Reflections on No.28

A new year began yesterday!

At least, arbitrarily anyway – I turned 28.

For the first time, this year I’m feeling a bit….strange. A bit more ambivalent and unsure, a bit less excited about entering a new year. Part of this has to do with that number – 28 feels a lot more solidly ‘adult’ than even 27 or 26. The other part of this is life in Greece.. It’s becoming harder and harder to be excited about the future (This seems like it may be an increasingly global trend, but that’s a topic for another time).

In an effort to refocus on the positives, I challenged myself to gather 27 of the best moments from the past year.

 

Kythera
Wedding tourism to the island of Kythera

13690855_10206907108062907_7597681142399982592_nWatching my oldest friend get married in New York

image-uploaded-from-ios-1My tiny (but growing!) garden of succulents and herbs

Writing for theTravelPorter, and challenging myself creatively

image-uploaded-from-ios-5Athens Half Marathon

image-uploaded-from-ios3First Thanksgiving in the US in ten years

P3263551Treasure hunts, literal and metaphorical

Pelio
Greek Easter in the mountains of Pylio

image-uploaded-from-ios-2Athens Eating – discoveries are never ending!

Finding (& loving) a new Athens neighbourhood – from Kolonaki to Mets

image-uploaded-from-ios6Adventures in the kitchen, facilitated by various new kitchen gadgets

image-uploaded-from-ios5Diving into family archives

More reading – always more reading!

Palia Fava Finding our real ‘spot’ – a local taverna where they know our order and throw in lots of extra lemons because we’re ‘such good kids’

5Becoming a local – making friends with the butcher, becoming first-name friends with the proprietors of the neighbourhood ‘whole foods’/organic shop

Discovering Sherlock

Making things. Not as much as I’d like, but the creative gene has come out to play a little bit this year

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Bookshelves; my books have a home!

Instagram – I’m embarrassed to admit how fun I find it..

Writing for theTravelPorter taught me a lot, including how to use SEOs. Life skills!

Pelio
Prioritising good shoes – super sturdy hiking boots, etc, to prioritise adventures

Ancient Delphi (Re)visiting ancient Delphi

image-uploaded-from-ios1A visit from my best friend from university, and explorations on the island of Aegina

image-uploaded-from-ios-4Wedding tourism on the island of Kea/Tzia

Attaliotika Easter Baking
Family time – not enough (never enough), but good family time. In this picture, pre-Easter baking.

image-uploaded-from-ios2This view (morning or night) is a daily dose of perspective (spot the sea on the far left!)

Kythera
That person

 

Ready for 28 – let’s do this!Kythera

Travelogue: Monastery, Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

It’s been a while, but I’m continuing the series recounting a roadtrip in the Greek Peleponnese, around Easter. This was my first time exploring this part of the country, and after the trip I’m totally convinced it’s one of the best places to visit in Greece. To catch up, the roadtrip started at Ancient Olympia, with the archaeological site in all its spring glory and the fantastic Olympia Archaeological Museum. The next stop was Voidokilia, Messinia, an incredible lagoon, great for nature (and bird watching!). Nearby, the city of Pylos (formerly known as Navarino!) beckoned with castles and fantastic views. The western Greek coast was occupied, at various stages, by both the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks – so the next stop on the road trip was the Castle of Methoni, followed by Koroni Castle.

The castle of Koroni covered a massive area, and was too gorgeous for me to restrain my picture-taking impulses.. After exploring the ruined church and neighbouring cemetery, and then taking in the view from the walls, we entered the monastery of the Panagia of Koroni. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleInside the low walls of this monastery we found only a handful of nuns, and almost as many churches. This church pictured above, dedicated to St Sophia, is so far below the current ground level you can imagine how old it must be. There has been a monastery of the site since the twelfth century. Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle

Koroni CastleVisiting this place in the spring was magical – the nuns keep an incredible garden – but it was also right after Easter so the church was decorated with red and white, proclaiming that Christ has Risen.Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleA vantage point on the interior wall of the monastery gave a better sense of the scale of the castle, as well as how strategic that location must have been. Koroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleKoroni CastleWe explored the gardens, and little churches, and soaked in the view, leaving just as the sun was setting. Next stop – the Byzantine ruins of Mystras! Koroni Castle

Koroni Castle Koroni Castle

10.2.2017

Well, this month is moving right along, eh? (I’m trying to be cool about it!) Here’s some of what I got up to this week:

Reading

The ‘untranslatable’ emotions you never knew you had, BBC
One positive point for globalisation: maybe it can help us expand our emotional vocabulary? (But where is the Greek ‘kefi’?)

A To-Do List for Today and Every Day, Mari Andrew, via Cup of Jo

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down, Motherboard
A serious must-read ; analysis of big data, collected from Facebook, etc., used in both the ‘Leave’ campaign in the UK and Trump’s campaign.

Advice to my Younger Self, Cup of Jo
In keeping with my New Year ‘non-resolutions’ to be a little more relaxed and focused in the present, this advice is reassuring. I especially loved Michelle Obama’s comments.

How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World, Thrive Global
I’ll listen to almost anything Arianna Huffington has to say, but this piece is timely. Keeping up with every new development and feeling the accompanying feelings is just… overwhelming. Here’s how to break the cycle.

Macron the Maverick, Project Syndicate
Unplugging from the news is easier said that done – this commentary, about a candidate in the French presidential election, brings some interesting insight into the mix. ‘A Macron victory could launch a counter-trend to the populism that is sweeping the globe, by giving hope to all who are sympathetic to the left or right, but anxious about populism and hyper-nationalism.’

MoMA’s Ingenious Anti-Trump, Pro-Muslim Art Protest, Bluin Artinfo
Yet another reminder that resistance can come in many forms, and we all have

Watching/Listening


Saw this 2012 film about the campaigns leading up to the 1988 referendum on whether or not Pinochet should remain in power. It raises some especially timely questions about advertising and voter targeting.

Obama’s EPA Chief On The U.S. And Climate Change, On Point with Tom Ashbrook
I thought this was an especially insightful interview with Gina McCarthy, who speaks eloquently on the non-partisan importance of the EPA and what might be coming next.

Writing

Love is in the Air! What to Do in Athens on Valentine’s Day
My most recent writing for the TravelPorter – just a little cheesy.

+Preparing some travelogue + book review posts, coming soon!

3.2.2017

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A round up of this week’s:

Reading

The Detective of Northern OdditiesOutside Online
Loved this quirky portrait of an Alaska scientist, just as much about her as a person as the disturbing environmental trends her work reveals.

Refugees are already vigorously vetted. I know because I vetted them, The Washington Post
This piece was written by a former US immigration officer, who intimately describes the process refugees go through when applying for resettlement in the US.

U UP?The New Yorker
Miss you Obama.

How a Photo of Jewish and Muslim Kids Protesting President Trump Went Viral, Time
Yes America. ❤

This week’s more lighthearted ‘WTF’ moment, Business Insider

Watching

Global girl power, via Saudi Arabia (from NPR).


Something a little heart-warming – maybe we do have more in common than we think? Good job, Denmark.


I didn’t do the ‘love’ them on purpose, but it seems like a good one for this week.

Listening

John Lewis – the Art & Discipline of NonviolenceOn Being with Krista Tippett
These words seem more important than ever. ‘So you try to appeal to the goodness of every human being and you don’t give up. You never give up on anyone.’

Anti-Semitism in America, Fareed’s Take on Trump’s Travel Ban, ACLU vs. President Donald TrumpFareed Zakaria GPS
Great conversation, but also a telling example of a voice of reason drowned out by hurt indignation. (Thanks Theia!)

Busted, America’s Poverty Myths, Radiolab/On the Media
This series methodically tackles (and dismantles) America’s poverty myths. Worth listening to

Fortress America, Hidden Brain
Nuanced discussion of what we can (and can’t) learn from history, examining the case of the SS St Louis, the ship full of Holocaust refugees turned back from the United States in 1939.

Randomly

Plotting when I can make these brownies.

Currently drinking a lot of this before bed (with my most recent kitchen experiment, homemade almond milk!).

Just realised there is a lot of subtext going on in these links. I’ll add just one more here – basically sums it all up: How to #StayOutraged without Losing Your Mind.

Extra hugs to everyone today, just because.

Around Athens in January

What a month. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go, though it flew by a little fast for me. Some highlights from the first month of what will be, I’m sure, an ‘interesting’ year: I celebrated New Years in Greece for the first time this year, eating plenty of vasilopita (though without finding the lucky coin..), did a lot of wandering around a rainy and chilly city, and enjoyed some unseasonably warm days too. Time, though not enough, with friends and family, and an adventure to a botanic garden near Athens that I will devote a full post to later. Though things sometimes feel like they are spinning a little out of control, overall there’s a lot going well in my little microcosm – lots of be grateful for, but ready for February!

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Aunt’s incredible new year’s table

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A Christmas tree in the wild! 

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Sunset over Athens, view from Ymittos

2017-01-20 10.36.11

Kolonaki views

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Stumbled upon a procession for Epiphany.. 

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2017-01-08 16.14.15-2

Brunch at Zampano!

2017-01-08 15.53.01-1

IMG_6249

Still pinching myself that I walk past these sights everyday.. 

Vasilissis Sophias

2017-01-09 21.50.11-1

Snow in Athens! 

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Waking up to a snow-covered city.

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Snowman invasion in the National Gardens

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IMG_6248

A rainy night in Monastiraki

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Summarises January pretty accurately I think

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New yummy discoveries in Koukaki – Fabrica tou Efrosinou

Women's March, Athens

Athens’ representation for the Women’s March on Washington

Women's March, Athens

Women's March, Athens

Women's March, Athens

Mets

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Adventures in cyber land at ‘Hybrids,’ Onassis Cultural Centre

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An adventure to the Attica Plant Park – stay tuned! 

IMG_6246

Evening Kolonaki colours

Feet

Rain rain.. 

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Not all grey skies! 

Alimos

End of the month walk along the sea

Alimos

Alimos Bay

Sea Alimos

Happy February! 

27.1.2017

friends

Reading

The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking, NYTimes
I actually read this article a few weeks ago thanks to our shiny new NYTimes digital subscription (hooray independent journalism!), enjoyed it, nodded along emphatically, and then promptly forgot it. I just rediscovered it today, and am glad I did. Maybe nothing groundbreaking, but a good reminder that there’s no need to spend so much time overthinking.

read this if you feel like time is running out for you
A gentle reminder in the same vein as the NYTimes piece above. ‘The pace of a life is not a reflection of its substance.’

12 Books to Read in Your 20s, NYTimes
Why not add to the ever-growing ‘to-read’ pile? This list includes some I’ve heard of and some totally new ones. The only ones I can already cross off are Persepolis (though it deserves a second reading), Beloved and half of Catch-22. Where to start..? (Apparently 1984 is also ‘a 2017 must-read‘).

A Greek tragedy: how much can one nation take?, FT
“Everything is getting worse. Next year will be more so. Old people will die. Young people will not stay. We need help.” Heard throughout Greece, with no sign of letting up.

Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality, NYTimes
An alarming but very resonant piece that urges us to get past the ‘truth/lie dichotomy and watch out for the authoritarian fondness for attempting to redefine reality. Pairs well with this piece by Masha Gessen, a Russia expert who knows a thing or two about authoritarianism: Autocracy: Rules for Survival.

A Vermont Town In The Eye Of The Refugee Resettlement Storm, npr
I had no idea that little Rutland, Vermont had become involved in the controversy over refugee settlement. The city’s mayor (with Greek grandparents) wanted the city to become a host for Syrians, seeing opportunities for growth. Maybe the Greek villages should watch carefully and see if they can learn something about reviving dying communities?

Watching

This is sweet and uplifting – Obama narrates the origins of the ‘Fired up! Ready to go!’ chant.

This is heartbreaking – the Oscar-nominated documentary short by Daphne Matziaraki, depicting just one day of the refugee crisis & the island of Lesvos. A must-see in the truest sense.

Listening

On Point’s 100 Day Spotlight Kickoff

The Revolution Starts at Noon, This American Life

Bombshell, foreign policy & security by War on the Rocks

Suitably wintery, suitably rainy, but not too dreary.

Me, Elsewhere

Greeks And The Refugee Problem – research study by diaNEOsis, translated by me.

The language ‘question’ and the refugee crisis, Solomon (check them out!), translated by me.

11 Surprising Facts to Get Inspired by Ancient Greece, theTravelPorter

2017 Non-Resolutions

As long it’s still January, we can still talk about goals for the coming year, right? I’m deliberately not saying ‘resolutions’, though I’m not actually sure why. Even when I was younger I don’t remember ever really getting on board that particular wagon – maybe I just think it’s unfair that January should have a monopoly on self-improvement. No day like today, right? It just happens to be January… 🙂

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This year, though, one thing is new  – putting my goals down on ‘paper’ and out in the open. Perhaps it’s obvious that my list will include writing and blogging more..! Here goes:

Say No

Perhaps a somewhat negative starting point, but an important one for me. A friend recently told I should refer to my plethora of jobs/volunteering as my ‘portfolio’ of work. I like it and intend to adopt it, but it’s still a nice way of describe one of my chronic problems. It’s not that I intend to overcommit, but I get excited about things and tend to agree to contribute to interesting new projects without calculating how much time I actually have. I think it’s also a reaction to uncertainty – if I just reach out in all directions, maybe I’ll actually grab something good.
On the other hand, I’m finally internalising what all the internet gurus say (or at least, Steve Jobs – he seems trustworthy, right?) – that focusing on too many things is not the way to achieve quality work.

This goes along with the next item, which is to be more deliberate with how I spend my time.

Relax – One Day at a Time

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to those who know me that I am somewhat ‘high strung’ (not a descriptor I would have chosen, but when it comes from Mom, it’s probably accurate). A huge combination of factors means that I am generally anxious and worry about everything, without good reason. To be fair, there are a lot of anxiety-inducing things going on these days, but there are also a lot of wonderful things in my life.
This year, I want to take things a little more slowly – focus on the day-to-day, all the things that are good, and channel my energy deliberately into making the not-so-good better. One of my favourite pieces of advice that I dole out liberally but seem incapable of taking myself:

‘Eat your elephant in small chunks.’

Learn to Feel at Home

There is certainly a theme to these goals so far – this one clearly derives from trying to be more relaxed and content with where I am right now. I think being semi-nomadic for the last nearly ten (!!!) years has created something of a paradox – addiction to being able to travel and see ‘my people’ across the world, paired with a deep longing for a stable base and a safe space that I can come back to.

This seems fairly reasonable to some extent, except that I’m not very good at, as above, being content with the present moment. Honestly, there is a lot that I would change if I had the magical capability – BUT my well-practiced ability to second guess and doubt also limits how much I appreciate what I have. And that helps no one.

Read/Write

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Some of last year’s picks

Surprise surprise. This year I want to read more. Last year I read 21 books, and this year I hope to reach at least 30. (I think in 2015 I had set a goal of 50, thinking, eh I read all the time, of course I’ll reach 50! No.. Of course, I choose beasts like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Goldfinch, which doesn’t help.) I also want to write out my thoughts and share them here – accountability! You can also follow me on Goodreads (let’s be friends!) to see how I’m getting on – so far I’ve read two!

Along with reading, this year I really want to write more, hence this post… I’ve worked out an editorial schedule for my blog, and will be aiming to post at least once a week, if not more. At this point, I’m thinking of sharing a combination of ‘travel log’ style posts, with photos and recaps from various adventures, ‘around Athens’ with snapshots of daily life, a round up of interesting things I’ve been reading/I’ve written elsewhere, and perhaps even a recipe or two(!). Stay tuned – and please let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see in this space!

Practice Languages

Living in Greece has, unsurprisingly, been very good for my Greek. That being said, I’m not as deliberate as I would like to be in noting unknown words, practicing, asking questions, etc. One habit I’ve gone back and forth with is reading a daily Greek e-newsletter that I love, AthiNEA, and making a point of recording any words I don’t know, and then practicing them.
Also, Greek has, understandably, replaced all the other languages I (once) had floating around in my head, and I want to snatch them back before they escape for good! So – French, Arabic and Turkish are (somehow) coming back!

Wear my Glasses

Note to self – everything is better when you can see clearly!

Run 3rd Half Marathon

Also self-explanatory. The Athens Half-Marathon is 19 March this year – the same race I did last year where I had a great run. Hopefully a new training plan plus ongoing yoga will allow for a similar experience! If it goes well, the ‘Poseidon’ Half Marathon is the following month. That was my first half marathon  and although I finished, it was not pretty. I’d love to run it again in better shape this year.

Cook

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Note – I did not make this food. I did eat most of it though 🙂

Well, I cook often enough at home, but it’s also become increasingly clear to me that a) I find it super relaxing and soothing and b) I love to feed people. (Neither of these are new developments). So, I’m going to try and share at least one ‘food blogger’ type post a month, just to give myself a bar to reach. I learned through writing for theTravelPorter that actually, all it takes is a deadline. After years of studying, I was convinced I was stuck in a state of writers’ block, and though I was feeling creative, I just wasn’t getting anything out there. But then.. I became a content producing machine. Apparently it’s possible!

 

Those are my rambles for now – I’ve read a lot of ‘blogging advice’ that suggests choosing one ‘genre’ to focus on. At the same time, bloggers are often urged to stay loyal to their own ‘authentic voice.’ Since it’s unlikely I’ll turn into a ‘real blogger’ any time soon, this space is going to continue to represent the diverse and colourful mess that is my life. I hope you’ll follow along!