An Ode To London.

I still remember the days before I had seen you.
Before my eyes had witnessed all your dirty glory for themselves.
The days where I’d sit for hours on end at the family computer examining google maps of you.
Closely.
Very closely.
I would google different things about you,
restaurants, theatres, museums, drama schools, universities.
My screen name on MSN messenger was “London Martyr…”
(I always had a knack for the melodramatic)
and I knew way to much about you, for a person who hadn’t had the privilege of being in you.
I can’t remember when it was,
but I decided that the year I turned 15, was going to be the year I finally got to see you.
So help me God.
And God did help me,
a friend of mine was going with her family and asked if I wanted to join.
And I did.
Booooooy, did I want to join!
You didn’t disappoint me.
In fact you had me gasping for more.
When I finished school, I decided to spend almost four months pretending to be a real Londoner.
It was hard.
I cried a lot.
Not gonna lie.
But you taught me so many things.
And no matter how hard you treated me,
I never fell out of love with you.
You are still my dream,
the dream,
my final destination.
(still have a tendency towards the melodramatic).
There have been – and will be – many places, that I call home.
Where I will feel and have felt
safe,
secure,
happy,
but never really satisfied,
because that just wouldn’t be like me, now, would it?
And when I finally one day decide on a place to reside for a long time,
that place is just going to have to know it’s place,
for it will
surely,
certainly,
without a doubt,
be cheated on,
by me,
with you.
They say that home is where your heart is
and part of mine
will always be
with you.

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A x

Late night cooking!

What do you do when it’s 18.30 and dark outside and you’ve done almost nothing all day? I’ll tell you what; you go to the store and get a big ass pumpkin and some more goodies. You then come home and make a pumpkin soup and cookies!

Manu and her friend the pumpkin.

Manu and her friend the pumpkin.

Getting that pumping meat out!

Getting that pumping meat out!

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DAIRY & GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE AVOCADO COOKIES in the making!  Recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/dairy-gluten-free-chocolate-avocado-cookies/ We swapped the egg for about a teaspoon of maize starch, to make them vegan. Didn't add Xanthan Gum as the flour we chose had other starch to bind the dough.

DAIRY & GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE AVOCADO COOKIES in the making!
We swapped the egg for about a teaspoon of maize starch, to make them vegan. Didn’t add Xanthan Gum as the flour we chose had other starch to bind the dough.

a full stove <3

a full stove <3

PUMPKIN AND GINGER SOUP in the making! Recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes-view.php?title=pumpkin-and-ginger-soup Spicy as heck with one tablespoon harissa straight from Tunisia. Check the heat of your chili powder before adding! We also roasted the pumpkin seeds!

PUMPKIN AND GINGER SOUP in the making!
Spicy as heck with one tablespoon harissa straight from Tunisia. Check the heat of your chili powder before adding!
We also roasted the pumpkin seeds!

Roasted the pumpkin seeds in some olive oil in a pan. Added a bit of sea salt! Yum!

Roasted the pumpkin seeds in some olive oil in a pan. Added a bit of sea salt! Yum!

Finished product!

Finished product!

The avocado cookies were a gum orgasm! Best thing I've had in a while! A cup of Yogi Sweet Chai tea with Alpro's new coconut milk went perfectly with them!

The avocado cookies were a gum orgasm! Best thing I’ve had in a while! A cup of Yogi Sweet Chai tea with Alpro’s new coconut milk went perfectly with them!

I’m so happy to have my little Manu here! I can’t believe it actually! It’s amazing!! Thank you Almighty Everything for putting this amazing person in my life!!!

A x

Ain’t no superwoman, apparently.

I go through my life thinking I’m invincible… Never did I think that I’d be beaten down so early. I guess I didn’t relax enough, since I came home. I spent one week in Stockholm, doing things, meeting people all the time and when I came home to Norrköping I started working and exercising straight away. I’ve already been to a concert and the cinema and started sorting my things out (something that will take much longer that I thought…). Yesterday I decided to do a 90 minute spinning/easy line class. It was great, I felt strong and happy and got lots of energy out of it. Afterwards I was invited by two dear friends of mine to dinner and a movie. I had to stress into the shower and when I got to the restaurant I had to quickly eat something, not to miss the movie. I ordered a greek salad, which obviously had way too little nutrition after that super training class. I couldn’t sleep all night and I woke up feeling very weak and had pains all over my back. I haven’t done anything all day and I still feel weak. I guess I ain’t no superwoman… Dang it, I really thought I was. Anyway, this feeling weak nonsense has got to be over by tomorrow. Some more work, sorting out my “room” and getting back on the exercise horse is on tomorrow’s schedule. Ain’t nobody got time to be ill. If I’m going to do this, I need to focus more on what I eat and consuming the right amount of everything I need everyday. And don’t forget to drink lots of water, folks! Take care of yourselves and don’t get hubris, like me.

A x

Stage Magic.

Den Svenska Björnstammen and Markus Krunegård was the perfect Norrköping cocktail on stage yesterday. It was the sixth time I saw Markus Krunegård on stage (Laakso concerts counted) and it’s always very special to see him play in Norrköping. I saw Björnstammen live for the first time and it was of course just as special to see them in all of our home town. The concert awoke a lot of feelings in me.

Nostalgia for example, to see the boys that once “were” Kulturhuset in Norrköping, a place to go and hang out with the cultural youth of the town, the place I went to see gigs with really good local bands. I was a part of the student council of the Culture School, where I went to learn to play the violin and we arranged Culture Cafés at Kulturhuset. We worked together with Åke, Klas, Ambjörn and Mattias, guys that are now parts of a famous artist collective, with big hits, that have had huge audiences on the biggest stages of the biggest festivals in Sweden. All I see on stage, except for a great show with lots of energy and amazing musicians, is that guy I went to school with, we were never close, but it’s strange what drama lessons can do, you get to know people automatically, because you have to be so vulnerable and open for everything. I see those guys that were people that most of my friends knew or knew of or stalked. Then I see a young girl go crazy when they go on stage and I have to smile, it’s strange how differently we see people.

Whenever I see Markus Krunegård I throw back to when I was 16 and had dinner sat next to him. Trying to be cool, telling myself he’s just another friend of my brother’s, nobody special, while my heart was thumping and I had difficulties getting my wok down, completely starstruck. He is still just a friend of my brother’s, but he is also one of my favourite singers and – above all – songwriters. His songs have meant to much for me, and that is something big. He’s not just anyone, not for me. He will always make me starstruck, but maybe for other reasons than those I had when I was 16, that night in Oslo, that I will never forget.

Markus was called in twice after his last song. He finished off by playing one of my favourite songs, Stjärnfallet (I once translated it, take a look!). It was him on guitar and song and one more guy on accordion and in the end it was just a big choir consisting of everyone in the audience. Chills were going down my spine and I was standing there holding my mum’s hand, feeling aaaaaaall the feels. Markus came back on stage a third time to thank everybody and a tear aaaaaalmost hit my cheek.

Thanks mommy, for a great night. Today has been a nice relaxing mother-daughter day as well. I feel so happy at the moment and I’m so thankful for my amazing mother.

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A x

Day 1 of my new life (again, but this time with more motivation than ever.)

Got up at 6.00, did my Arms Challenge and Abs & Squats Challenge, had a sturdy breakfast and went off to work for 9 hours with kids. Funny enough I’ve been full of energy all day, it’s been so great. (Never have I ever gotten up at six to do sit-ups and felt awake…) After work I had a bit of a shopping spree, bought a new suitcase (finallyyyy don’t have to drag my old crappy one along, my new one has FOUR wheels! I’m a bit too excited over this). Me and momma then proceeded to check out our new local oriental shop. They had such nice fresh (CHEAP!) veggies and all the yummy, healthy, exciting, imported foods from Turkey, Lebanon, Bosnia, Cyprus (unfortunately no Greek stuff) that we love, for very good prices. I think we are their new favourite customers. We had a proper spree and at the check out the guy behind the cashier gave us two snickers with the receipt, I said SHOUKRAN (thank you) in my best arabic, got a happy AFOUAN (you’re welcome) back and I promised myself to be a regular in their shop! Before I could earn my evening falafel however, I had to use my freshly purchased membership card in the gym. I thought, go hard or go home and had a CXWORX session. Woah. It was the sweatiest, most muscle-turning-into-mush 30 minutes I’ve had in a while. I have to do it again soon! ;) Now, I’m going to go have a shower and then read my book in bed and cuddle up to my momma (yes, I am 23 and yes, I do occasionally share a bed with my mum, try it, it’s cosy as hell!) Tomorrow is going to be filled with more excitement than I can yet fathom! Goodnight and take care of each other out there!

A x

AFRICANA OLÉ!

I tried to blog about my big adventure in Africa, but I soon realised that not only did I not have enough time, but there were way too many emotions, events, sweat, tears and laughs to write about. I simply couldn’t digest it all in time to write about it, before there was something new going on. Now I’m sat in a coffee shop in Stockholm and everything feels so normal and still so weird. I’m not even sure how to write about my summer in a way that makes any sense to anybody, but I will do my best.

In the beginning I was very confused and exhausted. There was so much to learn and so many impressions. I felt stupid sometimes, like I could never learn it all in time to do a good job. I tried to stay in the background and learn, but at the same time I had to get right in there, because the other girls needed my help. It took me 3 to 4 weeks to feel like I knew what I was doing. One thing that didn’t change, was the feeling of being tired like ALL THE TIME. I was prepared to work a lot and I usually don’t have any problems doing so, but I never realised how important it is for me to have some alone time. To have long breaks every now and again and be able to hang out with myself. There was not much of that and it started tearing me apart. After moving rooms two times I ended up sharing one with my Teddy Bärli, which was amazing, it finally felt like I had a home in Tunisia. But no matter how much I love her and loved our little home, I still didn’t get much alone time and this is just one of 1000000 things I’ve learnt about myself this summer, now I know that I need to consider this for any future adventures.

I was so excited to go to Tunisia. I had some sort of dreamt up “1000 and one nights” Arabian fantasy expectation that soon was smashed down with the power of Ali Baba and all of his 40 thieves. This country has the possibility of being so beautiful, but I get the feeling that no one cares enough to make it happen. It’s dirty, empty and stinky and I find that so sad. The people are over all very friendly, as long as you are friendly to them. But one of the things that really put me off and that also was one of the reasons I decided to leave earlier (more on that later) is the way you are treated there, as a young foreign woman. Never mind the cat calling and looks that you can sometimes get from random men in Europe, this is a completely other level. As soon as we left the secure walls of the 5 star resort we called our home, (but literally AS SOON AS, you didn’t even have time to count to 10) we had one or more men talking to us,trying to touch us, whistling at us, following us and for some reason they all want to know where we’re from (Greece was not an acceptable answer, they wouldn’t believe me). Inside the hotel I felt like a prisoner, who either had to stay in my room or represent a company and be overly friendly and talk to everybody all the time, and outside the hotel I never felt safe. Adding to that there was literally nothing to do and nowhere to go except for a couple of shops and one or two nice restaurants and on my short breaks I prioritised sleeping or at least just breathing a little in my room.

At the end of July however, I started having troubles breathing. It all became way too much for me and even though I did like my actual work, in the Mungo Club with the kiddos, I couldn’t even do a good enough job there. I was going through everything in my head. Back and forth. Forth and back. A bit sideways. Twisting it around. Going crazy. I didn’t talk to many people about it, because I knew that I needed to make this decision by myself. There was a constant plea to myself in my brain: “Darling, you’ve got to let me know, should I stay or should I go!?”. What you need know about me is that I’ve never quit ANYTHING in my life. In my teenage years I wanted to do everything and learn everything and go everywhere so much that I had stress fits almost every night. I had some activity every afternoon after school and added homework and meeting friends to that.
I have had jobs that I didn’t feel 100% satisfied at before, but I’ve fought through them seeing the future, counting the days, trying to focus on the positive things. This time however, for the first time ever, I didn’t feel like there was enough reason for me to continue. I had seen it, I had realised it wasn’t for me, I had already learnt so many things and I felt so unhealthy, unhappy and given up, falling apart. I needed to go. Making the decision to quit and go home earlier than planned was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but also one of the most rewarding, freeing and important ones. I am so proud of myself for finally having done something for me. When i finally made my decision and went through with it, the process was longer than I’d excepted and added more stress to the situation, the first half of August was just a blur of trying to get through the situation, but when it was all finalised and I had my Confirmation of Termination e-mail in my inbox, I could finally breath and do a good job for the rest of my stay. And even though I couldn’t wait to leave and go home, the closer to the end it got, the harder it was to leave it all behind. This place had become my home away from (all my other) home(s). You get used to places and people so easily.

Talking about people, the main reason I didn’t go completely bonkers, is my beloved Africana family. I will cherish you all in my heart forever! I have met so many people this summer and they have all given me so much, taught me so much about myself, themselves and life in general. I have had good and bad confrontations with people, but in the end I want to thank every single soul that I’ve met this summer. From the people who became my family and closest friends, to the people that I never got to know deeply, but always were there for me and showed me a good time, to the people that showed me that I don’t need to like everybody and keep everybody close to me, that I cannot click with everyone and that that’s ok, to the people that made a very short appearance in the play that is my life, but certainly all brought something to the mix and last but absolutely not least, to all the children that I’ve had the honour and privilege to meet and hang out with this summer, you gave me so much and it will stay with me forever. Thank you for everything! (Of course a special thank you to the whole Club Magic Life Africana Imperial Team of summer 2014, to you who were there from the beginning, to you who left halfway in, to you who joined in the middle and at the end, i will never forget any of you!)

Now, I’m sat in a coffee shop in central Stockholm, looking out the window and seeing the beautiful swedish architecture, cars with swedish number plates, people rushing by and the tip of my nose is cold for the first time in a very long time. As much as I enjoy it, it’s also a very weird feeling being here. It feels like I never was gone, like it was all just a dream. At the same time I am a changed person, I’ve had so many lessons for life and I’ve added so many people to my extended family. I don’t regret anything that happened this summer. From all the bad things to all the amazing, they were all a part of the big picture. Part of the lesson of life that will one day make me who I am.

I am going to stop rambling and go meet my best friend now. Hope to make writing into a routine again, now that I have more time on my hands.

Lots of love to all my friends around the world,

A x

Sehnsucht.

I’ve been here for two and a half weeks now. They have gone by fast and at the same time it feels like I’ve been here forever. They have been up and they have been down. I have met some great people and I have had some great times. Right now six months seem like a very long time though. I have the feeling that I have enough places in my place bank, I don’t have any space left in me to fall in love with yet another place. There are three places I physically ache to be in right now:

1. Crete

I thought coming here, having the sea just next to me, the similar climate and working in tourism, I would miss Greece less, I would feel more at home. I was wrong. It makes me miss Crete more. It feels like I grasped for gold and caught silver. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful here, I’m all for new experiences and adventures and I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I just miss home. It’s been two years since I was there. It’s way too long. Hersonissos, Crete will always be my heart’s home. And I just need to go home and smell the smells, see the colours – the pink bougainvillea, the turquoise sea, the white houses. I need to walk up and down the little alleys in the warm, dark evenings and think. I need to taste real tomatoes, cucumber, yoghurt, menthe, oregano, feta cheese, fish, olive oil, wine. I need to see the villages where I grew up. I need to be in my comfort zone. Between the mountains and the sea. With people who knew me pre Sweden. With people who knew and loved my father. It actually hurts, that’s how much I miss it.

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Xarakas, my home mountain. <3

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The House where I grew up, in the middle of the picture.

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2. Alpbach

Since I first stepped foot there in 2006 I have been in love with this village. Having been there three seasons in a row (winter-summer-winter) it has really become a part of me. I love being there. I love waking up, looking out my window and be surrounded by mountains. Wether green or white, they make my heart skip a beat and my breathing heavier every time. I can never get used to their magnificence. I feel truly blessed to have Alpbach in my life. Complete with all the lovely people that live there or come and go like me. It has bewitched me. Strangely enough I can actually see myself settling down there one day. I certainly know that I can never live without it again and that I want nothing more than a chance to go to Dorffest and get some weeks there without work, with friends to climb some mountains and drink some wine in the alp summer nights.

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3. My childhood

The one place that i can never go back to. The one place that I always wish I could visit again. Hersonissos may still be my heart’s home, but it will never be the same as it was in the 90’s. I will never be a child again. I will never put two chairs together next to my mother at the restaurant and fall asleep knowing that she will carry me home when the time comes. I will never again think that getting a helium balloon is the greatest joy in the world. I will never sit in my father’s lap again. Go to kindergarten and run around pretending flowers and stones are food. Completely rely on other people to fix everything for me, make me feel secure. I get the feeling so often that I want to be a child again. I had the best childhood anyone could ask for. I grew up in Hersonissos in it’s golden days with all the best people. I can never have it back, but no one can take it away from me either. I just wish I could visit it sometimes.

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Here’s a little reminder I found in a phone booth in Hersonissos:
(The more you look back, the less you go forward! ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD!)
Note to self.

But, I’m not complaining. This is something I need to do. I will be in Hersonissos, Norrköping, Göteborg, Alpbach, London, places that i feel at home, before I know it. And I will be one experience richer! I wish you all a summer rich with new experiences, sun and love.

A x

LOOTB #622: Lillete

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Originally posted on LOOTB Gives:
This beautiful young lady is Lillete. She is 14 years old, her favorite subject in school is Math and when she grows up she wants to be a professional volleyball player! We met her in…

Day off.

My first day off was very relaxing. All the entertainers have a day off every Tuesday, so I hung out and got to know the others a bit better today. Me and an even newer girl, who arrived on Sunday, took a walk to the Marina and did some shopping for exciting things like cleaning supplies. Otherwise what we have done today is eat, basically. On day off we get to wear our own clothes and use almost all the facilities of the hotel like a guest. We get to sit together and eat and don’t have to do guest contact. So we had a pig out breakfast, two lunches, afternoon cake and coffee and dinner… It was amazing. I don’t think I’ll be hungry before Thursday. The weather wasn’t that much better today, so I didn’t get my much longed for swim in the sea. I did however get an unexpected sunburn. Never trust the clouds here, apparently. Tomorrow it’s on it like a bonnet again! My first presentation and Mungo story. Woop!

A x