When I first got contacted by a Norwegian family who wanted me to be their au-pair (this is how I came to Norway), they sent me a bunch of photos with their kids and a notice: “The sunny photos are not from Norway”. It was 13 years ago, and I still remember that sentence – such a weird comment, I thought. Why did they feel necessary to mention that? So that I don’t get all rosy about those beach photos and think that town of Haugesund where they lived looked like Miami? 🙂 After spending some months in Haugesund, I knew for sure why the sunny pics could not be taken there: it was raining all year around. The west coast of Norway is famous for the rainy weather, and the seasons look pretty much alike there, all grey and wet, with some temperature variations.
Recently I was looking through my mobile photos from the last year and had to admit: I love coffee shots. I seldom post my drink pics on social media – but I keep on taking them. I don’t know why. Maybe, it is the feeling of the moment, the harmony of here and now, or it is some sacred geometry there – but I make sure I snap a pic of a cup and it feels so right. I thought that making a compilation of coffee (and some random tea) cups would be a nice idea – and since I got into playful mood about asking you to guess this and that some weeks ago, I decided to make it a riddle time.
So here are some coffee compilations from five countries. Can you guess where do they come from? The only hint would be similar to that of my Norwegian guest family: the sunny coffees are not from Norway 🙂 I give no further hints, since these are the countries that are not exotic to my blog. They have been covered here, even with some of these images already (and if you check under my travel tag, you will meet all of the places ;)). So let’s play! Who’s ready?
Last Monday I posted a guessing game of doors and windows – and here is the right answer to it: a city in the South of Catalonia with a pretty name of Tarragona. I was surprised of how fast the right answers popped up in the comments – and of the smart strategies some used to find out 🙂
Tarragona got my heart and I cannot keep silent about my love. The town is only a 1,5 hour away from Barcelona and is a perfect destination for a day-trip from the Catalan capital. So when you are in Barcelona and want new horizons to explore – go to Tarragona! In a way it resembles Barcelona – but it also has its own distinct history dating back to Romans, its own style and atmosphere. So you get some kind of deja vu, but Tarragona has its own power to enchant you. Here are my reasons to visit this pretty place.
Last Sunday we took a walk to Frognerparken and looked inside of the City Museum (Bymuseet) which is located there. Right now there is an exhibition about the history of Oslo called “Oslove” (which is a popular hashtag here on Instagram). It was interesting to see the development of old town of Kristiania (which was here before Oslo) into the modern capital.
I especially liked the wall with photographs of people who came to Oslo from different places in the world in the past century. Some of the photos had handles and if you pull it will open a little window where you can read about a person and see more photos or things. My first window was about a Ukrainian man who came to Oslo a hundred years ago and started a cigarette production. He was a Jew born in Kiev, and left Ukraine not out of fun, as I understood. As I was reading, I hoped that one day I also will be able to leave my mark on this city. I also left Ukraine not out of fun, but looking for a better life, like that man. In the end, he was able to build it with his own hands. I am still in the process of building and doubting.
I don’t know any other capital that is so caring about its village-like streets and views as Oslo. Where I come from, the village is associated with something retarded and uncool, and so everyone strives toward bigger cities, their coolness, their lights. Cities are modern, interesting, promising. The village is old-fashioned, boring and has little opportunity. I have been in many cities of Europe, and many of them have something in common, just as they are unique. But nowhere have I met so much country-like charm in the middle of the capital like in Oslo.
With all the events of the past weeks I have neglected my photowalks in Oslo. But I still feel the need to share its beautiful corners and lovely streets. So today I want to present my favorite neighborhood – Grunerløkka. It became hipster recently after having undergone the gentrification. It used to be a cheap and shabby area with weird population, then it became popular among artists and students for its cheapness, and now – as it usually happens – it is a neighborhood with many restaurants, cafes, bars and small shops. Which are mostly quirky, vintage and small businesses, but the big chains have appeared here too in the past couple of years squeezing the small owners out of the area. Grunerløkka, or shortly Løkka, is full of life and attracts people from other parts of the city for eating out or hanging in its bars.
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.
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.
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.
Today I would like to start new series of posts about the city where I live. That was partly inspired by the rainy weather this week when I felt stuck at home and was browsing my older photos. I have discovered that when you cannot get out and shoot, you can be creative with all those pics. Creativity is motivated better by constrains than by freedom, according to science and Eric Barker, and I agree with that now.
My second inspiration came from talking to the fellow blogger Estrella of La Casabloga about living in the cities which other people find wonderful and how we get surprised by it. I have lived in Oslo for 10 years and lost that freshness that makes you open your eyes widely in awe. I spent my first years wandering around the city, taking pictures with my old camera. But now I got used to it, and then watching pics on Instagram (hashtag beautiful destinations) makes me dream away to places like Paris and London. And good old Oslo? Oslo is still here, but when did it stop to excite me? So with these new series I want to reinvent my attitude to Oslo, to explore it anew and share it on the blog.
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.