(always late) Arrival to Ithaka


Glimpse into my life: A few days ago I finished university. I am now waiting for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot I am planning for the future: an MFA degree, as much travelling as possible, lots of writing and some work experience, of course. It is the very first step, a small victory allowing me to try for the next one. How much does it feel like one, though? – enough about me!

There is always a bittersweet taste when something ends, especially a part of your life you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed university. Of course, there is always someone with that typical saying  at the tip of their tongue: “one thing ends and another one begins”. Well, as much as this sounds helpful in the movies, in life things tend to get a little bit more complicated than that. There are people, places and habits you leave behind and the separation can be hard.

So this Sunday afternoon we are talking about the irony of dream-chase. I read a quote by Neil Gaiman recently and it instantly brought tears to my eyes because I now know how truthful it is: “the price of getting what you want is getting what you once wanted”. I usually forget quotes even the ones that really impress me but this one felt like a punch in the stomach and I don’t think I will ever be able to let it go. So let’s talk about it Let’s examine the tones of wisdom hidden in every word. 

Being people, we are made to evolve. We are made to change day by day, minute by minute and that change depends on our experiences. We’re not goldfish, we learn even from the slightest experience. As we change, our dreams alter so do our priorities and our values. That is very healthy and we should be open to it. It is  after all the only way in order to become better. But we also become more and more afraid because aside of the brilliance of independence, the always-growing strength, the depths of human affection and the beyond-the-sky levels of actually being when falling in love, we discover the edges of our pain tolerance – and there’s no such thing! -, the fear of being less than enough, the certainty that we never were enough in the first place and the realisation that life has a way of trapping us like mice inside our own choices, our own rights and wrongs, inside our minds. 

All the above make our dreams change. You wish you would dare to be that childhood fantasy of yourself and it now seams completely… impractical? Even crazy! Who are the brave ones who will dare to be it? The “brave ones” or the idiots, who will end up regretting their lack of reason in their decisions?

And so, when you reach the mountain top. It now looks like a different place than the one you once had in mind. It’s not. It is usually exactly that. It’s you! It’s your eyes that look at it differently now. With a little more fear, a little more practicality and maybe – if you’ve been smart enough to understand the paths this journey led you through to get you right here – with a little more wisdom.

So, since you’ll always end up in the wrong place because your desires will always be one step ahead of you, just try for the best and appreciate what the steps you took to get there gave you. That’s why the beautiful quote we discuss today is not pessimistic at all, when you read it a second time. It would be a curse to be completely satisfied with what you have, because the only true gift humanity was ever given is no other than curiosity!

p.s. Sorry I’ve been away! Exams were a lot to handle. I’m back to stay!

Relevant recommendationC.P. Cavafy discussed what we are talking about today lots and lots of years ago in a beautiful poem, if you haven’t read Ithaka, you can enjoy it easily. Google it!


Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Between the lines: Piano Man

It was around midday last Sunday, I was putting my make-up on when a song started playing on the radio: Piano Man by Billy Joel. I usually really like songs that tell a story, so it caught my attention. While it was going on I realized it talked about something that has been on my mind a lot lately: the feeling that you don’t belong where you are and that you could be in a better place if circumstances were different or if you had handled situations better. I have come to realize that most if not all people feel like this in one way or another.

I played the song over and over to discover its secrets and since I wanted to make a blog post referring to this, I thought I could start from those wonderful lyrics.

The song builds a very atmospheric image of a piano bar on a Saturday evening. We see everything through the pianist’s eyes although we never learn much about him compared to what we hear about the rest of the people who are spending the night in the bar. The figures are almost stereotypical and we can probably recall them in our memory. We have probably come across them at some point.

As the pianist begins to explain what he sees, he starts describing an old man who seats near him drinking his gin and tonic – he actually uses the words “making love to his tonic and gin” which emphasizes his dependency on alcohol. The old man asks him to play a melody he knew as a young man. This person is the first one who is being described and is probably somehow the future self of everyone in that place. He listens to the piano full of nostalgia, missing a life he had but he was never able to appreciate at the time just like the younger people in the bar. He looks back at what everyone else turns away from and what he probably had turned away from when he was young: his life. Now, he only lives in memories hanging on a bottle and the tunes of the pianist that will somehow let him return to what he once was.

The next person we meet is John, the barman. He comes across as a very cheerful man He always has a joke to tell but deep inside he just feels trapped. He is a friend of the pianist so he can confess to him that he’d be a movie star if he wasn’t stuck at the bar. In this case, we, as the listeners, feel like he could change that. He dreams of being an actor but remains there doing nothing about it. Of course, we know nothing much about John’s life but we assume that if he wants it that bad, he could take a risk. He says that this life “is killing him”, so does he have something to lose if he takes a risk? Is his phantasy of being a famous actor really a desire? Or is it just something he uses to make himself feel somehow like a failure?

Two men are sitting somewhere near, Paul and Davy. Paul is a novelist who doesn’t have a family. We can assume he is a cynical and practical man, since the pianist describes him as a “real estate novelist” and he is taking to another man named Davy who still works in the Navy “and probably will be for life”. Of course that “still” is the magic word that changes the meaning of the lyric. It instantly gives us the sense that Davy wasn’t intending to stay at this job but for practical reasons, he stayed. He probably had bigger dreams. Maybe he would be a movie star just like John would but he’s there now and he’ll never know.

Lastly, Bill, our Pianist, refers to the waitress who speaks with a stoned businessman. They are both lost in their loneliness trying to fight it in meaningless conversations. In the end of the song, as we are almost seeing that bar in front of us, feeling the loneliness of every single person in there and knowing that they can only get away from it for as long as a song lasts – a song by the piano man  – something devastating happens. Someone approaches Bill and gives him a tip. Then he asks him “man, what are you doing here?”.

After we’ve seen everyone else through Bill’s eyes realizing how they’ve wasted their lives and they’ll probably never be happy, someone else comes to ask the question we’ve been too busy – thinking about everyone else – to ask. What is he doing there, in this sad, little bar filled with unhappy people looking to drown their problems in alcohol instead of admitting their wrong choices? Was that his dream all along? Is anyone where they were supposed to be? Is life an endless chain of mistakes we just keep trying to cover up? Is loneliness inevitable?

I thought of the song lyrics for days. I started noticing people around me wondering how they were experiencing loneliness or what were they settling for out of fear. Let’s not lie. At some point we all do. Or… can we chose not to?

have a magical day,


glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Stop It – violence against women

I am a person who talks about this kind of subjects a lot – ask my friends, they’ll tell you about it. There is nothing I find more important than human rights, so since I haven’t yet talked about it in this blog I thought this was the right chance to start with the first of many related articles to come.

This is the 26th of November, which means that yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. To be honest, I don’t believe in “international days”. I believe that the day for the elimination of violence against anyone should be every day. We mustn’t forget about what’s happening when this day passes. Although, it is a very good chance to inform people that might not be aware of the problem and to make women all around the world see that they are not alone.

Violence is not only a problem that concerns women. It is a problem that has been unsolved for as long as humankind exists and the sad fact is that, although we have made so much progress as a species, we haven’t yet given the appropriate attention to resolve matters such as this one. I strongly believe that it is completely in our power to stop it. Violence against anyone is an equally serious and important matter.

Women have always been victims of violence. For centuries, they didn’t even have the right to express opinions or make any important choice concerning their life. They were entirely dependant on their fathers and later on their husbands, who were allowed to treat them however they desired to, taking for a fact that they were somehow superior.

To this day, this kind of behavior has not gone away. Still, little girls are forced to marry or become victims of trafficking. But the problem, of course, does not stop there. Women all around the world are victims of violence in every form behind closed doors in their “safe” home environment or work.

Why is this still happening? Although we are all aware of the problem and we all agree that sexual, physical or verbal violence is wrong, we tend to forget to specify exactly what this involves. One in Four women admits to being a victim of violence by their intimate partner. What about the ones who remain silent, either because they are afraid or just because they are unable to identify as a victim? A lot the victims do not know if their situation is a violent one because they are constantly told they are overreacting until they start to believe they are crazy. They live in fear and disappointment.

We think casually joking about matters like this is harmless but in fact, it is exactly the opposite. It makes the situation seem casual and it allows people to subconsciously consider it a given, a fact that will not change. Consequently, this makes the abuser feel his action is acceptable and the victim feel like they should tolerate the violence.

Every person should have a right to live freely without fear. This comes down to me and you. We are all equally responsible to stop this from happening. If you witness a violent situation, do not turn away, encourage the victim to speak out and stand by their side. If you are the victim, please do not feel like you are alone. I know you deserve better. Do not be afraid to ask for advice from a professional. Anyone could be in your shoes. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

For those of you, like myself, who feel that you need to do something, don’t hold back. Inform everyone you know on the matter and its importance, start conversations. If we are all aware of the problem, we will be able to spot it and eventually… stop it


have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

  • Violence against other groups is an equally important subject. We will be discussing it soon.


A little something you forgot to consider

When you look at the world you see a combination of brilliance and dirt altogether. It makes you want to get out and explore every single part of it, every possible human emotion and at the same time, it makes you want to run to bed and stay there forever. It’s like being in a huge library with a billion books. You wish you’ll choose the most fascinating ones, those that will teach you a lot and make you a wiser person but still… you cannot know the ending in advance. There’s always a risk.  It’s scary – terrifying actually – but I suppose life can give you a few things that are worth the “pain and the aches of the outcoming fortune” in the words of the Danish Prince.

It is incredible that you have all these choices concerning who you want to become and how you want to use your life in order to contribute to society. But what most people forget to mention when they talk about the endless possibilities is risk and fear. The smallest choice you make has outcomes. There’s never a win-win situation. You always have to face consequences, responsibilities and stand up for the path you took and for the person you are today.

We chose friends, behaviors, careers, lovers, places to live in and even ways to approach situations. Every little thing is crucial but there are some choices bigger than others. These are the choices that will change your life. When you stand in front of a choice this big, I tell you, it’s scary. Nobody mentions that. Everyone goes on and on about doing the right thing but… when you’re actually standing a step away from opening one door or another, you can’t see “right” or “wrong”. You can only see the regret at the end of each way and you’re afraid of it. There are paths that guarantee security and others that involve greater risk.

street artist.jpg

Making the step is hard. But no matter what you have been thinking so far, no matter what all the voices around you have been going on and on about, you have to take a step back and put yourself in the microscope. I don’t mean endless hours of worrying and re-thinking – which is something I am guilty of, to be honest – but to really stand across your deepest desire and ask yourself “Where do you want to go?”.

This process is usually so hard because we forget to keep in mind the fear that goes with it. It’s what we forget to consider when we make plans. Fear is usually a huge part of our choices but it shouldn’t be. Go with your gut. There is an instinct inside every one of us, we’ve just learned to ignore it over the years while trying to rationalize everything.

Remember back when you were a kid? You took one look at a person and you knew if you liked them or not. You went to ballet lessons for a week to find out you want to quit and then you tried piano and Italian and none of those were right for you. You knew and you were not afraid to admit you changed your mind. Nobody would call you a loser. Then, you finally tried tennis or playing the tuba and it was fun. You couldn’t see the time to go to practice. That’s what we suppress over the years, our pure instincts. We learn to like what we should like but, how will we ever be happy if we don’t risk walking the road our heart tells us it leads to happiness?

Charles Bukowski said “Go all the way” and he was right. If you don’t go all the way, you’ll never know. It takes a huge amount of courage to stop thinking of every little thing that can go wrong and focus on your pure desire. Don’t be afraid of it. Take a step on the path your heart points at. There must be some reason. Show it some trust and you’ll eventually find out why it took you there.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Accepting Diversity

Th truth is, we are not that different. We are mostly the same. We share basic needs, curiosity for the world, the desire to belong, fear of the unknown and so much more. Why do we focus so much on diversity, though?

According to Freud, we like to look at our differences because it helps us define ourselves individually. We cannot have a fully objective picture of ourselves, it is much easier if we look at us in comparison to others. The problems begin when societies start labeling things “right” or “wrong”.

Every human characteristic or each choice has some reason behind it. Unfortunately, even in our time, a lot of people refuse to see that.  We rush to conclusions and prefer to label something as “intolerable” instead of trying to understand it, accept it and make it part of the world as we know it – as long as it is not harmful to anyone, of course.- We grow up in a world, where hate is normal and marginalization is accepted. We have come such a long way. We are now able to walk on the moon, why can’t we accept the people around us? Why can’t we focus on the similarities and make the differences a way to connect even more? It took humanity such a long time to accept homosexuality or to understand that we are equal regardless of our colour or our ethnicity. Is that so hard to see?

the worlds.

When we take a look in history, we will see that demonizing certain behaviors, actions or lifestyles was what kept people docile. The ones with authority made sure to keep everything happening their own way by filling the minds of people with hate. So, when someone took a step away from the norm, most people would either get him to return to the “acceptable” behavior or reject them completely.

Looking at the world today, we will inevitably notice that this state of mind has not gone away completely  as someone would expect. We tend to find it easier to hate than try to understand. It is up to each one of us to end this.

The world is beautiful because of those small differences that make each of us special. It is finally time to stop being afraid of what doesn’t look like everything we are used to seeing and embrace individuality. Color, gender, ethnicity, physical appearance or sexuality say nothing about the true self of a person. They are only small details that make up only a part of who they are. If we let ourselves see the good in people, no matter what, maybe we’ll be one step closer to that ideal society – which we’ll probably never reach… but that’s a topic for another Sunday afternoon.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

September blues

7:40 pm and the sun’s already disappeared.

Autumn is lovely. The warmer clothes, the blankets on the bed, green tea, the smell of rain, the ankle boots… and mostly the anticipation of winter. If you’re a Cold Weather Lover like me, you know what I’m talking about. But even for us, the people who are cheered up by bowls of soup and big scarfs, there’s something sad about the begging of September.

Saying goodbye to the holidays and a great amount of free time isn’t easy. But… here are a few reasons why Autumn is a brilliant season, to help you make it through the harsh times of those so well known September Blues.

Firstly, stationary! I know we all love this time of year when all the stores are full of notebooks, pens, coloring pencils and planners. This is the time to buy your now journal and organize the upcoming moths. I know that January is the most popular month for setting Year – Goals but I’ve always felt like September is the month of the actual start of the year. You’ve had the time ti relax and rest during the holiday’s and now it’s the time to think about what you want to achieve until next summer. It’s always fun to sit down at a cafe with a nice-smelling new planner and a few pens and create your new schedule. It always makes me extremely excited.

prague window.jpg

The fact that it’s time to organize your life also means that it’s a great opportunity for new beginnings. You probably want to get rid of some bad habits – I know! You eat too much chocolate too, huh? I feel you! – this is the time to do it. Set a goal and give yourself a few months. I usually say that New Year’s eve is the end  point. That way I always enter the new year as an improved version of myself.

You cannot ignore the fact that autumn – winter clothes are so much better. It’s cold but you get to wear nice coats, boots and scarfs that feel like blankets. It’s like you’re in your bed all day. It’s so cozy and comfortable. Plus, if you put on a few extra pounds  from that chocolate we already talked about  you can easily cover them up using an over-sized jumper that is super flattering.

Is there anything more joyful than looking out the window at night during a storm. Music playing in the background, and hearing the thunders and the drops tapping on the window. If you live in a place where it rains a lot during the summer, you probably don’t miss it as much but I haven’t heard the sound of rain for months and  I cannot wait to see a few big grey clouds in the sky.

Weather you are an Autumn person or not, it’s up to you to find the little joyful things  during this brilliant time of year. And please don’t ignore the fact that we are only 101 days away from Christmas…

have a wonderful September morning,


glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

In case you get lost in the streets of Prague one night

I’ve been preparing for summer holiday for months. It had been such a busy year full of To-Do-Lists and cups of coffee that went cold. When the days of relaxation arrived, I couldn’t quite believe it. As you can tell form the title Prague was the place I happened to explore this summer and I’ve been planning to share! So, I decided – if I wanted to do justice to the place, I had – to split the experience in two parts. So… day and night.

night out

(That means… prepare for part two soon!)

When the sun goes down, the capital city of the Czech Republic is even more beautiful. Walk the lanes of the Old Town and you’ll find various things to taste – drink or food – depending on your taste and mood. Everything form a disco night club to a wine tasting bar or traditional restaurants. Try to avoid the extremely touristy areas – they are ridiculously expensive for  what they sell, in my opinion. Take a nice long walk, do your research and I am positive, you’l find the right place for a perfect evening.

prague clock.jpg

My personal suggestions:

I love to travel – ALMOST more than anything! – so I usually prepare a detailed list with what I want to see in advance, making sure I don’t miss out on anything interesting. I always leave open spaces for things I’ll discover during the journey, though. I must confess now what I discovered during my five nights walking the streets of Prague – they’re all things that you should also try if you get the chance.

  • the National Marionette Theatre

Yes, I am a theater person but this doesn’t mean anything. I know you’re skeptical about watching a two hour original Opera in Italian performed by marionettes. I understand. Trust me, though! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the show. It’s unbelievably well set and well performed. Every little detail will amaze you. The people involved are extremely talented and they will provide you with all you need for an unforgettable night. It’s certainly something you won’t easily get to see elsewhere. You will certainly laugh – I surely did! – and there’s NO way you’ll regret it.

  • the Jazz Boat 

I’ll start with the one thing  that stands out the most: atmosphere. Whether you’re a jazz lover or not, you will not regret getting on this boat (well, except if you hate music and nice food). For me, it was the perfect night. We were lucky enough to pick the night with an super talented jazz group that made us sing and clap along from start to finish. I am not going to say anything about the view! Prague all lit up in night time.. I envy the people who will get to go on the boat around Christmas time…

musuc prague wall

  • the Blacklight theater of Prague 

It’s everywhere! If you’re planning to visit Prague and you’ve looked for Must-see stuff, I’m sure you’ve made a little note somewhere about it. It’s very famous all around the world. I’ll be honest here. It wasn’t as great as the Marionette performance, for my taste,  but it was indeed spectacular. The directors and choreographers of this show surely must have known what they were doing. They create beautiful images. It feels a little bit like you’re in a dream. The music creates an irresistible atmosphere that you fall into and then… there come the costumes full of colour and unusual shapes.

  •  the Walks 

Even if I gave you exactly a plan of what to see, you wouldn’t have as much of a good time as I did. Everyone has their own preferences depending on their taste and interests. Don’t be afraid to go out after the sun comes down and explore the city by yourself or with you friends. Trust your instinct and I’m sure that while walking the streets of Prague lost in the town or admiring the view by the river with a handful of bright star above your head, you’ll find out about amazing little places.

have a magical day,


glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou