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!
When is the adventures mostly to happen? When we travel. And there is even bigger chance when you think you are smart and got it all. I have a funny memory from my traveling in Croatia which comes from my stupid mistake.
Two years ago I decided to create my own eat.pray.love experience and wanted to combine dancing, eating and a yoga retreat in one trip to Croatia. It was my second time of doing salsa festival in Rovinj and this time I wanted to stay longer, enjoy the town and see more of the country.
So, I booked a flat in Rovinj for a solo stay and found a yoga retreat on the island of Hvar, near Split. Yoga retreat had been on my dream list for a while and I was happy to finally do it. I asked the retreat host about the best way to travel from Rovinj to Split and she recommended me the seaplane. Croatia is a very stretched country and bus to Split would take 12 hours. While the seaplane is only two hours – from Pula, where we usually fly from and to Oslo. Without further ado I bought a seaplane ticket for a reasonable price and didn’t do more thinking about it (my first stupid mistake).
The backyards of Oslo are charming and mysterious. They are hidden behind wooden doors or iron gates. Some are simple, with geometric shapes of facades. Some are full of life, with fountains, gardens, romantic benches under the trees. When I walk through my favorite neighborhood of Gruneløkka and pass by the gates, I always slow down and peek into the backyard, wandering at its secret life, imagining how people use it. Do children play there? Do they make backyard parties there?
Once when I was on a photo walk, I’ve seen an open gate – and after a moment of hesitation I sneaked inside and stood there. Just a backyard, just a girl with a camera. But that joy of explorer was reaching to the stars, as I stood there, happy as a child. After that I wondered if I should sneak into more backyards, waiting by the gate until someone was passing through 🙂 That would guarantee me a status of a local weirdo, I guess. I decided to wait on that one, and just make photos through the gates and doors. That day became an adventure for my explorer spirit.
This summer I didn’t travel as much as I used to. The positive effect of it: I had time to browse my old photos (because usually I just take them and never look back at them while rushing forward). I have discovered a lot of beauty which I shot this February while traveling around Catalonia and Southern France. So, if there are no trips to share from this summer, there is enough to share from this winter. Which is also fine! 🙂
Today I will start posting about our road trip in Southern France. Our route was: Barcelona – Perpignan – Montpellier – Avignon – Aix-en-Provence – Nimes. We stayed a night in every town, except for Avignon and Nimes where we stayed for two nights, and the whole route took totally one week. Staying every night in a new location can be also draining as we found out. As exciting as it is, traveling can be a hard job 😉 But we don’t complain!
So our first stop was Perpignan, just three hours drive from Barcelona. Riding on French motorway is fun, listening to the French radio and Spanish GPS. We successfully missed the exit to Perpignan centre and had to drive 7 km further – just to turn around and drive 7 km back to the centre. Beware of that, if you decide to go to Perpignan. It comes on you unexpectedly.
I happen to live in the country that has given to this world the great explorers like Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen, the Vikings (who sailed all the way to North America). These guys have set kind of high standard for what exploring means, and, honestly, sometimes that bothers me. Do you also have this idea of exploring the faraway shores, thick jungles and mountain tops that are untouched by the foot of a man? Then I check the Instagram feeds of travel bloggers with their perfect sets in places that I don’t know how to pronounce, the flowing dresses, hats and hipster backpacks all there. I look at them, I look at me – and in my eyes you can see a reflection of an abyss that seems impossible to jump over.
But where is this distance? It’s only in my head, and no one is really stopping me. And I don’t even need to buy tickets to the exotic destinations, pack my suitcase with mosquito sprays and first aid kits, and risk my life hanging from the cliff with my camera in order to call myself an explorer. My mind is like a kid, it needs a picture attached to the word. So these are the pictures I have attached to the word “explore”. But recently I came to realize that exploring is the spirit, not the destination, or a dangerous activity or a cool shot on Instagram. It is more like an attitude, a mind mode that you can tap into any time and any place.
This time I survived two weeks of dance madness: first, a week of Summer Sensual Days and then Croatian Salsa Festival. This has been my 3d time of this festival, and to my joy, happiness and tiredness I have added some valuable insights which make me feel something like a veteran 🙂 While chatting with a friend about my festival experience, I made a joke that I once will write my handbook of how to do the best of this festival. Wait a minute, I have a blog (which I kind of totally forgot in all that craze) – I don’t need to start a handbook to share all I know now!
So how do you create your best and happiest experience? This goes for dancers and not dancers alike (so keep on reading, even if you are not a salsa enthusiast!).
Last summer I spent three unforgettable weeks in Croatia which I call my personal “Eat pray love” project. There was one week of salsa festival, a week of relaxing, eating and taking pictures in the beautiful town of Rovinj, and a week of yoga retreat on Hvar Island. Yoga would be the pray part, eating and relaxing speaks for itself, and dancing is definitely love. I have shared reasons to love Rovinj here and here, and the time has come to tell its stories. This is going to be the post about the dancing part aka love (you will find more posts about this story under the tag eatpraylove).
I came to Croatia for the first time in summer of 2015 for the salsa festival and it captured my heart forever. On the night of our arrival we were pulling our suitcases through cobblestoned streets, the stones reflecting the light of the lanterns, the old houses towering around us, the laundry hanging from the windows – I felt like I was instantly placed in the setting of a romantic movie, and soon the cameras would roll. The town of Rovinj in the Northern part of Croatia is known as the most Italian town of that region Istria which used to be a part of Italian Veneto for ages. That’s why Italian atmosphere is luring everywhere, in the colorful facades, in the cuisine, in the smiles and jokes of local waiters. And what can be more romantic than Italian atmosphere in summer?
Do you know this feeling of falling in love with a place? Yes, you do, I am sure. And do you know that the same feeling is still there in your heart and it is easy to get in touch with it? I’ve just discovered that going through my last year’s pictures made me nearly as happy as when I was there. I used to watch my old photos with a sigh “I wish I were there now”, and there would be a taste of sadness in this activity. But today, maybe, because it is a sunny day in Oslo, or because I know I will be there this summer – revisiting the photos of my beloved Croatian town made my heart beat with joy and love, no note of sadness in it. And I just cannot keep this love to myself! So let’s share it!
I have come back from the road trip around the Sothern France which is just some hours away from Barcelona where we are staying. Back to Barcelona, feels like coming back home. I have missed blogging! I packed my mac into the suitcase hoping I would blog from the hotels. Little did I know about blogging when you drive every day and sleep in a new town every night. But here I am – glad to be back!
lavender soaps in Nimes
postcards of Avignon
What do you like to bring from your travels? Some buy postcards, some bring magnets or lavender soaps from Provence. We bring weird stories, big and small.
To miss the exit on the motorway and drive 7 km one way just to get off and drive 7 km back – done. In Perpignan.
To hit the low post while reversing the rented car – done. In Nimes.
To watch the fight in the harbor – done. In Marseille.
This got me thinking that maybe I should start a blog and call it “Pathetic Travels”. Because I have a lot of stories which are not glamorous to make me into the high-fly travel blogger, and which are not funny enough to make us into “those famous wandering clowns” which would make you roll on the floor laughing. They are more like Mr. Bean which starts every act carefully and properly, but it gets only worse and worse (though comparing my stories with Mr. Bean is really ambitious :)). For example, like this one.Read More »
I was so used to call myself a dreamer through all my life. And lately I have seen so many of my dreams coming true, that I don’t know what to call myself any longer. A dream catcher? 🙂 Here I want to share my Spanish dream.
My first visit to Spain was to the city of Barcelona, six years ago. Anyone surprised? Me not :). It is definitely the most visited city in Spain (and then you discover the difference between Catalonian and Spanish mentalities, but it comes later…). My friend has been to Spain before and wanted to spend every morning on the beach – “because it is our summer vacation” (and coming from Norway where the summer weather is unpredictable, you’d better use those sunny days wisely). So our beach mornings were long, stretching over into late afternoon. Then we would take subway to get back to hotel, tired from the sun, jump (or crawl) in the shower and stroll out in the open arms of the city waiting for us. It was the time to do some sightseeing and eating tapas. Drinking sangria became a habit too (of course 🙂 ). We did it all: walking on La Rambla and buying tickets for a flamenco show, taking pics in Parc Guell and partying in the club. In the infamous style “been there, done that”.
Honestly, I didn’t care much about the beach. We had only six days in this city and I was hungry for meeting the soul of Barcelona. I believe, that every city has its own vibe, its own soul – and I was very curious about The Great Enchantress, as they sometimes call her, Barcelona. My wish was to wander through its narrow streets, where light falls mystically from above, to look into windows of the bars, to sip coffee in a local café and listen to the locals sharing their daily life. This is my passion. I always want something more than a touristic experience, hopping on and off through the place like in the theme park. I want to get under the skin of the city, to feel its energy, to watch, hear and feel its people.Read More »