If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the end my summer will be Scandinavian. After much back and forth, it looks that I will still join my husband who is working in Oslo this summer (first, the idea was that I go with him, next, that I stay in Barcelona, and in the end he got a bit emotional because two months apart is too long. Just to give a little idea of how our family works 😆).
I didn’t know what to feel. Happy to escape from the heat and noise of Bcn (and to hug my Oslo friends) or sad to leave the summer for the Norwegian weather unpredictability? But then I decided to look at the brighter side of things – took my journal and jotted down all the things I am looking forward to do in Oslo.
Why I love living in Barcelona. Because on any given evening I can walk out of the house with camera in hand, stroll aimlessly and feel inspired. And feel exploring. And feel love.
Last week I went out for a stroll to a neighborhood, not far from mine, called Sant Andreu. Sant Andreu looks like a little pueblo, a village of its own. And it is has the truth in it, because it used to be a separate village before being integrated in the city of Barcelona. Sant Andreu is full of narrow streets shaded by orange trees, cobblestone walks and sweet little houses. But this text is not going to be about it. Neither the photos (well, some are but not exclusively).
Walking in those narrow streets, I breathed in and realized that the air I breathe in – is love. The love for a place. Barcelona at that moment reminded me of three places I love so much: Kiev, Malaga and Rovinj.
This weekend we took a short drive out of this busy city – to the lovely little town of Sitges. Without knowing we got into Carrera – a meeting of old cars. And old not like from 50s, but from the beginning of the century (that is, of the last century :)). This is what I like about this country. There will be always a festivity that you can unexpectedly run into. That feature I still want to write about. This is so Barcelona, and so Catalonia, with all its neighborhood festivals, farmer celebrations, carnivals and other events. Which makes me wonder when these people find time to work :))
Coming back to Barcelona, in the twilight hour, is like coming back to love. At entering the city I see the Olympic ring, the hotel Vela (officially Hotel W, but the locals call it Vela, which means the sail, for its prominent form), the fun-colored Torre Agbar and the Columbus column just before we duck into the tunnel under the city centre. When we come out of it, there are the two skyscraper towers – the famous sign of the Port Olympic. And all those landmarks are appearing like on the skyline pictures of Barcelona. Only Sagrada Familia missing.
It takes only three days to be away – that I come back as a total Oslo patriot. I suddenly discover this: I love this city. I am even surprised. With all the sadness and hardships I had to experience here, with all my negative reports about Oslo – here I am, calling it one of my favorite cities. Well, hello!
Last weekend saw us driving to Bergen. 500 km over the mountain, as they say it here. In any other country 500 km is a fast, boring and anonymous ride on the motorway. Not in Norway. No way in Norway. Here it takes 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours of roads through villages with funny names (and speed limit of 40 km/h). Up on the mountain plateau, Hardangervidda, which is also a national park. Beaten by the rains, down through many tunnels, along the fjords, next to waterfalls, sharp rocks and rocky rivers. Mysterious and breathtaking landscapes.
Here I understand why the notion of humble (ydmyk) is so popular in this culture. Living between these high mountains, dangerous rocks, deep waters and dark rains – how does it feel to be a human? Well, humble. Where would the arrogance come from when you are reminded every day about how tiny you are. This is the Norwegian nature at its best. It is not about bunnies and flowers here. At times it can even feel overwhelming.
In my music library on Spotify I find a new folder – “Your summer rewind” (I guess, Spotify creates it by himself – from the songs I listened to last summer. Hello, machine intelligence!). I like to start it when I am working (cleaning) at home. You never know what comes next in that mix. A chill kizomba song, hot Latin hits from last summer, Russian rock from year 2000, some Balcan beat (who listens to it? I share the account with my man – must be his workings. But Balcan beat, really? :))
A fun fact about me: when I was 20, I had a dream of working on the radio. I even got through some competition (sending a cassette with my voice to one popular fm station) and spent an hour on air as “a DJ” (I was just talking, the songs were played by the operator). I didn’t get the job in the end. But it was a fun experience.
I have never worked on the radio since (though my friends call me “a radio” cuz I talk that much), so I use my blog to channel some of that energy :)) A lover of top charts as I am (I loved listening to them on Saturday morning back then), I will make now my own hit parade of this summer. Not of songs, however – but of all my favorite things this season (any radio lovers here, btw? Raise your hand!)
In the previous post I started to write about the movie “Julie and Julia” and was swept away by the inspiration to share the story that has influenced my life in a profound way. But there is one more theme in the movie that is worth writing about. The theme of the work that saved their lives.
Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, falls in love with France and exclaims: “I feel I AM French!” And, oh, I exclaim it together with her. I too love France, and France in the movie is so pretty and lovable. Julia discovers her taste for the French food, and she plunges with enthusiasm into cooking courses, though she has never been fond of cooking before. With this newfound passion she keeps herself busy in the landscape where it is easy to become a boring expat wife with no meaningful occupation. On her way her interest for this work gives her new meaning, new friends, and later it gives her a professional call and even fame. As Julie Powell says it: “She saved herself by cooking”.
Julie Powell is also saved by the love for cooking. And blogging about it. It fills her grey days with colors and tastes, with meaning and enthusiasm. And that saves her also. Giving her a chance to be a writer as she had always dreamt of, giving her new opportunities.
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?