Saturday, August 31, 2013

Europe, looking back

Having had the privilege of having lived in Central Europe for quite some time, some days I cannot help but look back and reminisce with a sense of nostalgia for days long gone. So, dwelling further, I was intrigued to find out what it is I am really reminiscent about, and here it is:

Although I could miss Germany/Europe, I don’t miss it the way I lived it…I am now grateful to:
-have my own house, generous backyard with privacy for enjoying anything, hosting parties, eating dinners, suntanning, doing yoga, working on my computer from a lounge chair in my "outdoor office"
-I don’t miss the drunken voices outside my window yelling at all times
-I don’t miss not having any privacy or sense of ownership, knowing that the "hausmeisters" are watching you, just waiting for that one time when you will slip up and forget to sort out your recycling properly
-although I do not meet the people often, if and when I do meet, it’s the people I really want to see and spend time with…ones who know me well and  we have a fantastic connection, can relate to each other on many levels, have fun, without the language or cultural barrier.
-I love the big, wild, open spaces-and easily being able to reach them-unlike Europe. 

The bottom like is, both places have their advantages. It can be very interesting to discover all the small town of Germany, especially if you are camping, knowing that there are always things around to see and do, but on the same token it can get weary knowing that everything is so dense, built up, with people everywhere like ants...and at times when what you are seeking is a connection with nature and solitude, that may not be all that conducive.

I absolutely adore some aspects of European life, BUT I’ve come to believe that to truly enjoy it, one would have to be a couple (or a young adult looking to party non-stop and have a good time, some casual encounters- that’s pretty easy to do there too, and you would have an amazing time, as it is far easier to find someone who just wants to party with you, go out and drink, rather than someone to relate to you on a more meaningful level, share your interests, and so on). However, Europe, although as an undertone, suggests to be  best viewed as a couple. All the apartments come furnished for a size of 2 or so…the last minute travel deals that would blow your mind to almost anywhere… for two. I am not even going to mention all the cute cafes and intimate restaurants you could have countless dates in and build lasting memories. Another positive-Europe is extremely kid friendly and pretty awesome for travelling with young kids-most of the time, no fare needs to be paid on ground transportation for kids under 7 and the amount of kid-friendly cafes and playgrounds will astonish you.

Overall, while I enjoyed myself  immensely and will once in a while become nostalgic for certain parts of the European lifestyle,  I much prefer the freedom and ample opportunities that the western world has to offer... Having said that, I am already planning my next vacation to Italy in my mind :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

On travelling alone: the pros and cons

Throughout the duration of my studies, the people in my group often commented on my zest for travel, whether I had a travel buddy or not, simply because once I got the idea in my mind of where my next destination should lie, there was very little else stopping me.And while most of the other international students were content with a trip or two, here and there, wherever their friends were willing to travel, I needed to squeeze in as much as I could, knowing that it will all be over sooner than I can imagine. Thus, in a span of 2.5 years I've visited,and some more than once: Spain, Italy, France, Denmark,Switzerland, many parts of Germany, Croatia, Czech republic, Morocco, Greece, as well as the islands of Tenerife, Ibiza, Skiathos; I've volunteered in music festivals without speaking the language, I've stumbled upon free concerts and art exhibitions, met wonderful people all over, some of whom have left lasting impressions...and the list goes on. So, for those of you who are reluctant to travel the world, unless accompanied by a partner/friend, etc- here is my list of "pros" and "cons" regarding solo travelling.

The "pro's":
Well, these are pretty obvious: you're on your own schedule, free to change your mind or adjust your plans at any time. Not only does this give you a tremendous flexibility, but it also increases the probability or meeting people anywhere you go-perhaps other solo travelers, or locals who feel like striking up a conversation while sitting next to you on a park bench. I'll never forget the sweet old man in a Copenhagen park, who, apologizing for his "very bad English" went on to tell me his life story without missing a beat. Or the generous stranger who bought me a train ticket back to the airport after I'd figured out I don't have enough local currency. The thing is, people are kind and open to tourists intrigued by their culture, because at the end of the day we all want to feel proud of where we're living, so by showing interest in local history, traditions, culture, by striving to understand how people live in a given region, makes you more relateable than simply being another "american tourist" (as canadians are most often lumped together with americans, unless you're willing to make a fuss about it and explain the difference to each and every one).

The "con's":

Well, we're all human and sometimes we just want someone to share a moment with. Whether you've stumbled upon a gorgeous view, or a neat marketplace, it can have an even greater memory-making potential once you've shared it with a fellow traveler. Needless to say, mealtime is a little daunting. You can hide there all you want with your guidebook and notes at a corner table, but most people in our society view meal time as a social occasion, thus making you stand out like a sore thumb. I have to say, my opinion differs on that-yes, I prefer a take out when traveling alone, with a possibility of going to a nearby park and enjoying the views and the outdoors. It can also be enjoyable to sit there with a cup of coffee and people watch. However, in some societies it just won't do: in Morocco, for example, a single woman on the streets is basically a "working girl", or so the locals see it,-so, just to make it easier on yourself, I'd advise against it. Same goes for Egypt. Other places, like northern Italy and Switzerland, I was ecstatic to be alone, as there's just too much to see and do to waste your time on group travel.

Of course, it all depends on where you go and with what intentions. If you're looking to meet people along the way and spend a day or two exploring a new place together, hostels are great for that. If you prefer the introverted route, taking photos and blogging about your travels can make you feel like you are sharing these experiences regardless of whether or not you travel solo.I often catch myself walking around thinking how I will write about my day or a particular experience on the road later on. In a way, I find that this internal dialogue keeps you connected to your outside world, with your senses concentrating on perceiving every exotic and foreign detail: someone's conversation nearby, a bird's cry, a new smell, a friendly smile from a stranger, a unique piece of art- a sense of envelopment arises, envelopment in something new, different, strange, scary and yet exciting at the same time-life, at its fullest, on the road.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The world through cat's eyes

I am a firm believer that a source of inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime, if one is open and present. Today, my source of inspiration is my cat. If it wasn't for her, I would've never gone outside first thing in the morning and caught the most glorious sunshine of the day, that lasted for little over a half hour before vanishing behind the dark gray ominous clouds once again. so I ventured outside, feeding the plants, taking care of all the living things out there, walking on a wet lawn squishing dirt between my toes, feeling utterly content and connected with the world around me. In a silent communion, we both enjoyed the outside in our own ways-me, potting around and her, squinting at me from the shade. I watch her enthusiasm as she wakes up in the morning, forgoing her food bowl , sprinting to the patio door, eager to smell, see, experience a new day. At first, she only takes a few steps away from the door and starts sniffing the air vigorously, so her whole face is grimacing as she is taking in the flavours of the outside world. then, she starts on her daily yard inspection, going up to each shrub and plant, sniffing them, acknowledging each branch. Then, she decides what she is in the mood for at the time: relaxing on a warm surface, exposing her soft belly to the sun, or playful- sprinting across the lawn,climbing the fence, chasing birds, or, if all else fails- playing with her own tails. Everything is always new and exciting in a cat's world. Perhaps there is something we could learn from them?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Venice, Venice, oh beautiful Venice!

Although this trip was taken over 6 months ago, it is still as fresh in my mind as the day it occurred.
Venice was more of a convenient stopover on the way back to Germany from Rome that an intended destination, yet I couldn't have been happier that it fit into my travel plans ever so nicely. You see, me and Venice have an ongoing love affair. Long before I ever thought that I'd move to Europe, I'd picked up a used pocket travel guide by Lonely Planet on Venice while shopping at a local used books store. What do you know, some years later here is it- so much more accessible than I ever thought possible! Unfortunately, my travel plans left me with only 24 hours to explore this magical place, but it certainly gave me a taste of Venice... a taste that left me wanting more.

First look: a moody Sunday morning

The day started out rather poor: grey, ominous clouds, slight drizzle and cold winds...and yet, the sheer beauty of everything around was distracting enough that I barely noticed the less than perfect weather. I think I spent the first few hours with my jaw hanging open, taking a thousand photos of just about everything, fascinated by the way the paint was peeling off the buildings, or the gorgeous balconies with all kinds of flower baskets hanging off them. Everything seemed to be placed and arranged exactly in the right place to make the perfect composition. I was in love. instantly, undeniably.

around each corner, views like these.

It was everything I could have imagined and more

Without looking at the map once, I somehow stumbled through all the turns and alleyways and emerged onto San Marco square just as the sun decided to come out. Armed with a slice of fresh pizza and a refreshing drink, I decided to treat myself to the city view from the Bell tower. Normally, I wouldn't spend money on climbing a mere few tens of meters to gain a better view/perspective, but this seemed worth it (and came highly recommended in the LP guideboook!).

 The 3euro view did not disappoint!  Then, just as I was about to enjoy strolling along the waterfront, as suddenly as the sun appeared, it gave way to dark purple clouds and I saw people running back towards the San Marco square, seeking shelter.

Gorgeous, but dangerous.

That's a rare sight: an empty San Marco square in August!

It was over just in time to grab a quick coffee and head off to watch the sunset, which turned even more glorious, thanks to the heavy dense clouds hanging low in the air. Once again, everywhere you turned, presented another gorgeous photo opportunity, as if it was an oil painting from the Renaissance period, just waiting for you to put a frame around it.

No, this isn't photoshop-this is Venice.

Hard to believe the locals get these views all the time!

Venice is still gorgeous by night.
The views were so worth sitting outside and freezing in the cold  wind.

Next morning, as I was waiting to board my bus taking me to a small local airport (serviced by Ryanair and Germanwings), I tool a last good look around:

...of course, it was promising to be a brilliantly sunny day without a cloud in the sky, perfect for hitting up the nearby beach in Lido. Oh well, 'til next time, Ciao Bella Venezia!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Technology vs. humans: checking in

Do you know that feeling when you wonder where the day has gone? Sometimes, I wonder where the whole week has gone. So, as this week begins and I remain hopeful of achieving everything I had set out to do and more, I am drawn to experiment with breaking the patterns. We may have the best ideas, but if we do nothing about them, they just go to waste. If you keep on ignoring your creative instincts to create, eventually they will diminish and come to a halt. Upon returning home from a marvelous workshop, the difference in the creative potential and the distractions around us are obvious. personally, one culprit is especially apparent: it sits there,demanding attention, and so I succumb to the call of my "master" and spend endless hours researching information for the future, answering e-mails, connecting with the rest of the world, all the seemingly needed things,yet as the day comes to a close, I am left with the question: "what did I really accomplish today?" Is all this really worth staying up into all hours of the night, falling out of the natural cycles of life, all for the sake of seeing who is "following" us, how many people are interested in your life, what is going on in the world- are we all that afraid to miss something in life, that we'd rather cling onto our blackberries, smartphones, iphones, etc-that to simply relax into the moment and appreciate it for what it is?

How often do you check your phone to see what's going on "out there", to make sure you're staying on top of it all? What if, instead, you "checked in" to see what is going on inside yourself?  What if, next time you're reaching for your latest piece of technology, you stop and ask yourself what is really behind your action, what you seem to be missing in this particular moment? The only way to make sure you are in charge of your life is to know that you are in control of your actions, and it is not your patterns running your life. It takes 30 days to break a habit and create a new one, to re-train the brain to start thinking and acting differently, so I challenge you to pick one thing to focus on for the next month that you would like to change and work on it for 30 consecutive days. For me, it is liberating myself from the negative mind chatter that stands in the way of achieving some of my biggest dreams.

Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest ones to answer. If something makes you happy, what is it that is stopping you from devoting your life to what your passion is? Is it that fear in the back of your head whispering words of self-doubt :"why bother?.. you will not accomplish anything anyways... only few people live to experience their dreams, what makes you think it's you?...I would like to do it, but..., etc etc" and on and on it goes- the toxic pollutant of our minds. What if, instead, you devoted one hour, half an hour, fifteen minutes, even, to allowing yourself to dream of your biggest potential? If you could do anything at all right now, regardless of the circumstances, what would it be? I'm not talking about dreaming of sleeping in on the weekend, or dreaming of your next vacation- I mean, really big, life-changing dreams.  To tell you the truth, I cannot even recall the last time I've allowed myself to really dream, dream big-  but I am excited to find out what it will be!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Springing into Spring

Spring is upon us, so why not begin with some spring cleaning, so we can really "spring" into spring?

There is something natural in the seasons that urges our innate to re-examine our lives, prepare for renewal, shed all the dead weight of the past, leave what no longer serves us behind and rightfully step into the now.

What is it that doesn't serve you right now? If you take a close look at your life, how is it different from the best life that you can imagine for yourself? what is holding you back?

Through a number of occurrances of the last few days, it has become apparent to me what needs to be changed. When you become committed to inner growth, all of your dark and grey areas will become exposed. It is your choice how to proceed from then on, but for me, there is no choice- I am committed to going all the way. I’ve spent a lot of time on bettering myself as a human being, getting over my emotional blocks and pains,-so I can recognize the patterns and, hopefully, not get stuck in them again.

I am determined to live my life with an open heart, shine my light brightly, unapologetically. Those who deserve to be close, who can contribute to that open heart, will be close- those who can help expand that heart even wider, will be even closer, teaching me the biggest lessons of all. But those who have no purpose being near, who have served their role, will fall away like the autumn leaves off a mighty tree.
Spread your wings, butterfly.

Such is the renewal cycle of life. What doesn’t serve your highest purpose, will fall off. Those who recognize your real self and the message you carry, will want to be near. They will come from all directions, old friends and newly found soul brothers. Pity not the ones who leave, it is their choice in life- stay committed to your life and purpose. Shine even more brightly than ever.

Release your shackles, you dead weight, once and for all. Whatever is holding you back from living your dream, the greatest version of your life ever possible. If there are people in your circle ridden with negativity and emotional parasitism, ask yourself- what purpose are they serving being there? maybe it is time to let them go? There are two types of people: ones who inspire, who bring out the best in you even on your bad days, and then there are others, who are there to steal your light, to take some of that radiance away from you, because they are not happy themselves, they haven't found their way and their place in the world, they refuse to look within and face what is staring right back at them. As radical as it may seem, I now cut out all the unaware, misguided people like that from my life, I have no use for them. Life is too short to spend it on people who don't want to get better, who don't want to help themselves. It is not our role to change them or to mother them. 

So I disengage from these kind of people from my life. New friends will come, ones worthy of spending your time and energy on. If someone claims to be your friend, but never has anything friendly to offer, doesn’t care about your well being, only their own- that is not someone I want in my life, and neither should you. 

Let us be more mindful of who we chose to spend our time with, how we choose to spend it- are there recurrent patterns you would like to address? Notice your thoughts, your emotions- are some more prevalent than the others? If other people could hear all your thoughts, would that embarrass you? Would you still like yourself then? or is it time for some changes?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bare it all

I quite like myself, thank you very much. More than that, I think I am a pretty awesome, fun, generous, well-natured person. It really doesn't get better than this.

Yet, I am left wondering: what is it that makes me, among other successful, put-together women, be so readily willing to give away their self-worth to someone who barely even matters to them anymore? 
When you get disrespected over and over again, at which point do you finally say "enough"? At which point do you look at the things in your life that no longer serve you and decide to make a different choice?As hard as it may be for some people, there is no substitute for honesty. When looking at your actions or reactions, one must ask themselves as to what are the real reasons for choosing to behave in this particular manner? what are you really trying to achieve? I do my best trying to stay honest with myself and other people, hence why I have no time or patience for idle chit chat and bullshit anymore.  When you say you wan to talk to me, are you really prepared for honest communication? Are you willing to face the depths of your soul and bare it all, perhaps finding something completely unexpected along the way? When things don't go as planned, will you run and hide, or are you going to welcome the new experience as part of the process, learning about yourself as a result? Do you really want communication, or rather a confirmation of your own attractiveness and your status in this world instead? When those little voices start bothering you that maybe you're not following the path of your heart, will you listen? or will you turn to the world, busying yourself int he daily life of a working bee, pretending that you don't know any better? that that's really all there is to it?

Be honest.

With yourself, with other people, with the strangers on the streets.

We don't have to pretend like everything is ok at all times, that we are liked and approved of by everyone always, that our lives have a direction and a purpose, or that we have it all together.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have any of those said things, yet, strangely enough, I feel normal and part of society, and I'd rather be friends with those who can look within and readily admit what they see, than those who choose to keep up the appearances for the fear of facing something they are not yet ready to deal with. 

It's all about the level of self-awareness. Choose yours.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Greece: the island of Skiathos, Part II

I have to start off by saying that the only 2 factors governing our choice of the island to stay on were:
1) availability or timeshare resorts through RCI
2) ease of transportation to and from the mainland

Based on this, we chose Skiathos-the resort photos were phenomenal, the previous visitors seemed quite content in their reviews, the ferry to and from was 15 euro when booked in advance and only 2 hrs, leaving from a tiny port town of Aghios Konstantinos, where we were required to spend a night each time-the ferry boat only leaves in the morning, and brings you back mid-afternoon, where there are no more connecting buses. Again, if you book a tour, then they have a joint boat/bus schedule, so you step off the ferry and onto the bus-for quadruple the price. I liked the fact that we'd get to see a tiny seaside town on our way and perhaps discover something interesting, instead of being rushed to return back to Athens.

Thus, upon arriving into Aghios Konstantinos in late afternoon, we simply stepped off the bus and asked the first person we saw "hey, any cheap hotels out here?" and he sent us to a nearby hotel/converted apartments, 2 mins walk from the bus station. Yes, it was cheap- that's all I can say. Actually, i was blown away when the old lady said "25 euro, please",-to which I replied "per person?". She just laughed and showed us the room (I wish I had picture of it, but I must have been too shocked to take some)-but money was already paid, the deal was made-imagine my shock when later that evening we found out that a whole stretch of seafront boutique hotels were only 35 euro a night? yes, I guess we got what we asked for- "cheap"-to Greeks, 10 euro difference is a big deal, or maybe the old lady just took advantage of her only customers that month? Needless to say, she was much more ecstatic than us that by some will of nature we went sent her way- oh well, it was 1 night of sleep and we were out of there bring and early, making sure to check all our options next time before getting the wallet out.
Skiathos island at last!
Upon arriving onshore, a cue of lazy cab drivers were waiting for their next victims-only, as it turned out, we had to chase after them! Only in Greece :)

A short cab ride later, we were checked into and delivered into out new digs. First impression? This definitely isn’t what one would expect out of a normal, 4-star RCI resort. However, this is 4 “greek stars”, meaning… well, I don’t even want to imagine what a 2-star accommodation would look like. Considering we had a chance to compare 3 units (yes, we were that picky and no, I did not think of all those stairs i'd have to climb on a daily basis), here’s the details:

None of them are equipped or look alike. The first one had a musty, damp smell and was quite poorly lit. Granted, it was only 100 steps to the beach, thus saving us a huge walk, but it didn’t have its own patio or anything that really screamed that I wanted to stay there, other than the rustic design, which makes you feel like you are in a real greek village home.
quite a bare kitchen but good enough for occasional cooking

Bedroom view, opening onto private balcony

 The next one we tried was a very small unit. In comparison with the previous one, this one seemed a teeny tiny bit better (they all were supposed to be studios accommodating 2 persons), where the dining table was right in the same room as the bed, although it did have a nice, renovated bathroom, which none of the others had. The last (as the reception warned us, the absolutely last room they were going to let us look at) was a winner: same arch design, alright bathroom, separate eating area and a great patio with a nice view over the little olive treed court yard and the pine-covered hills. The balconies are arranged in a  staggered fashion, so as to avoid the neighbors peering into each other’s dinner plates. We happened to travel in what seemed to be the end of tourist season (late august) and lucked out by not having any neighbours  thus any noise or complaints from either side. Overall, the apartments aren't much, but are kept clean enough with the bare essentials to keep you satisfied. We were missing even the basics in the kitchen (we like to make a few snacks here and there, thus we purposefully paid in cash and not in timeshare points to avoid the mandatory half board menu pushed on you otherwise). Believe me, the half board is NOT worth it! We ate at different restaurants, tavernas, etc, never spending more than 25 euro for 2 people with wine, 3 meals, snacks and stuffing our faces with whatever we wanted. There is such a huge variety of great tavernas on the island and it’s a shame that the resort’s one (Nafiska) is a very poor imitation of what is known otherwise as amazing, fresh greek food. We had a misfortune of going there once, and I sincerely hope I can warn people against making these choices. The "greek potatoes" were french fries, my "greek salad" consisted of tomato and cucumber only. But the worst part was the service- they are confident that you will tip them regardless, so they don't even try to accommodate you by any means. We only went there because we were starving and too tired to figure out where the bus was and where we should go.
central cafe next to the ferry station-effortless chic!

For the rest of the week, it was simple: the bus stop was right next to the resort, once you descend down to the main road, it comes every 15 mins or so, thus never having to wait too long, the price was 2 euro pp regardless of the length of  the trip, which I found a bit bizarre  So, if we only wanted to go to the beach that day (the resort's one wasn't really much to look at, although we did use it some evenings if we were too tired to go somewhere else), we ended up walking alongside the road- and no, they don't bother with pedestrian areas-for about 15-20 mins and we were there. Yes, I know it's not ideal to walk alongside traffic and exhaust, but there are virtually no other ways to get from one beach to the next, plus you get to hit up a few convenience stores on the way, pick up some water, refreshments for the day on the beach-and you're set. At lunch time, when the sun was scorching, we'd leave our towels on the beach and head on out to the taverna 2 mins back towards the main road, where the friendly waiters were already smiling and waiting to surprise us with yet another mouth watering creation. This place had hands down the best greek food I've had in the entire 2 weeks: lamb, grilled eggplant with dip, endless seafood options,everything was so tasty that we washed it down with half litre of homemade wine each time! And the prices! appetizers under 6 euro, entrees under 10! Like I mentioned earlier, try as we might, we never managed to spend more than 25-28 euro for a 2-person meal, while leaving this place completely stuffed and content. If this isn't enough of a reason to go to Greece, i don't know what is. Next time I'm in Europe, looking for a vacation destination, I'd head down to Greece just for the sake of gastrotourism alone, never mind the amazing scenery. 
See you soon, Gorgeous!

Greece in Spring: Athens to Skiathos through Delphi, Part I

This post is long overdue. My only excuse? Greece is so vibrant and fantastic, the memories are still as fresh in my head as the day it happened. Out of all the travel photo albums I have, I probably look at the Greece ones the most and cannot wait to return.
I admit, I was skeptical at our initial plan of flying to Athens, then somehow making it more inland towards Delphi, then transporting ourselves onto the island of Skiathos and then back to Athens all in a matter of 2 weeks! Well, the car rental option was out-not only expensive, but everyone advised against it, kind of like back in Italy. I searched and searched and it turned out that Greece has  quite a decent and relatively cheap bus system, so we decided to give it a try, not really sure of what we were getting ourselves into.

Well, arriving into Athens was a no-brainer, the connection by the metro line was pretty straightforward too; we chose a hotel walking distance to the Acropolis and I have to add, we lucked out and saw it lit up at night   from out balcony :) that really made the experience of being in greece for the first time surreal. I've been a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology for years now, so visiting all the main sights in person is an experience like no other- even the late August heat was not a distraction to our heavily scheduled days.

Acropolis temple
Once the 3 days in Athens flew by, we picked up our bags, got ourselves to the main bus station, got the 1-way tickets to Delphi and off we went! Here, I cannot stress enough how easy it all was- you do not need to book any tours, pay hefty sums only to be ordered around and ripped off. The bus ride was amazing-it was mostly locals, just a few smart tourists like us, who opted out of any tour packages. The bus cost 15 euros for a 3-hour trip, made 2 stops, both at great roadside cafes with decent bathrooms and amazing food selections where I'd managed to stock up for the entire ride and then some. The seats themselves were comfortable, spacious and overall a very pleasant ride. Of course, we did not have a clue where to get off, so we just told the driver to let us off at the main Delphi stop, hoping we'd figure it out from there-that he did. 
Sunset View of Athens from Agora hill
The hotel was an easy 5-minute walking distance from the bus stop, altough we did get some funny looks from the locals as these two "American tourists with oversized luggage" that did not even fit on the sidewalk (where there WAS a sidewalk). Anyhow, we made it! All by ourselves, no tours, no maps.

Now, Delphi... Indescribable to say the least. If you've been to Greece but haven't been to Delphi, you need to return. This place holds so much magic, history, and such an easy-going approach to life that forces you to forget all about time and just relax..
...I can still remember the feeling of wandering the streets of Delphi, the afternoon sun, the golden pillars of the Temple of Athena, the pleasant breeze and the soft pine smells in the air… I can recount the details of almost every day. What I cannot remember is how many times we’ve laughed until it hurt, we found joy in the simplest things, sat by a giant tree for the most delicious homemade moussaka with rose wine that is making my mouth water just writing about it. And the views, the views! Delphi is located in the valley along a winding road, so there are endless photo opportunities hidden behind each bend.

After a much too short stay in Dephi, we were off to the island of Skiathos for a needed swim and relaxation-see the next post!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nomad in love?

Prompted by a post from my fellow travel blogger, I have a few words on whether your love of travel is secretly sabotaging your potential for a relationship.
As you may have noticed, I try to keep my private life...well, private. I have other blogs for that kind of stuff. So, since this blog is dedicated to travelling and exploration of the world and the self, from that perspective, I try to streamline my posts to showcase more facts, interesting observations, but something that would be relevant to all the potential readers out there. Hence why my posts are quite sporadic- some days I just need to rant, and this is not the place for that.

That said, this issue of whether or not you will meet someone because you are not stable or rooted in one place doesn't just apply to the travel bugs out there- as an exploration geologist, my life takes me all over the world, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a month, sometimes indefinitely,-but that is something I knew well in advance when choosing my career, I just didn't know how hard it would be.

Each time I am faced with the decision: is the new adventure worth losing what I have here, right now? And almost always, I hear a resounding “yes!” in my head-what is meant to be, will be. You cannot stop life from happening, but you can stop fear from letting you life your life the way you envision to, or secretly hope to.

As one of my friends once said: "people break up living in the same city every day, why would long-distance relationship automatically be destined for a break-up?" While I whole-heartedly agree that living in the same city does not offer immediate chances for the success of a relationship, having a long-distance relationship is not picnic either (although the comfort of knowing that you won't run into them at your favourite cafe after you break up is a great perk!)

Although there are some great uplifting examples of long-distance working out for committed couples, who have spent more than 2 years apart, only to reunite and get married and live happily ever after( far), it takes a fantastic dose of commitment, dedication, trust and,most importantly-great communication skills. Let's face is, when you cannot simply meet up after a disagreement, put your arms around each other, and agree to "forgive and forget", all you have to rely on is skillful communication-avoiding those sharp corners and possible problematic/sensitive topics.

Having said that, distance is not to blame for whether or not your relationship survives. Let's face it, throughout our lives, there will be circumstances when you will be forced to spend time away from your partner-days, weeks, maybe even months-so it is not through avoiding the separation, but rather how one chooses to deal with it that determines the "rate of survival" of this particular relationship. Breaks can be nice: having more time for yourself, your hobbies, meeting with the friends you may have been neglecting, getting to all those projects around the house you keep putting off, going the gym more often (and getting a free "fell-good" hormone boost!) and of course, having time to miss each other -all of this can put the romance back into a relationship, refresh your perspective on life and what is important- when done right.

I've had relationships fall apart equally as fast when a long-distance turned into living together, and vice versa. Despite all the challenges and unknowns, I am a firm believer that you should not let fear stop you-be it fear of missing out, fear of change, or fear of being alone for an indefinite amount of time- and I salute all of you brave souls out there who dare to explore what beyond what is familiar and comfortable. If someone truly wants to share their journey with you, it will happen- regardless of time, place, circumstances and plans.