Wednesday 10 December 2014


... is better than shoes!

I'm writing this after reading some gruesome news from my home country... Yes, I know, I have said many times that I should stop doing this because it is all always bad and it only makes me miserable or angry, both feelings that I do try to avoid consciously... But I did read and I do keep being interested and oh, well... I cannot change who I am...

So I read, not just the article but also the comments from the other readers and I realise that people have lost all kindness! No, really!! Everyone is so quick to accuse, to judge and condemn, to point the finger, to refuse to even accept a shred of doubt about ones "crimes", to throw the criminal in jail and even worse and deny them all rights even those basic human ones...

No, I am not saying that criminals should walk around us free, no, they should be justly tried and if found guilty the should pay back society for the wrongdoing however, hold your horses people, don't be so ready to volunteer for the inquisition, don't have the firing squad all prepared before the trial is over! And even if the accused is guilty, please award them their rights even if your emotions say they are not worth it... judge with logic, not emotion...

A society in my view is being judged not by the way it treats its best members but by the way it treats its worst ones! Even criminals have rights and those should be respected! That's what a society is all about, respecting and protecting everyone's rights and responsibilities, maintaining justice, providing for education, social services, health and yes, punishing crime too. But no crime in my mind is worth the capital punishment, no punishment should be bigger than the crime and justice should be served for all equally and independently! But above all, let's just find it in our hearts to be kind to those who have hurt us, who have hurt the society, stop the vicious circle of violence and give a chance...

I mean, it's almost Christmas, people!!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Remember how it's like to be a kid!

If my kindergarten teacher was correct, I never actually was a child... Yep, she had in fact said it to my mom... But I don't think she was right, looking back. At least, I hope she wasn't! No, I was a kid once, even though not an entirely carefree one, not one of those amazing little creatures who look their parents in the eye and exclaim "but... I'm only a kid"! No... Those words never came out of my mouth, for goodness sake no! No, I was responsible! For almost everything! But, a kid nonetheless!

I was innocent. And I was naive! Very naive! And I had happy moments. I did play outside, even if only when we were on our family summer holidays, always in that same little village by the sea. I was a tomboy who spent all morning in the water and run on my bike with the guys all afternoon and played Asterix (we loved the role play, I was the chief's wife, possibly the only point my femininity would be hard to escape) and stayed on the beach almost until midnight, until the sand would feel cold under our bare feet and we could not keep our eyes open anymore... Yet, we would complain anyway when told it was time to go to bed :)

And I was positive and sociable and hopeful and, though I loved to play, I would not "play games", not even when the "game" with the boys started, very late admittedly in my case. No. I was honest, always followed the rules and could never stop saying exactly what I was thinking! I was a kid. And if I could remember more often how it was to be a kid, if I could mentally recreate today, in my 40s, that sense of simplicity and innocence and honesty and belief in all that's good and that everything will be ok eventually, oh, wouldn't that be so much "better than shoes"!! 

Wednesday 29 October 2014


... is the most important meal of the day, but, as far as I'm concerned, is also better than shoes... but not because it is the most important meal of the day...

I have been silent... I have been sad and angry and despaired even and I have not been able to see anything "better than shoes" lately... but I got tired of mopping around and whining and cursing (although I do have a lot more cursing inside that will come out in the near future I fear...) and I decided to look closer, to pay more attention, to try to discover something "better than shoes" to lift me up and drag me out of my misery... after all, this is why I started this blog, right?

Was not the easiest thing in the world... until I realized that it was there all along, staring me in the face while I was so exhausted I was looking at it but not seeing it... And it is simply the way I start my day! It is my breakfast! No, it is not because of the healthy granola and juice and yogurt and whatnot, no! In fact, as of three days ago I gave up the buttery piece of cake I had been eating every morning in an attempt to cut down on sugar; so my breakfast is just tea with honey... No, it not the food, it is the company!

I have my breakfast at work every day with the same group of my closest friends and it is one of the best moments in my entire day (the other one being spending the evening with my better half cuddling on the sofa... oh! and lunch, sometimes, but not every day)! Those conversations, those comments, the nonsensical and the profound, the hilarious, the vulgar sometimes, the stupid and the highly intelligent but always the true and the comfortable and the cozy and the familiar... what to look forward to! Every working day! The comfort zone that offers the greatest laughs and, really, the best way to start the day, even when it seams impossible to do so... How could I have not seen that it is "better than shoes"?! How silly!

Friday 29 August 2014

loving one's job...

They say that if you find a job you love, you won't have to work a day in your life... I haven't... so I guess that means that I will keep working...

I had very vague and undefined dreams when I was a kid about what I wanted to be when I was older... I did not know exactly what I wanted to do until I decided I wanted to be an artist and just paint for the rest of my days! My choice of future did not pass my parents' control, they said I was going to die penniless and forbade it (and if you knew my family you would get the irony of it...) but they "allowed" me to become an architect... right, more irony there, is it half of them unemployed or even more?!... Anyway, I did not make to be an architect either... but I did get an engineer's diploma... and my dreams shrunk to the size of "I want to have a secure job that allows me good quality of life"...

"Be careful what you wish"... Well, I should have been; my wish came true and for many years I actually also liked what I was doing... not "love", but "liked" a lot and, though I was still working, it was very much ok... Not any more... things have changed... I will not go into details but what I do want to say is that it must be pretty damn fabulous if one wakes up in the morning and looks forward to jump off the bed and get started doing a job they love! This cannot be an urban myth, no, I do believe that there are people like this, I wish them all the best in the world, even if it reminds me that somewhere along the way I must have made a mistake...

Yes, it must be great to love what you do everyday, to not dread it, to not loath it, to not get depressed when the weekend is over but to, maybe, even be happy you will go back to work or even not wanting to stop for the two days! Yes, it must be "better than shoes" to love your job and be happy doing it day after day... I will not know I guess... but I will still think it must be awesome!

Monday 11 August 2014

surviving Monday...

...and its potential of being better than shoes if achieved:

Here I am, on a Monday afternoon, struggling to work and kinda managing (relax, I said kinda...), having slept very little and not being able to get over the fact that it is August, for goodness' sake, we should not be working in August, nobody should, we should all be resting, there are traditions, people... all this not having one chance to be found "better than shoes" when compared... all this being lame... to say the least...

But, as almost always in desperate moments like this one, I resort to my personal resources of positive thinking and self-conviction and I start imagining how incredibly great it will be after I have actually gone through the work misery of this Monday, I have managed to be as productive as the circumstances allow me (I'm not magician mind you..) and I have reached home, in one piece, ready to sink in the sofa pillows and let my mind have a break in front of the TV... (to answer your comments before they are phrased, no, I don't read for pleasure unless I'm on holidays... I read all day for a living you see... so, TV it is..)

Yep, that's what I have to do... convince myself that the working day is over, mentally transfer myself forward to about 6:20pm, when all the chores are done and I'm watching "Pointless" in my pyjamas with a cup of tea with honey and I know that I will not have to do much for another... oh, well, about 13 hours! Bliss! Now, one could claim that this method is slightly risky -professionally- since it sounds a lot like daydreaming which is known to diminish productivity...; and they could be right... 
but, man, whatever works... and if this works, just to get me though the day, it will be better than shoes ;)

Wednesday 6 August 2014

dining in Porto...

I have many times shared with you "better than shoes" experiences from Porto and I hope some of you have actually visited this magnificent city by now to see for yourself that, although I am indeed biased (and proud to admit it), I am not misleading you.

Here's another one...

Imagine you arrive there late and you are looking for a place to have dinner at 11pm; you are in the centre and you head to "Tascö". You get there and it is full of young people and buzzing, good vibes for sure; you are told that only around midnight you could get a table (kitchen stays open until 1, I think) so you go have a drink and you return about an hour later. You get a table, you order 4-5 different dishes to share. You start looking at the blackboard on the wall, messages written by people from all over the world testifying to special moments have been had there... you share your own... A while later, after you have already started savouring delicious authentic Portuguese food with a definite home-made quality, you are offered a plate of "presunto", just to try... it's divine!

By then, you are treated by your first name, you are listening to great music, you are cracking jokes with the owners and laughing with the other guests and photos of you have been uploaded on Facebook having the time of your life and you already feel like your are having dinner at a friend's house! You have a bit of space left in your belly and you order dessert... but they are out of chocolate mousse so you are offered an alternative, on the house, which completes perfectly a fabulous meal!

And then you ask whether it would be possible to book a table to celebrate your birthday in a few days, longing to share this experience  with some close friends and... you are offered a bottle of Port wine as a present!! Because now you are a friend! And it's your birthday! And all this is better than a pair of Fendi sandals, on sale!!!
And of course you go back and you have a marvellous time, again, and when you leave and the guys say "until next time" you know you already can't wait for "the next time"!

Ps. Don't forget to try the "panados" and the "pataniscas de bacalhau" and the home-made fried potatoes! Oh! And the home-made chocolate mousse is a dream; have it with a glass of Port wine ;)

Thursday 24 July 2014

we are going on a summer holiday...

Ok, last day and a half and then I take a break!

Truth is that this is the worst bit, right before the escape, no brain left to work, no energy to get off my bed in the morning even, brilliant weather here that makes everyone to just want to be out and about and do nothing really productive apart from drinking cold drinks and chat about how brilliant the weather is... Man, I love the summer! But it is indeed very difficult to concentrate on work... I mean, I try, I'm here, I'm in front of my computer but... I write this instead...

Ever since I was a kid the summer holidays were the best time of my year! One month by the sea, spending the morning on the beach, mothers shouting "come out of the water, your fingers are so pruned they look like actual prunes...." around lunchtime, then shower, lunch, the unavoidable nap (which always felt like such a waste of time but was a great idea because you don't really want to run outside with that sun on your head... you just don't know it because you're a kid...), then cold fruits in the afternoon and playing outside with my friends until it was time for dinner and more play afterwards on the beach until maybe midnight... and the "one ice cream per day" rule... Ah, good times...

And now, so close to taking my short (unfortunately... not a kid any more) break, almost unable to run this last mile of work obligations that I have to finish before leaving, I have exactly the same feeling of anticipation and excitement and joy as I had back then... Some things never change... thank goodness... ;) except the ice cream rule... now I'm an adult, I can have as many of those as I like!!

"we are going on a summer holiday... no more worries for a week or two"... ;)

Ps. I don't really need to say that it's better than shoes, right?!

Thursday 10 July 2014

the world cup...

... is better than shoes!! End of discussion!...sort of...

No, please do not be surprised, I never said I'm a girl's girl... The fact that I love shoes does not retract from the fact that I grew up as a tomboy, had short hair for many many years, most of the friends I would play with when I was a kid (usually with sticks and stones and mud during holidays, when I would actually get a chance to play outside...) were boys and I have been seriously scolded by bestie A. in order to stop dressing like a teenage male...

So, yes, the World Cup is my favourite time every 4 years! Hell, I was born during the World Cup in '74! ...mind you, I came to the world 17 days earlier, I guess so that I wouldn't miss the Cup! And I have my favourites, usually the underdog (Costa Rica, though you beat us, I was rooting for you against the Dutch...) and I know what kind of game I like (nobody can argue against the German precision and discipline but I love a bit of chaos in the game, a bit of dance, a bit of surprise, a bit of South America...) and I have an opinion on fouls and penalties and offsides...
Yes, I do love football!!

What about the final, you ask?... Well, my head says Germany will win but my heart wants to dance an Argentine tango... In any case, I think it will be a great game, two entirely different schools of thought, two different styles of football... the head against the heart... I better make sure I have enough vodka and tomato juice (did I tell you I just discovered how much I like Bloody Mary??... what a waste, all these years... I had to turn 40 to find out!) and potato chips (the World Cup is no time for a diet...) and be ready for Sunday night... ;)

What about you?

Monday 16 June 2014

concerning Mr Clarence Darrow...

I had a dream... not a big dream, I'm no Martin Luther King but merely a superficial shoe fan... Just a small, insignificant to every other human being dream, a dream which -if it were to come true- would only change my world forever and would leave everyone else on the planet at exactly the same place they were before... my dream was to see Mr. Kevin Spacey on stage before I die.

And my dream came true last Saturday night, when I found myself at The Old Vic Theatre in London clutching in my hand a ticket to see his Clarence Darrow. When the lights went down and I saw his figure silently taking his place on the stage, a tiny light from the cigarette he brought with him flickering (maybe the only man allowed to smoke indoors in the UK...), my eyes filled up with tears... I'm not a very emotional person... but this was just the beginning of what was going to be one of the most emotional experiences of my life...

It was an out-of-this-world performance... I don't think it is fair to say he was acting, nothing about those 90 minutes was fake. He was Clarence Darrow! The words were beautifully put together (the story of this man is extraordinary anyway) and the person on that stage spoke them right to my heart and I had this sense of being held captured by what was happening at that small stage right in front of me... I was overwhelmed!

I will never forget this. I will never forget this feeling of completeness through art. I will never forget the standing ovation afterwards, when about maybe 500 people were trying to say "thank you" and "bravo"... I hope we did indeed manage to say to him "thank you" and "bravo", I hope we did manage to give back to him, the lone actor on the stage, just a little bit of what he had given us for the past hour and a half...

Need I say it really?... There has not been a shoe manufactured yet that I could compare this experience with and come close... But even if, still, Mr. Spacey's performance would be better... ;)

Ps. I did in fact think at some point during the play that I can now die a happy woman... maybe that had something to do with the allergic reaction I got the next morning and the ambulance ride through London (bucket list: check)... but, all well when it ends well, I'm still here and (for whomever is listening up there) no, I'm not ready to go just yet... too many dreams unfulfilled  ;)

Wednesday 11 June 2014

my 30s...

...have been better than shoes!!!

As I look at the clock on my computer screen, 13 minutes left in the soon-to-be previous decade of my life, I'm thinking "has been a hell of ride"! No, not always good, not always easy, not always fair, not always happy... But always me! Always true to myself! A very clever man once, many years ago, told me that I should not follow other people's rules, I should make my own set of principles and live by them as they will be the steps leading to my freedom... I have done that... it has been an excellent piece of advise.

So here I am, almost 40 years old, not really wise, not really sure, not really complete but pretty damn close... It has been a decade of learning, loving, laughing with my heart (in fact I have been doing just that tonight as I have been watching standup comedy with my man... so laughter and love, two in one), crying, hurting, enjoying, traveling, getting angry, fighting, relaxing, kissing... a decade surely full of life!

And yes, I have a decade more of wrinkles on my face and my body starts to look and feel kinda weird and I do need a nap more often than I did (if that is even possible...) and I do not digest lactose well anymore and... oh, well, who cares?! I'm here! I made it! And I'm ready for another decade and another one and another one and I hope I'm not leaving this world before I'm at least 94 and I have appeared on TV (or whatever equivalent we'll have by then...) and have said everything that crosses my mind ;)

Happy 40th birthday to me!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

counting blessings...

No, just counting one's blessings is not better than shoes... But being able to do the count when sh*t comes one's way is! I will try to explain...

There are these moments when I feel joy coming over me like a wave, caressing me like the warm sunshine, comforting me like a hot shower after a hard workout and filling me up like a chilled caipirinha on a hot summer afternoon by the sea... And at those moments I spontaneously start the count... I'm (still) young, I'm healthy, I'm loved by a wonderful man whom I love back with all my heart, I have a job, I make a good living, my thighs look better this spring after another year of Pilates and my new Martin Margiela shoes are divine... I'm good!

But to be honest with you it is exactly at those moments that this count is the most useless thing ever! No, seriously! Because I am already happy then! I mean, I can always get happier (#greedy) but the truth is that it is as necessary as an umbrella when you have escaped the rain and already are inside the house! Whereas, if I were able to do the count when life sends a couple of missiles my way, oh, that would be sooooo good! It would be indeed better than shoes! If I could remember how lucky I am in so many ways when my mother plays yet another one of her classics on me, when work overwhelms me and stupidity surrounds me, when my head aches (again), then yes sir, it would help me so much!

But I cant. At least not always... But, oh, wouldn't it be lovely??

Wednesday 23 April 2014

veal stew with fried potatoes...

Soooooo... how was Easter?! Bunnies, eggs, roasted lamb maybe? Got a good rest? Your family got to your nerves (again...)? Got to sense the rebirth of nature?

I just got back from Porto and no, I cannot say that this time was magical, amidst bureaucracy that had to be taken care of, a struck of bad luck with the weather and an acute gastro-whatever that required a brief hospitalisation, it was rather... hmmmm... ok than amazing.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and mine was no exception... Because even in the roughest of times one can always find a reason to smile. Mine was the veal stew with the fried potatoes.
No, not "any" veal stew and not "any" fried potatoes. No. It was the most succulent, juicy, ready to dissolve in your mouth veal, cooked with just a little bit of fresh tomato, having been let to simmer for what appeared to have been days, the perfect amount of salt, the perfect amount of sauce... And the potatoes, golden, tasty, freshly fried real potatoes that just screamed "let me soak in the sauce" (and I did hear them, I'm not deaf...)! Just delicious!

Ahhhh... what a meal... Right by the river Douro, offering the most beautiful views, under a warm bright sun and with the best company I could have asked for! And so I did smile! A lot! because after all, a bit of good luck within the bad luck times is the most precious thing and I got it! And it was better than shoes!

Friday 11 April 2014

plastic, blue memories...

They were blue like the Greek summer sky. They were made of plastic, both the soles and the upper part, the inside I bet it was plastic as well but I cannot remember after all these years... I do remember though that feeling of guilty pleasure every time I would put them on along with that of the pavement in my grand mother's back yard through the flimsy soles... and that they were gorgeous!

I was about six years old. And I had flat feet. Or, at least, that's what they told me to explain why I would have to wear those hideous, black or brown laced booties (replaced by equally hideous wooden orthopaedic sandals in the summer... during spring, when it was still chilly, I had to wear socks with those, slippery, nylon socks that made me loose my sandals when running in the school yard...) and not cute little girls shoes like everyone else...

My grandma bought me the blue ballet flats... I loved them nearly as munch as I loved her! Oh, my feet looked so pretty in those! So delicate! So feminine! But I had to wear them only when I was at her place, secretly from my mother who would not allow it... And I doubt I will ever forget the day I got caught with them on, run and hid under the bed and heard my grandma trying to protect me, calm her down so that I don't get a beating...

I still remember the afternoon sun getting in the room from the half closed blinds, the tiny silver flakes of dust dancing around me in the breeze, annoyed by my presence under the bed, I remember my ice cream that should be melting on the kitchen table, my fear of being punished for not following the rules and the excruciating pain of looking at my beautiful, cheap, blue, little girl's shoes that seamed like I would never put on again... I was right... they were confiscated... But my blue memories never were!!! And they are better than shoes ;)

Tuesday 8 April 2014


I discovered very recently (and to my astonishment...) that I am not a commitment-phobe... so it is "only" boats and cable carts and roller coasters and various kinds of beasts and multi-legged creatures and food that is not completely dead and... oh, well, the list of things that freak me out is long but at least it does not comprise commitment! Phewwww...

Though I do demonstrate a certain... how do I put it... aversion for traditional commitments, such as marriage which is an excellent example, I on the other hand feel compelled to commit a lifetime to Pilates (another wonderful example). The former gives me a sense of sheer panic and the mere sound of it is repulsive and kinda does compare with boats and cable carts etc. whereas the latter fills my heart with joy and images of a future with me as an 80-year-old on the reformer are welcomed in my mind bringing a feeling of security and calmness...

So it is not the idea of doing something forever that scares the hell out of me, ergo not a commitment-phobe, but it's the idea of doing something I don't like for whatever period of time that sends cold sweat down my spine... I don't like the idea (to put it mildly...) of signing a contract to stay together forever with the man I love, I wish that we both feel good doing so everyday because we actually want to. But I love the idea of spending the rest of my years, hopefully many many of those, exercising with religious discipline in the only way that I actually like which is Pilates.

And yes, I would say that this kind of commitment is indeed better than shoes! Not to mention that after 3-and-a-half years of Pilates I have finally managed to shape up to wearing high heels far more often than I used to! Hurray! ;)

Thursday 27 March 2014


...or, the declaration of the truth of something.

We all live in denial about something... "No, my bum is not big, it's... perky!"... The brutal truth is that with about a 99,9% certainty, the bum (ok, my bum...) is rather big and ok, I'm 40, I still look good for my age (I hope...) and I take care of myself and blah blah blah, all good, but the bum is big and I'm in denial about it... Lucky for me there are worse things one can be in denial about and those exactly are the ones we should strive to accept.

I was just talking to my mother... when she repeated for the billionth time "no, I never get jealous, I just don't have this emotion", I told her "mum, you are the only person I know who believes you are not jealous"... If I know her at all, she will forget my words in about 7', nevertheless, I did tell her... Maybe, just maybe, she will not and I'm wrong and she will realise that having spent a lifetime believing something about herself that is entirely untrue is a waste of time to say the least! And then maybe, she will come to terms with that, get acquainted with herself a bit, take the first step to maybe... I don't know... stop being jealous... start being happy about other people, not be intimidated by them the way she has been all her life...

Hence, affirmations. Declare the truth, accept facts, face the music, smell the roses... Acknowledging one's fuck-ups is the first step to never repeat them, it is the first step to move forward! Knowing one's own flaws is the first step to correct them. Taking off the pink glasses allows us to see all the other beautiful colours in our life! And yes, some of the ugly ones too (teal should have never been allowed for anything other than gangrene...) but so be it! When you sell that condo by "de Nile", you also get to buy something with a great view to reality and no, reality is not grim, it's pretty if you know how to look and where to look! Just like looking at those Fendi coral heel sandals, you know, the white ones... No, wait, better than those!! ;)

Wednesday 26 March 2014

happy music

I will start with how disappointed I was that the Academy did not award the Oscar this year to Pharrel Williams for his wonderful "Happy", just to get it off my chest... I, for once, from the first time I heard it while watching "Despicable me II" (and already being deeply in love with the minions since the first film) I cannot stop dancing and smiling and clapping along every time I listen to it!

...but then again I have been called "exaggeratedly enthusiastic" about my views, or even accused of "ecstatically expressing my feelings" about some things in this blog... Well, in all honesty, I graciously accept the characterisation, I take it as a compliment and timidly say thanks because if I can still exaggerate the positive in my life, there's still hope for me ;) No, I'm not always happy, in fact my happy moments are rather limited and exactly for that I want the joy to last longer and occasionally, perhaps, I exaggerate in expressing it...

Now, about happy music... No, as you can imagine I'm not always in the mood for it and there have been times in my life that I could not listen to anything but Nick Cave... dark times... brrrr... glad they are over... Right now I'm at a point that I welcome every bit of upbeat-ness (forgive the term...) that comes my way, whenever and anyway it comes! And music is a very good way! I know that creators express what they feel, thank goodness, and this is not always pink with ribbons on it but I tell you, I appreciate more and more a happy, uplifting song that makes me wanna dance around in my living room like a mad woman! Give me a big band and a catchy tune, some heart warming lyrics and a good voice and I'm sold!

Is it better than shoes? You bet! And I... clap along ;)

Friday 21 March 2014


What?! Never heard of Festibérico?? Ok, clearly you don't live in Delft or The Hague or, if you do, you certainly do not socialize with the right people!

Festibérico is a biannual Portuguese and Spanish film festival organised with a lot of love for about 12 years now from dear friends of mine and it's the best opportunity for all of us living in this part of the world to enjoy films from the Iberian peninsula that otherwise we wouldn't even know about. Not only that, but we also very often have the chance to meet the creators of these films, talk to them, get to know what was in their minds when making the films!

But, ok, enough with the official presentation, Festibérico for me is about familiarity... It's about getting together with good friends, enjoying films that speak to our hearts and then afterwards having a drink and a chat about them! And it is about this feeling of how close to me is the culture and the life of the Iberians, how familiar it is to see a film about Portuguese immigrants, their lives having so much in common with mine, and how warming is this sense of sharing a view point and the love for wine and olive oil!
I will never forget some years ago when I saw a Portuguese documentary about disappearing train connections in the Portuguese country side and I could not stop crying... it was so much like looking at Greece, it was uncanny! And that's just one example, my list of beautiful experiences during the festival is long and will keep growing over the years I hope!

Films can take us to amazing journeys around the world, combine that with good company, a relaxed, cosy environment and long, pleasant conversations afterwards and you have Festibérico! And it is surely better than shoes!

Ps. Festibérico just started, see you there ;)

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Jamaica, mon ;)

I have not kept it a secret that last year was... how may I put it nicely... nope, I can't put it nicely, it was bad! But the end of it was great, as you have already guessed if you read about my experiences while spending Christmas in Portugal. And, in the end, it is the end that matters... "all's well that ends well"!

But not only last year, the one that will always be known as "the crappy year", ended well (with a lovely gathering at my place with few but cherished closed friends and a lot of champagne) but the new year started amazingly! And you know it'll be amazing once you cross the Atlantic, leave the cold and the rain behind and head for where the sun shines and the sea is warm. This year's first destination: Jamaica!

What a beautiful place! I will not claim I saw much of it, no, I'm the kind of person that gets into the resort, puts on Havaianas and immediately ceases all activities other than reading, swimming, eating and drinking (ok, also dancing on occasion). But from the little I saw it is so pretty! The vegetation, hills, the bay, the warm, warm sea with the huge starfish and the cute crabs and the beautiful fish swimming next to you, the white sand, the food, the rum... oh my goodness, the rum! And reggae! I could not have enough of it! Calming, soothing, happy music that put a smile on my face!

Add to that the general attitude of "slow down, mon.. no problem, mon" and you have a recipe not only for wonderful vacations but a good start of a new year... That's right... That's the attitude... No problem, mon... Be all right... And all that, it is better than shoes, mon ;)

Wednesday 22 January 2014

the tavern crawl!

I know that you all know what a bar crawl is and I also guess that at some point in your life you have savored both the fun of the actual tour and the agony of next day's hangover... But have you ever done a tavern crawl, hum? Which is more or less the same thing but instead of drinking, the point is eating :) And not just eating, the idea is that you go from one place to the next in order to taste the best things that every place has to offer thus creating one meal with only the best of everything!

Here's how it's done properly: First, you get a ticket to Porto. I know, it starts in an expensive way but I promise you, the only thing that will actually be expensive is the plane fare as once you are in Porto, accommodation, transportation, food and drinking is cheap! Check it out! When you are there, do take your time to see this amazing city, I have written about its beauty before and will not repeat, but while doing so give the appropriate attention to eating; Porto has the most memorable food scene I have ever experienced! And I do love food ;)

Right, back to the tavern crawl. Do it for lunch, better to be able to have a nap afterwards (ok, maybe this is just for people my age...) before you get ready for the night (Porto offers great bar crawl possibilities as well) and chose a day it's not raining... yes, there are such! Make your research, ask locals, google a lot. Say, one tavern has the best rissol so  you start from there. Then, move on to the best "sandes de pernil" or pork sandwich, certainly include a place for a francesinha , maybe also a caldo verde and don't forget to save some space for dessert, the options are endless. Do not forget to end with a carioca de limão to give your stomach some help to digest everything... The walking from one place to the next is also good ;) Ah, and do not forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Now, if food is not your thing, fine. I understand. But for me it is one of the greatest pleasures in life and, word, the tavern crawl in Porto was indeed "better than shoes" ;)

Friday 17 January 2014

an oven....

Happy New Year! May this one be the best from the ones past and the worst from the -many- ones to follow!

I had amazing holidays! You will know all about it as I gathered quite a number of "better than shoes" experiences! The first one was the oven... No, not any oven, a wood oven! That I helped light up and cook the most amazing baby lamb with potatoes!

I had the great pleasure to be invited to spend Christmas in the Portuguese county side, "beyond the mountains", in the mainland east of Porto. The weather conditions were against us but the holiday spirit was very much in our favour! Warm, loving people who embraced me in the most kind way I can ever describe, a village with 197 permanent inhabitants, no internet, no mobile phone (except from at the far corner in the veranda where, if not raining, the signal was enough to get sms), a TV that nobody bothered turning on, cards games, puzzles, conversations around the fireplace where the home made sausages were being grilled (followed by chestnuts of course...) and... the oven!

Now, I grew up in an apartment and have lived the same way ever since, I don't do nature and had never seen how you can actually cook food with warmth that does not come from electricity!... oh, except grilling on coal I suppose, I knew that... I helped carry wood for the fire, stayed there to see when the oven was ready (the inside has to turn white first... you have to see this, no description is adequate...) took pictures of the food and in the end, when it was ready, I claimed a double portion because of my efforts! And I got it! And it was better than shoes! Not because it was so good, which it was, but because the process of making it was so special! Heck, I did not mind even the 13 times I had to get out of the house to go to the oven (sure it is NOT in the house) sometimes in the rain! Me!

No, I'm not saying that I from now on I will be living "The Good Life" but I do tell you that getting out of the comfort zone and doing things one has not done before is good. Often, better than shoes ;)