About Cristina

My life abroad started in 2011 when I moved to London from my hometown, Lisbon. Living in a different country is a permanent challenge, sometimes gracious, sometimes blue and often an awkward adventure. Writing a blog in English is a part of this journey that I will now share and hope to make it a bit more richer and funnier everyday.

It has been a long, long time!

Since I came here for the last time. Anyway, lots to do, lots to think about. In the meantime, Alex interviewed me for his project BlogAbout.London. Take a peek here.

Nice interview, interesting project. And the best part is that all Londoners can contribute with photos or writings. Hope you enjoy it and feel inspired!

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Crete, a pleasant surprise #1

I was quietly sitting at home when I received an invitation to my Gcal to be ready to take off from Gatwick to an unknown destination just 10 days ahead. It happen my boyfriend prepared a surprise where I had to chase for clues until I realised we were going to Crete for a week. Great idea, lovely boyfriend!

Although I wouldn’t say no to most travel destinations, some are on my bucket list for a long time and some I wouldn’t consider until others are ticked off. Crete was one of those destinations. It sounded good but when it comes to the Greek Islands, Santorini was on the top of the list. And you know what? Not having a great expectation about a place can be a great thing! Crete is definitely a place to go back to, explore more, see more, try more foods and listen to more of its music and all the amazing things the island has to offer.
On our first day, after a not-so-good flight, we finally got to the hotel to be told that there has been a problem with our reservation and that we would have to be sent to a close by hotel for that first night. As way to apologise to us, they would upgrade us to All Inclusive and give us a room with a pool view. Although we weren’t particularly happy with this at first, it turned out to be a great thing!

I have never been a huge fan of resorts. Travelling seems much more real when you’re out there with all the other people, mingling with the locals, trying new foods and experiencing that new place with curious eyes. However, if all you want is to lay down for a couple of days, enjoy the sun and the sea and read a book, it is an option to consider. If you’re looking for a mix of these two things, this can still be a good choice as you’ll be able to experience the best of both worlds.

After a few days spent by the pool and sea, drinking cocktails and trying the amazing food the hotel offered, we rented a car so we could step outside and see the real Crete. We headed to the west side of the island through endless olive trees plantations, rough roads and huge mountains. After a couple of stops to have some refreshments, we got to Falasarna. And that is a magical place! Seen from above this is a weird and wonderful scenery: the brown mountains falling into an inviting light blue sea, a sandy beach and olive trees; lots of olive trees. On our way down to the beach we stopped at a caravan selling local produce: olive oil, honey and liquor. We would see these small stalls all along the way through those roads, sitting in improbable places where one might think nothing would ever happen and no one would ever stop. But we did and so did a group of German tourists with whom we would end up having a chat about the wonders of Greece and football.

Diving in this amazing sea was inevitable once we got to the beach. I must confess I was expecting it to be a bit warmer but it was good enough to stay in for a while. The beach wasn’t overcrowded and spending a couple of hours sticking my feet in the sand, eating a beach doughnut and enjoying the sun was nothing less than wonderful. In fact, my oldest memories include lying on the sand by the sea building sand castles, which we also did to see it destroyed by each wave hitting the shore.

Falasarna

Falasarna was one of the most enjoyable places we’ve been in Crete. If you, like me, are a beach person, there’s nothing there not to love it! But the day was going by and there were lots of places to go to yet so we hit the road again. Next destination: Elafonisi.

On Minimalism

I am interested in Minimalism. I like the concept, I believe in the benefits of adopting this lifestyle and want to go for it. I like that it is adaptable to everyone’s lives and self boundaries. What works for some doesn’t work for others and only each person is able to set the limits of how far they want to go.

When I moved to the UK I left most of my possessions in Portugal. I moved with 2 suitcases packed with a few Winter clothes, a pack of bed linen and some personal things, from hygiene stuff to 3 or 4 books. That was all that I had. Slowly I added to it some more books (left behind by my first flatmate) and more clothes and personal objects that I was bringing from each travel to Portugal. When I moved to this flat over a year ago, I was living in a room that literally could fit a double bed and a bed table. I was amazed with how many stuff I was able to keep in such a small space. Through all this time I kept things that were dear to me and due to the lack of space (and money) I didn’t acquired much but I had enough to keep me going. Going through this “forced” minimalism, made me actually readjust my priorities in regards to how many things I have and how many things I should get rid off. It is always difficult and there is no easy way to do it. We are attached to our things: first of all, they are ours. Then, there is a part of us that tell us that one day in the future we may regret having given them away, that we may still need it and want it, that we’re going to lose weight and that that skirt is going to fit perfectly again. That may be true but in the meantime it’s clutter, there’s no use to it.

This made thing of how much of this feeling is real and how much of it comes from a need for safety. There is a lot from the latter, I’m sure. Having realised this and reading a lot on the subject, I would really like to start decluttering my life. There are too many stuff around the house I don’t need: old laptops, old phones, old clothes, old shoes. Stuff I don’t want but unless I give them a better destiny they will just end up as a burden, wether because they occupy precious space – we live in a London flat, you know what that means, right?-, or because we will have to carry them with us when we move (news approaching soon!) taking unecessary space and time from us.

After a while thinking about this, I finally approached G. on it. I must confess that I knew it wasn’t going to be taken that easily. Although he is aware of the limited space we have, he – like me – is an avid consumer for certain items. I think there are too many gadjets around. He mentioned we didn’t need as many books as the ones on the shelves. We will definitely need to reach a compromise here. If getting rid of my clothes will be hard, getting rid of my books is clearly taking this minimalism thing to a higher level. One that I am not ready to reach yet.

But the cards are on the table now. We aim to move soon and – if not before – we will slowly start decluttering. One thing here, another there. A shelve at a time and we’ll get to a point where things will get out of our way. I don’t see myself in the future as someone who will live free from all possessions. I prefer this vision of myself where I have enough to make my life comfortable but without too much stuff rattling my way.

Whether I will ever be a minimalist or I have already been adopting this philosophy to my life (out of necessity rather than choice), I don’t want to get stuck in the label. Either way, wish me luck!

Image

Image seen here.