"I am on a journey... With my work, my explorations, and a few sad stories. I travel with a suitcase full of outrageous blessings. I am on a quest for truth, beauty, and quiet joy. I am an artist, a writer, an explorer."

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Feeling blessed

Today I’m grateful for the genuine people in my life; the ones who have stuck with me through thick and thin, the ones who truly care about me, the ones I truly care about too. I’m grateful I’ve got you in my life. Here’s to all the past and future memories (to be created)! You ROCK.

Thank you, and, I love you :) 

P.S. Also, this post from 2 years ago pretty much always sums up my feelings. #blessed

Friday, 20 November 2015

Toxic People

There comes a time when we realise that we need to let go of some people if we're willing to find peace and balance within us; I'm talking about the toxic people in our life.

Over the last months I believe I've been changing for the better. I've finally realised that all I want in this life is to be surrounded by the people I care about and who genuinely care about me too. I no longer have patience or sympathy for people who only bring drama into my life. I realised that all they did was make me feel hurt and imbalanced and as a result I kept having this chaos within me. It's easy to say all the right things in the right moments, but what about actions? It's always through actions that we should judge people by.

It's an act of self-care; when you love yourself enough to realise you don't need people who disrupt your inner peace. It's amazing how things change when you eventually become indifferent and don't let things affect you. It is important to know when it is time to distance yourself and make space for the people who deserve it. I hope we always have the courage to do that no matter what.

Day by day I become all the more grateful for the genuine relationships in my life and I always try to let these people know in my own little ways :)

Invest in people who invest in you.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


Codex by Radiohead

Just dragonflies
No one gets hurt
You've done nothing wrong

Friday, 13 November 2015

Η ομπρέλα του Βοσπόρου

Ευανθία Ρεμπούτσικα - Η ομπρέλα του Βοσπόρου

Από ένα χαμένο όνειρο εμείς έπρεπε να φτιάξουμε ένα δρόμο για να συναντηθούμε. Kι απ' όλες τις τύχες προτιμήσαμε εκείνη του ταξιδιώτη που δεν ξέρει το άστρο του πού τον οδηγεί.
Ώσπου βράδιαζε σιγά σιγά κι οι ανταύγειες του φεγγαριού στα τζάμια φαίνονταν σα μικρά αποσπάσματα ενός ονείρου που κυνηγάμε χρόνια.
Κι ενώ στο βάθος του δρόμου το άγαλμα διηγιόταν στα πουλιά το αληθινό ταξίδι, ακουγόταν η άρπα, που ίσως βέβαια να μην ήταν και άρπα, αλλά αυτή η αθάνατη θλίψη που συνοδεύει τους θνητούς.

Τι θ' απομείνει από τόσες προσδοκίες, τόσους στεναγμούς; Ένα όνομα και δυο χρονολογίες χαραγμένες στην πέτρα που ο καιρός θα τις σβήνει σιγά σιγά.

Κι αυτό το τρένο που ήρθε από μια μακρινή πόλη σταμάτησε στον έρημο σταθμό. Δεν κατέβηκε κανείς παρά μόνο κάποιος μουσικός μ' ένα φαρδύ ανεμοδαρμένο καπέλο. Άνοιξε τη θήκη του βιολιού κι άρχισε να παίζει μια παράξενη μουσική, σα να 'θελε να μας πείσει ότι όλα είναι δυνατά κι ότι δεν τελειώνει πουθενά ο κόσμος.
Όλα τελειώνουν και μόνο το φθινόπωρο παραμένει αιώνια νέο σαν τα πιο λυπημένα ποιήματα.

Δωσ' μου το χέρι σου...

~ Τάσος Λειβαδίτης

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Photo by Alice Karayiannis
I read a poem yesterday which I found quite moving and felt like sharing. Read here.
Someone to smile with. A deep knowing grin that says, “I see you” and “I’m staying.”
Someone to miss, even for a minute—until they return, and it feels like home again.
Someone to stare at for moments unending.
Someone to love.

Barcelona Escape

Barcelona is one of those innovate cities that can bring out the artist in anyone. All of a sudden we are photographers, painters, writers, film makers or just plain old philosophers. 

I haven't written in a while. It's not that I haven't felt inspired to write but I guess there was always something to do, especially over the summer. I'm hoping to type up a post about my visit to Armenia at some point, but for now I'll just focus on last weekend's escape to Barcelona; short but sweet. But this post is going to be LONG. Of course, I won't be able to include everything but I'll try to include things that made an impression on me.

I absolutely loved the city, it was inspiring in so many ways. I fell in love with the language all over again, the culture, the hospitality of the people, the colourful buildings with intricate architecture one could ogle for hours, the music in the streets, the delicious paellas and tapas I devoured and, last but not least, the sangría...couldn't get enough of it all. Of course, everything is always better in good company.

So I tried to make the most of my weekend there; I had to see EVERYTHING. I'll start with Barcelona's Eixample district which was influenced by architects such as Antoni Gaudí, a Modernista artist, who was the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Below are two of his most famous buildings at Passeig de Grácia, one of Barcelona's major avenues. Of course, 'La Sagrada Familia' is considered to be his masterpiece but that was a bit further away, although in the same district, but it goes without saying that I got a shot of that one as well (third photo in the series). That was a funny story, it was late afternoon and we had just been to Park Güell. We thought that the 'Sagrada Familia' was relatively close to that but it turns out everyone was telling us to grab a metro to get there because it was too far. Being the rebels that we were we decided to defy them and walked all the way there; took a good 50 minutes, we couldn't feel our feet and it made our knees all wobbly. Just to make things clear, this wasn't because of this single walk but because we had been literally walking all day long. Don't make the mistake of sitting down when your legs are in pain, you won't be able to get up and walk properly afterwards unless you're meaning to sleep for some time (needless to say we took the metro back home after that). I cannot describe how bewildering these buildings are up close, especially La Sagrada Familia which was simply extraordinary and it was a shame that it was under construction.

Casa Batlló (Gaudí's house of bones)
Casa Milá (aka 'La Pedrera')
La Sagrada Familia

At Passeig de Grácia, next to Casa Batlló, there is another beautiful building that is probably not known to many and which was equally intriguing, at least for me, so I had to look up what it was. It turns out that the building is known as 'Casa Amatller' and it was originally designed and built by Joseph Puig i Cadafelch for the chocolatier Antoni Amatller. Doesn't it actually look like a house which could be owned by a chocolatier? Or like a person who owns a confectionery or something.

Casa Amatller

While I'm talking about Gaudí, I'll also mention the 'Grácia' district of Barcelona which hosts his famous park 'Park Güell'. We actually took a metro from where we were by the sea to come up here, hadn't used one in a while. Transport is just so easy! As long as you can read maps and you know where to go, which thankfully I could. So Eusebi Güell, a notable Catalan entrepreneur, actually had a housing site in mind and when that proved unsuccessful, he decided to create a park and assigned its design to Antoni Gaudí because he wanted something modern-looking. This is where Gaudí perfected his personal style. Needless to say that the park was wonderful, in plain nature with live music playing all around and a beautiful view of Barcelona in the background. The pink house you'll see in one of my photos is actually where Gaudí lived for about 20 years and it is now Gaudí's house museum. 

Next, I'll talk about 'La Ciutat Vella' (i.e. the Old City) district of Barcelona, which is made up of various neighbourhoods. The first one I'm going to talk about is the 'Barri Gótic' (or Gothic Quarter), the centre of the old city of Barcelona and its Gothic cathedrals and churches. The main cathedral is the cathedral of 'Santa Eulália', also known as 'Barcelona Cathedral' (built in 1339). It's not so clear in my photos, but its roof is notable for its gargoyles which feature both domestic and mythical animals. One of them looks like a unicorn methinks.
Cathedral de Santa Eulália (aka Barcelona Cathedral)
Notice the gargoyles?
Now here's a little funny story. At Plaça de Nova, close to the Barcelona Cathedral, there's a building which features what are known as two of Picasso's 'friezes': El fris dels Gegants (Giants Frieze) at the front and el fris del Nens (Children Frieze) at the side. First funny thing is that when he was asked to make them, Barcelona (and the rest of Spain) was under Francisco Franco's dictatorial rule and Picasso condemned fascists through his art. He therefore refused to create any kind of art which would be put up on display within a fascist regime. His refusal was readily accepted; after all, there was Joan Miró, another worthy artist and great rival of Picasso, and he was willing to do it. Would Picasso allow Miró to have his work display at Plaça de Nova and not his own? Of course, as you'd expect, hearing this Picasso changed his mind. Putting all political beliefs aside, he created the friezes and here they are (photo below). The second funny thing is that he never got to see them in person because he swore to never visit Barcelona or any other part of Spain after Franco's victorious emersion in the Spanish Civil War (1939) and while he still ruled the country. Sadly, Franco ruled until Picasso's death. The friezes were designed on paper by Picasso and they were made by sculptor Carl Nesjar. 

The two friezes at Plaça del Nova

The Gothic Quarter also features the churches of 'Santa Maria del Mar' (built between 1329-1383) and 'Santa Maria del Pi' (built between 1319-1391. It's funny because the former one was built by the people of Barcelona themselves ('built by the people for the people') and it took less time than the latter one. I was able to take better photos of Santa Maria de Mar but not so good ones of Santa Maria del Pi because there was a wedding and a market of catalan traditional goods right in front of it and there were too many people all around and my OCD hates it when I can't take 'clean', 'whole' photos of buildings. In fact I had that problem quite often because it's difficult to capture whole buildings unless you're standing quite further away and sometimes that wasn't possible because other buildings were in the way... (that rhymes!) Also good to note that on Saturday the 31st of October I witnessed 2 weddings and a 3rd bride and groom running around in the streets that night, posing for photos nearby a metro at Passeig de Grácia. Good times! 
Santa Maria del Mar

Also good to mention the 'Fossar de les Moreres' memorial square which is adjacent to the church of Santa Maria del Mar and which is built over a cemetery where defenders of the city were buried following the Siege of Barcelona at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. You can't see it in the photo (couldn't really see it in person either because of the sun) but there is an eternal flame lit on top of that red structure in the middle and the National Day of Catalonia - which commemorates the defeat of Catalonia after 14 months of siege - takes place on the 11th of September of every year. 
'Fossar de les Moreres' memorial square
The Gothic Quarter is also famous for its 'La Rambla' street which is considered as the centre of Barcelona's city life where most festivals take place. It is a long, long street, filled with little markets in the central promenade selling souvenirs, flowers, local sweets, ice-creams, etc. and I was told that in the past it would also sell birds in cages. There were also artists selling their work, or drawing portraits for people. On either side, the street is filled with coffee-shops and restaurants, although I was told that it is probably not ideal to eat anything at La Rambla because it's a touristy place and the quality of the food won't reflect that of the rest of Barcelona. La Rambla is also considered to be one of the cultural centres of Barcelona since 'Teatre Principal' (1568) - the oldest theatre in Barcelona - can be found there, as well as the 'Gran Teatre de Liceu' (1847) which is Barcelona's renowned opera house. In this street I also discovered the 'Casa des Paraigües' (i.e. House of Umbrellas) with the dragon on the corner which I nearly missed. It was built in 1858, at the time when the Modernist era had begun in Barcelona and all things oriental were in fashion, and was once an umbrella shop as its name suggests.

Casa des Paraigües (House of Umbrellas)

The opening to 'El mercado de la Boqueria' (i.e. Boqueria Market) is also situated at La Rambla. Well I took a photo of the entrance to the market but, sadly, the market is closed on Sundays so I never got to see the market itself... Huge disappointment but life goes on (I'm definitely re-visiting Barcelona one day). Plaça Reial (i.e. Royal Plaza) is one of the squares which lies next to La Rambla (Barcelona has countless little squares here and there, it's impossible to talk about them all so I'll only be choosing a few here and there). The square is filled with restaurants and famous nightclubs and it hosts many festivals and open-air concerts. Interesting to note that its lanterns were designed by Antoni Gaudí but he was asked not to make them too eccentric so they actually appear to be quite normal lanterns... who would have known.
Plaça Reial

The second and last square I'll talk about which is within the Gothic Quarter is la Plaça de George Orwell (don't think there's a need to translate this). One would expect another impressive square but this one was rather dull. It was actually known as the 'Plaça Tripi' (i.e. the Acid Square) because of its reputation of people taking drugs and they actually built a little park for children in the middle of it with the hope of attracting more families to the square. The history behind it? George Orwell was in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and had fought on the Republican side (his personal accounts can be found in his book 'Homage to Catalonia' which I'm now quite intrigued to read). The square was built 60 years later in his honour for having fought in the war (not because of his literary endeavours). 
Plaça de George Orwell

Next, El Born. Being in Barcelona for just a weekend, I felt that it was essential that I got a taste of the food at local places and not touristy ones. I think the only touristy place we'd gone to was by the beach, but hey, it was right by the beach. However, I was also interested in finding little local places within little streets and squares which only people who know Barcelona could have known about. So after having seen the 'Arc de Triomf', we got lost (in a good sense) in the little neighbourhoods of El Born, trying to find a cosy little place for lunch. And we did! We found this cosy little place at Plaça de Sant Pere which didn't have a fixed menu but a daily one which was written up on chalk boards outside. Needless to say that the food was delicious. Also, surprise surprise, we met another Cypriot there; it is such a small world after all. I was about to read the menu in Spanish trying to figure out what was what in Greek when I heard a man's voice talking in Greek, telling me he could explain it to me if need be. Naturally, I was thrilled.
The Arc de Triomf
'La Candela' (the place I was talking about)
Next I shall talk about the 'El Raval' quarter within the Ciutat Vella district, another historical neighbourhood. While Barri Gótic is considered to be the centre of tourism, the El Raval is a more shadowy quarter which was once an area which tourists were told to avoid, being infamous for its nightlife and cabarets, as well as prostitution and crime. However, with the years it has evolved and is now another of Barcelona's cultural centres hosting the city's main collection of modern art. I quite enjoyed walking around the neighbourhoods and part of it actually reminded me of old Nicosia back home, perhaps because of its diverse immigrant community and their local mini-markets and hang-out spots in the streets; it had a colourful mixture of nationalities and the streets were filled with life and a different kind of 'air'. I guess it felt like home. In this neighbourhood one can also find the street 'Rambla del Raval' within which the futuristic hotel 'Barceló Raval' was built in 2008. I had done my research before going to Barcelona and had found out that the rooftop bar of this hotel has a 360 degree view of Barcelona; I definitely had to visit (and I did). The view was amazing... photos below.

Last but not least, the beach! 'La Barceloneta' neighbourhood is the last one I'm going to talk about within the old city. This is where you'll find the beautiful Mediterranean Sea which obviously reminded me of home, once again. One can talk a long stroll along the Passeig de Marítim, enjoying the sea on one side and the restaurants and bars on the other side. A couple of bars and restaurants can even be found on the sand right by the sea. We had delicious paella and sangría here (but don't get me started on the food, I'll get to that later). There were tons of people on the beach, regardless of it being the beginning of November; a few of them were even swimming but most of them were sunbathing or simply enjoying the sand and view - some of them with a drink in hand - enjoying the background music. Oh I think there were also people playing volleyball. 

Okay, I think I'm done with the old city of Barcelona and I'm probably done with all places I managed to visit. So now I'll talk about the local food. It was delicious. We had seafood paellas twice  (we had to compare, no?) and we devoured both of them. Paellas are basically rice dishes (with seafood in our case) but they're a lot more tasty than they sound. We also tried the famous tapas; the local, spanish cuisine meze! This is when you order various little appetisers and snacks along with a big jar of sangría (local wine)...needless to say we had that along with every meal. For those who don't know, sangría is basically made of red wine, chopped fruit (e.g. oranges, melons, lime, apples, peach, berries, etc.), some sweeteners and a small amount of brandy. I couldn't get enough of it and it just added to all the happiness I felt for being in such a beautiful place... And no, I wasn't drunk, I can hold my liquor thankyouverymuch. Our tapas consisted of prawn, squid and mussel dishes all made in Catalonian style, along with little salads, nachos and, my favourite, potato chips with mayonnaise and garlic sauce. Oh we were definitely up for a second round of tapas but we had finished our four glasses of sangría (each) by then and tapas are always better with a drink... Unfortunately, I do not have photos of our tapas because we were so greedy we began eating before I realised I had forgotten to take a photo of them. Hey, it had been a pretty long day and we were starving.

Paellas and sangría

If I were to describe Barcelona in a word, that would be 'bewitching'. I was enchanted by the different districts, their captivating atmospheres, the lively people, the music and good food. It was such a vibrant city and I wish there was time to explore more of it. Regardless, I do feel that I made the most of the time I had there, and I'm definitely grateful I even had the chance to go. And, as I said before, it just reminded me a little bit of home. Getting back to the gloomy UK after a fairytale weekend in Barcelona was not ideal, but I'll survive. Less than 6 weeks until Cyprus and Christmas! Needless to say I began looking for masters in Barcelona, but I don't think that's happening... definitely revisiting though, definitely. 

© All photos were taken by me (Alice Karayiannis, 2015)