Sunday 29 November 2009


I'm not a traditionally traditional person... I decided very early in my life that it was not for me... Had I not, I would still be living in the small town I grow up, possibly next to (or above of...) my mother's place, would have gotten a post as a civil servant in the town (probably by means of connections...) and I would be married and have two kids by now... None of this applies to me though it is the traditional path a woman follows were I come from... Studies are ok as long as tradition is followed afterward... I chose a different path, I do not remember to call people when it is their name day, I do not feel particularly fond of guts of lamb on a spit  for Easter, I do not fast when everyone does (not even on the last day of the carnival...) and I do not like traditional dances... at all!!

But, especially after I came to live in The Netherlands, I created my own little traditions... little quirky things I like to repeat... like wearing a new something (clothes, shoes -mostly- or jewelery) for New Year's Eve so that the new year finds me with something new on, or buying me a present for my birthday so that even if I don't get any more, I still got one gift for the day... this type of things with the most important one of them being the "it's Christmas time" day! (which usually falls on the weekend right before the 1st of December or on, it depending of the calendar)

Now, I have already explained the importance of Christmas for me and how strongly I believe that the feeling of being Christmas time it's better than shoes... so you can all imaging that "it's Christmas time" day is equally important and equally better than shoes!!! And it is today!!! Early morning I got the tree out of it's box, got totally covered in dust and memo-ed me to clean the storage room... eventually. Then, I put it up, which usually takes about an hours (yes, only for that an hour...) as it is very big and with lots of branches and bits and pieces. Then I put on the lights and the ornaments and then the top piece... and then I sat down and took pictures... many pictures! After a quick shower (there had been a lot of dust...) I made a quick lunch and with a glass of wine I wished to myself to be well and do it next year too! And then, I got comfy on the sofa and watched "Love actually..."!!! The "it's Christmas time" day is not complete unless the decoration of the Christmas tree is followed by the definitive Christmas movie!!! And all this I do every year since I got the film... and if it is not that it will be another equally Christmas-y film to complete the day... before I fall asleep on the sofa (which happens much more often than "it's Christmas time" day I must confess...)

So this is my small, personal tradition, one I look forward to and which is leaving me every year feeling like a million euros and certainly better than a new pair of shoes would make me feel :) As I know both feelings, I can say that in confidence! :)

PS. Yes, my tree comes out of a box... and yes, it is by no means better than a real one... but who could ever get a real one this early??? ;)

Thursday 26 November 2009


I was on a "mission" to Munich for two days this week... that's just a fancy way we choose to call business trips where I work... Because we are no "business" but in the service of the public I guess... or something... Whatever the reason for the name, precisely like common business trips, our "missions" too are as boring as can be, as expected as can be, as tiring as can be and (usually...) as unnecessary as can be...  So, really, no need for the change in name, they are essentially the same thing... And though (as can be seen from the opinion just expressed...) I'm not a great fan of them, sometimes we get to visit cool places, like Munich, and -most importantly- sometimes these trips do come with a bonus: reunions!

No... Not the American type of reunions...  like, ten years after leaving high school, going back to show to all those who rejected you back then how much weight you've lost (and not attending the event when, mercilessly,  the weight was gained instead...) or to show off the diamond/rock on the finger -and occasionally the new husband- or the car or the stocks or the plastic surgery... No, those cannot possibly be compared to shoes and prove to be better... I would gladly take a pair of hiking boots (and the hiking along with them..) instead of such a dreadful experience... No,  I'm talking about reuniting with good friends one has not had the pleasure of meeting for a long time!

Two of my best friends moved to Munich a couple of years ago... both of them more or less the same time, a few months apart... and I'm still pissed off with them! I know, even if I do not admit it very often, that it was for the best for both of them... but my selfish self still misses them and I wish from time to time that they hadn't left.. And this week (due to the mission... or perhaps that was MY mission :) I had the great pleasure of reuniting with both of them! And it was like not a day had passed! The same lively conversations, the ease in discussions, the jokes, the laughter, the news, the gossip, all of it as if it had not been so long since I had met them last in reality! Precious moments... moments one feels the security of a friendship being still present as well as the joy of the meeting, both wrapped up in one big happy package!

So, in this post I not only argue that reunions with dear old friends, not met for a good while, ARE better than shoes, but I have a way to prove it: I was in one of the most chic European metropolises and I did not (repeat: did not!!!) go shoe-shopping! True!! Instead, I chose to be with my friends! And I have not regretted it one bit!!

Thursday 19 November 2009

"it's Greek to me"

Working in an international organization for the last 9 years has been an amazing experience for me for the simple (and could say, "only")  reason that I have made friends from all over  Europe... I have good friends from France, Germany, Portugal, Scotland, England, Italy, Spain and the list continues... but no, it does not comprise the Dutch... observing them for 9 years has lead me into the conclusion that in their society, the things I consider vices are seen as virtues and it would take me to deny a very big part of who I am to befriend them... Anyway, leaving these realizations aside, having friends from so many different countries  is great as it has helped  me broaden my horizons, see things from totally different perspectives, get to know different cultures and mentalities and "step out" of the borders of my country.

Yes, having international friends is wonderful as long as one also has friends from the same country close by too... For me obviously that's the Greeks... their lively, heated at times conversations, the warmth of their company, the comfort and easiness of speaking the same (mother) tongue, the understanding of situations that is common because we come from the same background, the shared mentality and tastes, the grumpiness, the gossip, the profound, the philosophy and the mundane, all of that that makes us fellow countrymen, all that is hugely important :) The good news is that I have great Greek friends here too! And though they might be the minority in my big group of friends here, they are valuable and cherished and I could not live here without them! And that is said in all honesty!

Last night I had the pleasure of dinning out with them... and in a Greek restaurant too! So, add greek food to all that I mentioned above and you have the picture and an idea of how fantastic the night was! First a glass of champagne offered by one of the guys in his cosy and very stylish home, lots of laughs to go with it, then the restaurant with the nice people attending to us, as always in a friendly atmosphere, the wine, the food, more laughs and talks and analysis and opinions... Just perfect... And better than a new pair of shoes... any pair of shoes... and you can let your imagination fly to the most exquisite ones you can think of... Still, dinner with my Greek friends would win :)

Monday 16 November 2009

't' is the season to be jolly...

Ever since I was a child, I looooved Christmas!! The tree, the carols, the presents, the festive clothes, the exceptional food, the traditional greek sweets, the Christmas movies and songs, the house being full of friends and family, the cards, everything made me the happiest person on the face of this earth! Come mid-December I would wear my nicest smile and walk around with it until at least the 7th of January when I would have to go back to school :)

This habit follows me all my life. Even losing my beloved grandma on the second day of Christmas did not change how I feel about this time of the year. I was 8 and it was her birthday when she passed and though I will always remember those ones as the saddest ones, I still kept loving Christmas and the following year I had the usual smile again! And, mind you, I'm not religious and have not been for a good part of my life but it is not about that for me, it is not about religion... It's about the glamour and warmth and the exceptional... it's about spending time to find the perfect gift for your loved ones, it's about thinking of the special menu for the day, the special outfit (and certainly about the perfect shoes!!!) about the lights and the colours that can be in abundance during the holidays and not be tacky at all!

Since I came to the Netherlands (except for that first year here that I remember buying a tree on Christmas Eve as I did not know yet where to get it... had been here for 3 weeks you see... and I decorated it while snow started to come down from the sky... only time ever...) I have been decorating my tree earlier and earlier... This year the plan is to put it up on the 28th of November, as (it is a Saturday and I will have some time and...) my tree has to be up and sparkling the whole month of December! The idea is to enjoy it as much as possible before I go home... home to Greece that is :) And until then, I will keep all the presents underneath it as I buy them! And every night I will turn of all the lights but those on the tree and sip slowly my tea while enjoying the view!!

Perhaps I am a bit early to write about this stuff but the other day I was in big store buying some new ornaments and listening to Wham and their last Christmas, again, as every year about this time, and I really got in the mood! And as there is no doubt in my head that the December holiday season IS better than shoes and this feeling of being a child again that I get IS better than Louboutin very privé 12cm pumps (that are veeeery hard to beat...) I thought I post this... and I will be posting a picture of my tree as soon it is ready :) Until then, here's what I compare the Christmas feeling with ;)

Sunday 15 November 2009

Ladies' night!

I live here in The Netherlands for 9 years and in these 9 years I have made a lot of friends... almost all of them with one thing in common: Adam's apple!! Be it because of my job where most of my colleagues are men or because most expat women of my age came here with a husband or a boyfriend (or acquired one very quickly...) and by now they have three kids and not a lot of time to socialize between PTA meetings or even because I do no find I share anything with the native ladies in order to develop a friendship, I have not been able to have close female friends...

And because I'm not one of those women who, perhaps because of being competitive or insecure or I don't know what, do not seek female company, I do miss having friends of my gender... Men are great, funny and honest and pretty straighforward and as I said I do have a lot of friends of the kind but they cannot compensate for women! As we say sometimes "men are wonderful but if you want someone to talk to, talk to your girlfriends"... because they most likely will understand what you mean and men most likely won't! Moreover, try talking to a (straight) man about why you prefer last winter's Jimmy Choo collection better or about the most coveted zebra leather platforms by the guru Christian Louboutin and you will have to face charges for boring him to death!!!!

Lately though things have changed as the coolest girl has moved into the building where I live! A friend of a friend and now a friend of everyone this lively Portuguese and her Maltese (female as well :) have both entered my life to give me exactly what was missing: girlfriends! 

So, last nigh I was invited to a "ladies only" dinner party by this new girlfriend and I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely!! A room full of women of more or less the same age, independent, intelligent, working ladies with all the joys and the problems of being an independent, intelligent, working woman nowadays, being involved in all kinds of discussions about everything that concerns us... work, men, travels, being an expat, books, music, beauty, food and the list goes on and on... Great food offered by our host, great wine that untied the tongues and words were coming out like rivers (even from my mouth and I'm very far from being proficient in Portuguese...) great, warm atmosphere... Overall, a night to remember!

And I would be just stating the obvious if I were to say that I am grateful to have a new girlfriend and to have been invited to be part of her circle of girlfriends and to have had such a perfect night but... what the hell, I will do it anyway! I am grateful and I do feel lucky and yes, nights like this are better than shoes!

ps. Happy birthday S :)  

Monday 9 November 2009

big in Japan...

A good friend of mine is in Japan... and I'm jealous of him!! But him being there brought back so many memories to me... I've always been fascinated by this country, partly because its history goes way back (further back perhaps than that of my own) and partly because its culture is so absolutely different than the one I come from... or perhaps because I was very young when "Shogun", that TV series from the 80's, was on and I got charmed by those images of the geishas and the tea ceremony and the katanas and all... I don't know and I don't care... The important is that when I visited the far east a couple of years ago, I fell in love with it :)

That trip, I can tell you, cost me a lot of pairs of shoes... but it was money worth spent, every cent of it! And I cannot wait for the day that I will go back there and though it is a big world and there are so many places that I want to see, Japan stays at the top of my list!

When I was there, the most beautiful place I visited was a garden... not a very big one and I guess not a very famous one either because there were not that many visitors... a garden in the heart of Tokyo, a stone's through from Ropongi Hills for those who have been there, surrounded by sky-scrapers and the faint sound of the city noises...

When one passes the gate and enters the garden, it's like what has been described to me as entering Eden... and if Eden does exist (and I do not have any proof of that, obviously...) I bet it would look like that garden... the peace and the quiet and the smells of spring (I was a lucky visitor...) and the sounds of the birds and the images of the trees and the ponds and the magnificent koi carp swimming in the water and coming out to greet the people who would take a moment to tell them "konitchiwa" was an experience I will never forget!!

I bought my bento box of sushi from the food plaza of the nearby office building and got into the garden... sat on a bench under a tree and had my lunch... then took a walk in the garden, to discover every corner of it... and then got back to "my" bench and... I had a nap... and that whole experience was better that any shoe I ever wore or coveted and would always be preferred over any, and I repeat ANY, foot treasure I could be offered :)

I don't know how to end this piece of text, I guess suggesting you visit Japan and my dream garden is too obvious and expected... so I won't... I will just post a picture of it for you...

Sunday afternoon...

I adore Sundays... but only until the evening... then I get the blues and I feel again like when I was a child and Sunday evening would come and eventually the music of the opening credits of that sports show on TV would be heard... and for all the kids of my generation that marked the end of the weekend and the beginning of the new school week ... and I can assure you that even today, whenever I hear that particular music I get the blues... and not just me, as I said, a whole generation :)

But, those Sunday afternoons... when there is nothing to be done or, to be more honest, there is nothing that will be done no matter how necessary or urgent (like the laundry for example...) might be, with one leg on top of the other, laying comfortably on the sofa, preferably cuddled next to a loving partner or together with a good friend and watching a film... ahhhh, very few things can compete with that!

Yesterday, I had one of those... although I had promised to myself to go to the shops to try and find a pair of mid-heel pumps that would combine with my new black pencil skirt, and already having my eye set on Italian leather... I did not move out of the house! Which basically proves my point that a lazy, comfy, film-watching on a Sunday afternoon is, indeed, better than shoes!

Now, to tell you the truth, I do plan to go out and get those pumps next Saturday... Since, in this case, it is not really a matter of one or the other... But, yesterday, I did chose to stay home and relax and enjoy the "doing nothing" instead of a new pair of shoes... :)

Friday 6 November 2009

a sofa and a blanket...

Autumn is a depressing season... even if one is the most cheerful person in the world, assuming that one knows the whole world to verify this, November comes with the rain and the cold and the darkness and it just gets to you. The memories of the summer are still in our minds and the comparison with the "now" is unavoidable... the "now" loosing miserably in the comparison... and the Christmas season has not started just yet to cheer us up... Even the excitement of the new season's shoe collections cannot take away the blues that the weather brings... or at least not completely ;)

How does one survive this time of the year? Well, this way or the other we all know that Autumn is bound to come to an end, soon the Winter will meet us and then the Spring and then again the Summer... So we know, to begin with, that this is only a temporary depression... Does that help? Not really, no... Does a shopping spree help? Well, yes and no... Surely a new pair of Lanvin's patent leather ballerinas can bring a smile on a girls face and a pair of Ugg boots in a new colour can maintain it there longer but... is that all?

I found another trick... Instead of cursing the rain and the darkness and the cold, all those elements that make me want to hide in my home while cursing all the way through April , I embrace them! I run home after work, put on my pajamas, make a hot tea and sink in the sofa... to complete the pleasure, I cover myself up in a fluffy, wool blanket... ahhhhh, like this I can just watch cooking programs on TV and then the quizzes and the news... Before I know it, it's time for dinner! And, yes, I do now that this is very close to the definition of a "couch potato", but this is a desperate time calling for desperate measures!

Now, to make things clear... it's obviously NOT Autumn that is better than shoes... and not the "couch potato" status... but this feeling of a comfy sofa and a soft blanket while outside the rain falls, is a good one! And at times, better than shoes... So, when you have tried it all and have topped that credit card to the limit (making it unusable for the next 6 months at least) with numerous bills of foot candy, try my trick. Perhaps you will discover a new little pleasure in life...

ps. do not forget the tea... it's essential ;)