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.
Yesterday we were walking in the heat of +30 in Miami and watching the city from the metro mover, a little train going really high. Today we were looking at the sunrise over the snow-covered mountains of Pyrenees while landing in Barcelona. It means that we are back! Back from our USA road trip. Which will be The Epic Road Trip of my life. But that I will realize much later.
I have missed my home and my “normal” life. My bed, my fridge and my kettle. I have missed this blog! I have heard that some of you have missed me too (salut, Vero and Snow!) – oh, that is so touching! I have missed you too!
I was away for three weeks and I thought I’d throw an occasional post here (so I never warned there would be such a long silence). I was dreaming once of traveling and blogging along the way. But now really I don’t know how people do it. Because after a day of exploring – of driving, searching and finding, asking and learning – my mind was exploding inside my head (does exploring equal exploding?😆). And to create a blog post was the last idea I would pick up. So much energy went to process all the inputs, that I has nothing left to make an output. How do those travel bloggers do it?
What I appreciated during this time is Instagram (yes, I am back on it. After a year of a break from it I am back). Especially its function of Stories (sharing photos and videos just for 24 hours). I would share them in the evening, creating a visual diary of my day – without much strife for perfection. And while I have bags to unpack and million of photos to go through on my camera – I would share here some images from Instagram. If you follow me there, you’ve seen them all (if you want to follow, you’ll find me by @marina.exploring). Images and words. Because with all the respect for the visual bit, I really love words!
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 :))
There are two colors that capture the feeling of Italian Amalfi coast – the yellow, because of the lemon farms, and the blue of the sea. Btw, the wedding which we visited there in June had these two colors as their theme. And all guests arrived in all shades of blues and yellows (except those who didn’t read the event information till the end :)).
While I went browsing through those photos on a rainy day, I remembered one walk with a camera, when I thought: “Blue must be my color theme from here”. Then I forgot it. But now I remember it again! (thanks to the rainy day ;).
The blue sums up the summer in a very cheerful but also peaceful way. The sea, the cloudless sky, the shadows of the mountains in the distance… Here is my color hunt of blue, made in Italy 🙂
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 🙂
Palamos is a small and colorful town on the Costa Brava, the northern coast of Catalonia. It is a bit more classy and less touristic than other towns. It is not easy to access it from Barcelona, there is no train, only buses along the curvy roads – so the tourist masses choose another destinations, while Palamos enjoys some peace 🙂
While I am still enjoying Norwegian summer in Oslo, I wanted to share some colorful images from Catalonia. Partly, due to the lack of up-to-date photos 🙂 I forgot for a while about photowalks – though I relived my Instagram. I stopped using it last summer and was pretty happy without it. But now I felt like opening it again. Maybe, because the life in Oslo is much quiter than in Barcelona, and I miss the daily dose of being bombarded by impressions :))
Or maybe, because sitting down and writing a thoughtful post feels like more work than sharing a photo with almost no text to it. I like to use Instagram as my visual journal, though not daily and without getting too obsessed this time (@marina.exploring is my name there, if you feel like visiting). And since I’ve started teaching again (I teach the language course of Norwegian in my old school), I have so much of self-expression during the day, that there is no need left to express myself in pictures and words. I do it every day, in pictures, words and exaggerated body language :))
So, let me take you to this colorful and peaceful paradise on the Mediterranean coast!
The last weekend saw us flying to Seville for the bachelorette party of my dear friend. Most of them came from Oslo, some flew in from Amsterdam and Brusseles, and the two of us came as the last ones from Barcelona. While we were sitting on a late night plane, the crowd was already partying and bonding with another bachelor party from England. My friend said that they were cute and funny, but their minds got blown when asking “So where are you guys coming from?” She says, they were lost in the second phrase already.
“So, they are from Belarus and we are from Ukraine, she is from Venezuela, and he is Columbian. But we live in Norway. And he lives in Amsterdam. While she lives in Belgium. But the wedding is gonna be in Italy because the groom is Italian”. Are you still with me? :)) And then they asked the bachelor party: “What about you?” – “Well, we all are from UK, the bride is British, and the wedding will be in Britain”.
We arrived later from Barcelona. Otherwise we could also add to the mess: “We are Ukrainians, one lived in Netherlands, one lived in Norway, but now we are living in Barcelona”. And this is when I realized that this my normal life and this is my tribe. The international crowd who lived here and there, and then they moved – and possibly they still don’t settle. Maybe, you will find them in new places soon. And this is totally normal in my world.
But I wanted to write this post sharing my love for Seville, actually. This is why I started it. I didn’t take photos this time – and I even didn’t intend it in the heat of the weekend. But I went through my old images of Seville and found some pretty things.
There was this one winter when we did a road trip in Andalusia, Southern Spain. Driving from Malaga to Cadiz through Marbella, visiting the towns around like Sanlucar de Barrameda, then Sevilla, then Granada, and back to Malaga to fly from it to Oslo. It was late December. In Norway it was all a black and white winter tale. While in Sevilla, lost on just another hidden plaza, we were sitting on the bench and I was tilting my head up and back. Looking at the orange trees above my head.
And then at last I concluded: “This is my favorite type of winter. When there are oranges in the skies”
Winter is the season when I feel the acute need to hunt for the light and color. Today my memory brought back to me one nice winter experience that I want to share here.
Two years ago we were doing a road trip through the Southern France and stayed one day and one night in the town of Aix-en-Provence. I wish we had stayed there longer because this one is an especially pretty town, though every town on our itineary was pretty. We had come to Aix-en-Provence after four French towns, and, to be honest, we were more tired than impressed. This is when we felt that traveling is not just all excitement as most of us use to believe. Sometimes you feel more hunger for your own home kitchen and your couch than for another restaurant and hotel :))
I guess, I was more hit by the beauty of Aix-en-Provence later – looking at my photos of it, than in the moment of walking those streets. Maybe you know that this town was a favorite place of many artists, Paul Cezanne being one of them. I am a great lover of impressionists and I can see why many of them were inspired by Provence. And after studying the photos of Aix-en-Provence I can imagine where their inspiration sprang from. Join me if you want to feel like that artist! 🙂