On my very last morning in the neighbourhood of Old Faliron, I put on my bikini under a loose borrowed dress, clutched a towel, put on my flip-flops and walked down to the beach…

Although I had spent a few days at my friends’ place already, I had not really realised that I could actually go for a swim. Just cross the busy street, trafficked by cars and trams and take a dip.

Thankfully I got my act together some hours before taking the bus to the airport and went for an early swim. Quite a few regulars were already there, chatting in small groups, discussing ailments and diets, wishing each other a good month ahead while floating around.

You never enter the same river twice they say. In hindsight I realise that I will never swim in those same waters again. I was lucky to end my stay with a baptism in the  Argo-Saronic gulf, before it was blackened by an oil leak from an old sunken tanker.

In my pictures, as in my memory, beauty is still immaculate…

 

 

 

 

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I traveled back to Athens from Paros by boat on a Monday evening, arriving late in the capital. I walked from the port to the metro station in surroundings that reminded me of the streets around the central station of New Delhi. Piraeus is a sad example of urban development…

I caught a metro and then a tram and landed at my friends’ place for a long catch up talk and a few hours of sleep before getting up on Tuesday morning to catch the 08:26 train to Thiva (Thebes) where a friend was picking me up.

Why Thebes? Well, I had a standing invitation from a friend that had never materialised mainly for logistical reasons. This time, I had decided to just do it and I was excited to discover a place a bit off the beaten tourist path. My friends had described Thiva as a quite sleepy and indifferent provincial town, but I have nothing against exploring quaint places.

My friend picked me up at the station. First we went to the open air theatre and looked at the view from the forest clad hills around it. Then we went for a coffee on the central square. I felt a bit sleep-deprived and groggy, so it was nice to sit down, chat and drink lots of water before going to the Museum.

The beautiful newly built Museum was a revelation. For me it was like transiting from a fragmented view to seeing the whole picture. Suddenly, sleepy, provincial Thebes revealed itself as a cradle of civilisation that has fostered centuries of history and myth in its bosom.

Before me I could see a red thread of facts and fiction intertwined: The Mycenean civilisation, Hercules and his twelve labours, the Theban cycle, Antigone and Oedipus, king Kadmos… I was reminded of things that I had long forgotten and reconnected with a vibrant past.

Of course, my friend did not only make sure to nourish my intellect with her insightful and educational approach.

She also took me to her beautiful village home on top of a hill and fed me in the true spirit of Greek hospitality. In no time she had cooked up a little storm; fresh salad with garden veggies, an omelette made of free range eggs, fried potatoes. I practically never eat fries, so eating a batch of fresh fries made with love, high-quality oil and potatoes was a luxury. That heartfelt lunch, and the many little treats that followed still put a big smile on my face.

You do understand that I was very happy to have gotten on that train despite my mere four hours of sleep the night before? It paid off manifold and it was probably a good idea to just keep my body in travel mode, while it was still rocking from the boat journey.

Once again, I got to experience so much in such a short time. I was immersed in the stuff myths are made of. I spent time with the queen of modern Thebes who lives with her king on top of a hill in a house they’ve built with their own hands. From her patio she sees mounts Cithaeron and Helikon and every morning she goes for a jog.

Every encounter with a soulful person leaves a trace of stardust on you which you don’t just shake off. It becomes part of you.

 

 

On an early Friday morning I got on a ferry to the island of Paros for the third leg of my trip.

Paros was a bit of a random choice; I wanted to spend around three nights on an island and was considering my options. I did not want to spend too long time on traveling and as I was going there solo, I wanted there to be a fair amount of activities to choose among.

I had somehow associated Paros with young Brits on their holiday alone debut, white trash, exploitation, etc. The real-life experience did not confirm my preconceived ideas at all…

Some years ago I visited the nearby island of Naxos together with my sister. We both liked Naxos for its friendly and service-minded people, the beautiful nature and the size of the island: big enough for variation, small enough to travel around. Naxos and Paros are like the big and younger sisters – very alike in many ways, but at the same time distinct in character.

I had three full days on Paros and no dull moment. I rented a room in Parikia, the picturesque capital.

I went on two very relaxing and quite easy hikes/walks, watched movies in an open-air cinema, swam, met up with a yogi friend, did some yoga in the narrow space of my room, explored my surroundings and generally had a really good time.

If I was to go back to Paros, I would get on a SUP board, which I did not get to do this time around.

For the rest, I am very happy with my choice and I really recommend both Paros and Naxos to those of you looking an easy holiday choice because of the particular blend of familiarity, culture, landscapes and good-natured people these two Aegean gems have to offer.

 

For the second leg of my journey I descended to the South to visit three couples of friends and their offspring in three different locations.

On a Sunday morning I took the train from Thessaloniki to the station of Lianokladi, from there a suburban train to the town of Lamia, a taxi to the bus-station and then a coach to Arkitsa on the east coast where I was going to stay with a friend and his family of five at their summer abode.

The first evening turned into an improptu reunion when my friend M and her little family joined us as they happened to be at their summer house in a nearby village. Already on the first day of my southbound trip I had thus checked two out of three bullet points in terms of reconnecting with friends.

During the dinner at a taverna by the sea, sometime between the kids’ ice cream and the bill, it was decided that I was continuing to the Peloponnese already on the next day together with M and Co.

Arkitsa behind the mosquito net…

So I left Artkitsa a day earlier than initially planned with the mission to visit another couple of friends in the township of Kiaton, located at the Corinthian bay. By pure coincidence, M was traveling to the same area with her family just around the time I intended to visit my Kiato friends. We concluded that carpooling was a great opportunity to spend some time together during the approximately three hour long-ride there.

Upon arrival to coastal Kiaton, it was time for yet another reunion; the branches of my tree of friendships have intermingled and grown to all kinds of directions; as a result, I spent a good four days socialising in concentric circles.

In Kiaton I spent two days of family time, swimming, eating homemade food, listening to sailor stories, and just pausing for a while. I had ambitious plans of maxing my time in the Peloponnese, but in the end I took a day off from traveling and planning. It was all worth it.

Bay of Corinth

Then, after two nights on the Peloponnese it was time to rewind to my starting point, Arkitsa, that I had left somewhat in a hurry. My friends who had drove me all the way to and dropped me off at Kiaton picked me up for the ride back.

On the last evening of my stay, we ended up having a big dinner with pasta puttanesca  and watermelon in the same constellation as on day one. Finally, I also got to spend some time with my Arkitsa hosts that I had left in a rush. And just before the dust had settled, it was time for me to catch a bus to Athens for a sleep over on the couch of another couple of friends before taking the boat to the island of Paros.

If this whole thing sounds confusing, I understand. Contrary to what you might believe though, actually being in the eye of this hurricane of dates, places and people to visit was like experiencing a state of total harmony and contentment.

Sailing to Paros island…

Yet another part of the journey was ticked forward by a charmed clockwork and I was looking forward to part three…

 

 

 

Every place has its own distinct energy.

Downtown Stockholm

That’s what I realise every time I travel. The time before departing is a blurr of points on to-do lists, but once on the go, the head clears. When at the final destination, things shift.

The iconic White Tower of Thessaloniki

Something happens when you are removed from a context and placed between brackets in a different setting…

Sunset view from Nea Paralia, Thessaloniki

Nea Paralia, Thessaloniki, for a late afternoon walk with my bestie

Salaries are nut low, prices are high…

My recent sojourn in Greece unfolded like the petals of a budding rose, leaving me an after-taste of harmony and warmth.

My flying yoga carpet…

A fresh salad each

I caught myself living almost exclusively in the present tense and enjoying practically every single moment…

Litohoron, Pieria

The Saturday market in our old hoods, is still going strong

That does not mean I was cut off from reality, but for a bit less than three weeks I was on the receiving end of a friendly wave of energy that gently washed over me, from top to toe.
At the bottom line I have a surplus of precious impressions to hold on to and to share…The interaction of family and friends with culture and beautiful nature produced something really memorable; my mental pantry has been replenished for the coming winter.

Last week I traveled to the west coast archipelago, for the first time in my life, for some days of insular yoga – the kind of yoga practiced on a piece of land surrounded by sea.

I did not plan it long in advance, as things are a bit fluid right now. It bad been at the back of my mind for a while though and I am very content with my decision. The thing about taking up an interest is that it takes you places; mentally, physically and even geographically.

We spent our days doing yoga twice daily and exploring the constellation of three islands connected by bridges. I mainly on foot, and my yogi friend by bike. The days were sunny and windy. The kind of windy that is so special about Sweden and which means having the recurrent sound of leaves trembling in the breeze, rustling like sheer silk paper in your ears constantly.

And believe me, there is a lot of space for wind in these latitudes, because skies are very high here in the North – it’s an undisputed fact. When I look up to the skies it is like peering into a dome raised by its creator to meet the infinite…

After I got back from the island, which our rbnb hosts jokingly referred to as Hono-lulu letting the umlauts of Hönö disperse in the wind, I have been getting some things done at home, such as tending to the wuthering heights of my balcony and the plants that live on it. I have also been on a series of daily excursions for “business” and pleasure alike.

Juicing summer, resting, ticking off a list of things to do, that is where I am at right now. The feeling of total release, of holiday, of just being in the moment is a mental state. For it to materialise, I know I will have to make a conscious effort and let my self soak in it until it impregnates my cells. Once there, I do not want it to be lost to the days of dark and cold that are not that far away…

It is been a long time since my latest post, and the absence has been totally unplanned. It is not that my pen has totally dried out – I have been leaving a verbal imprint on different platforms – or that there are not things that I would like to vent; it has rather been a matter of a shifting focus. I have been leading a quite robotic life with daily commuting and yoga practice. I thought I should oil the blogging machine and see where it takes me, so I will reboot by writing a general update, just as a way of  think I need it myself, to see where I am at…

When do you start your day?
Early. I am in between jobs, so technically I could sleep in, but I usually wake up sometime around 05:00 am. I make myself a big cup of cocoa, park myself on my bed and work on something or read for a while. It has become a moment a look forward to. I am lucky I can rest a bit before I officially kick start my day and eventually get on my yoga mat…

Any good reads lately?
I love a good book. I have always been an avid reader. Some years ago I had a reading break that lasted for quite a while, but luckily I resumed reading and haven’t stopped since. I have always had an ability to pick interesting books, judging them by the cover and the title, picking up the vibes, and I have almost never made a literary choice that I have been disappointed in. Lately however, my choices have been mediocre. I cannot seem to find a book that will really captivate me.The best book I have read lately is All Inclusive, by Swedish author Hans Gunarsson; a quite intriguing  piece of fiction. Now I am reading Measuring time by Helon Habila. So far, so good.

What have you been cooking?
I have been experimenting with my vegetarian and gluten-free cooking as usual and food-blogging. I have been creating new things and re-visiting old recipes. Staple food right now are sourdough bread and waffles. There is always a sourdough starter in the fridge which I am feeding, if not daily, then on an every second day basis. Of course, there are a lot of vegetables involved and I am trying to make the best out of everything seasonal. I hate food-waste and I am at my most creative when taking care of leftovers.

Ongoing projects?
For the past two months at least, my kitchen has been partly converted to a plant nursery. I have been watching seeds turn into seedlings, growing into promising little plants and then witnessing some of them getting sick and wither. I have always had respect for mother nature, but being an amateur urban gardener is really making me all the more humble. I am discovering diseases that I did not know existed. Unfortunately plants fall prey to all sorts of different parasites that feed of their amazing life-force. It is a learning progress laced with disappointment and joy and I have spent lots of hours tending to my green friends. The most time-consuming phase of growing your own food is that of preparation and that is where you have to be a step ahead. Weeding and digging are probably my favourite gardening activities, because despite a complaining lower back, results are immediately visible. The journey from seed to harvest is long and full of unforeseen events, but I am telling myself that it is a lesson of patience and also a learning process…

Summer plans?
Job-seeking is an ongoing element of course, but other than that my plans include lots of yoga, long walks, being out in the forest, listening to the absolute silence, going on some trips, spending time with family, meeting up with friends and completing the project I have named as “harmony in every corner“. I moved into my apartment last autumn, but I have not had the time to really think about how I want to organise my space in detail. So now that I have some time on my hands I am going through cupboards and closets, sorting things, reorganising them, deciding what I want to keep and what I want to give away. It’s a very nice way of take care of any mental clutter at the same time as caring for your habitat – recommended.

sofiawise

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Buttercupgoeswest

Buttercup is a newborn and we are taking her on a 5000 KM journey from Ahmedabad to Kanyakumari

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts