Traveling in Prehistoric Times

There are so many things that make our traveling easier these days. Apps, Tripadvisor, online maps and GPS, travel blogs. And still I wish for more. I wish for an option “to set back all the novelties – and travel like in the old times”. I am not so old yet (well, it depends on the perspective, my 37 is a stone age for the teens :)), but sometimes I feel like a grumpy old-fashioned lady from another century. When I start recollecting, I wonder if there are still many people who could understand what I’m saying. Let’s do it for a while!

Do you remember travelling without google maps? When you had to ask strangers for the way and figure out the instructions in any language. The best were Spaniards. On my feeble and polite “Hablas ingles? Do you speak English?”, followed by their energetic “Si, si, si” – “Where is this place?” they would almost grab my hand and go: “Mira, guapa, todo recto, de recha, al fondo, primera – no, segunda – si”. And I would just read their hand movements and improve my Spanish vocabulary immediately.

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Postcards from Florence: Don’t Repeat My Mistakes

During our Easter visit to Rome we wanted to get the most of our journey and decided to take a day trip to Florence. Especially, after finding out that the new train line allowed to reach it in just 1,5 hours. I visited Florence once, on my 5-day trip through Italy, some 7 years ago, but that was the time when a train ride took almost three hours ( I enjoyed it a lot, listening to Eros Ramazzoti on my iPod and watching the Italian fields flow by). This time I googled  day-trips from Rome and was lucky to find a blog that recommended Florence and Italo trains that take you there. Because this new speed train takes just one and a half hour, which makes it perfect for a day trip. The blog said that they are punctual too (we had a different experience with it, as you will see). Why not go?

Because it was Easter and there were tourists everywhere, I proposed to go on Monday, when the crowds would start to go back to their homes. But this Easter Rome got really unlucky with the weather (you can find my report on it here) and we had to change our plans. I was checking the weather forecast every three hours – and saw that Easter Sunday was due to be rainy in Rome. But not in Florence. This is how our decision was made. We escape the rain and go to the beautiful Florence. Yuhuu! (that was my most stupid idea ever, as you will also see)

postcards from Florence
pastel colors and Michelangelo skies

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Norway in Red, White and Blue

And it is 17th of May again! A day when Norwegians say to each other “Gratulerer med dagen!” (Congratulations on the day!). An only day in the year when they become extremely social, talking and smiling to strangers, starting easily a small talk. When it is ok to start the day drinking champagne and then put on your best dress or a suit or a national costume – and get in crowds on the streets, laughing and cheering. It is Norway’s national day, a birthday of the country, as they like to put it. Hip hip hurray!

Schoolchildren march to the main street where they will parade in front of the royal palace and wink to the royal family. Adults march later, after the 17. mai frokost (17th of May’s breakfast), some holding beer or a wineglass in their hand. The numerous musical corps play famous national songs. One of them is called “Norway in red, white and blue”, where there is this line: “It is you, it is you, dear Norway! We will clothe you in red, white and blue”. This looks like the official color theme of this month, and I gladly follow it 🙂 Here is my color report of the day, and the month, and some celebration. Join me (no champagne glass needed)!

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If Cities Were People

What if cities were people? I remember a friend saying to me: “Everybody says that Moscow is a she, but I would disagree. European cities are feminine, but Moscow is a very masculine one”. I believe that every city has its soul and I am always eager to explore it when traveling. Today I want to share my impressions of some cities whose heart I got to know. I am very curious if you agree or disagree on my conclusions about their character.

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Postcards from Rome: Fading Beauty

On our short trip to Rome we managed to catch several days of rain. I considered us really unlucky on that trip – but as I think again, maybe we were lucky? Because we could get the views that are quite seldom for this city. And catch some beauty just before it faded away. It was everywhere: in the dark stormy skies with seldom rays of sun, in the reflections on the wet pavement, in the sudden rainbow which disappeared as fast as it popped, in the raindrops on the cafe tables that got carried away just in a minute after I took that shot. Isn’t it amazing that even such a tourist misfortune as rain can teach us a lesson of looking closely and spotting beauty – because it can be gone so fast?

Postcards from Rome
dark and light and a sudden rainbow

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Postcards from Rome: Everything That Moves

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 🙂

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Postcards from Rome: the Doors

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?

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