This will be the start of my road trip tale. Even though New York can feel like a whole universe, we wanted to see more. Once you fly over the ocean, you want to explore – but what to choose? USA is such a big country, and there is so much to visit! We settled on traveling along the East Coast – visiting three cities in the North (New York, Philly and Washington), flying to Atlanta and from there driving through Savannah and down South, all the way through Florida, visiting Saint Augustin, Cocoa Beach, Orlando, the natural park of Everglades, Miami and all the way down to Key West, at the end of the island chain stretching between the ocean and the Caribbean sea.
So, after three days in New York we took an early train to Philadelphia. It was a rainy day in NYC, good enough to leave the place – but Philly expected us with low temps around zero, cold wind and light snow. That’s why the alternative title to this post was “Feeling Chilly in Philly” 🙂 And as we usually do our exploring by walking, the weather made it challenging. But we made it any way, along with some disappointments and enchantments. Here I will share them all.
Norwegian airline had this funny ad when launching their flights to USA. We see typical American images – Italian mafia-looking guys on the corner, roller-skating girls on a beach promenade, policemen holding a coffee cup and a donut – everyone on hold, every movement frozen. Then the red-tailed Norwegian plane lands and – “action”. Traffic starts moving and honking, Italians start talking, the policemen bite those donuts, the girls roll. Two Norwegian girls cross the street and a handsome guy asks them “How are you doin’?” And they say excited to each other: “Just like in the movies”.
What can I say, folks, about my first time in NYC? It’s just like in the movies! I kept on recognizing everything that I’d seen million times before. The subway entrances, the smoke from the sewer, the steps leading to the front door (like in “Sex and the City”), the fire staircases on the facades. And no matter the cold, the noise, the overpriced dinners – it was a thrilling feeling.
If you happen to travel in the North of Catalonia, make sure to pop by in Empuriabrava, the town of channels. If you check it in Google Maps, you will see that this place has as many channels as streets 🙂 It seems also that it has as many boats as cars 🙂
If you don’t own a boat, it’s ok. You can always take a touristic boat ride, or stroll along the main street and the biggest channel, watching the houses by the water, the boats with a mountain backdrop – and dream about spending a summer here … or about whatever you want to dream of :))
What to do on a rainy weekend in Oslo? I feel a slight inclination to fall into an early autumn depression – but let’s find something more positive to do :)) Though the rain doesn’t promise to stop, and this weekend seems like a copy of the previous one. We live now in a quiet area, just outside of the city. Between fields, forests and fjords. Which is all lovely but… But I don’t have all those rain clothes needed to go walking in such weather.
So I sit inside, sip coffee and go through my photos from our short vacation in Italy. Where we went in June to visit the friends’ wedding on the Amalfi coast. It was the most beautiful wedding ever. So if you want to have something special for a wedding, I give you this advice for free :)) Amalfi coast.
The wedding was in a little fisher village Erchie, and we stayed in a neighbor village Cetara (pronounced Che-tara, oh how I love the sound of it! :)) It was just a couple km away, and looked like a short walk. Little did we now about the only road on Amalfi coast, on the cliff, with cars, scooters, buses and pedestrians all together on one narrow street… But that would make another story 🙂
Why I love living in Barcelona. Because on any given evening I can walk out of the house with camera in hand, stroll aimlessly and feel inspired. And feel exploring. And feel love.
Last week I went out for a stroll to a neighborhood, not far from mine, called Sant Andreu. Sant Andreu looks like a little pueblo, a village of its own. And it is has the truth in it, because it used to be a separate village before being integrated in the city of Barcelona. Sant Andreu is full of narrow streets shaded by orange trees, cobblestone walks and sweet little houses. But this text is not going to be about it. Neither the photos (well, some are but not exclusively).
Walking in those narrow streets, I breathed in and realized that the air I breathe in – is love. The love for a place. Barcelona at that moment reminded me of three places I love so much: Kiev, Malaga and Rovinj.
This weekend we took a short drive out of this busy city – to the lovely little town of Sitges. Without knowing we got into Carrera – a meeting of old cars. And old not like from 50s, but from the beginning of the century (that is, of the last century :)). This is what I like about this country. There will be always a festivity that you can unexpectedly run into. That feature I still want to write about. This is so Barcelona, and so Catalonia, with all its neighborhood festivals, farmer celebrations, carnivals and other events. Which makes me wonder when these people find time to work :))
Coming back to Barcelona, in the twilight hour, is like coming back to love. At entering the city I see the Olympic ring, the hotel Vela (officially Hotel W, but the locals call it Vela, which means the sail, for its prominent form), the fun-colored Torre Agbar and the Columbus column just before we duck into the tunnel under the city centre. When we come out of it, there are the two skyscraper towers – the famous sign of the Port Olympic. And all those landmarks are appearing like on the skyline pictures of Barcelona. Only Sagrada Familia missing.
What if cities were people? I remember a friend saying to me: “Everybody says that Moscow is a she, but I would disagree. European cities are feminine, but Moscow is a very masculine one”. I believe that every city has its soul and I am always eager to explore it when traveling. Today I want to share my impressions of some cities whose heart I got to know. I am very curious if you agree or disagree on my conclusions about their character.
From every place I visit, I try to take with me this one souvenir: a food story. My friend even noticed once: “You talk so much about food!”” which made me blush at first (Who? Me, so cultural and philosophical? :)) But then I realized: how can one love life without loving to eat? It is the closest connection to passion, a very physical experience. So now I continue talking about food without the false modesty. And when you go to a country like Italy how can you leave the food out? That’s why my postcards this time will be part photos, part juicy memories.
I had been to Rome once before, when, on a five-day trip, I visited Milano, Florence and Rome. When my friends asked me about my plans for the trip I honestly said: pizza, pasta, tiramisu. This time my goals were not so clearly pronounced, but it was clear: it is going to be much about pizza and pasta (and sometimes risotto) again. We even hopped on a train to Naples – to eat the best pizza in the world (which I still need to test more, because, ironically, I was not in the pizza mood and was eating pasta instead. To be precise, spaghetti vongole (with seafood) with the sea view to match it and the Capri island in the distance). Mind you, I am not the kind of travel blogger who does useful posts like “what to do” and “where to eat”. Mine are just stories that make me smile, little practical information included. Hope, it is ok with you, as it is very ok with me 🙂
Anyone else here in love with Italian design? So tell me: how, just HOW can they create so many beautiful things? How is it possible to set someone’s heart aflutter by the sight of a car? Or a moped? And I don’t even mention Italian fashion designers, all those names like Salvatore Ferragamo or Gucci that make every girl droop. But a car, like this boring four-wheel creation that men turn their heads to (if it’s not Ferrari. But… Italian names again)? I have always been a lover of small cars: Volkswagen Beetle, old and new, Ford Ka. In prehistoric times (before Instagram and blogs) I was taking photos of old Beetles around Oslo (and putting them on my Facebook). But this one has stolen my heart – and never gave it back. Fiat 500. Please, say it right: Fiat Cinquecento. Roll the name on your tongue and feel its Italian taste.
Then there is Vespa. The most humble of all things – a moped. How can you design a moped that will make everyone wanna take a photo of it? What is the secret ingredient? And when you come to Rome, this city of narrow streets and deficit for parking place, you get into Vespa and Fiat 500 paradise. The small cars are extremely popular in Rome, so I have met them all, often on one and the same corner – Mini and Fiat side by side. And, of course, there are plenty of bikes, mopeds, and Vespas seem to be parked consciously – so they match with the background. It brought me back to the theory which Elisabeth Gilbert put in her famous “Eat. Pray. Love” about why Italians are so good at cooking, fashion and music. Her point is that since the political life of Italy is so messy, and Italians feel like they have little control over it (hello, mafia), they turn their efforts to the places and people where they can influence. They cannot claim a lot from corrupt politicians – but then they can claim everything from their cooks, tailors and conductors. And so they do. Thus excellence is created.
What do you think about this theory? Does it make sense? I, however, will not put down any theories right now. I just want to share my affection for all the beautiful things that move around this city of passion, Rome. Join me, if the sight of a Vespa makes your heart buzz like a bee 🙂
The Easter weekend has seen us flying to Rome. To get some sunshine, eat some pasta, get some culture and history. We should have known better. We should have known that Rome gives not in “some” measures like a frugal Scandinavian, but in the passionate manner of a Latin lover. We, the locals of Norway, got at times overwhelmed by this generosity. Along with the sun – the storm was given to us. Along with some life – the crowds were given to us (it was, maybe, a stupid idea to go there for Easter. But I am the kind of person who better regrets what I’ve done than what I haven’t done :)). Along with some pasta – the almost religious food experience was given to us. And along with some history – the whole city gave itself to as like a living museum. On every turn and every corner there would be: another beautiful church, another ancient monument, another glamorous shop and another tourist ice cream parlor. Really, Rome was not saving on its welcome gifts.
As I am still full of different emotions and few eligible stories to tell – I will share pictures. Another word can be said about taking photos. I took some thousand of them – and it was just a tiny fraction of what I could take. Next time, if I want to take all the photos I want, I need to go there at least for a month – and spend it walking alone some hours a day. I wonder: how can you live in such beauty? In the end, you must get used to it all and stop noticing, no? Anyone here with the experience of longtime living in a beautiful Italian city? How does it feel?