Wednesday 30 June 2010

Day trip by train!

I love travelling! This is not a secret and I have shared with you my travelling "better than shoes" experiences more than once :) After all, if finding the things that are better than shoes in life is my quest, I better get moving! Sitting on a sofa all the time does not get you very far when it comes to experiences... So, yes, I love travelling and I have the privilege of being able to do it very often... well, according to my mum too often!

Though taking a plane and going to a far away place is magical and exciting and a great pleasure for me, I have another, smaller but very significant, pleasure too... train trips! Some time ago, I decided to go and spend the day in Antwerp! This Belgian city is a gem! Not only is has a market which a lot of world capitals would be envious of, and yes, you can find almost everything there as well as red sole masterpieces, but it also offers a great variety of cafés, restaurants and cultural events! So, in out "neighbourhood", Antwerp is a definite must to visit! On top of it, it's just an hour and a half away by train!

So, Saturday morning, sun shinning up above (yes, I will be praising the summer and write about it as often as it allows me... for when it is over, it will be a looooooooong, cold and dark time before it comes back...) and I rushed to the train station. Got my ticket and my magazine, had my breakfast and my morning ciggy (I, too, have bad habits, what did you think?...) and when the train arrived I made myself comfy in my seat and read the latest shoe news while listening to music...  Just perfect!! Arrived in Antwerp at about noon, walked around, did a bit of shopping (because train trips are not only better than shoes, they bring you closer to them too!!) and then headed back...

The trip back home was even more pleasant! Tired from the day, I dozed off while listening to my iPod and took a nap... mmm... I could not have asked for anything more! The soft sound of the engine was like a lullaby and the afternoon sun was warming me and making me relax and feel so sleepy... Overall, a true "better than shoes" experience!! And, truth be told, the best part of the trip was the train part, I kid you not!!!

Monday 28 June 2010

summer full moon...

Summer is my favourite time of the year... partly, I guess, because it is the season I was born in... Though back home the heat can be (and often is...) unbearable, I have always found that I feel at least 20% happier in the summer than in any other season... ok, except for the Christmas season that is always beyond competition! Now, living in The Netherlands for the last 10 years (goodness me!!!) I have learned that summer is a rare commodity... and as I have written before, I have learned not only to appreciate it more but also not to overlook it when it comes!

So, a few night ago and while in a lovely summery weather, I when out with my friends for a dinner by the marina! We sat outside and enjoyed some good sea food and an even better bottle of wine (or three of them but who's counting...) as well as the early evening sun and a great view to the boats... and though I hate being on them as I get ridiculously panicked, just the view of them is very relaxing!! After dinner I took the bus home... no, I never drink and drive in case you are wondering... So I got on the bus, found a great seat at the front, practically next to the driver and I got lost in my thoughts... until the bus took a turn... and then I saw it!!!

The biggest, fullest, prettiest moon I have seen all year!! Was it the most beautiful I have seen in my life?... no...  I come from the land of the Parthenon and the Aegean and I have also travelled all the way to the "end of the world"... in my wanderings I have had the luck to gaze at the moon while being surrounded by the prettiest earthly sceneries... and that does make a difference... But, comparisons aside, just the full moon by itself provided an amazing picture!!

It was like it was lighting out way, low above the buildings and the trees and as thought he road we were on was going all the way up to it!! The man on it was smiling as always, a bit of a melancholic smile but comforting to see it as I remembered it... Living in a mostly clouded country we forget that the moon is always up there as most often we just don't see it... But that night, oh, it certainly was there and it certainly was impossible not to see it!! The view was breathtaking and the beauty of it put a smile on my face! Now, if that to you is not better than shoes, combine that beauty with the warm summer night, after a great dinner with good friends and see if that works ;)

Wednesday 23 June 2010

walking home from work...

...does not sound like a "better than shoes" thing... not if it means walking home on high heels because you forgot to get your sneakers along in the morning and now you've missed your bus (or tram, or metro or... whatever...) in the rain, without an umbrella (that was in the same bag as the sneakers -in the hallway next to your house door- which you forgot to take when left...) or a raincoat (because the one you liked was hugely expensive and you are still waiting for it to be on sales while you are not buying anything else...) and without a taxi in sight...

No, this is certainly not better than shoes... in fact it is really bad! But, what about this image: You've left work after having finished a chore that was waiting to be treated for the last six months simply because you just hated doing it and you had been procrastinating... until today when not only you got to do it but you actually completed it! You've put your sneakers on that you did not forget to take with you the same morning and no need for an umbrella whatsoever as on this late afternoon, the sun is shinning and the weather is warm and you don't even need a jacket!  So, you walk by a peaceful canal where every now and then you see a little boat... and though you don't particularly like being on one, the view is calming and pretty!

You walk along and you come across people running, walking their dogs (and actually poop scooping!!! yes, they DO exist, I have seen them!!! It is not an urban myth!! ) or  lying in the sun or sitting on a bench reading or fishing and all of them have a smile on... more or less like yours... You have your music with and though you've just chosen one song to begin with, technology has done its part (thank you iTunes...) and all the rest that followed that first one are ingeniously equally, if not more, good! And to top it all up, it's a Friday and the weekend has already started and you have great plans to meet with your friends and you look forward to that! And, last but not least, you know that by the time you reach home, you will have burnt the calories of that little chocolate bar that you did not resist eating with your coffee after lunch!
Now, isn't this better than shoes??

Monday 21 June 2010

The World Cup IS better than shoes!!!

What?? You are actually wondering "which World Cup..."?? The football WC obviously!! And yes, for those of you who think that someone else took over my blog, perhaps a bearded guy with a very heavy voice and a beer in his hand, no, it is still me and, apart from Louboutin's divine creations I also love football!!

I was born 17 days earlier... I like to think that I did that because I did not want to miss the World Cup! And since then, ok, technically not exactly since then but very shortly after, I have been watching football! I do know that it is not a very girly thing... most of my female friends hate it... or to the limit, they just don't get it and, eventually, hate watching it (because, ok, try to watch something you do not understand absolutely nothing -grammatical mistake intended for emphasis- about, for an hour and a half, and see if you like it or not... happened to me with rugby... I just don't get it... despite the various attempts of friends to help me understand, it still is a pointless, mysterious and terribly boring game to me... and I do apologize for my ignorance but the fact remains...)  so, yes, I guess I am a bit different then the norm... but it is true that I love football and it is also true that it watching the WC brings me lovely memories from my childhood when I would watch the games with my father...

Every four years when the great big party of football takes place I am as happy as can be! I run home to watch the games (and yes, I have also taken an afternoon or two off just to watch a game...), I follow the results, the standings, the players' condition, I make calculations and attempt predictions... Mostly though, I just have fun!! I love the sport, I love trying to guess the next move, to follow the development of the attack and to shout at the TV when the defense is open... I enjoy the conversations afterwards with my friends and the long discussions as to whether there was an off side or not... I love to see they celebrations of the players when they score goals and their happy faces when they have won (and it was the team I was supporting that won... the other way around, not that joyous...)

So yes, these are indeed happy times for me... perhaps to some of you this does not make any sense at all... then again, perhaps other things I write about do not make sense to everyone... no worries, there is enough space for everybody's views in this world :) As for football, all I suggest is give it a chance... a real chance! Now is the time :) Watch a game between strong teams (you pick, I personally prefer South American football :) and try to follow... who knows, perhaps it will win you over ;) Alternatively, just browse the sales that most fashion websites have at this moment and shop for some flat gladiator sandals :) sooooo cute!!

Saturday 5 June 2010

Dinning "à la belle étoile"...

I will not repeat my opinion of the Dutch weather... if I were to do that I would not avoid writing very bad words which have no place in these attempts to find (and write about...) the best things in life! However, it is a truth universally acknowledged that, well... it sucks!! Most of the time... But every now and then, a couple of times a year more accurately, it doesn't! Because then, it's summer! Briefly, but for real!! And, yes, we are in one of these rare moons right now!!!

The sun has been shinning, the temperature has risen, people took the summer clothes out of closets and put on their sandals (yes, me included, what did you think??) and everyone has a big smile on!! It is amazing how the weather affects people's moods... Even the ever grumpy ones become a bit more friendly, a bit more happy when the sun shines in this place... Even politeness shyly makes an appearance!! And of course, we all run outside!!! Anyone who has lived in The Netherlands for some time (say, more than a year) knows that they need to save some annual leave to use when the summer comes here... a couple of days are usually enough... and then, massively we go out!!

Most people like the beach... I don't... it smells like wet dog and it is very dirty and crowded... Not to mention that the sea is never blue which does defy my definition of "the sea"...  So, on sunny days I avoid the beach and head to the city center... Often I take a book and I go read on a bench under a tree, I go for shopping (because, hey, summer may be better than shoes but it's also the best time to buy shoes... ;) and it's exactly on those summer days that I love to go out for dinner with my friends!! And when I say out, I mean "out"!! Under the starry sky!!

That's exactly what we did last night! A lovely small restaurant, the chef and owner of which really knows how to please a palate, a good wine list and a friend who is a sommelier by hobby (could we be more lucky??) a table outside by the canal, a great conversation... who could ask for anything more? Let me tel you, it does not get much better than this in this place... And yes, I could think of many places in the world that offer a far better scenery for eating outside... But after all, when you have nice company, good food and wine and a warm evening, there is not a lot to complain about, is there??.. And I would not be fair if I were not to classify this experience in the "better than shoes" category!!