Where Is This Pretty Place?

Monday, Monday…  I have noticed that it is popular here on WordPress to attach a theme to a day: Thursday Doors, Meet-a-blogger Friday, Book Wednesday. It looks somehow American to me, am I wrong? I like the idea but I cannot imagine I could introduce such thing – and keep up to its schedule. I tried to create a regular post theme called “5 things” a year ago – for a collection of things that inspire me in the moment. And last time I did such a post was in April last year. My oh my… Regular categories are not for me 🙂

So I would love to attach some funny tag to Monday – but I don’t want to make more commitments. This space here is for learning to walk with inspiration and creativity, and I have enough scheduling in other parts of my life, so why schedule more? Some bloggers however prefer making a content plan and sticking to it, or picking up a commitment which helps them to stay on track. I am a true hippie in this regard, running wild and free 🙂 And what is your blogging style?

There are routines I love though. I love Mondays because after the free and scattered spirit of the weekend I can get back to my desk. I really like my Monday solitude and feel like a true writer, hehe. Getting back to work. Coffee and my notebook. My notebook and coffee. Not a computer even, no. Hand writing is the best. I cannot call it work because I write my morning pages (a practice picked from “The Artist’s Way”) – but I am serious about it like it were work. In this moment I feel myself totally at home. And even the weather doesn’t matter (are you kidding me?). If the sun is shining, I smile, if it is replaced by the weird snow storm (like right now) I am still focused on the paper.

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Barcelona: Parc del Clot

My heart is very ready for spring, but the weather is still showing us its black-an-white movie. The winter didn’t think of stepping back and promises a cold week ahead with temperatures down to -15 Celsius (at night). No spring signs so far. I notice that my eyes are hungry for green so I browse Pinterest for tropical themes. My body shifts again, wanting less of heavy winter food and craving for fresh vegetables, so I need to make more green smoothies now. If you are in the same boat of green cravings, let me take you on a walk through one of the parks of Barcelona.

the windows to summer

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Winter Light: Canet del Mar

The winter sun is a seldom visitor here in Norway, thus more precious. I try to catch its few rays whenever it’s possible. While my memories take me back to a very different February. Last year we spent some weeks exploring wonderful Catalonia. While Barcelona is its jewel, there are so many more hidden treasures.

As I browse through my old pictures, I get carried away. If you want to get carried away too, follow me in this mental journey. Let’s go to a little town by the seaside which is full of light on a regular February day. Let me present to you Canet del Mar, not famous but charming little place. Let’s walk its narrow streets, take notice of its modernist details and imagine living in its small houses. If I were a painter I would come here with my painting set and study the art of Mediterranean light which is so lovely in winter.

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The neighborhood I heart: Clot

Last year I started a project of presenting the neighborhoods of Barcelona. After two posts my ambitious project went on pause (you can check it out under the tag barrios in this blog). This is so me: so many ideas, but not so much will to follow through. Does it happen to you too?

But – better late than never – I pick up that idea now. Because there are still neighborhoods for which I want to share my love. And today let me present my most hearted one, my secret pearl. In a way, I don’t want to attract too much of attention to it – but since my blog is not read by thousands of travelers (luckily, hehe), I can still share and not be afraid of mass tourism flooding that part of the city 🙂

Why do I love Clot? Because, first, whenever I stay in Barcelona my home is always there. Second, it is old and very authentic, close to the city centre but with totally different vibe. I remember my first visit to Barcelona as a tourist. My friend drew me to the beach, while I was dreaming of walking through narrow streets, looking into cafes, spotting locals and trying to feel the city’s soul. Little did I know then that I would be doing it regularly while visiting Barcelona more often than my home country Ukraine 🙂 And one of the best places to feel that local authentic life, not spoiled by tourist crowds, is Clot. The neighborhood is a mixture of old buildings and new blocks, with locals sitting on the benches of the market square, hanging on the bar terraces, walking with dogs and playing football in the park. This is where I feel the most of how Barcelona was meant to be. Before the mass tourism changed the face of the city.

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In the Middle of Catalan Situation

We happened to come to Barcelona just in the middle of the historical events. But that didn’t happen by chance. My man is Catalan and born in Barcelona, he wanted to come for voting in the referendum. There has been a long process leading to this moment, both for him and for his country.

On Saturday, a day before referendum, we went to Salou, a tourist town close to Tarragona, for the celebration of the wedding anniversary of his friend. Saturday night was spent in eating, laughing and dancing. Sunday morning the alarming reports started to leek in. The police were closing the stations. The government was closing the systems for registrations. But then it became possible to vote in any place. So we searched for a school in Salou and found a crowd of people outside, but the voting was not possible because the system was down. We got directions for another place, but decided to drive back to Barcelona and do it there.

IMG_0681

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A Dream of Paris

Maybe, not everyone has a dream city, but I have always had. One of them was – and is – Paris. That case when your dream of Paris is bigger than the city itself. I have been several times in the City of Light, and still my thirst has not been quenched. Of this I was reminded recently when a book title started to pop into my eyes.

The book title is “A Paris Year” by Janice MacLeod. It appeared in several places, like a little case of synchronicity. The book is partly a journal, and partly a visual memoir, filled with photos and author’s drawings. I just have to get this book in paper and hold it in my hands. And imagine that this is my journal from the future. Because it looks like the author is living my dream.

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French Road Trip: Montpellier

I am a lover of all things French and a self-proclaimed student of art of life. I say, of art de vivre, because for me this form of art is developed by the French to its best expression)) In this post I want to share what I have learnt so far from them and the impressions of our road trip in the South of France.

The start was here, in Perpignan, and I was slightly unimpressed by it. There was not enough Frenchness there to my taste, which is touristic and brought up by the classical images of Paris and Provence. That changed when we came to Montpellier, a pretty city, totally unknown to me. It had all the elegance of the French city, the signature architecture and the color scheme, and I immediately fell in love.

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French Road Trip: Perpignan

This summer I didn’t travel as much as I used to. The positive effect of it: I had time to browse my old photos (because usually I just take them and never look back at them while rushing forward). I have discovered a lot of beauty which I shot this February while traveling around Catalonia and Southern France. So, if there are no trips to share from this summer, there is enough to share from this winter. Which is also fine! 🙂

Today I will start posting about our road trip in Southern France. Our route was: Barcelona – Perpignan – Montpellier – Avignon – Aix-en-Provence – Nimes. We stayed a night in every town, except for Avignon and Nimes where we stayed for two nights, and the whole route took totally one week. Staying every night in a new location can be also draining as we found out. As exciting as it is, traveling can be a hard job 😉 But we don’t complain!

So our first stop was Perpignan, just three hours drive from Barcelona. Riding on French motorway is fun, listening to the French radio and Spanish GPS. We successfully missed the exit to Perpignan centre and had to drive 7 km further – just to turn around and drive 7 km back to the centre. Beware of that, if you decide to go to Perpignan. It comes on you unexpectedly.

Perpignan
Welcome to Perpignan

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Dreamer in Rovinj 

Once I had a dream to rent a flat in Italy and pretend I live there. Just for some weeks. Cook pasta, open a bottle of white wine and eat my dinner on the balcony. And just now I realized – I don’t need that anymore. Here I am – back in Rovinj, melting with happiness. Renting a flat. For some weeks. Cooking my pasta. A bottle of local liquor stored. No balcony though, but there is an amazing sunset show just outside of my window. So I open my windows and sit with my pasta on the window sill. Which restaurant has a view compared to mine from the flat under the roof? 
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food in Croatia

Split, Spritz and Spagetti. Eating in Croatia

In this post I continue telling the story of my “eat pray love” project that I did in Croatia last summer. This is the “eat” part and the rest of the story you can find under the tag eatpraylove on this blog. I know, I have promised my report of the yoga retreat, and it is going to be that last part, just to make sure you are intrigued and waiting 🙂

The week of  salsa festival was over after the Sunday night party. We didn’t sleep that night because my friend was catching a bus to the airport at 7.30 in the morning. So we decided to dance that night away, but no one was really dancing, not us at least. We were wandering from hall to hall, tired after the week of partying, observing how empty the space was getting. After I walked my friend to the bus station, I slept 4 hours, got up and hurried to the last event: the party boat with Cuban music. That was a great end to the week, such an exclamation mark instead of a full stop.

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