Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The 12 Days of Christmas

During my last yoga class of this year, my teacher was telling us about the "12 Weihnachtstage" (also known as "Rauhnächte" in German) (in English: The 12 Days of Christmas). I don't wanna go into more details (look it up on Internet if you are interested in getting to know more).
Anyway, while she was telling us about her personal ritual she would do during these days, I thought of how nice it would be to think of 12 wishes for the next year and to share them with you.

Therefore I thought of 12 words / 12 wishes for 2016.
I looked through my photos and picked 12 pictures that I love.
My new software combined the two.

I can't wait to share the outcome with you (starting tomorrow!).

The last days of a year and the first ones are magical in my opinion. The energy is different somehow. After the bustling energy of the days before Christmas suddenly there is peace.
There is time to think of the year that is almost over.
There is time to think of the new year. Of things to come.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My World - My Travels: San Sebastian de la Gomera vs. Oaxaca

Yesterday I was looking through my thousands of pictures (I was working on an idea I had during yoga on Thursday!!) when I realized how similar the houses of San Sebastian de la Gomera and Oaxaca were. I had already realized this fact in March, during my Oaxaca stay, but seeing these pictures so many months later ... wow, it just amazed me again!
You can actually "see" history with your own eyes. The Spaniards simply built the same kind of houses they knew from back home. Well, at least this is how I explain such similarities!

San Sebastian de la Gomera

Oaxaca

Friday, December 18, 2015

Adiós!

On Tuesday I said "adiós" to my old car! I am happy to own a new one, don't get me wrong, and am even happier that I now own a "modern" car where I can listen to my music from my iPod, connect my smartphone too and talk to people over a hand-free speaking system (not that I intend to do a lot of talking while driving!). And it looks so stylish! Awesome.

Saying bye-bye to my old car though was like ... saying goodbye to an old travel companion. I am usually not attached to stuff. I am by no means a hoarding kind of girl. But my car, .... well, it was different.
I bought it almost 10 years ago. It was a Saturday in February, I remember it well because that day it snowed like it hadn't in ages! I drove home from the garage and I was soaked in sweat when I reached my appartment. The road conditions were awful (it snowed so much in so little time) and the next morning, I actually had to shovel it free (I had to find it first). Hilarious!
A couple of months later, it was May, I left for Italy (that's why I bought the car in the first place) for an unknown period of time. I had quit my job and my appartment. My furniture was in my parent's garage and I decided to live with what I could put into my (little) car. I had no idea what I wanted to do. How long I was gonna stay. I just knew that I needed a change and that I wanted to spend some time in Italy.

What I didn't know back then was that my decision "to go" would turn into what I today call my gypsy existence. For the next almost 5 years I spent a couple of months in Italy and then a couple of months in Switzerland. Driving back and forth with my car. I never made an actual decision that I wanted this kind of life. It simply happened and I was super happy about it!
So, for years my little car and I drove from Italy to Switzerland and back again. The car filled to the brim! Hilarious. You should have seen it :-)
In Italy I wrote (what ended in me having this blog!), I read, I thought, I met new people. I spend time alone as well. I "was".
In Switzerland, I worked crazy hours to earn enough money to go back to Italy to practice "being".

What I didn't know back then was that these years would fundamentally change my life and my soul.
I learned to"go with the flow"! I hadn't known I had in me but ... hey, I did!
There were also bad moments, full of doubts and not knowing. Where would I live / sleep next? Would I find a job?
The freedom behind it though was liberating. NOT knowing all the details of my life all the time, left me with the possibilites. I was free to pick whatever life would offer me.
A liberating experience. Scary sometimes, but liberating nonetheless.
It taught me courage to see my ideas through to the end.
It taught me to believe in my intuition.

It taught me how generous life can be when you are open and accepting.
It taught me patience.
I learned to wait for the right moment.
I learned to detect the right moment.
I learned to accept help.
I started listening to my inner voice.

Does this all sound too cheesy for you? Well, I feel cheesy today :-) And don't even think for a second that I master all of the above. NO WAY. The learning process started back then and it's still a work in progress! But what an amazing turn of events!

Buying a car back then was the first step into this new life.
Selling it on Tuesday made me think of all the above and it felt like a closing.

PS: At some point I got tired of this back and forth kind of life and when I didn't find a new temporary job, I decided that it was time to call it an end!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Buddha


Do you like? I have downloaded this software that helps me work on my pictures and add some texts. I am still learning but I like this one pretty much :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Magic

A couple of days ago, I was parking my car on my street when I noticed a young girl on the sidewalk. I had never seen the girl (but I don't know everybody in the neighborhood, I have to admit). As soon as I got out of the car, the girl started talking to me.
It felt like she couldn't wait to tell someone.
She looked totally excited. Her eyes big. Her voice high.

"Have you seen Santa Claus just over there?" she asked, pointing her finger down the street.

I had just come from there and I honestly hadn't seen Santa Claus.

"Santa Claus?" I replied. "No sorry, sweetie, I have not seen him. Where was he?"

"Just down there." She pointed her finger again. "He was in a car."
She stopped speaking, her eyes getting bigger. Her voice full of magic.
"I have seen Santa Claus driving by in a car!" she marveled.

I just wanted to reply when she turned her head, noticing the two people coming down the stairs.
"Grandma! Grandpa!" she yells. "I have just seen Santa Claus driving by by car! Can you believe it?"

I walked away - I no longer was a conversation partner. And I smiled. A big smile! She had just made my day. So cute. So innocent.
She had probably seen some guy disguised as Santa Claus who just came back from a job at the shopping mall. I hand't noticed. But the girl had. And that made her day too!



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Generosity

A couple of weeks ago my yoga teacher forwarded me an e-mail that she had received from a friend of hers. This friend (and 7 other people) were planning to collect clothes, blankets, food, medicine, etc. and by 4 December they wanted to be at the Slowenian border in order to distribute the stuff to the refugees blocked at that border (lots of kids amongst them!). They also hoped to collect money to be able to cook warm meals on site for these people (they have a mobile kitchen). They call their group "Beyond Borders Convoy". They were asking people to help.

I read the e-mail and was immediately excited about the idea. I wanted to help. I knew though that I wouldn't be able to contribute with clothes or other stuff (I don't own much stuff). I thought about what I could do. I decided to forward the e-mail to some friends of mine, offering that I would pick up the stuff at their house (if they had anything to donate) and to bring everything to the collecting point of the "Beyond Borders Convoy".
Driving and organizing would be my contribution.
Honestly, I didn't expect any reply.
Oh my.
I was wrong.
I got a lot of replies.
People were enthusiastic!
So, I drove from one home to the other, collecting clothes, shoes, blankets, jackets, and so much more (SO much more, you have no idea how much!).
I had to drive twice to the collecting point to deliver all the stuff I had collected!
I was overwhelmed. With emotions ... and stuff.
I was overwhelmed by people's generosity.
These are my friends.
Isn't it wonderful?
I felt and still feel blessed to know such kind people.

I follow the group's journey to Slowenia (on Facebook!) and apparently things are going well. (By the way,  THEY were overwhelmed by people's generosity, too!)
I admire people who not only talk about things but DO them.
Really. Admirable.
 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My World - My Travels: La Gomera

Friday night. In a restaurant with a friend. Talking about traveling and places to visit (what else?). We compare La Gomera to a Greek island my friend visited this year. And we start to rave about La Gomera (we both have been there, independently from each other, and we both loved our time there!). At some point the conversation turns to the Finca we stayed in (I stayed 6 days in a B&B and 4 days in this finca).
This finca? A wonderful place. A wonderful location.
...the sea on one side...

.... the mountain on the other...
It's just that, each time I think of my stay in this finca ... I think about cockroaches! Yes, cockroaches.

This was my little house. The first time in my traveler life that I have been upgraded for no money. I was thrilled! Cute little place to stay in, don't you think?


I, at least, thought so. During day time. Night time was another story. Let's keep this story short and let's just say that I shared my room with ... cockroaches (and geckos and small lizards as well, but those, I don't mind ... much hihihi).
I HATE cockroaches. Really. Disgusting little things.
So, let's just say that I enjoyed my days at this finca but didn't sleep well during my four days stay! I dreamt of ... not let's please just NOT go there.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Lightness

I've cut my hair. A lot of hair. At least 10 - 15 cm. I am wearing them at chin level now.
It feels good. (It looks good too hihihi)

And people around me wonder: do you feel ready for some change? Yes, because cutting hair is usually a sign for a change in ones life.

No, for once it's not about change.
It's about lightness.
I needed to feel "light" again (and with my mass of hair, it's not an easy task!).
I craved lightness.
I have no idea why honestly. It suddenly became imperative that I let go of my hair.

And here I am. I got lightness and stylishness with my new bob :-)



Feeling Grateful These Days...


Sunday, November 22, 2015

My World - My Travels: Hamburg, Germany

Today is the first "real" winter day of this year. It's cold outside. Really cold. And in the morning, the neighbor's roof was white with snow.
That made me think of my trip to Hamburg, in December 2012. Oh my, it was cold there as well. Really cold. I remember walking the city with my friend and stopping at every café in order to get warmed up. I loved the city and I promised myself to visit again ... during warmer weather :-) Walking along the rivers, doing a harbor tour by boat NOT freezing to death (or what felt like death) must be wonderful. I have to put Hamburg on my bucket list for 2016.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grown Up


I spent my last weekend with my 6 year old nephew. A cute little boy and he was so happy to have found the courage to spend the night with his aunt that ... I can't describe the happiness in his eyes. I say "courage" because it took him quite the courage to spend the night away from home without his brother and his sister. He, being the middle child of 3, isn't used to being without his siblings and therefore spending the night at my house wasn't easy for him. But he made it! What a boy!

Well, before I go on and on about how happy he was during the hours spent with me (you know, at 6 little things make you happy - and shouldn't that teach us something??), I want to share one question he asked me while sitting in the bus that brought us to the zoo:

Zia (Italian for aunt), what do you wanna be when you grow up?

For a second there I thought he was joking ... asking ME, the notorious "I have no idea what I wanna do kind of girl", just this question? But then, at 6, you don't make jokes about growing up. Growing up is totally important and no joking material (and his face was accordingly serious while asking me this question).
I mumbled some words to distract him but then quickly asked the very same question in return. THAT was what he wanted to talk about. And on and on he went, telling me all he could be when he'll be grown up.
What a boy!

And as it really takes courage to grow up and become who you are (see above quote), I'd say that the boy did his first step last weekend. He spend the night away from home, all alone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adolescence

I've spent my Saturday shopping with my 14-year-old  goddaughter. OMG. I had forgotten how exhausting it was to be an adolescent. So much going on in their heads, their hearts and their bodies.

One of my goddaugher's main topics these days is ... that she is 14 and hasn't menstruated yet.
THIS IS A REALLY BIG ISSUE. Like REALLY BIG.
Obviously, when I replied that ... OMG, sweetie, this is no big deal. On the contrary. One year without your menstruation is a year without your menstruation. Every month without one is a lucky one!!
She looked at me funny, saying nothing but her eyes said: what are you talking about????? I don't care what you say. I want them and right now!! I can't be a grown girl without my menstruation!! And, here it comes, I can't be the ONLY one of my class NOT having menstruated!! I simply can't!
Well, what to say? Life can be shitty at 14!

Then the boys. Oh my. The boys. Her BFF has a boyfriend and my goddaughter not. Which per se is a disaster. A BIG disaster.
The even bigger disaster though is that she kind of lost her BFF to a boy as the girl is now spending all her time with the new guy in her life (some things never change!!) and no longer with her.
Again, what to say?

Luckily for me, I discovered, she didn't really want me to respond. It was just that she needed to say it out loud. She wanted to talk about things ... like what kind of career she looks forward to start (and it can't be soon enough even though her ideas are quite confused yet!!).
Or about how stupid and so uncool her teachers are (all except one - lucky him!!).
And please don't get her started on her older sister.
And some girls from school? Stupid cows.
And, last but not least, the conversation turned to ... what to wear. What not to wear. When to wear what. Who wears what. Who has what kind of hair styling. etc. etc.

Exhausting. Fascinating.


At the end of our day all I wanted to tell her was:

Girl. Hang on. Don't worry. It's gonna get better, so much better.

Obviously, I hold my tongue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mass Tourism ... continued

For those of you who speak German - interesting article on mass tourism!

http://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/die-disneylandisierung-unserer-staedte-1.18643661

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My World - My Travels: Oaxaca, Mexico


I loved the murales in Oaxaca! I remember spending hours just walking the city discovering murales that I hadn't seen yet. These murales (above) are the modern way of representing the Mexican's cult of the death..

... and below they way the Mayas did it...



Friday, November 6, 2015

Mass Tourism

The sheer mass of tourists seen during my trip to Malta has been a shock to me. It actually shouldn't have been one as it certainly wasn't my first experience of mass tourism. I have been to Florence. To Venice. I have visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia (and those of you who have been there recently know what I am talking about!!). Malta though got to me more than all the other places. It's maybe because I had visited 20 years ago, when mass tourism didn't yet exist. Or maybe I have changed, become more conscious of what's going on around me. I don't know.
The last couple of months though I read several articles on tourism. The bad side of tourism, if I can call it this way. This one published in the NY Times for instance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/europe/selfie-vacation-damage-majorca-paris-ibiza-rome.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

What an article! It made me sad and mad. At the same time I was shocked.
What have we become? Is this the kind of tourist we wanna be? Really???
It can't possibly be the way forward.
I am no tourist like it's described in the article. I try to respect the locals and the treasures I visit (art, sites etc.). I don't leave trash behind. Try not to shower often (as an example) in a country that does have water issues. I use one set of towels the whole time I am in a hotel - same goes for the bed linen. I try to buy local souvenirs, eat local food. I try to move around by taking buses and trains and do a lot of walking.
I treat the locals the way I want to be treated by the tourists that visit my country.
Obviously I am not perfect. It's a work in progress. It's a process of becoming more and more conscious of my doings!
I think though that this whole mass tourism thing will become more and more important. Towns, countries will want changes - will impose changes (mentioned in the article). And the tourists themselves will have to adapt. Will have to become more conscious of their acts. Of their behavior.
I believe that's important if we want future generations to be able to visit places all around the globe!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My World - My Travels: Portofino, Liguria, Italia


Whenever I think back to my three days spent in Portofino (Liguria), the word that crosses my mind is: soothing. The place literally soothed my heart and my mind.
I needed to be soothed because just the day before I left for this short trip my sister-in-law and my parents had a huge fight. Well, it wasn't a fight in the real sense of the word. My sister-in-law lost ... her mind and her tongue for a minute there and just yelled all her frustration and piled up anger about something that my parents did or did not do (and I later found out that most of it wasn't even related to my parents - they were just handy to yell at!). It was heavy. I know my parents, I know that they are far from being perfect - but being yelled at from another person was hard to watch. It hurt my heart. I didn't say anything right at that moment (because of my nephews and because it wasn't my fight) but later on I discussed/made my thoughts clear to my sister-in-law and helped my parents understand why she acted the way she did.
My heart and my mind were heavy when I left for Liguria by train. I had wanted to cancel the whole thing but then, no, I thought it would do me good.
And it did.
This place was wonderful for my soul. It was raining two days out of three. I didn't mind. I walked and walked and walked. From Santa Maria Ligure (where my hotel was) to Portofino and back. I went to Cinque Terre by train and walked some more. I absorbed the wonderful scenery and my heart and soul healed.

PS: My sister-in-law apologized to my parents and to me as well. It took awhile for us to forget her break-out (words can hurt a lot) but as in my family we aren't resentful... And my sister-in-law has changed as well since then. She's worked on her behaviour and now thinks before she speaks :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Remembering Malta: The Likes and the Not So Likes

My week in Malta has been full of things I liked and (unfortunately) some I didn't like so much. 

THE LIKES  
The warm weather: that was a definite plus! I was happy to walk around sweating (yes!), wearing my summer clothes and having dinner al fresco. Genuine happiness.

Walking the streets of La Valletta: up and down I went. All around as well. Discovering the city. Taking umpteen pictures of the colored doors and the lovely balconies!

Sitting on a bench in the Lower Barrakka Garden enjoying the harbor view: I could have done the same trip in 5 days and not 7 but I had planned it that way because I wanted to have enough time to be. The benches in the Lower Barrakka Garden were ideal for it. I sat there, enjoying the sun and the heat, absorbing the view, letting my thoughts flow. Simply being in the moment.

Getting lost in Mdina's narrow streets: I just loved it! It felt like going back in time!

Talking to the elderlies during bus rides: public transport is free for Malta's elderlies and therefore the buses were full of them. I quickly found out that they loved a good conversation (their English was really good)! Charming and cute. And interesting.

Sitting on the cliffs near the Blue Grotto, absorbing the view of the Sea: simply awesome.

The archaeological excavations of Hagar Qim: mystic.

Bus rides: I loved them! Sitting, looking out of the window, enjoying the surroundings and their rather limited color palette. Wonderful.

The food: Oh my. I loved having breakfast on the patio of my Valletta hotel (the breakfast itself was mediocre but the view made up for everything!!! And being able to actually have breakfast sitting outside in my t-shirt was so cool!) but the food I ate for my lunches and dinners? Heavenly. And please don't let me start on the rabbit stew I had in La Valletta on Saturday night :-)

The history and the art: what a jewel this island is! In the middle of the Meditteranean Sea. Where the Romans have come and gone, same for the Ottomans, the Moors, the Italians, the French and last but not least the English (did I mention everybody??). Every one of them has left something behind (here it be the architecture, the art, the food and you still can hear some influences in the language they speak today). A wonderful place. Really. If it weren't for ...

THE NOT SO LIKES
Mass tourism: I will post some thoughts about this topic in a couple of days ... let's just say that (in some places) there were too many tourists. Masses of them. Hordes. Almost frightening.

Some Maltese I met were not so friendly. But hey, I can't blame them. Too many tourists. Answering the same questions every d*** day, asked by too many rude tourists who left their good manners at home (or maybe they don't know anything about good manners - at home or not?). Understandable. I probably wouldn't be friendly all the time either if I were them.

Gozo: I had read about Gozo. Heard about Gozo. Good words. Wonderful words. The green island. The island of Calypso. How quiet it was there. How I was gonna love it.
I absolutely wanted to visit.
Well, fact is ... the place and I didn't click. Maybe it's just that I had too many expectations. Yes, that's probably it. Too many expectations can be deadly...
What I also should have thought of was that the place couldn't possibly be quiet. The simple fact that the ferries connect the islands of Gozo and Malta every 45 minutes and that the round trip costs only EUR 4.65 should have been revealing! It's the perfect day trip for the thousands of tourists that visit Malta!

Well, now let's imagine the cute little towns of Gozo (they are even smaller than the ones of Malta!) being ambushed by all these tourists.
Quiet?
Cute?
Rather not.
While leaving the island on Wednesday I witnessed the crowd coming to Gozo on one of the first ferries of the day. Hundreds of people streaming out of the boat, "assaulting" the public buses and all the other buses that were waiting for them. I counted 7 (yes, seven) coaches leaving shortly after the ferry arrived. And all of them were pretty full of people (and it wasn't even high season).
Now consider that there are only a couple of places / towns to visit in Gozo.
And that all of them are small. Really small.
Now imagine what these few places look like when being assaulted by 7 coaches full of people.
Quiet?
Cute?
Think again.
What a pity! Fortunately for me, I was able to avoid the big mass of tourists during my days in Malta. And well, for Gozo, ... sigh, it's a pity, really. But hey, you can't love them all (meaning, the places you travel to), right?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Remembering Malta: Some Impressions

Malta seen from Sliema (on Harbor Tour)
St. John's Cathedral (left) and Carmelite Church (right)

One of the many wonderful buildings in La Valletta

View from Lower Barrakka Garden (one of my favorite places to hang in La Valletta)

and more doors

well, yes!

Harbor from Lower Barrakka Garden

!!

:-)


Marsaxlokk

Boats of Marsaxlokk

Blue Grotto

Arch near Blue Grotto

Mdina

Mdina

Cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul, Mdina

Streets Mdina

Mdina

Azur Window, Gozo

Rabat, Gozo (Citadella)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Malta: Good Bye!

I am back home!
Temperature wise it has been a shock. I went from 30°C to some 10°C within a couple of hours.
It has been tough!
Otherwise, I am doing good. I have enjoyed my days away and my sun tan makes me look good and healthy :-)
Unfortunately, my last two days in Gozo were strange. The Gods of Travel abandoned me :-) Gozo and I ... we didn't click.  A few places so far, in all my travels, did not speak to me. The last place was Hong Kong. And now Gozo. No emotions. No idea why. Well, that's part of traveling, isn't it? You can't love ALL the places you visit.
The next couple of days I will share some more pictures I have taken. And I will post some words about ... mass tourism as well. I thought a lot about mass tourism during my visit to Malta (thank you crowds!! SMILE) and want to share some thoughts with you later on.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Arrived in Gozo

What a strange day! A very strange day. I left La Valletta by bus heading to the Gozo ferries. The bus was super crowded and me with my luggage. Well, let's just say that the more than an hour drive was hell (on Wednesday on my way back to the airport I'll take a cab and I don't care how expensive that's gonna be! I am sick and tired of crowds!). The next crowd was standing in line to get into the ferry and on the ferry no peace either, obviously. I decided to take a cab to my hotel in Gozo because, yes you got it, the crowd in the bus station was ... crazy. I checked in and decided to visit the azure window. And? Yes! Next crowd. On the bus. On the site. On the bus back. Crazy!! Back in Rabat I decided to visit the citadel and found out that both access roads are closed on Mondays. Hilarious. Obviously today the Gods of Travel are not with me.
What to do?
Sometimes there's just nothing you can do.
I went back to the hotel and am now sitting on my balcony, enjoying some fruit and a cold drink, the view and my ereader! And I even decided to have dinner at the hotel!
Hopefully the Gods of Travel will be back with me tomorrow!

Mdina Impressions



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Malta: an Easy Day

Today was all about taking it easy. Spent some hours in Hagar Qim, an archeological site. No pictures, I am sorry!!! How do you capture the energy of a place that is more than 5000 years old on photo? You don't or at least I don't SMILE
I took the bus back to La Valletta before the crowd of tourists appeared!!
The afternoon was lazy, hanging around in my, in the meantime, favorite places of the capital. And then I had an aperitif  and later a very lovely rabbit stew a la Maltese. What a perfect day...


Friday, October 16, 2015

Malta: Day Three ... on the Road

Some days are just like ... well, bizzarre. I started my day feeling good. The sun was shining, I had had a wonderful and resting night and I was looking forward to discover Malta some more.

I made it to Marsaxlokk by bus. A cute little town, a cute little bay.

Right? Well, yes but only seen from this side. Would I have taken a picture standing in front of the church, you would have seen
a) on the right hand side a waste inceneration plant and
b) on the left hand side the Malta Freeport with its giant cranes.
Not idyllic at all. A pity actually.
I wanted to go on a walk (as described in my guide) but the place was so surreal that ... I decided to take the bus back to Valletta.
Some days are like these...

My next destination. The Blue Grotto. It was a bit tricky to actually get there. I had to change buses and I find that people are not always helpful (too many tourists can do that to you, I suppose). Well, I got there and recognized the place because ... of the hordes of tourists hahaha
But the Grotto was nice and the Arch (while traveling back) was magnificent.
That made up for my rather shitty start into my third day :-)



To finish what turned out to be a good day nevertheless, I decided to go on a La Valletta Harbor Tour. You know that I love going on boat trips but a boat trip with these views??? Amazing. Awesome. Wonderful.


the harbor is not only for tourist ... it's about business as well!
Another hot and sunny day in Malta, I'd say (don't let the clouds fool you - it's still summer!)