My love-and-hate relationship with my new Apple Watch.

A gift for my birthday, I don’t know whether to love it or hate it. Yes I still have mixed emotions about my new Apple Watch. Why? For so many reasons. But let us start first things first.

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Undoubtedly the Apple Watch is beautiful. Personally I have a thing with oversized square-shaped watches and my dream watch is the Cartier Tank MC (did I just dare to compare the Watch with the Tank MC? Naahh..) So, big, check! Square, check!, Rose gold, check, check, check!

Notification reminders (can the Cartier Tank MC do that? I doubt..) It’s not like I didn’t have these before with my Misfit Shine but with the Watch notifications and reminders become a little more “personal” a little more “creative”. There are times though that I feel overwhelmed. You can certainly decide on the kind of notifications you want on your Apple Watch but when you have an iPhone then almost certainly you will choose all that apply to your phone. And if all these notifications and reminders cause you stress, then “Breathe” will remind you to take a break and bring your focus on your breathing so to relax. Which turns out to be a paradox… if you really needed to relax maybe you shouldn’t have all these notifications and reminders telling what to do in the first place. Does it make sense?

Apple Watch is waterproof and you can shower or swim with it and track your activity. It has a cool feature to remove any water that might have got in the speakers too. In this case you need to activate the “drop” icon and then turn the crown upwards to have sound vibrations push the water out. But however cool this feature may be, you might feel, just like me, that if water can penetrate the Watch, it doesn’t seem that safe to swim with, especially in windy conditions when fine sand and salt water mix. So last time I went to the beach determined to test my expensive gadget in the water, I finally didn’t dare and had to take it out before I plunged into the sea. Then, while in the water, I saw a guy next to me wearing his while trying to catch a wave with his boogie board. Yes I admit it, I was a chicken. I just couldn’t bear the thought of having Minnie Mouse telling me the time (yes! she does tell you the time when you tap on her!) with her voice distorted because of a sore throat after a swim…

Apple Watch can be used as a fitness tracker. Despite the initial puzzle with setting up the apps, when everything was set it still didn’t feel like I could use it as my strenuous exercise partner. It’s a lot more bulky and heavy compared to my Misfit Shine and I would have to make sure I had plenty of space around me while exercising so not to bang the Watch on some wall or hard surface. It is delicate and even if I have been very careful since the beginning I have already spotted a scratch on its ION-X glass out of nowhere, I can’t recall of even coming close to a hard object so it’s a total bummer. And then you look for all these reviews about how easily or not Apple Watch can get scratched and how scratches can (if they ever can) be fixed. And then you look for ways to actually protect the screen but at the same time keep the beautiful lean look. And then you realize good protection is costly but then again it doesn’t really offer much anyways. And then you decide to go for the Apple Care+ where you could eventually replace your Watch or have it fixed twice for accidental damage which the normal Apple Care doesn’t cover but you have to pay extra for that. And then you realize that if you didn’t have the Apple Watch you wouldn’t have all these issues and worries IN THE FIRST PLACE.

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So with all this time and money invested on the Apple Watch it seems that its aim is becoming your irreplaceable piece of jewellery. With all these notifications and charming little sounds it claims a place in your everyday life and becomes an absolute necessity so you’d forget about wearing your conventional watch ever again. But I love my other watches too. I want to wear my other watches too. I like alternating between my jewellery. At the end of the day I believe we already depend a lot on technology, I certainly didn’t need another mind organizer. Apple Watch seemed to take more of my freedom and independence than what it could offer me.  So I was ready not to fall for this technology trap (you could also replace t with c) and just send the Apple Watch back. My decision came also after Misfit Wearables offered, to my suprise, to replace my favorite lost Misfit Shine 2 with a brand new one, something I will be writing soon about. But then again Apple Watch “talked to me” and insisted I should keep it. It was hubby’s gift afterall. Plus I had an accident with hot soup exploding from my Nutri-bullet on my hands (don’t ask how I managed this, I’m a natural blonde) and if it wasn’t for my Apple Watch (and the miracle cream I have from Greece for burns) my wrists would have been totally burned. The Apple Watch strap prevented a large part of my wrist been exposed to the bursting hot soup. The Apple Watch strap survived the burning test.

So we made a deal. I will keep the Apple Watch. I will not stop wearing my other watches and I will mainly rely on Misfit Shine 2 for my swimming activities tracking. But I will certainly stay in charge and keep enjoying my Apple Watch and its features whenever I want. It’s actually simple: I will not let this relationship become one of a destructive interdependence…

Why I don’t shop in Bahrain anymore

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It has been a long time since I visited any of the big shopping malls in Bahrain. And today I was reminded once again why I haven’t done so all this time. You see, I happen to travel a lot and get informed on the latest fashion, products and/or prices. I always look for the best quality and price and I value customer service relationships a great deal. I talk with shops’ representatives all around the world and I have gained their trust and respect as they have gained mine.
Unfortunately, except for a couple of businesses, this is not the case with Bahrain. The last few years the products’ selection is minimal and in fashion it happens that all you can find on the shelves is last year’s stock often with a “New Collection” price tag. Few months ago my friend bought a pair of Valentino pumps at 50% off, a 50% off that was actually the original price in any of the big online shops. I was surprised when once I went to Saks to buy a pair of jeans and they only had to show me TWO (yes only TWO!) brand codes. I have quit long time ago shopping clothes for my kids in Bahrain since the day I discovered the US prices were instantly transformed into BD, tripling them compared to the US: Bye Bye Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, GAP, see you online or when i visit the US.
Other times you may find newly released electronic gadgets are insanely expensive, like when the new iPhone 5s was introduced and the golden colored one cost 150 dinars more than its silver version in a non Apple-approved shop in City Center. Or you may find that the expensive watch (i.e. Cartier) you intend to buy as tax-free (supposedly there is no tax in Bahrain, right?) costs more than in any other decent jewelry shop in Europe where a generous tax is imposed…  And let us not talk about the prices in the supermarket or the trick of “.. oh sorry! the price has changed and the tag is still not updated” if you ever spot the difference.
So what’s going on?
Profiteering to the point of disgust.
Ok. I can understand that the market of Bahrain, being it small, cannot absorb the aftershock of a global financial crisis thus the limited variety in their imports. Businesses are afraid to be exposed and they have right. What I don’t understand is their obsession of profiteering even in such market conditions when their actions can only guarantee further loss in the long run. Let me explain.
This morning I went to i-Machines to look for an original iPad case for my son. My jaw dropped when I saw the price, especially since I had checked before with Apple Store in the US:
Bahrain price: 50 Dinars meaning approx. 133 dollars with today’s rate according to xe.com.
How much does the exact same case cost in Apple store?
US price: 79 Dollars. YES 79 Dollars.
Do the math yourself adding boldly the shipping cost to Bahrain (that’s what they always provide as an excuse for the high prices, they cannot blame “taxes”cause there is supposedly a free-trade agreement between US and Bahrain) and you see there’s still a big price difference. You don’t have to be a genius to figure it out. The same profit margin seems to apply for another couple of items I checked  with the store (mini iPad, earphones etc).
Needless to say I left the store empty handed. Then I thought I might check for a mascara. During my recent trip to Greece I forgot to buy my mascara from the beauty store and didn’t have the time to get it from Athens airport too so I thought I will get it in Bahrain. Ha. Wrong.
I went to Debenhams and asked for my usual Yves Saint Laurent one (Baby Doll). The lady told me it was 21 BD. I wasn’t sure how much I had paid for the exact same mascara in Athens before – certainly much less- but as I needed it now I thought ok, I will get it. So I took it to the cashier where I was asked 22 bd. I told the cashier that the sales lady told me 21 and then I showed her the tag on the mascara packaging clearly stating 21 bd. She told me she was sorry but in her system the price was 22 bd. Once again I left empty handed and my issue was certainly not the 1 bd increase from the sale point to the cashier…
By the way 22 BD = 58,3  USD, 53,48 Euros or 41,17 GBP with again today’s rates from xe.com.
Soon after I came back home I double checked the price of the mascara:  32 Dollars in the US, 25 Euros in Greece, 25 Pounds in the UK.
Honestly I can’t think of a reason why a mascara would cost DOUBLE its price in Bahrain.
What these local businesses don’t get is the fact that consumers in today’s world KNOW and if they don’t know, they certainly have the way to FIND OUT. Almost every consumer has access to the internet today. Big brands with international presence usually apply a universal price with small -if not tiny- fluctuations that reflect any taxes/dues or shipping costs. Anything way above this “universal” price is a rip-off and I certainly don’t want to be passed for a fool. So what can you do?
  1. Be an informed consumer rather than a compulsive one. If you find something you really like in a shop in Bahrain check its price online yourself or have someone else check for you.
  2. Except for items considered “dangerous”, most of your finds in Bahrain can be shipped from online shops abroad straight to your door. In fact there are few shops that offer free express shipping and shops that even deduct the VAT when shipping to Bahrain from Europe. Others include any dues in your total so you don’t have to pay anything for customs’ clearance in Bahrain.
  3. Shipping from US is tax free and there should be no import dues in Bahrain. Unfortunately this does not apply for shipments from Europe. There is a minimum amount set by the customs authorities and when exceeded there are dues based on the cargo type charged to the receiver. (I have tried to find what this minimum is with no success so far, it’s up to the customs’ officer interpretation of the law I guess – sorry for being sarcastic!)
  4. When the online shop doesn’t provide shipping outside of their country you can open an Aramex Shop and Ship account, have your items shipped to your mailbox in the US, UK or any of the big shopping hubs where Aramex provides service and then have your items shipped at a fee to your door. It’s not cheap but it can be proven cheaper than buying your find in Bahrain. Mind you that Aramex recently updated its policy to include the shipping of perfumes in their service. With regards to a mailbox service abroad I personally prefer Borderlinx mainly because of it’s association with DHL who are superfast but also because they offer free repacking of multiple shipments into one to cut-off the shipping cost. Additionally with their concierge service they can buy for you in shops that do not accept foreign credit cards.
  5. If you don’t feel like doing any of these yourself but still want to shop without being ripped off, appoint someone to do them for you. At a small fee a personal shopper can help you with all your needs however small or big and save you time and money. You can email your inquiries: idol@mail.com.
I’m all ears for your stories of shopping horror!
Update1: Please check my comment below as some people seem to have been annoyed by this article.
Update2: In my recent trip to Dubai I have checked the price for the mascara both in Bahrain airport and Sephora Dubai. The price is around 16 BD so Debenhams is more expensive by a whole 6 dinars (aprox. 15 USD/
EUR). Just for one mascara.

A treat A day with Moleskine

Yeah!
My new year’s diaries, just arrived in the mail and I simply can’t wait writing on them.

 

This year it was the Little Prince, for 2016 I chose Peanuts… Isn’t it cute?
But to be honest I’m quite intrigued to get my hands on the Starbucks collection which is available in South Korea! Flying to Seoul next week, hopefully before it’s out of stock…

 

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Photo Credit: moleskine.com
If you are a Moleskine fan like me you can order your supplies online here. Be sure to check everyday until Christmas for they hold special treats on their holiday calendar…
Now, if you would like to see what Moleskine diaries look like and how cool they are, check my video review below.
xxx

 

VIVA icflix !!!

Do you enjoy watching movies? Do you have a favorite show which you wouldn’t miss at any cost? Are you a  Bollywood fan or a Jazwood enthusiast? Well, I have good news for all of you!

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VIVA Bahrain, the Kingdom’s most innovative telecom provider, has partnered with icflix, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading online streaming service, to bring us the ultimate digital experience: access to unlimited premium movies, TV shows, cartoons and documentaries, from literally ANYWHERE and for only 3 BD per month!
Yes, you read right. 3 BD per month! That’s even less than the cost of ONE ticket to cinema! Plus, with your icflix subscription you can be granted access on up to FIVE different devices! mmm.. that means like getting… five tickets for the price of one for as many movies, shows, cartoons you wish in a month!
If you are a VIVA user like myself, here’s how you can grab this amazing offer:
You’re all set!
Once your subscription is activated, you will be granted immediate access to a wide selection of Jazwood, Hollywood and Bollywood content as well as to kids’ award winning programs which can be played on up to five assigned devices, so you can watch your favorite movies or shows from your smartphone, tablet, computer or smart TV anytime, anywhere. Arabic, French and English audio or subtitles are available on option so you can get the most out of your  icflix  subscription. The 3 BD fee is charged directly on your post-paid bill or prepaid credit with VIVA so you can enjoy watching without worrying about anything, plus your first month is FREE!!
So what are you waiting for? Go for it as I did! My kids already watch their favorite show from their iPads and they love it!
VIVA icflix!

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September Obsessions

After spending two months in Greece I’m back with loads of news to share with you and a couple of surprises. But first things first. After all, September is the month of pulling yourself together, getting back to your routine, and planning for the months ahead. In my world, it’s the month of obsessions, it’s when I crave for changes and when I scan all fashion trends in order to make my winter wish-list.

Obsession #1 – Hair Color

All of you who follow me on Instagram (idolimages) you probably already know that I changed my hair a bit into a lovely rose gold color.

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I would be willing to try silver too but I’m so obsessed with the rose-gold after I’ve seen it on myself that I guess this shade is here to stay. If you are after a funky change like myself, I suggest you follow Lihn Phan’s @bescene on Instagram for inspiration. If you’re afraid experimenting with the color of your hair I recommend you try Bleach London or Stargazer semi-permanent colors which only last for a few washes. And then who knows? You might fall in love with your new shade and run straight to your hairstylist to make it stay for as long as you wish.

Obsession #2 – Backpack

One of my surprises involves a trip far far away from my home base which I hope I will be v-logging for you. But since I started planning the trip I realized my wardrobe is missing a traveller’s most basic accessory: the backpack. So I searched..
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Moschino backpack available at luisaviaroma.com for $695
Mmm.., “too preppy”…  so I searched..
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Michael Kors studded backpack for $358 at Macy’s.
too many studs… and I searched..
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Chanel graffiti backpack available on eBay for around $15,000
GEE! I ain’t gonna spend this much on a backpack despite its beauty!!!
So I ended up being obsessed with Rebecca Minkoff ‘s Julian, available at Bloomingdales for $395 (or BHD 160). It gives the boho impression I was looking for and it’s not as pricey as others.8723485_fpx.tif
But I don’t know whether to buy the leather or the suede version, which takes us to:

Obsession #3 Suede

And by the way, THE TREND for autumn 2015. Apart from my suede booties I love suede pants and suede bags. Suede may be delicate but I love its texture and slouchiness. And here is my Proenza Schouler PS1 pride. Bought from matchesfashion.com  who btw offer free shipping for a limited time! IMG_2686

Obsession #4 Clogs

Talking about suede, another trend coming from the 70’s is invading our wardrobe this season and it’s amazing in suede: Clogs! You can go with the Gucci horsebit-detailed ones in the picture available from Netaporter for $795 or check the much less expensive options from UGG. Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.35.27 AMMy UGGs were quite a deal at $49,99 ! Yes you read correct. Here are my suede perforated clogs for the season:

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Obsession #5 Perfume

Chanel Coco Noir. Maybe the most expensive of all Chanel’s perfumes (35 ml at about $125) but let me tell you: it’s pure black magic.

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Obsession #6S – I meant iPhone 6S

My tweet at Apple’s last year event was:

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You know, my obsession with rose gold dates back in 2013… or even earlier. When iPhone 6s finally arrives in rose gold, how can I ignore it? 14211-9572-iphone6s-spalsh-l

Obsession #7 Camel Coat 

I know it’s kinda early and with the hot weather here my chances wearing a coat are rather low to zero. Maybe that’s why I haven’t bought one yet even if I have been lusting it for the last two years and believe it to be the ultimate winter wardrobe basic. I can still look for one though, right?
Balenciaga Camel Coat at matchesfashion.com
Balenciaga Camel Coat at matchesfashion.com
So, what are your obsessions for this season?

Iphone 6 is here!

While Americans and British line up outside Apple stores to get their hands on the newest iPhone addition, all family is set up to attend Apple’s Live Event…. from our couch. Praise Apple TV!
To watch the event everyone is talking about each and every year.. tune in here.
Let’s see what we will see..
Update 10:05: event started with Chinese translation on the background. #weird
Update: 10:06: live stream is cutting off, so there are two iPhones launched, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+.. That I saw.. And then black.
Update 10:08: live stream stopped working.
Update 10:26: It’s up again but The Chinese lady at the background is so annoying I think I will stop watching.
Update 10: 39: Blahh.. Cut again… Just put it together guys and will watch it once ready. No big deal about it. I better watch a movie.
LAST Update.. What iPhone 6? It’s all about Apple Watch and I definitely want one!
By the way:
Apple is giving U2’s new album to every iTunes Store customer in 119 countries.
The album is already in your iTunes music library. All you have to do is tap to download it…

BMW M Active Drive Event At BIC

Every year BMW and Euro Motors Bahrain host the Active Drive event at Bahrain International Circuit. The aim is to give drivers the pleasure of test driving the latest BMW car models in the extreme conditions of a racing circuit so they can feel with all their senses (and adrenaline pumping) the cars’ performance.

After a short introduction on the technical characteristics of the cars and the rules of driving in the circuit, the participating drivers are divided into teams and they are ready to go. Every couple of laps they switch positions (driver/co-driver) and then change cars so they can drive all the car models… A lovely race which is as interesting and as exciting as a professional one.

For safety reasons drifting was a no-no for the participating drivers and it was disabled from the cars’ systems.. The instructors made it up for us though and gave us an amazing ride… full of drifting..

Watch the Video!

The adventure begins

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Oh boy! Oh boy! Finally, I am test driving my new iMac and does this hi-tech genius make wonders! So easy to use!

Well, I just got back after spending one month in the US (part of the shopping frenzy I got into is my new iMac too) and have so much to share with you. I’m sure I left you in good hands and we all got some interesting reads from Dona. Now it’s her turn to take a long vacation while I will be entertaining you with some amazing stories and photos from overseas (give me some more time to get ahold of the video editing on my iMac and promise I will share videos too).

Although I was too busy in making the most of my journey in the US and my gadgets’ technical issues left me unable to share my experiences on the spot, I still posted some photos on my Instagram so if you want to have a look of what’s going to follow here, then go and follow @idol_image on your Instagram! (I always follow back 🙂 )

My holidays are not over yet and soon I will be hitting the beaches on some Greek coast. But we’ll get to that too 🙂

The jet-lag is getting me and need to go for now, will be back with a clearer mind shortly! In the meantime, have a great weekend,

Evie V.

My birthday wish: The Smart Ebike

ebikeMy birthday is near and I have been taking my wish list out… Hmmm I would love to have the Smart Ebike for birthday present but unfortunately they don’t bring it in Bahrain… But I have been thinking of buying it from Europe and having it shipped here. We’ll see. Meanwhile I just admire its simple design and lines on photos.

Just for the history, since in Bahrain and with the F1 coming up this weekend, the world’s first owners of the new smart ebike were The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg who were given their futuristic ebikes last year before the start of the F1 season.

With an unconventional design in line with the style of the brand, functions appropriate for city use and high technology standards that are demonstrated by the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package and high-quality components, the smart ebike has an exceptional position and guarantees dynamic, safe and fun cycling.

As a pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) the smart ebike is strictly speaking a hybrid vehicle: the electric motor switches on as soon as the rider starts pedalling. Muscle power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a lubricant-free, durable and quiet belt drive in place of a conventional bicycle chain.

Sounds pretty cool, eh?

On the other hand, the roads in Bahrain are not at all cyclist – friendly, not to mention the hot weather… Maybe I should be looking further down on my wish list, for the time being at least.