Il ritorno dopo Natale…

Ciao a tutti,

and a Happy New Year!!

I am back here to start the 2020 with a lot of energy, new experiences and food, of course. For the Christmas holidays I went back in Greece to see my family and my friends and enjoy some time in my home.

My feelings were mixed…

2019 memories photo

Before even leaving from Faenza to start my trip back to Athens I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to return. I had to stay in Italy to see how is Christmas time for the Italians and have this experience, too. But, my tickets were already paid and I couldn’t chance my mind so easily -after all, I think I already told you that I don’t have that much money to spent…-.

So, I returned in Greece and I landed in Athens. After a long journey I was finally home, in my bed sleeping during the afternoon because I was really tired from the flight and the change of the environment. I woke up at the right time to start my first night out in Athens and meet my friends. And that is how everything started….

I spent a week in Athens going out every single night and having fun. Of course with a bit of sleep and a lot of food. I saw all my friends and we had so much fun that after a point I almost forgot that I live in Italy now. After this fun and exhausting at the same time week, I took the bus to visit my parents and surprise them. They had no idea that I am going to my hometown to see them, even though they were literally begging me to go I was always telling them that I don’t have the time. Their reaction was precious!

I spent New Years Eve with them in our small village, in which they have a small, beautiful and traditional coffee shop. It was exactly what I needed after the previous week. I relaxed near the fireplace, I drunk coffees and hot chocolates, I took long walks with my dogs and I ate a lot for an other time. I also helped them if it was needed.

After 4 days with them, I returned to Athens to start getting ready to come back here, in Italy, in the magical Faenza. But, I never expected that for another time I didn’t wanted to go away. I got comfortable in Greece, with all these people around me that I love and it was really hard to come back here. I had to sit and think about all the positive and negative things to realize for another time that the opportunity to be here is amazing and I don’t want to change a thing.

After all, I am going back in Greece soon…

Danai, Greece

Il primo addio…

Hello from the other siiiiide (a little bit of Adele suits this sad article),

I am the Greek one, the known, the entertaining one that likes to speak about her weekends, Italian food and drinks. This blogging thing is starting to kinda like me…

My last blog was a travel blog, giving you some new information about Brisighella, a small but beautiful city of Italy, just ten minutes away from Faenza. So, I covered the travelling part and I am coming for another time to talk to you about the drama part of the everyday life of a volunteer in Faenza.

Brisighella

Well, we are doing international projects and taking this amazing opportunity that European Union is giving us. Of course, there are a lot of good things to tell about this experience, but there also some bad things and this is the main reason that I am writing this article.

Let’s start from the good parts so we can proceed to the sad and difficult parts…

One of the best things is the contact with the new culture. For me the Italian culture wasn’t so unknown. I was studying Italian Language and Literature back in Greece and I had a basic knowledge of the language, the culture and the Italian lifestyle. In this way, you might never read from me that I have a huge cultural shock or something like that. Also, as the time passes by I am realizing more and more how similar are the Italians with the Greeks. Regarding the lifestyle it is like I am still living in Greece, going out the same amount of time, be socialized and it is not a big deal if I talk with people I don’t know. The only difference is that I am speaking Italian.

Another really interesting fact is the job that I am doing here. It is not a regular work, you don’t feel like you are having a boss upon your head that anytime can start screaming at you. Also, it is pretty cool the fact that as a volunteer there are a lot of things that you can do. I mean, I am a volunteer, if help is needed and I can contribute, I will be there. In this way, the activities that I am choosing are a lot and different also. I am really enjoying this variety of occupations.

But, sadly I have to move one to share with you a really difficult part of the ESC life and in general of the life living away from your home. There are times that you are feeling home-sick and that’s logical. Your friends and your family are away, you are talking with them on phone or Skype but there aren’t next to you when you need a hug. Especially the first days of the arrival in a new country, a new city and society you have this feeling all the time. You are feeling alone…

Here comes the EVS opportunity to shine up your day and put some other volunteers beside you to share this experience and of course these emotions. When you are with people, even unknown at the moment, that you are sharing all these new things; it could make you feel more safe and loved and can help you to overcome a little bit your loneliness.

So, one of these guys, next to my side, sleeping in the next room of mine and sharing the everyday life in work and in the apartment, was Raquel. She was a Spanish, crazy and really interesting girl that we lived together for 2 and a half months. We became friends from the first moment -but no, to be sincere, we needed about a week to be sure-. We used to study together but in the middle of studying we started talking and stopping at midnight. Raquel was the reason that I put apart my fear and stress to talk in Italian and I actually started communicate with the locals. She, Greta -our other flatmate that I am promising that I will write something about her, too- and me had a lot of fun, a bunch of amazing moments and an extraordinary everyday life.

But, in conclusion, and of course the reason that I said that this is one bad and sad parts of the international volunteering experience, the project of Raquel finished and she had to return to Spain. We had a party, an after party and a tearful goodbye session. I still can’t realize that she is gone and I am expecting her to return for a trip in another city of Italy or something like that. In any case, I hate goodbyes, I am really bad at those…

Goodbye -the irony-,

Danai, Greece

Aperitivo con altri volontari…

Ciao carissimi lettori,

and continuing in English as usual…

So, here I am, the Greek volunteer, to entertain you and keep you posted for another time. The life here in the beautiful and small Faenza goes on with calm and happiness. I am really appreciating that I am working for an organization (SE.M.I association) that keeps me motivated, find all the time new things to occupy me and I am never bored.

I mean, I was used to work a lot back in Greece and there was a time last year that I was doing three different works in the same time and I managed to handle it and enjoy it in the same moment. As you could understand in the start here I was afraid that I might be bored. A job with specific working hours and not many to be sincere, in an office like a normal human being and without the necessity to run like crazy all day, all of these things made me wonder if I could managed them. I know that sounds crazy but I was used to it, to run like hell and change two jobs everyday, then come back to my apartment with my energy levels in the lowest possible point.

Likely, the situation here is not like that. Even though, I work in an office the most of the time and I have specific work hours, I am occupied the most of the time. The association finds new things for me to do everyday and I feel like they understood me from the first moment, I am an active and a little workaholic person, I am finding new activities to do all the time.

Another thing that I am, is a communicative person. I mean, I have too my personal daily limits in communication, but they are pretty high. I love communicating and meeting people for the first time. And for another time, SE.M.I didn’t let me down…

I am almost two months in Italy now and I socializing with the other volunteers that we work together and also with some Italians that I met through my activities. The things is… I wanted more. One part of the ESC experience is travelling all year, explore the new country that you are currently living. So if you combine these two you can easily understand that I want to meet volunteers for other cities in Italy. And the organization saw that need of mine, but need of other volunteers too.

Our coordinator organized an aperitivo in a city near to Faenza, Forli. Forli has a big team of volunteers and also we met other three guys from Cesena. All together, a team close to 25 people, we managed to find a table in a place a little away from the station, but really nice.

The majority of the volunteers were Spanish or at least spoke the language because they were from Ecuador or Argentina. At this point I have to note that Spanish people in Italy are sooooooo many. We have two in our team too, but in Forli there were too many. Also, you have to know that I love Spanish people. When you do programs like SVE you are dealing also with cultural gaps and differences, which is truly interesting if you are asking me, but also can create problems. To conclude, with Spanish people I feel really close and I can communicate easily, they are cool and fun in every situation, I am enjoying their company and I made already a lot of Spanish friends.

Back to the aperitivo after a small pause, it was amazing knowing all these new people from all around the world. We shared our stories, we talked about our jobs in Italy, our experiences here and of course we exchanged number so we could meet again. As the true face of a party animal, I may be in Forli this weekend to party with them to an event that they recommended me.

Pretty much that’s it for this week, I think I shared enough with you my lucky readers. I think that there is no need to highlight that the ESC experience is the best and you certainly have to try it.

Arrivederci,

Danai, Greece

Veloce e Facile..

Ciao a tutti,

Sono io, la volontaria greca, per ancora una volta! And as always I am continuing writting in English. How are you today? I am currently feeling melancholic, because we have a moody and rainy weather here today and I am always ready to hug my ”dark side” days like that.

It’s been almost two months that I am living in Faenza and ten more to go -if I go haha-. The volunteering work goes on and my days here passing by really quick while working with the communication part of the organization, the social media and organizing international projects. I like all of the parts, that I am currently working on, and I am pretty happy about it.

Usually, I am talking to you, my lucky readers, about my weekend adventures and the trips that I am doing every time. This time, the topic of the blog is a little different. It has to do with my weekend, but not with a trip, it has to do with Faenza.

This weekend I tried to save some money and I decided not to go away from Faenza. Also, the weather was rainy and cold so I and my roommates decided to stay put, in our beautiful and pretty warm house and enjoy a weekend in the moody Faenza.

Friday evening after our office hours and our Italian lessons we did the thing that is pretty much a tradition by now, we drunk wine -a lot of wine- and we ate pizza. At this point, I strongly believe in the therapeutic effect of this tradition of ours. It’s our own way to move away for the everyday life and leave behind the possible stress and negative energy. It is our way to say ”Hello weekend”. So, the Friday night went smoothly like that and we had all the Saturday morning to sleep.

So I did. I slept until 11.00 o’clock and full of energy I started my day. I went with my friends to the market to buy some vegetables and fruits -because after pizza always I am telling myself that I have to start eating healthy- but unfortunately the first thing that I am seeing when I am going to the market from my apartment is the stents with the clothes. I don’t know if I already talked to you about my obsession but I am a bit of a shopaholic. I can’t keep my eyes and my hands of clothes. It’s a problem -a REAL problem- especially when you don’t have money. Anyways, I bought two scarfs -which I needed and costed only 4 euros in total- and then moved on in the vegetable and fruits plan of mine. After this small walk, we went for a quick coffee and the evening for an aperitivo -I hope that you remember that is one of my favorite Italian traditions-. The most interesting part of this Saturday was that we managed to try some new things here. We went for dinner in a restaurant, which seems more like a drive-in restaurant, and we tried the traditional piadina, an other thing you looks like a calzone but it’s a little bit different and last but not least we tried a fried pizza.

As you can understand, I am on a diet!

Sunday morning went by with sleeping until late and then studying a little bit so I don’t feel like I am not doing something serious all weekend. After lunch, we went for a coffee and an ice-cream and out of the blue we found ourselves in a local catwalk that was also the highlight for the town and everybody was there. After a huge try to see some models and outfits we went back to our house a little tired and ready to chill some more.

This is pretty much my life in Faenza..

Until the next time,

Danai, Greece

Firenze: Una città bella ma ”piena come un uovo”…

Ciao a tutti,

Sono qui per ancora una volta e con un nuovo travel blog! Or better I can keep going on with English. Sooo, I am still here, still living, working in Faenza and still travelling. For this week I have a really special city to talk to you about, but as you already understood we are going to speak for Florence!

One of the most famous cities in Italy, that I am sure everybody have heard about it, is Florence. Is a city with a huge history background from Medici and Renascence until the Modern Italian Ages. Easily can somebody say that while walking around the city seems like you are moving through the rooms of a museum. There is something to see in every corner of this city and you can easy fill your camera with beautiful pictures of Florence.

I think these are enough as an introduction for this town, so let’s move smoothly on my personal experience.

Here in Italy the 1st of November is actually a bank holiday and lucky me, happened this year to be a Friday. As you can imagine it was the perfect opportunity for me to start my trip from Friday, since I didn’t worked. I took a train at 10.00 o’clock in the morning and after two hours of an amazing route with the train, between mountains and cloudy autumn trees, I was finally in Florence. I had a date with a friend, in which house I stayed these days, in the central station of the city and from the first minute we started to explore Florence.

After a quick look in the city center I realized that Florence is a touristic destination, but a REALLY TOURISTIC DESTINATION. People were everywhere and it is getting extremely difficult to see the famous sights of the city. People are everywhere, you can’t move easily and of course in every place you have to wait a long to drink, eat, order etc.

One of the first things I actually wanted to do in Florence it was eating because I hadn’t had breakfast -as usual as we are talking about me- and I was pretty hungry around 2.00 o’clock. So, we tried the most famous place to eat in town, ”All’ Antico Vinaio”, and from the very first moment I was scared. There are three shops under the same name in the same street and the people were making huge lines to wait for a panini. Of course, I started complaining and begging my friend to find something else, but eventually she convinced me and I don’t regret it. After an 1 hour waiting we finally got our Panini and it was really delicious, maybe the best thing I ate in Italy so far.

After that really long waiting, we visited some of the sights in the town but I didn’t actually enjoyed them enough because of the people who were everywhere and in big, big numbers. The last thing that we did and it was maybe the thing I liked the most, -even though it was a little bit far from the city center-it was to visit the Michelangelo’s Square which is up to a hill and you can see all Florence from up there. The view is incredible and even though the people was pretty much for another time -I know you are bored for reading this today-, I enjoyed my time up there, listening to smooth music and drinking beer.

We went back home at 8.00 o’clock and we had plans to party a little bit in Florence by night, but as you can imagine all my energy was spent in only one morning in the town and just dealing with this huge number of people.

The next day we were expecting an other friend for ours, a fella volunteer as me and he was in town around 10.00 o’clock. Also he had a problem with all these people as me, but a bigger one. Our original plan was to stay in Florence since Sunday so we can visit for free all the famous museums in the city -because every first Sunday of the month you can enjoy a free entrance in all museums-, but after all we felt really tired in this town and I was started getting pissed off with this crowd of tourists.

We started our trip back in Saturday evening and around 9.00 o’clock in the night we were back in our quiet and rainy Faenza. We decided to make a common dinner and we drunk our two bottles of wine in the peace and quiet of our apartment, while enjoying quiet and calm conversation.

Yes, you got it right, it’s pretty crazy down there in Florence. I am voting ”Pass”, but I really don’t want to influence you, just take a visit too and tell me your opinion.

Until the next time…

Ci vediamo,

Danai, Greece

Un po’ di mare, non fa mai male!

Ciao a tutti e a tutte,

Come state oggi? Or if you prefer in English, how are you today?

Here the winter is upon as. I think that I am repeating myself, but I am cooooold! Thankfully the past weekend the weather was sunny and I felt a little bit like home, even though I wore a jacket and in Greece you need only a T-shirt and you can still drink cold coffee. Never mind, I was happy just for the sun.

As you may already understood, I am planning to talk with you about my weekend because I did an other, new and adventurous trip, I visited Rimini.

But first things first, this Saturday two Spanish friends came in Faenza and stayed with us for a night. They arrived here in the afternoon from Florence and we had the time to see all the city sights, because our pretty Faenza it’s really small. After our walk to the streets of the city with the company of ice-creams -which I have to stop eating at some point-, we decided to take pizza and wine and do an only-between-us-party.

** Ice-cream, pizza, alcohol you might think that I am living the dream but I can’t stop thinking about the calories. Thank God, I am sending photos to my friends and family every week so they could recognize my fat face in the airport.

The next morning we already had planned our trip to Rimini. I am sure that the most of you know the city, but for those who have no idea, Rimini is a city by the sea, high touristic destination in the summer and with a traditional Italian city center.

We started our trip at 9.40 in the morning and after 45 minutes and with the only cost of 6 euros, we were in Rimini. The day was sunny and warm so we decided first to visit the famous Rimini Beach. Even though we have almost November there was a lot of people in the beach, maybe not swimming, but enjoying the sun, drinking, having fun or exercise.

After an hour we decided to move and visit also the city center. I wrote in my Google maps the most famous square, Piazza Cavour, and after 20 minutes we were there. The city center is traditional with high and imposing buildings that I have noticed in all the Italian cities that I have been so far. We saw a lot of the cities sights such as Arco D’ Augusto, Templo Malatestiano, Ponte di Tiberio, Piazza Tre Martini and Caster Sismondo.

**Unlucky me, they have a market every Sunday in Rimini and I don’t have money. It was really difficult for me but I walked through it successfully and I didn’t bought anything.

We went around the city for hours and hours and of course we got hungry and tried a Piadina, a traditional food from Emiglia Romagna. The lady that made them was really, really, but seriously really slow moving and we waited for about 45 minutes but eventually we ate and it was worth the delay.

Although, to the others didn’t liked so much Rimini, I could imagine myself living there. It’s a pretty big city, with a lot things to do and new adventures to live.

We started our trip back to the cold but still loved Faenza at 5.00 o’ clock because our friends had to take the train back to Florence. It was an interesting weekend, full of people and new images. I hope also this weekend will be like this. I am currently planning to visit Rome and Naples, because we have a bank holiday in Friday 1st of November and I have to take this chance and travel!

Untill the next time,

Keep calm and travel the world!

Danai Nakou, Greece

M.E.I Music Festival in Faenza

Hello my lucky readers,

I can’t believe that I am already a week in Faenza, the time passes by really quick here…

I am currently working in the S.E.MI organization as a volunteer and every day I feel really lucky for this opportunity that the European Union has given to me. We have different activities, creative office hours and italian lessons so we will can interact with the local community really soon. In this way, the days of the week are full of new things to do and learn untill the weekend comes and it’s the proper time for… party!

I am from Greece -as you already know my little readers- and one of the things that we know to do best, is party! I finished work at Friday afternoon and I was ready to go home, eat and then going out to discover the nightlife of Faenza. The thing that I didn’t expected was the music that was played in all the city center.

What was that?

After a quick walk in the center of the town I realized that there was a music festival for independet and alternative artists, M.E.I Music Festival. The setting was perfect! There was like 4 or 5 different stages with all kinds of music and for all the ages. At the main square, Piazza del popolo, anyone could find a book market that also had second hand books – perfect things for me given that I am trying to learn italian so I could use an old book for practice- and they had a market with handmade clothes and accessories, too. The demons of consumerism inside me went like crazy and I think I lost a little bit in this small makret, I TOOK A LOT OF THINGS!

The next day, Saturday, the setting was the same but the musicians kept changing and offered all kinds of music to listen, dance and forget the stress from the week that passed. The streets of Faenza was full of people and the city was beautiful in every part of her, like she was wearing her best costume!

As it comes for me and my attitude this weekend, I tried to enjoy every little part of this festival. I am still pretty new in this town and I want to try all kinds of new staff, like tradition foods -PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA- and drinks. So, I did it, I ate a pizza, I drunk a spritz and I was happily dancing in the sounds of every band that we were meeting in the little streets of Faenza.

Untill the next time, Ciao…

A Greek is in Town

Hello to my lucky readers,

I am the last expected from this year’s voluntering programs (ESC) and I am finally in town. So many things to say, some many things to do and still don’t know how to start.

Funny, right?

I suppose that I can talk a little bit about the crazy and awesome opportunity that I have to come for a year and work as a volunteer in Italy. The European Union founds every year a lot of organizations to take volunteers and give them the best experience of their lives. This year I was one of the lucky, lucky ones and this organization in Italy, known as S.E.MI, saw something in me -I really don’t know what, I have to ask them at some point- and they chose me as a volunteer for a year in this little and beautiful Italian city, Faenza.

I arrived in this beautiful town of Faenza in a sunny Monday morning – I really hate Mondays, but that was a good one- and from the first moment I had the feeling that I was home. There are many differences between Italians and Greeks, for sure, but with the first impression, the energy that Italy and Italians give you feels a lot like the greek hospitality and kindness.

The first thing that everyone notices in Faenza is the medieval architecture with all these beautiful tall building, the huge wooden front doors, the vintage windows with the tiny balkonies and the small, traditional avenues. I think you can find it logical that I got lost from the first walk in this town. I mean, why people keep trusting me alone, right? Just kidding, I am pretty indipendent and I can find my way back in any case. But my first day here I really wanted to get lost in these small streets so I did it.

I also was really, really happy when I found Parco Bucci, a park full of animals like ducks, rabbits, swans and unfortunatelly pigeons -my greatest fear of all-. So, I desided to start healthy this year -as a resolution from the mainstream quote ”new town, new me”- and start running at this park everyday, even though I haven’t done it yet – it was raining,ok? I wasn’t bored-.

Parco Bucci, 02/10/2019

From the second day I started socializing with the other volunteers here and had a great time. We had a tour in the city of Faenza, we took all the necesities -because let’s face it, we are going to live here for a year, I need a lot, like A LOT- and then we tried some traditional things, foods and activities here.

So far so good, I don’t think that I can share anything else because we must have something to talk about the next time. For now…

Arrivederci!