Sunday, October 26, 2008


This was supposed to have been a calm week... And yet, it wasn't. I spent hours doing interviews, for three different positions in the YFJ Secretariat. And the saga isn't over yet... Plus, one of these sessions took place in Prague, which implied short, but very early flights on both Tuesday and Wednesday. And, to finish the week, Friday was spent at a very successful, but also very long event that prevented me from being at my desk, getting some office work done. Which means that, in order to still do what I was supposed to do this week, I had to cut on the sleeping hours and extend the working schedule. Result: I got sick... and therefore could not properly enjoy the free weekend... So, what's new? Nothing really... Except maybe the fact that winter has started and one of my apartment's heaters is broken. Or that in a couple of hours I will be flying to Berlin, where I plan to enjoy the next three days off. Life isn't that bad, is it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Det var hyggeligt!

After almost eight weeks of continued work, I took some days off and headed to Copenhagen. Good looks, brains, perfect proportions, a sunny disposition and a sense of humour are always a winning combination – and Copenhagen has it all! Plus, Copenhagen treats residents and visitors to a lifestyle that's hard to match: manageable scale, clean environment and abundant green space, efficient public transport, good food culture and beautiful urban design. And, of course, a well-spread commitment to cycling, which makes urban navigation swift and seamless, and allows everyone to fully enjoy the city. Copenhageners can be proud of their city, but they won't make a fuss about it; Danes in general are most likely to shut out the turmoil and troubles of the outside world and strive, instead, for a warm, intimate mood. That's what they refer to as «hygge» which, roughly translated, means cosy and snug. Hygge affects how Danes approach many aspects of their personal lives, from the design of their homes to their fondness for small cafés and restaurants. With its progressive policies, its widespread tolerance (gay marriage was legalised in 1989, just to give an example) and a liberal social-welfare system that works, Denmark might no longer be the big and powerful country it used to, but Copenhagen is, probably, the most liveable city in the world. In between the smørrebrød and the frikadeller, around a couple of beers and the nice (foreign) red wine, over the long walks under the sun, the visits to the surprising museums and the cosy evenings at home, this week spent in Copenhagen was not only very pleasant, but also very re-assuring. Change takes time and demands some efforts; but it is always easier to accommodate when in good company. Tak!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Council of Europe, Ukraine and vodka...

This last week went fast... either because it was spent in Ukraine in a busy environment with lots of people around; or maybe because I wanted it so much to be over. On the other hand, when I look at the amount of things that happened this last week, it's hard to believe that only one week went by. Maybe it's just that vodka affects the perception of time... or maybe I should simply stop drinking vodka. The week has been so weird that even today, which was probably the last sunny Sunday until April 2009 and my first free day for a quite long time, was spent at the office... and one hour ago I was so tired that it seemed that I could sleep forever, and now seems that I can't sleep anymore... and I didn't even had vodka tonigth! Guess that I should stop writing and close the computer... maybe it will help. If not, Inspector Chen will. And tomorrow morning, a much nicer week will start! I am really looking forward for it!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paris, Pedro et al.

This week I was in France. First, in Strasbourg, dealing with Council of Europe issues and, then, in Paris, with Alliance of Civilizations'. I fundamentally like France. This is possibly the result of having close relatives living in France for a long time, who conveyed a positive message about the country, especially during my childhood. Or maybe the fact that I studied for many years at the Alliance Française, learned the language when I was still a kid, and traveled very often to the hexagon. Or even because of this romantic vision of France being the country of the "liberté, égalité, fraternité" motto, and of that other revolution that revealed "sous les pavés, la plage" and decreted that "il est interdit d'interdire". I am not totally sure why, but I know I like it. And, therefore, I like going to and being in France. In Strasbourg, I was surrounded by many good friends, some of whom I had not seen for a while. In Paris, I was alone. I like being in Strasbourg with friends. But I also like being in Paris, even if alone. Although I have many friends in Paris, I didn't have time to meet them, and yet I enjoyed being there. Paris alone is enough. Maybe because Paris alone is already a lot. Or maybe because Paris is my longest-lasting love. It would be difficult to explain in a few lines why I love Paris so much... I mean, I do love the more romantic Paris of Robert Doisneau's pictures; I do love its classic architecture and the celebrated café culture; but what I like the most about Paris is the fact that, under the leadership of Bertrand Delanoë, it has picked itself up and reclaimed again its place as a global city. Today, Paris feels less uptight! Just to give on example, seeing Parisians of all varieties whizzing around on the city's 20,000 Vélib' bikes (the world's biggest bike hire scheme), you sense a more playful, inventive city in the making. And that is great! For many years I regarded Paris as the perfect tourist destination; today I can imagine living there and even enjoying it. I will for sure consider it as a possible destination for when I finally decide or have to leave Brussels behind... The changes I have been referring to, slowly but steadly, are taking place. Today was Pedro's last day at the Youth Forum, and with his departure a small piece of me will also be leaving the organisation. He is one of my best and oldest friends, and I am going to miss him. And, more than I, the Youth Forum will miss him. Because there are no two Pedros, and he will be difficult to replace and forget. Personally, I feel priviliged for I know that even though I will lose the colleague, I will keep the friend. And friends like Pedro are not replaceable by any colleague. From tomorrow on, his desk will be empty, but the Youth Forum's life will still be busy. As the General Assembly approaches and future scenarios become clearer, changes will keep happening and I will keep enjoying them! The upcoming week will bring me back to Kiev; I hope it will rain less in there...