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.
light as the main character
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Yesterday I took part in the Norwegian citizenship ceremony. Even though I had received my citizenship half a year ago, this ceremony felt like a watershed to me. I slowly start to realize that I am not a guest here anymore, that this is my home too. And that I can breathe out, be proud of how far I came and start building something. Leaving the stress behind. Leaving the story of “poor me who has to fight for everything” behind.
Maybe, connected to this event or not, recently I am more aware of how Norwegian I have become in all these years. Today I want to share a simple list of the changes that would have seemed peculiar to me 10 years ago. But now they are my second nature, and it took some effort to step back and notice what is different to me now.
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The snow has swept across Europe causing troubles and wonders. Paris looks so beautiful in the snow, and, as it doesn’t happen often there, it seems that everyone took a day off to go to the park, make a snowman, take a photo and post it on Instagram. Snow has fallen on the deserted beaches of Barcelona and has created chaos in the north of Catalonia. It was a protagonist on the Catalan news last night. Also in Moscow the extreme volumes of snow created problems for the traffic. As we sit here in our Norwegian homes and watch all these breaking news on tv, I wonder: when will they come here and film our snow?
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My post about the perks of being Norwegian has got great support among my Facebook friends and I got many compliments for it a day later at a friend’s party. There was a note of surprise in their tone which was suspicious – am I usually not as positive? 🙂 So I had to reassure them: “Don’t worry, the negative post is just around the corner. It is already half-baked in the oven. First you catch the attention by the positive one – and then swoosh, comes the negative one. This is what I call strategic blogging, hehe”.
This was not far away from the truth, since I had written a draft a month earlier – about what I like and dislike about a typical Norwegian. The post was half-baked indeed. But now, on the positive wave of the new year and positive confirmation – should I go back to complaining again? I have learnt my lesson: complaining doesn’t work (it took me a long time, but at last I learnt it *grin*). And it is much better to keep the focus on the things I like instead of going through what I don’t like. But on the other side, I feel that I am hiding. I have my ideas and I am just afraid to air them. Because they are less pleasant for Norwegians, and so I am also afraid to touch that.
I don’t want to offend anyone – and then I end up tiptoeing way too much. I also want to be more positive than negative. But still there are things I want to say – and why should I suppress my voice which is still so weak? When suddenly I got the idea of talking about myself, instead of a typical Norwegian. What about Norwegian culture that I adopted myself and don’t like?
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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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Today it was snowing again. I went for a walk – to get some fresh air and to see some colors. And where do we get it here? Right, shopping 😊 While it is winter outside, it is spring in the shops. As I had mentioned before, the shops this year exploded with shades of pink and red. Which made my girly heart aflutter.
So today I went on a color hunt/color study – an idea I got from the book “A Paris Year” by Janice MacLeod (and she got this idea in her turn from another artist and photographer). The point is: you choose a color and then go out searching for it. Last year I did something like that when I dedicated to collect all things yellow. Suddenly they were popping everywhere. It was a fun way to wait for the spring. Today my goal was: pink!
I love pink. I never had a Barbie in my life. I was born in Soviet Union, and the Barbies arrived only aftee its fall. I was 12 then, I wanted a Barbie to make clothes for her, but in my family the scarce money could not be spent on dolls. Because of that I never got too much of pink, and when Austrians laughed of Barbie pink, when I lived in Austria, I secretly loved it. I still love it. And seeing it on trend this year makes me joyful. Our eyes get so tired of shy Scandinavian colors like gray and beige, and in winter there is too much of dark color. But when fashion gods said to wear red and romantic, Norwegians obeyed. Suddenly the streets were more like in the South, with red coats, floating ruffles and embroidered pieces. And now – pink. Lovely, just lovely.
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The soul is asking for color while the world outside is black and white. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen the sun. And then it popped out – for the whole day. Luckily, that day was Sunday so everyone took his skis and went skiing. We went for a walk around the lake Sognsvann, with hundreds of other sun-thirsty souls, who created a traffic jam around the parking space. But it was ok because – the sun! The nature in winter is so beautiful, I was sighing with regret of not having taken my camera with me, while simultaneously freezing my toes off. I didn’t check Facebook that day but I am sure it was full of happy sunny pictures with a capture like “ut på tur, aldri sur” which means “out for the walk, never sour” (a very well-used phrase that has become a cliche, but people still use it – without irony).
As I went to check the winter sale and see what’s new in the shops (my favorite activity), I was so happy to discover multiple shades of pink and red on display. At last! At last we can throw off our gray and black clothes this spring season. Norwegian street style is very careful in color palette, and it is great when fashion makes us wear red and pink. Some years ago it was considered way too girlish. Now it is officially in, and my inner child, who has never had a Barbie in her life, is rejoicing. Let’s rock that Barbie style! Let’s bring color to the streets!
It has been a while since I made a post for my hashtag “5 things”. I can’t even remember the last time. April? But these days I got inspired by the pretty details at home and collected them for this post. The most color-hunting I did at home was for pink (are you surprised? Me not). I hope also to go out for some color-hunting and share it with you. But for now let’s enjoy the small pleasures of inside life which feels so natural to lead in the winter season.
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