Terschelling Nature, NL 2019 (Lomo 800)

Locations:  Terschelling island, Friesland, the Netherlands. October 2019.

Nikon F75 (28-100mm). Lomography Color Negative 800, 35mm film.

the body issue

Being thin and flat chested

I felt like the Other,

walking, mumbling

merely existing on the margins,

trying to hold on, to remember

how it felt to be me beyond my

non-feminine existence

-distorted

 

My body never belonged to me,

it was always their property

to look and to devour,

to judge and to despise,

always not feminine enough.

With a thin, awkward body,

a tomboy,

the never belonging aura

hovered above my existence for

decades to come.

 

A wall kept growing around me,

till my heart turned into cement,

and hardened,

cold, grey and barely living

full of self-hate bricks.

 

Years passed,

my body swayed

back and forth,

in time’s soothing breeze.

The wall blossomed

with colorful flowers.

My body gained strength and

I managed to break the cement

with my bare hands.

The insecurity bricks were destroyed,

allowing the light of real beauty

to shine through.

 

Photo: Pentax P30, 35mm with Pentax-A 50mm F/2 SMC Lens. Kodak Gold film 200. The Netherlands, 2014.

B&W Nature Details (TMax 400), Groningen 2019

Locations: Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen province, The Netherlands, 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak T-Max 400, 35mm film.

The Marvellous Colors of Kodak Ektar 100

Locations:  Schöhsee (Plön), Görnitz (Grebin), Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, June 2019 –  Tsagarada, Pelion, August 2019 – Kipos village, Kozani, Greece, July 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Ektar, 100 ISO, 35mm film.

A travel guide to Pelion (GR)

Visiting Greece for summer vacation has become a given for me. Since I live in the Netherlands for the last seven years (and counting), it has become a tradition and a necessity to visit the homeland. Not only to see family and catch up with friends but also to visit the breathtaking sceneries and swim to the bluest of seas.

This year I visited mountain Pelion, next to Volos city, 330 kilometers north of Athens and 220 kilometers south of Thessaloniki. Pelion forms a peninsula between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea, which makes it is a popular destination for the summer! However, Pelion attracts visitors throughout the year, since its many skiing resorts and spa hotels are a beloved choice during the colder months of the year. Since visiting Pelion is possible both during the winter and summer months, you will get the chance to visit or stay at some of the “archondika”, old mansions that are now renovated hotels and boutiques. Their architecture is very distinct, and you can find them overall on the mountain.

September is soon ending, but the summer mood still lingers. Pelion is a great destination to visit during summer and autumn, especially in the seaside. You can visit either the Pagasetic Gulf, the one closer to Volos city, or the Aegean side. If you want to go from one side to the other, you need to cross the mountain with the car (approximately 50 minutes). That is why I recommend to either choose one side or spend half your days on the Aegean side and the other half on the other side. You can combine visiting the mountain and the sea, enjoying in this way the freshness of the forest, but also the soft breeze of the coast.

Even if summer has ended for the most of us, this short guide is to inform you of the choices you have in the area, how to access certain places and what to choose to make your vacation as relaxing and enjoyable possible.

How to reach Pelion: If you are flying to Athens or Thessaloniki, you will need to rent a car or choose public transportation to reach Volos. Having a car is always more relaxing and easier than having to depend on Greek public transportation, but the choice is up to you. Driving on the mountain can prove to be challenging for the inexperienced driver, but with patience and caution, it can be a rewarding experience and a great part of the trip. You might notice that Greeks share a certain driving behavior, especially when it comes to parking. There is only one rule: park wherever it is convenient. You will notice that they park in the middle of a busy street or on a big turn in a small mountain village. As I said before, some extra caution is necessary! Extra tip: Choose a car with gas (if possible), since it is cheaper.

As for the accommodation, there are countless places to choose from because the area is touristic, yet again not as touristic as the Greek isles. You can find an expensive villa up the mountain, an affordable hotel in a village or an apartment next to the sea. It all depends on your budget. Prices from 40 to 100 euros a night for a hotel/apartment are common. Be careful though, if you are planning to visit during high season (July-August) book beforehand because prices get higher as summer approaches. Whatever you choose, my tip is to choose a nice view to the sea. You will love it!

Our wonderful view

As for my experience this summer, I must admit it was a blast. We had the pleasure to visit Agios Ioannis, the biggest village located on the Aegean side. Agios Ioannis is full of cozy and affordable restaurants and has a vibrant nightlife. The village is next to the sea which means long evening walks in the small boulevard, visiting the small local shops and enjoying (numerous) cocktails! You can enjoy the Agios Ioannis beach and also visit the two beaches located on both sides of the village; on the right side, Papa Nero, is a 20-minute walk from the center of Agios Ioannis, while the other one, Plaka, is located on the left side and it is also a 20-minute walk. Be aware that the path for Plaka is a bit rough, meaning you need to cross many slippery rocks.

Pelion has many activities to offer throughout the year such as skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, climbing and many more. Since our vacation goal was to swim, lay in the sun and eat, we didn’t indulge in any of those. Who knows, maybe next year!

Where to go swimming: Damouchari is this famous beach where Mamma Mia was shot. The beach has white pebbles and it is surrounded by rocks. You can enjoy the beautiful beach view by choosing one of the few cafes the small village has to offer. A must-see is the famous Fakistra beach. The Guardian ranked it 7th in the list with the most beautiful beaches in the entire world! Fakistra beach is located very close to Tsagarada village and it is a 30-minute drive from Agios Ioannis village. To reach the beach you must cross a 15-minute steep path, but it is certainly worth it! Surrounded by cliffs and wilderness, Fakistra beach has white sand and pebbles with crystal clear waters. You can swim for hours and by the end of the day, you will not want to leave.

There are many other beaches and small villages you can visit, but the truth is you cannot visit it all, you need to be picky. Mylopotamos is also another great choice, as is Tsagarada village, where you can enjoy the shadow of one of the oldest trees in the area.

Weather: the weather is warm (25-35 °C) during the day but there is always a fresh breeze at night. Even during September, the temperature ranges between 20 – 25 °C during the day and doesn’t drop below 18 °C at night. Storms are also frequent during summer. You might notice that your throat is hurting while staying at the mountain, but don’t get alarmed, it is quite normal.

Whether you visit Pelion during the summer or winter months, the choice is yours! But who can say no to a vacation full of sun and blue seawaters? Hopefully, this short guide can be useful in your next adventure in Greece! For further information or any questions you might have, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Photos: Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Ektar Film 100 and LomoChrome Purple, 100-400, 35mm film and Samsung A5 (2016). 

Purple Impressions, DE 2019 (LomoChrome Purple)

Locations:  Schöhsee (Plön), Görnitz (Grebin), Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, June 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). LomoChrome Purple, 100-400, 35mm film.

Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen 2019

Locations:  Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen province, The Netherlands, May 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Portra Film 400, 35mm film.

Celestial Connection

Millions of worlds apart

and thousands of words

are missing

between the space

we created for ourselves.

 

We stop conversations,

mute or misuse them,

while the big ice rocks fall apart,

like our lives when we refuse

to listen to ourselves.

 

This world is scary,

full of angry people,

but Earth remembers

and promises to color

our dreams and hopes

with gold dust extracted

from the deep, dark, daunting

place we call space.

 

And right into that moment

we glow furiously;

full of celestial body magic,

we dive back into the blues

and the greens of our reality,

the worlds we build

and the ones we destroy,

conquering one more day

from the eons that await us.

 

Photo: Livraria Lello, Porto, Spring of 2019, Portugal. Minolta Hi-Matic S, Rokkor lens, Kodak Portra, ISO 400, 35mm film.

 

The power of ASMR

Dealing with everyday life can often be overwhelming. We all have countless things to tackle but very little time to do so, which can lead to increased stress and, for many of us, not enough sleep. It can become difficult to let things go and just relax. However, taking the necessary distance from all those stressful deadlines is the best thing to do, especially during overwhelming times. Choosing for our own wellbeing is mandatory. We owe it to ourselves to take it slow, to know when to say no and when to chill. I know that it is easier said than done, but stop for a minute and consider: when was the last time you actually did something relaxing?

If the answer to this question is “hmm … I can’t remember” then you are in the right place. What if I told you that there is a very fascinating and costless way to reduce your stress? It is an accessible and cheap trend and it’s called ASMR.

Are you familiar with those tingles on your head and neck when someone whispers to your ear, or when raindrops make that tapping sound on your window? Well, you might not know it, but you are experiencing ASMR tingles.

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and it’s a reaction people have to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping, or slow movements. This sensory reaction is translated as ‘brain tingles’, basically goosebumps, which can often lead to feelings of calmness and relaxation. But how does ASMR work exactly?

Watching ASMR videos can cultivate your attention to sounds you might not normally notice. The combination of video and sound (when you hear but also see the movements) guarantees a dynamic result that can help you feel less stress and even sleep better. This sensory experience creates certain physical and psychological effects on your body that you begin feeling mindful and peaceful. That tingling sensation that begins on the crown of your head and continues throughout your spine can be very soothing.

The lovely Maria, from ‘Gentle Whispering’

ASMR became a worldwide trend though YouTube when some people started making videos that included both visual and binaural (for both ears) triggers so that viewers can experience those ‘brain tingles’. ASMR has become so popular the last years, that there are currently around 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube with hundreds of new ones uploaded every day. ASMR artists have become so famous that some of them create ASMR videos as a fulltime job (!). Take for example the YouTube channel ‘Gentle Whispering ASMR’ that counts so far 1.5 million subscribers and over 500 million views in total.

Some common ASMR types you can find on YouTube include whispering, tapping, hair brushing, massaging, scratching surfaces and even the idea that someone is touching your face or head, also known as ASMR role-playing. There are videos with eating, chewing and mouth sounds, videos with folding towels or playing with slime. The list is truly endless. You just need to find what works for you, since not all sounds are suitable for everyone. I, for example, truly hate eating sounds, so I avoid ASMR videos that include those. And I do love videos that include tapping or face touching. You just need to find what works best for you.

I have been watching ASMR videos almost every day for the last year, and I have to admit, they have helped me enormously with insomnia and stress. There is something truly relaxing in just watching someone tap an unusual item or slightly touch someone’s back. Yes, I know, this all sounds a bit odd, but if you are looking for a more alternative way to deal with stress and anxiety, I guarantee this will help.

The wonderful Emma from WhispersRed

The popularity of ASMR is also evident in the scientific community, with researchers from the University of Sheffield investigating the possible mental health benefits of watching ASMR videos. They have found that the people who experience the ‘brain tingles’, while watching ASMR videos, showed a decreased heart rate compared with the people who don’t experience the tingles. The most interesting part, as Dr. Giulia Poerio, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology says, “is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants were comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.” So, watching ASMR videos can indeed reduce your stress!

The truth is it will feel very weird the first time you explore ASMR videos, however, if it works for you, you will become addicted to it very quickly. It is also known, anecdotally, that if you listen to too much ASMR you ‘lose’ your sensitivity to certain tingles. If that happens to you don’t worry, just take a break from ASMR and when you come back to it, the tingles will return too.

There is something in those videos, especially the ones focused on helping you sleep, that is truly relaxing. Because the videos include very specific sounds, they function as a form of audiovisual meditation. Just try out some videos of ‘WhispersRed ASMR’ Emma or ‘Caroline ASMR’, and you will see for yourself. So, take my advice and check some ASMR videos the next time you will feel discouraged and stressed by the countless things you have to do. There is a big chance you will feel much more relaxed and focused, ready to conquer every obstacle that comes your way!

Photos: screenshots made from YouTube. Pictures created with Canon EOS 1000D and edited with VscoCam (Groningen, May 2019). 

Spring Haikus

Dandelions fly,

birds chirping vigorously

on heavy tree branches.

 

Duck lands on water

disrupting the park’s silence,

bumble bees humming.

 

Small buds, big buds

under the yellow sun

wait to fully blossom.

 

As night follows day

the sun sets between the trees,

a full moon rises.

 

A soft wind whistles

between the thick green leaves,

spring is finally here.

 

Photo: Porto, Spring of 2019, Portugal. Minolta Hi-Matic S, Rokkor lens, Kodak Portra, ISO 400, 35mm film.