In those times when I used to live more on the social media (now I don’t, and phew, what a relief :)) – I liked to post photos from my trips, even if they were the old ones. Especially on the dark autumn and winter days when I couldn’t find any inspiration in Oslo – I would go for my old pics. And the people who met me seldom would say: “You travel so much. Always photos from the trips”. But these are the old ones, people (and I wouldn’t usually hide that fact).
Today I want to share the photos from our last year’s trip to Catalonia. When we visited a small town of Besalú, hidden between hills and mountains. So that someone can say – on meeting me randomly – “But gosh, you travel so much!” 🙂
I came from Rome with postcards of everything, inspired throughout to my fingertips. Among other things I shared was my collection of Everything That Moves. I don’t know how, but looking through my older photos of Oslo brought me to a simple insight: Oslo has no less postcard-worthy bikes, scooters and small cars. Isn’t it strange that you have to travel to a new place – so that the treasures of your own place can be discovered by you anew?
We get so used to the same town, the same streets. So we travel to break away from the routine. And traveling away seems not only to provide such a break – but also to bring a new inspiration that can be found on the same old streets. Interesting!
Once in Ukraine I bought a bread with the name “Danish bread”. I am sure, there was nothing Danish about it, the producers just wanted to give it a fancy name. I was a student back then, just 20 years old, who had never travelled outside of Ukraine, except to Russia. The name of the bread made me wonder: “What do I know about Denmark? And Scandinavia?” I tried to make a mental list in my head. And was always messing up the capitals (“Oslo is the capital of Finland, and Helsinki – of Sweden?”). Ok, so Denmark is easy. It’s Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid and H. C. Andersen. Sweden is Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking (I was a literature student and it was easier to name books than IKEA. I had no idea about IKEA then). Norway? Ok, fjords. And Finland – just sauna and that’s it?
I still remember the kind of hunger I felt – hunger to fill in my blanks about that part of the world. I had no idea then that I could end up living in Scandinavia. And those blanks would be filled, with overflow actually 🙂 Already as a child, I had loved Scandinavian fairytales, Moomin trolls by Tove Jansson, H.C. Andersen – and I wonder if this could be a secret reason why I came to live here in the North, though I have never dreamt about it explicitly. Maybe, it was my subconscious dream 🙂
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)
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?
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 🙂