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.
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.
From every place I visit, I try to take with me this one souvenir: a food story. My friend even noticed once: “You talk so much about food!”” which made me blush at first (Who? Me, so cultural and philosophical? :)) But then I realized: how can one love life without loving to eat? It is the closest connection to passion, a very physical experience. So now I continue talking about food without the false modesty. And when you go to a country like Italy how can you leave the food out? That’s why my postcards this time will be part photos, part juicy memories.
I had been to Rome once before, when, on a five-day trip, I visited Milano, Florence and Rome. When my friends asked me about my plans for the trip I honestly said: pizza, pasta, tiramisu. This time my goals were not so clearly pronounced, but it was clear: it is going to be much about pizza and pasta (and sometimes risotto) again. We even hopped on a train to Naples – to eat the best pizza in the world (which I still need to test more, because, ironically, I was not in the pizza mood and was eating pasta instead. To be precise, spaghetti vongole (with seafood) with the sea view to match it and the Capri island in the distance). Mind you, I am not the kind of travel blogger who does useful posts like “what to do” and “where to eat”. Mine are just stories that make me smile, little practical information included. Hope, it is ok with you, as it is very ok with me 🙂
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 🙂
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?
When I first got contacted by a Norwegian family who wanted me to be their au-pair (this is how I came to Norway), they sent me a bunch of photos with their kids and a notice: “The sunny photos are not from Norway”. It was 13 years ago, and I still remember that sentence – such a weird comment, I thought. Why did they feel necessary to mention that? So that I don’t get all rosy about those beach photos and think that town of Haugesund where they lived looked like Miami? 🙂 After spending some months in Haugesund, I knew for sure why the sunny pics could not be taken there: it was raining all year around. The west coast of Norway is famous for the rainy weather, and the seasons look pretty much alike there, all grey and wet, with some temperature variations.
Recently I was looking through my mobile photos from the last year and had to admit: I love coffee shots. I seldom post my drink pics on social media – but I keep on taking them. I don’t know why. Maybe, it is the feeling of the moment, the harmony of here and now, or it is some sacred geometry there – but I make sure I snap a pic of a cup and it feels so right. I thought that making a compilation of coffee (and some random tea) cups would be a nice idea – and since I got into playful mood about asking you to guess this and that some weeks ago, I decided to make it a riddle time.
So here are some coffee compilations from five countries. Can you guess where do they come from? The only hint would be similar to that of my Norwegian guest family: the sunny coffees are not from Norway 🙂 I give no further hints, since these are the countries that are not exotic to my blog. They have been covered here, even with some of these images already (and if you check under my travel tag, you will meet all of the places ;)). So let’s play! Who’s ready?