Sunday, October 15, 2017

Memories Cannot Be Lost

September was an eventful month. (Remember my post?). October so far doesn't seem to be less eventful. Hurricanes, wild fires, mass shooting and so on. Many people losing their life, thousands losing everything, I mean like EVERYTHING, they own.

We humans love our stuff and when we lose it, well, let's just say it's not easy on anybody. Even I who own less than the average person, love my stuff. Only thinking about losing my books, my music, my antique armchairs, my photo albums (before jpeg!), my clothes, my travel souvenirs, etc. to a fire or to a hurricane ... makes me feel ... lightheaded. Imagine it. Just for a second. Uuuuuh, not an easy thought.
So, these last couple of weeks haven't been easy on a lot of people. My heart goes out to them again and again. I think of how somehow, somewhere, they will have to find the strength to start over. Literally from scratch. A new life. With new stuff, new houses. What courage, what strength they have. I admire them.
A small consolation (if there even is such a thing as consolation when you lost everything) might be that no fire, no water, no wind can take away your memories. These will always be with you. These events made me super aware of that fact even if I am not directly concerned. It does me good though, from time to time, to be reminded of what's important and what not.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Turin, Italy

Summer this year has gone by much faster than other summers. Or so it felt like to me. Maybe because I have been on the road so much and time sure goes by faster when you are traveling! Maybe it's just because I love summer and therefore it always feels like I should get more of it.

Anyway. Going to Nice "stretched" my summer a bit. These 4 days I just spent in Turin had the same effect. Sunny weather, walking around wearing no jacket (at least during the day), having dinner al fresco.

I enjoyed my time. Turin is a beautiful city. Plenty of class. Now that I think of it, everything is actually classy there. The buildings, the cafés, the people. La vraie classe! I loved it. A city where people are friendly without being overwhelmingly loud. Friendly and smiling people. Cars stop to let pedestrians cross the streets (still something that isn't done in every city, unfortunately). Cyclist stopping to let pedestrians cross the streets (something that is not done in ANY city I know). And pedestrians waiting for the traffic light to turn green before crossing (I couldn't believe my eyes!).
As I said. Classy. Friendly.

I wasn't on my own this time. I visited with a friend of mine and we had the best of times. We talked a lot (we hadn't seen each other for quite some time and therefore had a lot to catch up to!), walked around discovering the city, had dinner al fresco and coffee under the arcades. Dolce far niente par excellence.
It was only when I got home that I realized that I hadn't taken ANY pictures. Can you believe it? It's a first for me! But then you can't take pictures of "classy". Neither of Dolce far niente :-) No pictures. Just "feel good vibes".
Luckily, Pinterest helped me out (SMILE) and I want to share one picture (called "Pixel Art") I loved of my favorite site: Mole Antonelliana.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

It Was In The Air

It must have been in the air. First, my yoga teacher. Before we start our weekly yoga practice, for a couple of minutes, she reflects on some topic related to living a yogi life. Last week she talked about the calm and quiet we need in our every day life. She suggested to dedicate 5 minutes of our day to do nothing, to sit there and let the thoughts come and go. Let the energy flow. She felt this was important because it's easy to loose ourselves in our daily doings and in all the millions of thoughts we have every day. 5 minutes to focus on what's important. Ourselves. Our well-being.
This topic not being something I need to put my energy into (I found a good balance between action and dolce far niente), I let the topic go after yoga practice.

But then on Sunday, I was reminded of her words.
I went hiking with a friend of mine. At some point she started talking about her job, her boss, her problems at work, etc. The words came out slowly in the beginning but the more she talked, the more her words just flowed.
I wasn't shocked. You know, people tell me stuff and this story of hers? Well, I've heard it too many times! What the hell is wrong with certain employers? How come they treat their staff like shit (excuse my French!)? Their stock price may be doing wonderfully well. Their CEO and Co. may earn huge salaries and bonuses. But what about the normal working guy? What happened to treating your employees with respect and decency? Makes me sick!
Anyway. Let's go back to the subject at hand: my friend letting all the frustration out. As her venting was more about saying it all out loud then about my advice, I just let her talk. I just asked one question (not expecting an answer): Is this really the way you wanna live?

The same topic came up a day later. I went out with another friend and another venting session awaited me! (I didn't mind. I feel strong and good these days.) Same story as on Sunday: stress, stress and more stress. Companies with no or bad leadership. Lack of appreciation. She might earn big money but her social life and her health (or her life in general) is going down the drain!
Same question applies: Is this the way you wanna live?

A day later at yoga practice the whole "5 minutes a day to let your thoughts go" came up again. She usually picks a different topic every week, but somehow she felt this topic needed more attention. Somehow, it's in the air!

Unfortunately, the 5 minutes thing isn't of any big help to my friends. I mentioned it to both of them but they weren't ready to hear me. I know that, when you are on the brink of a burn-out (I've been there, so I know!), 5 minutes a day letting your thoughts go isn't as easy at it sounds. You're kind of in the middle of a storm and you can't think clearly. Back when I was in the same situation, my solution was to ... leave. To just quit everything and start anew (a story for another time!).
Burn-out is a serious issue and it takes a lot of strength to get rid of it.

My yoga teacher's advice though is precious but more directed to people who are not there yet (I mean on the brink of a burn-out). Like a preventive care. Reflect on the following words:

5 minutes a day is a good start to learn not to be controlled by your own mind!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Our New Normal?

I rarely write about what's happening in the world on my blog (politics, news in general). Even though there would be a LOT to talk about, to rant about, to be happy about, to disagree with, to agree with, don't you think? I avoid commenting on news because I want this blog to feel like a safe haven (to me and hopefully to you as well). I want to talk about what's in my heart and not to add words to the overflow of news out there.

September's (terrible and heartbreaking) news forced me to change my mind, though, the earthquake of Mexico City being the trigger.
It wasn't because I felt particularly connected to Mexico City (Remember? I didn't even particularly like it there.) No, it was because of something I said while visiting last March. When our guide told us about how the city was sinking 1 centimeter per year (see post here), I remember saying to my friend: Let's hope for them that they'll never have an earthquake.
And it happened! Hey, I am not saying that I got some kind of skill to predict the future. Oh no. I never think or talk about earthquakes when visiting a place neither. I am no "the end of the world is coming" kind of woman. It just that ... an earthquake is terrible for everybody in the first place. But if you live in a city that is sinking? It's even harder (not that one can quantify the effects of disasters - every disaster is terrible for the people affected).
Anyway, my thoughts and my love go out to them.

Speaking of which. A lot of thoughts and love went to a lot of people these last couple of weeks as natural disasters were daily news. No zen-like September for us this year! More earthquakes in Mexico, typhoons in East Asia, wild fires in Montana and in parts of Southern Europe, drought, hurricans in the Carribean and in Florida, flooding in Italy and elsewhere, heavy landslides in the Alps (and I am afraid my list isn't complete).
As I said: a lot of thoughts and love went out to every corner of this world, almost daily if not every hour. I can't stop wondering though if this will be our new normal? Earthquakes, landslides, drought, heavy rain, etc.  I am afraid it will be. Climate change is no longer something that may happen in a distant future. It's happening now.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Mediterranean Sea

As much as I love the sun and the sunny days, I absolutely adore the sea when the weather is bad.
The energy is totally different then. Primal. Strong. Goose bumps worthy.

A couple of hours after my arrival in Nice, it started raining, no, actually, it started pouring down. I have rarely seen so much rain in such a short period of time! The city emptied out and when the rain stopped I went on a long walk on Promenade des Anglais, soaking up the energy after the storm

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Nice (Côte d'Azur)

I spent my days in Nice walking around town ... practicing being in the moment :-)
The old town (vielle ville) mostly, but also along the Promenade des Anglais.
I fell in love. As in instantly fell in love.
What I didn't know was that Nice was actually part of Italy until 1860 (Garibaldi was born here!). In  fact the city feels Italian (and not only because the pizza was yummy). Their slang sounded Italian. The architecture of Place Masséna reminded me of Turin (which is BTW going to be my next destination!).

I obviously went up the Colline du Château ... for the view!

Marché aux fleurs (touristy but not too much). I loved it!

Don't the colors of the houses remind you of Italy?
This is definitely a place I want to go back to. Definitely!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nice (Côte d'Azur) or How to Prolong my Summer

Where I live (Central Europe) this year's summer said goodbye rather abruptly. One day we had sunshine and nice temperatures. The following day autumn said hi with a rather harsh temperature drop and heavy rain. It broke my heart, as it does every end of summer! I wasn't ready for autumn yet, at all, so what to do?
Why not prolonging my summer for a couple of days, I thought? A kind of gift-wrapped couple of days (as September is my birthday month)??
Yes, why not?
Nice (on the Côte d'Azur) pretty quickly became my destination of choice.
And it was a wonderful choice. The weather was nice and warm (well, besides the rain on the first day which luckily lasted only a couple of hours! That's when I took this picture.). Les Nicois were a friendly bunch of people. The buildings were beautiful. I soaked up the culture, the sea, the beach, the sun. And I even went on a guided tour to the countryside of the Côte d'Azur.
Really. It was the best gift ever :-)

that's why the Côte d'Azur is called the Côte d'Azur!
 More picture to follow!

Perfect Moment: Adieu Summer

Beach Nice

Friday, September 1, 2017

Where To Draw A Line (when it comes to taking pictures)

My friend's wedding in Crete was magical. The couple in love and radiant. The location wonderful, on top of a hill surrounded by the Meditteranean Macchia with an amazing view of the sea. It was classy and I had the best of times celebrating their love.
So far so good.
Then something tickled my brain at the very beginning of the evening, during the ceremony. I ignored it until later on in the evening, while we were all dancing to Greek music (yes! I danced to Greek music hahaha), when it tickled again.
Something was bothering me but what exactly? And then it hit me. I was bothered by the three photographers and the one guy who was filming the whole thing because they kept bumping into everybody to get the right shot or the right angle. They obviously were just doing their jobs and nothing is wrong with that. Somehow though, at least for me, their moving around took a bit of the magic away. They had done the same during the ceremony when they placed themselves in front of the couple exchanging their vows in order to take the best of pictures (hello? magic?). Same goes for the invitees who were taking pictures all the time (how was life before Instagram? Can someone remember??)
It felt, at least to me, that taking pictures or making a video was more important than living the actual moment (like crying when the couple said yes to each other or dancing to Greek music).

Don't get me wrong. I understand that a couple who is getting married wants to have pictures of their day. And I get that invitees want pictures to remember that particular day. I did so too. Nothing wrong with that at all.
But where do we draw a line?
Some people might feel that there is no line to draw.
I, however, believe there is one. Certainly the effort to "take pictures in order to put it on Instagram" or "in order to not forget this wonderful moment" is understandable and right. I read somewhere that We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. I do so totally agree.
The line to draw is when taking pictures prevents us from living and enjoying a moment. Some moments in life are to be simply lived and felt. Not only that. No picture can bring back joy that you haven't felt because you were busy taking pictures. You know what I mean? Good moments, happy moments where you were so busy FEELING that you totally forgot about taking a picture. No picture needed for such moments. They are engraved in your heart forever!

For me (the ever over analyzing me SMILE) this wedding was not only a magic moment spent celebrating the love of two people I respect and love but it was also a reminder not to always look for the next picture to take. A reminder to not forget to live every moment of your life at its fullest!

Goodbye Summer!

Goodbye Summer! I will miss you.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lake Geneva / Lavaux

I went on a day trip to Lake Geneva last week. I wanted a change of pace because I knew I'd be working full time for the next couple of weeks!
I had actually forgotten how beautiful this part of Switzerland is. Well, I lived in Lausanne for almost 5 years but back then my attention was directed to clubbing and shopping and being young and not to hiking and sightseeing :-)

Luckily, it's never too late to go sightseeing and there I went, by train, to St-Saphorin (Lavaux region, UNESCO world heritage) where I started my walk (hike would be too big a word haha).
I spent a wonderful day walking along the vines, soaking up the sun and the energy of this wonderful region.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Conscious Writing and Speaking

I have been thinking about racism a lot these last couple of days. Not only because of what happened in Charlottesville, USA but also thanks to the many discussions I had with this friend of mine and her boyfriend (remember? The couple I went sightseeing with in Crete?). My friend's late father was from Ghana. Her mother is Swiss. So, she unfortunately knows about racism first hand.
Even though I am the daughter of Italian emigrants, I have never been a victim of racism. Nevertheless, I have been attentive to the issue of racism ever since I can remember thinking. In recent years, in countless discussions with friends and family (especially the part who lives in Italy), I started pointing out that when using the word "stranger" or "alien" they were talking about me and my parents as well.
Their answer? No! It's not the same!
My answer? Of course it's the same. Just because me and my parents and my brother are not strangers for you, we are in front of the law. We are part of the percentage of "alien citizen" they like to talk about on TV.
They meant no harm, I am sure of that. I just want to make sure that they never forget where I come from. Conscious speaking ... see below :-)
I, for instance, never forget where I come from.
But then, you wonder, I write posts like the one about my stop-over in Santorini?
Remember me complaining about the hordes of Chinese? Is it racist to say that?
No, I don't think so because the focus of my words was on my dislike of hordes/crowds and not on the Chinese people. It could have been hordes of whoever and you would have heard me complaining too. Hordes annoy me. Chinese people do not.
Should I have been more precise in my post? Yes, I should have and I realize that now. I promise to be more accurate in future posts!

Language is important. We all know about the power of words and even though free speech is our right, a right that many before us have fought for, don't we ever forget that (in other parts of the world, even in 2017, you get killed for what you say!), we should use our words carefully.
I'd say the best way is ... conscious writing and speaking.
Yes, I like that. Conscious writing and speaking. All part of conscious living :-)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Remembering Greece: Crete (and Chania in Particular)

Heraklion was chaotic and hot :-) Like Athens on a smaller scale. The Archeological Museum though was definitely worth my staying there for one night/one day. In the evening, I took the bus to Chania which was pretty cool because I got to see the countryside and the coast (it's a 3 hour drive!).

Chania was were the wedding took place. Such a cute little town. I loved it! I will tell you more about the wedding and there was also the horse riding we did, with a friend of mine and her boyfriend. It turned out to be quite the adventure and it deserves a full post! So, more to follow!

August in Crete wasn't the ideal month to do sightseeing. It was way to hot. One day, with said friend of mine and her boyfriend, we rented a car and drove around. We spent a good part of our day in a restaurant on the sea, eating Meze and talking :-) Which was pretty cool but not much about sightseeing! But then it's not always about sightseeing and I will have to visit Crete another time (not during summer time, that's for sure!) because there are quite some sites I'd love to see.
This time though I stuck to Chania's old town and the Venetian harbor. What a wonderful place! It felt a bit (just a tiny little bit) like being in Venice. The narrow streets were ideal for getting lost and you know how I love to get lost! Up and down, left and right I went, in an out the cute little shops!

Chania seen from afar

Chania's lighthouse

the old town


the port

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Remembering Greece: Stop-Over in Santorini

With a heavy heart I left Milos after only two days. It wasn't enough. By far! I want to go back and have a much closer look. Rent a car and visit the whole island.
I took the ferry to Santorini, had a 5 hour stop-over there (that became a 4 hour stop-over because the ferry was one hour late - Greek time, my dears!) and then continued on to Heraklion, Crete, in the evening.
I had heard many things about Santorini. All kind of things. From very good to very bad. I had even read a newspaper article describing the hordes of Chinese that apparently were fond of the island. As usual, I listened to the reviews only halfheartedly because I wanted to form my own view!
Oh my.
How should I put this nicely?
After Milos ... it was a shock! Hordes (like HORDES!) of tourists. Many of them (like MANY!) were Chinese. Every third or so restaurant was actually Chinese.
To say it in two words: Big Chaos
I was in over my head. Totally overwhelmed.
I have to admit though that once I got over the hordes of people, I came to appreciate the views. What a place this must have been, say 10 years ago? Absolutely breathtaking.
Santorini shows the bad side of tourism. Many Greeks I've met after having visited Santorini told me that, in their opinion, "Santorini sold its soul". Gotta love the Greeks for their theatrics!!
The Cyclades made it to my travel bucket list but Santorini and Mykonos won't be part of that future trip, that's for sure!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Remembering Greece: Island of Milos (Cyclades)

Milos made it to my top 10 list of favorite destinations and I will definitely have to go back. Absolutely. Two days was not enough. By far. Whata wonderful place. It was like living in a poetry.
Even the ferry trip to Milos was exciting. I left the port of Pireaus early in the morning and was happy to discover that we were allowed to stand on the upper deck where the view of the sea and the islands was fantastic!
The ferry stopped at Sérifos and Sifnos before arriving in Milos. That's when I started falling for the Cyclades (Sérifos and Sifnos were actually on my list of places to visit but in the end I choose Milos. I did good because Milos is the biggest of the three and for this trip it was the best place to visit. Next time though I will visit them all, with more time on my hands!).


Then we arrived in Milos and I fell in love immediately. The white houses/churches. The blue windows/doors. The dark blue see. Friendly people. Easy going life.
What not to love?

Church in Adamas

Adamas (on my way from the port to the hotel)

Plaka, the capital of Milos

I had dinner in a restaurant and this was the view (view from my table)