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.
I have written for a while under a tag “expat” – but the more I was writing, the more I understood that this doesn’t apply to me. There is a taste to the word “expat”, sweet and free, that is unfamiliar to my palate. I am more an immigrant and less an expat in Norway. Somewhere I have read a discussion of the differences between immigrants and expats, and since then this thought hasn’t left me. How would I explain that difference? In my post “Thriving in Norway” I made a try of explaining – and I feel that I have so much more to say about feelings of an immigrant. And how they differ from other kinds of foreigners.
We, foreigners in Norway, often view ourselves as a big group as opposed to the group of native Norwegians. But we tend to forget that this big group is not homogenous, and as we experience difficulties understanding the locals – we may also face difficulties understanding other foreigners with whom we identify us. I get a skin-close experience of it since I live together with another foreigner – and sometimes it feels like we have lived in two different countries, though we have lived in the same city in the same country of Norway for the past 11 years (20 in his case). Let me explore the differences.
Monday, Monday… I have noticed that it is popular here on WordPress to attach a theme to a day: Thursday Doors, Meet-a-blogger Friday, Book Wednesday. It looks somehow American to me, am I wrong? I like the idea but I cannot imagine I could introduce such thing – and keep up to its schedule. I tried to create a regular post theme called “5 things” a year ago – for a collection of things that inspire me in the moment. And last time I did such a post was in April last year. My oh my… Regular categories are not for me 🙂
So I would love to attach some funny tag to Monday – but I don’t want to make more commitments. This space here is for learning to walk with inspiration and creativity, and I have enough scheduling in other parts of my life, so why schedule more? Some bloggers however prefer making a content plan and sticking to it, or picking up a commitment which helps them to stay on track. I am a true hippie in this regard, running wild and free 🙂 And what is your blogging style?
There are routines I love though. I love Mondays because after the free and scattered spirit of the weekend I can get back to my desk. I really like my Monday solitude and feel like a true writer, hehe. Getting back to work. Coffee and my notebook. My notebook and coffee. Not a computer even, no. Hand writing is the best. I cannot call it work because I write my morning pages (a practice picked from “The Artist’s Way”) – but I am serious about it like it were work. In this moment I feel myself totally at home. And even the weather doesn’t matter (are you kidding me?). If the sun is shining, I smile, if it is replaced by the weird snow storm (like right now) I am still focused on the paper.
It is the middle of March already. Do you feel the spring somehow? Here in Oslo the sun shows its face for the third day in a row, making our greenish faces happy and smiling 🙂 Feeling the sun on my skin, I can tell that the seasons are changing, the sun got warmer and soon the first signs of spring will come. It is such a joy for me every year: it is like a victory of life over death. When the first buds appear, I know: we have survived again 🙂
But so far the winter doesn’t want to give up its positions. While the sun tries to melt some snow on the roofs, creating icicles (and threatening our walks), the temps this week fell to -15 at night. Gosh, I have no words for describing how tired I am of this eternal winter. Sometimes it looks like here in the North our seasons are: white and dark winter, light winter, green winter, yellow and rainy winter. All the snow that felt and melted a week ago turned into a blank ice on the streets, and I notice that my feet know so many ways to walk in winter. Heels down first in the mix of snow and salt, fishbone pattern when the snow melts, trying not to slide into the water from the ice on the side, side-side on the black ice. I never knew I could say so much about different quality of snow, ice and road conditions 🙂 So before the ice is gone from our streets, I don’t breathe out with light heart. It is still early to say that we have survived this winter 🙂
On the bright side, the Happiness Report is out again. It always comes out in this boring season when everyone is waiting for the spring but the weather still plays winter games. And it looks like the report was made for cheering up the Nordic countries in this weird period. Because, guess what guess who, the first place this time is taken by Finland! Norway was moved to the second place, and the top is still crowded by the Nordic countries. Haha, very funny. Have these researchers ever been here? 🙂 I have heard a lot about Finland lately, and to be honest, those reports didn’t hint that Finland could win that happiness competition. But it looks they did it anyway, so congratulations! 🙂
While somewhere they already talk about the spring – look how much snow there is in the forest around Oslo! On Friday night I wrote a post about thriving in Norway – on Saturday I had a chance to practice what I preach 🙂
The past weekend we had visitors from Barcelona: the nephew of Carles and his girlfriend. A young couple of 19 year-olds, eager for the Nordic experience. So we took them to the woods. Or, wait a second, to that very famous Norwegian wood 🙂 We started from the frozen lake Sognsvann where you can walk on in winter and walked up the hill, in the snow, along the ski trails. The skiers of all ages were passing us by, while we were the only ones walking there. Add to this – talking in Spanish and Catalan, video calls from the grandmother in Barcelona, kids stopping all the time to take pictures and selfies – and this is how you get a totally non-Norwegian day in the woods :))
Norwegians love to ask the newcomers to their country: “Do you like it in Norway?” (“Trives du I Norge?” which reminds of “do you thrive?”). Which is a difficult question because it doesn’t leave you an option. Well, not really 🙂 Saying no would be rude. And it also would call for a reaction “so why do you stay if you don’t like it?” So, you say yes. I used to say yes with a feeling that I am lying. I could not honestly answer that I like it here, but what could I say? After some years I used to answer “yes” more honestly but still halfheartedly. I would usually say: “Yes, I like it here. After you build your life here, you have more friends and you like it more”.
Norwegians are sweet in this curiosity. In a way they still feel that theirs is a little country up in the North and why would someone come and stay here? It is also a common question if you begin in a new job, they would ask “do you like it?” (trives du?). But it took me many years to accept this question. I felt like I was suffering from the loneliness for quite a long time here and it colored my experience of the country. And even after I got some friends I felt like a lone fighter in this cold landscape, having no one to count on but myself. The struggles were many, and leaving for home was not an option for me.
I have been a lifelong fan of door collections. My first love for them happened 10 years ago when I was in a shop of the National Gallery in Oslo and saw two posters “Doors of Oslo” and “Doors of Trondheim”. The simple geometry of those posters captured my heart. Half a year later I travelled to Trondheim and amused myself by walking in its half-empty streets and taking photos of doors.
That love was rekindled by my obsession about Instagram, some years ago. In my search for beauty in my surroundings I turned to the doors again. And after my Instagram fever went down, I thought I was done with the door hunting (why collecting if not sharing, right?). Then again I was reminded of it by the fellow blogger Manja and her Thursday doors posts. And I thought… Why should I stop making collections if my Instagram being didn’t turn out to be what I expected? My love is still there. And I am happy to have found a new place to share this love.