview at a job at the University. I wasn’t sure whether to apply, it was a much more interesting job compared to what I do (though most of the peeps working in that team applied for it, meaning my chances were slim) but most importantly, although I still don’t know what my dream job is, I know what it isn’t. And this wasn’t.

I was surprised I was invited for an interview but I did my best to prepare in the little free time I had and I made new friends along the way across the University. Thank you Dan for all your help and our chats, it was a pleasure meeting you. And thank you Meredith, Caroline and Phil for giving me the opportunity, I’ve learned something new about a great University service, I didn’t know before.

I didn’t get the job in the end. I wasn’t surprised I didn’t get it, but I was surprised I was not disappointed. I felt relieved. I may not love my current job, although I always do my best, but it allows me mentally, physically and practically to do more of the things I love outside work. And although I don’t believe in ‘meant to be’ I have a feeling that something bigger and better is coming my way.

Since a couple of bad experiences I had recently (a job I really wanted I applied for and didn’t get it, went on a date after two years and it went terribly bad) without consciously realising my life attitude has dramatically changed. I give things a go and if not working, I move on and after a day or two, I’m back enjoying life to the full. Because it is too damn short.

My friend Chris told me recently ‘If someone a year ago had said that you would be smashing PBs for leg presses you ‘d have never believe them. Odd how life changes!’

Of course I wouldn’t. Who would have thought! A year ago I was struggling with depression. I didn’t want to leave the house. I felt lost and alone.

Life changes because I changed it.

A year later, I’m stronger and healthier, I’ve met incredible humans who I now call my friends, I’ve made beautiful memories, I tried new things and I’m now going on my first ever solo trip in two days!

And I couldn’t be more excited, albeit a bit scared. Which makes me feel even more excited.

On Thursday I had the chance to visit the beautiful, colourful, vibrant Below Bar studios again as a BA (Hons) Fine art student invited me for a chat and a browse around the Fine Art studio. A post on that coming soon but what inspired me most about Andy was his love of Art and what he does. It may have taken him 30 odd years, since life is never easy and he had to work from a young age providing for his family, but he is finally now chasing his dream of becoming an artist.

A shining, bright example that is never late to chase your dreams. Just remember to live life to the full and enjoy every moment you can in the meantime…

I may not know what I really want to do with my life yet, since I love more than one things, writing, food, mental health, events management, staff development, marketing, drawing, anything to do with people, music although If I could make a living writing about food whilst travelling I’d go right now, but I know it will never be late to chase my dreams.

Namaste

Eleni

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The world’s best pastry chef, anyvan.com and other things I recently discovered.

The World’s best Pastry chef

I annoyingly left the book I’ve been desperately trying to finish (and still do) in my luggage up in the overhead locker. I had just boarded the 4 and a half hour flight back to the UK after spending the Christmas holidays at home. I was tired, emotional and I just settled at my seat. The last thing I wanted to do was disturb the lovely couple sitting next to me (who kindly offered me the window seat so they could sit next to each other).

So after a nap and in a desperate effort to blank out the non-stop crying noise from the toddler at the seats behind me, I put my favourite music on and grabbed the latest Traveller, Easyjet’s inflight magazine.

I love their magazine, it’s always full of interesting, exciting stories and one of the main features in the January issue was a piece on the World’s best Pastry Chef for 2017, Cedric Grolet. I instantly fell in love with his creations and his incredible talent. I follow him on Instagram since and is one of my favourite feeds at the moment. The man is an artist. What else can you call an apple tart resembling a perfectly formed apple? Afternoon tea at Le Meurice hotel’s restaurant, Le Dali in Paris where one can taste Cedric’s art at a reasonable price is now on my bucket list.

Anyvan.com

After Shebz left for her Central America adventure I had a week to pack until I were to move to my now new home and this time I was not going to even attempt the move all by myself. I was prepared to pay as much as necessary to avoid last year’s disaster. I had a quick look on Gumtree, there were a lot of local removal companies but I didn’t have the time or energy to call and ask for a quote, compare and decide, so after a quick Google search I came across anyvan.com.

I did everything online, from getting a quote to final payment, their agents were extremely helpful, the price was reasonable and it all went smoothly. The day before my move, my driver Josh called me to confirm time and location and himself and his sister who was his assistant on the day were lovely and even offered to give me a lift in their van so I didn’t have to get a taxi to the new place. I can’t recommend them enough!

Argos next day delivery

Last Saturday, a day after I moved in, there were only three boxes left to unpack. All the clothes that needed hanging. I could not handle the sighting, boxes sitting there, clothes trapped in them, and settling down as soon as possible was my number one priority, so I went on Amazon and Google to try and get a cheap wardrobe delivered for Sunday. Since Amazon Prime couldn’t deliver until Monday I ended up on the Argos page, I haven’t bought anything from Argos for years, I didn’t even know they offered next day delivery. I’ve ordered my white fabric portable wardrobe to match the white theme of my bedroom and a bathroom bin on Saturday afternoon and it was delivered to me the following day on a designated time slot of my choice. Impressed!

Instagram favourite

About a week ago, whilst browsing through the discover section on Instagram, one of my favourite things to do, I found this gorgeous snap by the extremely talented Turkish Photographer and travel writer below.

It’s not an exotic beach or a hot travel destination. But it’s simple and powerful. That’s exactly what I want to experience and discover on my next travel adventure. Every day people living in an old house in the middle of the mountains having a chat. Check onderkoca’s feed for more, totally worth it.

That’s all from me on this crispy cold Friday evening. If you’d like to share any interesting things you discovered recently, share below ūüôā

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Eleni

Blogmas day 24- Donkey milk chocolate and embroidery art at Lefkara

Merry Christmas eve!

I just came back home from a morning excursion at the Cypriot picturesque village of Lefkara (followed by a trip to the cinema to finally see Paddington 2, it was a-we-some).

Lefkara is one of the most iconic villages of Cyprus, infamous for its traditional stone houses and its embroidery art, Lefkaritika or Lefkara lace.

I haven’t been since I was a child, on a primary school day trip and I really wanted to the last couple of years. Now I’m older and wiser and I can appreciate the history, the importance and the beauty of it all, I like to go back to places I’ve been when I was younger.

And today was the day!

After a short beautiful drive through the Larnaka mountains we walked towards the city centre.

the Zenonos ladies

The first shop we came across with traditional embroidery we went in to get some memorabilia and I got to chat to the friendly owner who was born and raised in Liverpool. My instant joy to hear English again after only three days of being back home, (it felt much longer), caught me by surprise. I guess I missed my other home more than I thought I did.

But I soon got distracted by my surroundings.

Harry and Maria’s shop was incredible, it was like walking into a museum.

We then popped to the organic store next door with products I’ve never knew existed such as honey infused soap, carob coffee and chocolate made of donkey milk!

donkey milk chocolate

We got lost in the graphic stone-paved alleys…

and made our way into a warm, cosy restaurant. Their food was amazing but unfortunately I forgot to take any photos. The lovely owner after complimenting them on their fresh traditional bread and halloumi explained their main suppliers are local producers, supporting each other whilst making fresh, delicious food.

wood-burning stove

I can’t wait to visit again in the summer, when most of the shops will be open and buzzing with local and foreign tourists.

One more sleep until Christmas!

Eleni

Blogmas day 21- Flying home for Christmas

I woke up with upset stomach and hoping I won’t be sick. But I’m on my way to the airport.

I can’t wait. I can’t wait until the plane lands in Larnaca and I run outside to hug my sisters.

By the time you get to read this I might be home already.

Going home twice or three times a year if I’m lucky is vital for my mental wellbeing. Being with my people, my loved ones, the ones who know me better than anyone else, the ones I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not because I don’t have to is one of the very few things that makes me happy, unconditionally. That’s what home means to me. Being with people who make you feel you can be yourself and enjoy each moment.

Every time I visit I come back with a newly found desire and surge of energy to move on and chase my dreams. It reminds me of who I really am, what I’m capable of and how no matter what happens my friends and family will always be there, even if they are thousands of miles away. They’ll always believe in me.

I’m getting emotional already.

Just before I go, I want to thank my amazing Southampton friends and colleagues, I love you all and I can’t wait to catch up in 2018.

Next post will be tomorrow, from Cyprus whilst chilling on the sofa with a cup of coffee, Anna snuggled next to me and and Oscar sitting on my lap. Pure bliss.

Namaste

Eleni

Italy- Sisters on Tour part 3-Rome continued…

On our third day in Rome (part 1 and part 2 here) the plan was to go on a day trip to either Naples or Tivoli but the skies opened up from the night before and it rained all night through to the next morning. It rained A LOT the whole morning and there was a hailstorm followed by more heavy rain. We went to the train station but some trains were cancelled so we decided it would be wiser to stay in Rome. We were already exhausted by that time and a more relaxed day would be great since we were heading to the Vatican the following day (the museums are closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month when is free to get in!).

None of us had any umbrellas and the illegal sellers outside the station were selling them for a tenner each!! But luckily we found some in a store nearby.

After a quick snack at the station we went to the National Museum of Oriental Art, which had a lot of exhibits considering its size and then to Palazzo delle Espozioni to check out their Hollywood Icons exhibition with photographs from the John Kobal foundation. The building is impressive, to say the least, and the exhibition was great, although sister number two decided to touch one of the photos and alarms went off! Needless to say she was told off (hover on photos for captions).

 

 

By that time we were starving so we went for dinner at a nearby restaurant, another delicious meal, and then we stopped by Mercato Centrale, a large food court next to the station, for pudding on our way to the hotel.

On day four, after our breakfast, we went to the Vatican Museums. It’s super easy to get there from Roma Termini, it’s only a 15-20 min tube ride. If you decide to go, use the self-service dispensers, not the counters, you need to get a ticket to join the queue and wait for a long time! You don’t need to know Italian to use the dispensers, you just get a ticket which is valid for 90 minutes or a day.

It was raining again but we didn’t mind much as we were to spend most of the day in the museums. I tried to book tickets online the night before from their official website but they were sold out for that day, so we decided to check how long the queues were and hoped they ‘d be tourist guides around, like at the Colosseum and pay a bit more to skip the queues.

And that’s what happened. We got our vouchers from a tourist guide and after collecting our tickets from the cashier at the museum entrance, about half an hour later, we were in. I was in awe the whole time! The architecture, the exhibits (including a mummy!!), everything! We spent around 3 hours, with a break for a snack at their canteen there (where we met the rudest waiter ever!) and the last thing to see was what I looked forward to since we got there, Capela Sistina, the Sistine Chapel.

I still remember the first time I learned about it at school, many many years ago, staring and admiring at the pictures and I always wanted to see it with my own eyes. And it finally happened. And it did not disappoint. You are not allowed to take any photos once you are in the chapel but I noticed I stood just below the infamous Creation of Adam, so I sneakily took a snap.

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The creation of Adam

After we left the museums we headed to St Peter’s basilica. But there were long queues and we didn’t pay extra to get in (it is free to go into the basilica, but if you pay extra when you get your Vatican museums’ tickets you can skip the queues for the basilica too).

It was still amazing to be standing at St Peter’s square and admire the views.

 

After a short stop for a drink (worst cup of tea I ever had!) we went back to Mercato Centrale for dinner and then headed back to the hotel to rest and pack as we were leaving the following day.

Our last day was one of my favourite of the whole trip! We had no idea what to do. So after we checked out of the hotel we passed by Quattro Fontane, Piazza della Repubblica, went by to see the Fontana di Trevi and the Pantheon one last time and we ended up at Piazza Navona where we had our last delicious pizza in Rome.

 

We popped in the Angelica Library, which I wanted to from day one but we didn’t get the chance earlier

 

we had the best ice cream we ever tasted in our whole life (details on the food blog coming next!), we loved the Pinocchio dedicated store, Bartolucci

 

we bumped into Cremonini Area Archeologica, an underground archaeological site near the Trevi hidden on a quiet side street where we met the friendliest sales assistant

Cremonini Area Archeologica
Cremonini Area Archeologica

and after picking our bags from the hotel (you can leave them at the station too but it costs a tenner for the whole day, if you google it you can find others for cheaper) we headed to the airport.

My flight had three and a half hour delay due to the French air strike so after I waved my sisters goodbye, sad and exhausted I caught the plane back to the UK.

And that was the end of our amazing week in Florence and Rome.

 

It’s been five days since I’ve been back in the UK and it already feels like a dream. I’m sad is over but so happy for the amazing memories, places and experiences shared with my best friends, my sisters. I already started planning my next adventure!

Next blog on our Italian food experience.

Eleni

Italy- sisters on tour part 2- Rome

On Friday around noon we left beautiful Florence (part 1) and we took the long three and a half hour train to Rome. It was warm and sunny and got a little bit hot on the train. And there was this guy sitting opposite us. He was on the phone for most of the journey and when he was not, he sang or he put music on his phone out loud.

We were exhausted and especially towards the end we wanted to tell him to shut up but we were all too polite!

We arrived in Rome around 3:30pm, knackered, hot, hungry and in desperate need of the loo. The hotel we were to stay was five minutes away from the Roma Termini train station but we just couldn’t find it as there was no sign. After about 20 minutes of wandering and asking around to no avail, we finally bumped into the owner who let us in.

We stayed at Cialdini Rome, which was much better than the one we stayed in Florence, cleaner and newer and it included breakfast (fresh coffee, croissants and orange juice delivered to our room every day) and other than the toilet flush that got stuck a couple of times (but I figured out how to fix it after a day or two!) it was lovely. Friendly owners, daily cleaning and breakfast.

The area around the station is not the best, is quite poor and we were told they were a lot of pickpockets so we had to be very careful with our bags. The streets around that square smelled of wee, I have no idea why.  We joked we knew we were getting close to the hotel when we could smell the wee. But after a 10 minute walk you are transported into a completely different Rome. Bright, luxurious, beautiful.

Would I’ve known Rome better I’d probably stay more central, closer to the center and some of the landmarks, which is a much nicer area but I’m happy with our accommodation considering how much we paid.

After we checked in and got our map from the landowner’s husband, who was the chattiest and funniest Italian we met, it was time for lunch. We sat at the first place we saw, and it was the worst food we had in Rome (details on the food blog coming after the Rome blogs). We then headed towards some of the main attractions.

Our map
Our worn out map

We passed by the Santa Maria Maggiore church and the Quirinale palace, heading towards the infamous Fontana di Trevi. Hover over photos for captions.

After wandering in the charming cobble streets, you turn a corner, and there it was! Fontana di Trevi. What a beautiful gem in the middle of the city.

After throwing our coins into the fountain, and sister number two being told off by the guard there who whistles every time someone sits on the edge of the fountain, we made our way to the Pantheon.

What an incredible building, what an amazing piece of history, standing there in front of our eyes.

After a delicious dinner at a small restaurant in a picturesque cobble street near Pantheon, we headed back to the hotel, admiring the views. On our way back we went into a beautiful church and passed by the Italian Madame Tussauds (museo delle cere), which other than Einstein, the rest of the statues on the entrance didn’t look anything like the famous people they were supposed to resemble (and I was told off for touching Einstein’s face!). And that was the end of our first (half) day in Rome.

The following morning we headed to the Colosseum, which was actually very close to the hotel. Again, I’ve done no research and nobody told me that I had to pre-book tickets or get them from near the Colosseum if we didn’t want to wait for hours in the queue. So we opted for one of the guided tours offered by tens, hundreds even of guides outside who pick up what language you speak just by overhearing you talking.

That happened in Florence as well, but it happened much more in Rome. I was impressed they could do that, considering the Cypriot dialect, although Greek, is quite different to the official Greek language. But I guess they get used to it, with the millions of tourists they visit their city every year.

The Colosseum was breathtaking! We absolutely loved it. Our guide, Aldo was great and we learned a lot about the history of it, but he talked. A LOT. We were supposed to have a break after the Colosseum and re-join the group to enter the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. But we were tired and starving by that time. We went for lunch in a cute nearby cafe instead and we then decided to head towards the river to enjoy the views from there.

On our way we  passed by the Arco di Constantino, Arco di Tito and Circo Massimo. After about half an hour we reached the river and we wandered around Tiberina.

After a quick break for ice-cream and a short rest stop at the hotel we got to try pizza by the meter (the food blog will be amazing, I promise!), we passed by the Opera and sat at the steps of Piazza della Repubblica to watch the sunset. And that was the end of our second day in Rome.

I hope you enjoyed our journey this far. Days three to five coming tomorrow or Monday and they are pretty awesome, if I say so myself!

Eleni

Italy-Sisters on tour part 1- the incredibly beautiful Florence

I’m back from warm and sunny Italy to cold and rainy Southampton. I’ve been back for two days but I’m still adjusting. I’m wrapped up in my blanket, watching the rain from my window as we speak.

It’s impossible to write just one blog about it due to the sheer volume of pictures, places we’ve seen and things we did, so the first part will be about Florence, part two and maybe three will be on Rome and the last one is dedicated to food.

So, let’s start from 9 days ago, Tuesday, 5th of September. I was packed and ready to get to London after work. I looked forward to it for so long and the work day felt super long, even longer than usual. I finished all the things I could before I was ready to go, although I was sad I didn’t get to say goodbye to my bestie, because a colleague had a query a minute before I had to go.

I had no umbrella or waterproof with me and, yes, it started raining as soon as I walked out the door, on my way to the train station and got soaking wet by the time I reached it. I spent a quiet, relaxing night at a hotel near Gatwick airport, although my taxi driver tried hard to persuade me to go out in Brighton.

I was worried whether my sisters will make it to Rome, so I didn’t sleep much. I got up around 4am and by 10:15am I made it to Rome and finally met my sisters, who flew there a bit earlier, although they nearly missed their flight because they went to the wrong gate, typical!

2017-09-14 16.21.24

After a quick bite we went to get our train tickets to Florence. I should have done my research but I didn’t. The cashier at the Trenitalia desk was very rude. He didn’t explain to us that apparently in Italy there are only two main train services: high-speed, which are faster but more expensive and regionale, which have more stops but are cheaper (I only found out about it from a lovely Italian we met on the train later on).

He didn’t even give us the option to choose which train service we wanted to catch. And we had to choose a specific time. So we bought the more expensive but fast one, only because we didn’t know. Although retrospectively, it was the right decision. None of us slept much and we were already very tired. But we were still shocked by the sheer rudeness of the cashier.

On our way to Florence we met Fabio, the lovely Italian I mentioned earlier (we think his name was Fabio, none of us were sure we heard right, if you happen to read it please comment!), an Italian musician, living in London. One of my sisters, Stella fell asleep almost immediately but Fabio, Anna and I chatted the whole way to Florence. We talked about life in the UK, the cultural differences of Italy and Cyprus compared to the UK, music of course, loving what you do for a living vs just having a job and Yoga (he goes to a yoga retreat in India every year for a month, I know right!). He also told us we would love Florence, ‘it is like a walking museum’ he said.

After 2 and a half hours, around 2:30pm we said goodbye to Fabio and reached Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the main train station in Florence.  Our hotel, Ottaviani, was pretty close, and fortunately not as bad as some reviews I read the night before made it to be (it was old, the lift was tiny so we decided not to use it at all, we had a proper laugh about the glass sliding bathroom door and the beds were not the comfiest but it was clean and OK for two nights) after checking in and resting for a bit off we went to explore this gorgeous city!

The lovely hotel owner provided us with a map and circled the main attractions for us. I haven’t used a paper map for ages! But I’m amazed how well we managed to use it (minus a couple of arguments!) and saved me a lot of phone data.

Using a map
No, that’s where the map says to go!

We passed by Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Santa Maria Novella basilica, which was the first great basilica in Florence, and headed towards the San Lorenzo market for dinner.

Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella

After a delicious meal (more details on the food blog) we wandered around the market. I’ve never seen so many leather bags in my life!

San Lorenzo market
San Lorenzo market

The San Lorenzo indoors market was amazing! The ground floor where the food market is set was closed but the 1st floor gourmet food court was open and oh my we wished we hadn’t just had dinner! Lots of photos to share on my food blog from this market.

After admiring the San Lorenzo church we sat down to Piazza san Marco for a rest.

San Lorenzo church
San Lorenzo church
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco

We then headed to Piazza Del Duomo, the centre of Florence, home of the Florence Cathedral, Il Duomo di Firenze. We were in awe, to say the least!

Duomo di Firenze
Duomo di Firenze

After a short stop for dessert we walked down towards river Arno, just in time for the sunset. I remembered what Fabio said, Florence is a walking museum! And that’s when I realised I was in love with Florence.

River Arno
Sisters in Florence
sunset at River Arno
sunset at River Arno

And that was the end of day one.

On our second and last day in Florence, we had breakfast in the sunshine at Piazza del Duomo and then headed to get bus 12 as our BnB owner advised us, to get to Piazzale Michelangelo and admire the panoramic views.

Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo

The views from Piazzale Michelangelo were breathtaking!

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Before we left we visited the San Salvatore al Monte church, so peaceful and simple but elegant.

We would have explored the area more but we were exhausted so we headed back to the city centre. We missed our stop so the bus took us around the whole city!

We were starving at this point so sat at a restaurant in Piazza della Repubblica, another amazing area in central Florence.

Piazza della Repubblica
Piazza della Repubblica

After lunch we headed to Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in Florence.

By this time we were knackered. So we rested for a bit at the hotel before going out for dinner, to try the infamous Bistecca alla Fiorentina. After our scrummy dinner we went back to the hotel.

And that’s how our day and Florence adventure ended. The following day we caught the train to Rome.

The city was full of tourists that made it hard to move at times or take better pictures and there were a lot of illegal ‘painting’ and other street sellers, appearing out of nowhere which I didn’t expect. And there were a couple of rude cashiers and waiters, something I’m not used to. But Florence still impressed me more than any other city I visited.

I loved Rome but I fell in love with Florence. And my sisters did too. What a breathtakingly beautiful, amazing place. I feel blessed and grateful I’m lucky enough I got to see and explore it. It’s probably the only place I’ve been I would like to visit again.

Next blog on Rome!

Eleni

Happy July!

Happy July to all! I hope this month brings you everything you wish for.

I’ve meant to post on Saturday but had a busy weekend and I’ve been suffering with sore throat since Sunday night so I didn’t get the chance to.

I spent all Saturday cleaning, organising stuff, sorting out things. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while because cleaning and organising my clothes, my shoes, my mugs, my earrings… add what else you can think of… helps me put my thoughts in order and feel more prepared to start my long-anticipated pursuit of new beginnings and a new life. I’m sure that’s not just me?

I never want to go back to those black winter days and months. And I’m determined not to.

On Sunday I got to sing with my Solent friends at the Hat Fair and it was EPIC (photos on my insta https://www.instagram.com/eleni_zenonos/)! The sun was shining, you could see acrobats on one side, jugglers on the other, hundreds of stalls with bracelets, fairy clothes, food and many many more.

I met with my bestie afterwards and spent the afternoon chatting away for hours whilst having tea in the sun. What a beautiful day that was.

And then it was Monday…again…

Just to get it out of the way, I do not hate my job, I love my colleagues and I know there is always worse and work is not everything.

But for me it is a large part of my life and I’m itching to do something more meaningful, more exciting. I can’t spend the rest of my life checking spreadsheets in Excel, composing fee regulations and making amendments on Quercus. I can do much more than that. And if I don’t do it now I never will. I’m well aware that when I start a family, moving jobs and/or cities/countries/continents will be almost impossible.

I’m still not sure what I wish to do next, I’ve always wanted to chase my ‘becoming ¬†a Psychologist’ dream, as most Psychologist graduates do, but, although I’m strongly against the ‘I’m too old’ notion, I can’t really afford to right now financially, I might never do and I the thought of trying to save money for years to be able to re-train is too painful.

So… I’ll just go with the flow and when an opportunity I find interesting comes along, I’ll go for it.

And I’ll also do my absolutely very best to travel more. It’s such a cliche but there is so much beauty out there, so many diverse cultures, customs, cuisines that I’ve only seen on TV…

I was incidentally chatting to a colleague on Friday night, whilst having a couple of drinks with two lovely mothers to be who are now on maternity leave (don’t know much about babies so I thought I’d talk about travelling, one of my top three topics for discussion), about this documentary I watched on Costa Rica’s rich culture, gorgeous rain forests and the annual sea turtle nesting, ( the full title was Escape to Costa Rica-by Gaia Vince- definitely worth a watch, it made me set Costa Rica on the top of my bucket list) and I was in shock when he told me that he was in Costa Rica around the turtle nesting period, and although he had no idea before he arrived there, he got to watch the newborn tiny turtles walk into the sea. How amazing that must have been. We then talked about Cuba, another country high on my bucket list… I discovered amongst others, that he is an amazing photographer, how he arranged his life in such a way that he can travel often and that every trip he went became an amazing adventure, my favourite kind of holiday.

Needless to say that was the most interesting conversation I had in a while. I’m always amazed how much you can learn from others that you’d never expect to when you are open and happy to chat.

For now I can’t afford Costa Rica, but I’m going to Italy for the first time in September and I’m counting down the days.

For now I try my best to enjoy my life as it is.

And I’ll post most of it, when I can ūüôā

Hope you are having a lovely, sunny Tuesday afternoon ūüôā

Love you all

Eleni x

 

 

 

Berlin ick lieb dir! #myfirsttravelpost

I wanted to write a travel post since I remember. And what a better opportunity, just before I turn 30! I am planning  more trips from now on so hopefully more posts like this will follow.

I really fancied checking out Berlin for a while, after I met a lovely gal at a boring longitudinal research course my manager tricked me into going (I love longitudinal surveys, one of the most useful and demanding¬†research methods but learning to solve long equations when I can do the same with 2 clicks in SPSS wasn’t that interesting.). She was originally from Berlin and she talked about what a vibrant, artistic, cultural, musical city it is, which sounded just like my cup of tea.

So, my partner in crime, my bestie Shebz and I booked a long weekend close to my birthday. And we couldn’t have chosen better time, we were so lucky! Where shall I start from?

I’ll start from thanking Sheba, I wouldn’t have had as much fun and done¬†as much as we did if I went with anyone else. We make awesome travelling buddies! I can’t wait for our next adventure!

The weather was gorgeous. Sunny and warm. I got my first sunburn, one of many to come as summer holidays are fast approaching.

We rented an AirBnB and stayed with an amazing couple who recommended a lot of cool places to see. AND they lived in a very central location so we could get to places easily. We were so lucky again. Thank you Amelie and Matt for your hospitality and awesome recommendations.

I can’t possibly post all the photos we took and talk about everything we got to do but these are some of the highlights.

There was music everywhere. Musicians busking literally everywhere, music in shops, restaurants. Berlin definitely loves music!

The first day, after wandering around some of the main landmarks (the architecture in this city is breathtaking and there are glorious parks and greenery everywhere) during which we got to see¬†vintage cars as there was an exhibition going on, bikes for 5 people which looked so much fun, horse carriages (we got to pet gorgeous horses)¬†¬†and many more…

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Reichstag- The parliament. Thank you Lucy for the recommendation! x
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The Holocaust memorial

we ended up at the riverside, sunbathing with the locals…

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and spent the afternoon and evening wandering around a very posh area with expensive hotels and restaurants and tried the German cuisine (yes, a lot of the dishes included sausages).

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On the second day whilst trying to find a cafe we discovered online and wanted to go to, we wandered in a Turkish community, so different and interesting and vibrant, we felt like locals again.

Whilst looking for this elusive cafe (which we never found) ¬†we ended up in an abandoned anarchists¬†building, dark, cigarette butts and empty bottles everywhere, ashes of something burned outside… in the middle of a park… One of the scariest but most exciting things I’ve ever done and I don’t think I’d ever done that if I wasn’t with my bestie. Not sure anyone else would have been up for it.

We could not not visit the Berlin wall…

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And the day got better and better…

After wandering around the Museum Island and discovering secret yards, enjoying the sunshine at the riverside opposite the glorious Cathedral, we spent our afternoon at Mauerpark. Every Sunday there is live music with amazing local musicians, from reggae to dub-step, an enormous flee and food market… If I lived in Berlin I’d be there every week.

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Mauerpark, the place to be on a Sunday!

Whilst having dinner we had a laugh with some Londoners and their Vietnamese friends we bumped into (who totally made us want to visit Vietnam and Myanmar. If you happen to visit Mauerpark, there is a Vietnamese restaurant just across the street (Sukho), I definitely recommend it. Delicious food and the friendliest waiters.

On our last day we had the most amazing breakfast in a different, gorgeous Berlin area (thank you Amelie for the suggestion) and made our way back to the UK.

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Mokka bar, one of the best breakfasts I had!

What an amazing time we had. We got to do what we enjoy most, not just be tourists, but mingle with the locals, experience the culture. It’s definitely a place I want to return, as there is an amazing music scene I didn’t have time to enjoy¬†and definitely want to go to an OpenAir (a 5-day secret party you find about the very last minute).

Berlin is definitely a place I recommend visiting. 3 days are not enough though if you want to have the full experience. Also be aware of bike lanes. Sorry lovely Berliners for our lack of attention.

This trip reminded me¬†how much I love travelling and is something I definitely want to do more and more, maybe longer than a weekend¬†or a week or a month… Sometimes what you really need is to get away, change scenery, live somewhere else for a while to help you reset your mindset, your perspective, your life and learn more about the world and yourself. The people who love and care about you will be with you wherever you go and you can find a job anywhere in the world, so I’d say if what you really want is to travel, then do it. Everything else will fall into place.

¬†So…LESSON OF THE DAY: TRY EVERYTHING. Go for it, even if you are scared to death.

Love you all! x