Once I fell in love with the notion of Experimental Life (introduced by Jonathan Fields on my favorite podcast The Good Life Project). It proposes to see our projects not in the terms of succeeding/failing but in terms of an experiment: whatever outcome is, you have collected some data. This gives a kinder perspective on what we use to call “mistakes”. And it also encourages me to test different lifestyle habits without letting it define me. Last year I had an experiment of doing a social media detox and I wrote about it here – later also I went off Instagram for three months. Now I want to share why I did it and what I have learnt from it.
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?
Every year, in the weird season between winter and spring, the same thing happens: the UN Happiness Report is released. Every year here in the Northern edge of Europe we delight ourselves in discussing its outcomes. It looks like the report is released in the month of March especially for our part of the world: while other places start watching spring signs, we still walk the icy streets, covered in winter layers, wondering if the meters of snow will ever melt this year. And our only novelty and a topic for discussion is this: who is the world’s happiest country this year? Because it is us. Or our neighbors.
The first place in the happy ranking was occupied by Denmark for so many years that everyone just had to give up. But last year Norway suddenly squeezed in to be the champion. As we shrugged from the snow and sleet in April and pulled on our last resources of patience, we looked at each other with disbelief and amusement: look, we live in the world’s happiest country, what a surprise! The top five was occupied by our Nordic neighbors: Denmark, Iceland and even Finland, with one non-Nordic country (what was that again?) miraculously making its way into the top. This year Norway was moved to the second place, but by whom? By Finland, ladies and gentlemen! I felt like laughing hysterically. The positions reshuffle but you would find the same countries in the top. It looks like the Nordics are really better than the rest of the world: at least, at answering those surveys 🙂
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?
Country # 1.
If we were having coffee again. This kind of writing – partly catching up, partly me rambling about everything – feels very natural to me. Though I consider myself a bit introvert – I prefer to talk more than to listen. And, of course, talk about myself 🙂 Many look really sceptic when I say that I used to define myself as an introvert – and I understand why :))) So this is another post with a hashtag “if we were having coffee” – about everything and nothing special. Just the way I like!
Cactus life. My cactus seems unhealthy to my eye. I bought it last year and was so happy about my first cactus at home! Totally hipster home now 🙂 But now, after only one year, it doesn’t look ok, having lost its nice green color. And tell me, how can you neglect a cactus?! Isn’t it a kind of plant that suits best all those who are disasters at taking care of plants? I watered it once a month like I was told in a shop – not too much. It missed sunlight, standing on my table, so I moved it on the window sill. But how can a window spot help when the winter lasts five months and the sun is so seldom? I guess, the heart of the cactus just couldn’t bear it anymore. And, I tell you what, I have so much empathy with it. Dear cactus, you reflect my attitude very well. Just that my face is a shade greener than yours 🙂
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.