Winter Lights

I wish you enough sun so that your days can be good. I wish you enough rain so that you know how to appreciate the sun.

Last night I read this phrase in the book “Kjemp for alt hva du har kjært” (Fight for everything that is dear to you) by H. K. Rohde, who was leading the police of Oslo when the terror attack of summer 2011 happened here. The book is a story of self-development and personal leadership. In Norway there are more than enough rainy days, cloudy skies and darkness – and here you learn to appreciate the sun and the light like in no other place.

Is it really dark here? You, guys, don’t live behind the polar circle and don’t have polar nights – so why winter darkness? Right, we don’t have polar nights and midnight sun like in the Northern Norway. But the days in winter are extremely short. In the darkest period, December-January, the sun rises at 9am and sets around 3pm. So the light day is short, and we spend more hours in darkness than in light. But calling it “light” and “sun” is really optimistic. Because of the low snowy clouds we happen to see the sun once in two weeks – if we are lucky. So the days look more like early evenings. You get up, wait for the light, live some hours through the grayness, and then it is night again. No wonder why winter is called mørketida, “darkness time” in Norway. I am not complaining here, but I feel a need to make this thing clear. I am not new to the cold and long winters, after all I come from Ukraine and Siberia is our neighbor (not really. Though some people believe it when I’m saying:)). My city can have colder winters than Oslo at times – but the light day is longer for a couple of hours. And I feel that difference now. After all, we all feel best with what we grew up with.

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The Perks of Being Norwegian 

I love flying from Oslo. And not in the meaning of leaving Oslo for some exciting or sunny destination (though I love that too). I mean, I love how smooth the process is. From when I step out of my front door till the moment I am in the air.

I take a tram or a bus to the central station. The ticket for it I buy in the app. I know the timetable of the trains so I know if I can make it – otherwise I take an airport express (which costs twice as much). The ticket for the train I buy in the same app (for airport express I just swipe the card, no paper ticket needed). While sitting on the train I can check in with my flight. I still often prefer to check in at the machine at the airport. Norwegian has also an easy bag drop in Oslo airport where you can scan your bag yourself and off it goes. The whole check-in process takes no more than 5 minutes. I still remember flying to Norway from Ukraine. Passport controls, eternal lines for check-in. And good if there were lines. Crowds. Like someone said: “When you are in the big airport like Amsterdam and looking for a check-in window to Kiev it is easy to find. All other destinations stand in line. Ukrainians stand in a crowd”. True true.

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First Anniversary 

My blog has turned one year some days ago. It turns out it was created on the day when they celebrate Los Reyes (Three wise men) in Spain. The 6th of January. Which is also Christmas Eve in Orthodox countries like my own Ukraine. So I have to divide my attention between three celebrations now. Not a bad problem, really 😊

A month before this little anniversary I started thinking about what I will write. I’ve seen blog birthday posts in my feed celebrating number of followers. I wish I could write: “And suddenly there were 2.000 followers, thank you guys for your love”. But nope, not possible. No thousands. And writing: “Now I have totally 180 followers” would sound funny, but not everyone will get the irony of it. Second, I don’t connect love and numbers. I tended to get caught in the numbers game, but not anymore. Well, only while playing bingo. But I lost the connection between feeling good and getting numbers of followers and likes  since I got off the Instagram. Instagram has even created a turn-off for numbers after I learned about mass-following: all those people who follow you so you will follow them back. There was a person who followed me three times. Wow, she really liked me! I wonder if the same things exists on WordPress. Do you think people follow you just to wake your interest for their blog? And those likes, omg, how I missed the like-button for years on Livejournal blogging platform! And now I feel like saying: “take it back! Turn it off!” The same reason: sometimes it seems to me that people hit the like-button even without seeing your post. Why otherwise can there be more likes than views of a post? Is there such thing like mass-liking here? Like you know, on Instagram you get likes from shops and other marketing platforms connected to your post.

Oh, I didn’t mean my anniversary post to be about numbers and blogging frustrations – but it looks like it becomes just about this. Lovely 😊

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The Best of 2017 (part 2)

I love writing gratitude lists to the leaving year and usually I use the first week of January for that. I also write visions for the new year (but not New year resolutions), plans and goals. As much as I love those activities, I never used to share them on the blog because that would feel like bragging to me. I am often concerned about the literature value, hehe. Like: “what would the reader get out of it?” However, doing the post about the best pictures and moments of 2017 felt so right to me – and I hope, that it felt like a positive sparkle to you. So I just have to complete that list and share the rest of that year – in pics and highlights!

after sunset in Rovinj 

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The Best of 2017

Yesterday I was re-reading the horoscope for 2017 which promised that this year would be one of my most favorite years. Well, what can I say? They didn’t lie :). The leaving year has been amazing for me. And as the December rain is washing the rest of that year away, I decided to look back and pick my most favorite photos and the best moments of this fabulous year.

My favorite picture of the winter 2017 is this shot from Barceloneta, a beach neighborhood in Barcelona. This is how February in Barcelona looks like: sunny and bright, and surfing boards blending in with the winter coats. I love this game of outfits and meanings, and I hope that my life will be more like this: the sea, the sun and the colors, and surfing easy among winter-clad people.

winter in Barcelona

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A Visit to Santa’s Town

Today I want to share my last year’s memories from our trip to Drøbak. It is a town where Santa Claus (julenisse) has his official address in Norway. The town has the post office of Santa Claus that takes itself of all letters addressed to him. As the year is closing by, I wish I could send a thank-you note to Santa Claus (with a wish list attached), but right now my energy is just enough to share those images and memories. Trying to keep up my humor in December turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. As we entered the darkest week of the year, I found myself lying flat with the flu and fever, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so bad. Though the previous week was full of positive events, I always find it so difficult to think positive in the time of sickness.

the Santa Claus’ post office

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December recipes for life

Only 13 days until the sun will turn. I wait for that day more than for Christmas. Here in Norway the winter is called mørketida, which means “the dark time”. And I came to realize that it is not the cold which is the most difficult in winter (now it is not cold at all), but the darkness. I grew up in Ukraine with cold winters – and I never complained about winters. But I grew up with the longer light day. And here what keeps me down is the light day from 9am till 3am. If we can call it light. Some days feel just light nights, or early evenings. November this year has been amazingly full of light. Little rain, a lot of sunshine. And I kept through thinking: “um, this is not so bad, I got used to Norway”. But December hit me with the short dark days and long darker nights, and I feel like a half of myself.

And this is what I like the least. Not the biting cold wind, or icy streets, or late sunrises, or no sunrises. But this version of myself. I feel reduced to 50%, like I am on the season sale already 🙂 I love that bubbly Marina that I know from summer. The one that is possible in sunnier place even in December. But this one, tired, sick, complaining – this version of myself I don’t like. But let us not stop here. Here I have stopped so many times in my life. I have pitched a tent in this place and lived there for a long period. Until I learnt: this doesn’t work. This doesn’t help. And if I don’t want to go down that road again, I have to find something that helps.

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