Thursday, 30 October 2014

The 13 beaches I love most



There’s a story to every great moment in our lives.
These are stories about how I fell in love. The feelings are there. Haven’t faded. Not even a bit.


1. Horgabost
Isle of Harris, Scotland
Petra (to the bus driver): ‘Two tickets to Horgabost, please.’
[I had found Horgabost on UK’s list of 10 most beautiful campsites, but I wasn’t expecting the paradise that I found there. It’s been a year and I still pinch myself… is this place real?]  












2. Dyrhólaey
Iceland
Petra (upon arrival): ‘Wow!...’
Petra (after a few minutes): ‘I don’t want to leave this place. I could stay here forever.’
[And I rarely say that.]


3. Oldshoremore
Scotland
Petra: ‘Hello. Are we anywhere near Sandwood Bay?’
Very nice man working on a boat in the harbour: ‘Well… I will tell you, but first, I will have to ask you—what are you planning to do there?’
Petra (surprised): ‘Well, just walk along the beach and watch the sunset.’
Very nice man working on a boat in the harbour: ‘You’re not far, but there’s a 2-hour walk to Sandwood Bay.’
Petra (very surprised): ‘Ah…’
Very nice man working on a boat in the harbour: ‘You could go to Oldshoremore instead. It’s close and it’s one of the prettiest beaches in Scotland, in my opinion.’
Petra (looking happy)
Very nice man working on a boat in the harbour: ‘You don’t happen to have a washer, do you?... We’ve lost it…’ J
[Oldshoremore: not only it lived up to the expectations, it exceeded them. Talk about fate.]  












4. Jökulsárlón
Iceland
Petra (to Marcel): ‘A seal! Right over there! I wonder how they got into the lagoon…’
[…via a channel connecting it to the ocean, we would later find out. Extra: this amazing beach, chunks of ice as far as the eye could see.]













5. Balnakeil
Scotland
Petra (to Marcel): ‘The best things in life are free. At times like these, when you’ve got pink sunsets, green seas, and creamy sands… you don’t need anything else. We should only feel grateful.’
[no comment]













6. Seilebost
Isle of Harris, Scotland
Petra (to Marcel): ‘I’m hungry. Let’s go find some food. The egg roll was great, but I could eat more.’
[We didn’t find stores or restaurants. We found this amazing beach and another wow instead.]












7. Copacabana
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Petra (to Marcel): ‘I’ve never seen anything like this. It is the most beautiful beach of my life.’
[At that time, it was.]













8. West Beach
North Berwick, Scotland
Petra (to Marcel): ‘I want to see the puffins! Let’s go to the Scottish Seabird Centre!’
[That’s how we got to North Berwick, which is still my favourite inhabited spot in Scotland, and saw the beach… and fell in love…]
  











9. Matosinhos
Portugal
Petra (to Marcel): ‘I want to go to the beach! I want to have a swim in the ocean!’
[One underground ride later.]
Petra (to Marcel): ‘This is one great beach. And it’s so close to the city [Oporto]. I can’t wait to take my clothes off and get into the water!...’










 
10. Plage de Bon Secours
Saint-Malo, France
[This was probably my first love. It was September 2000. I just sat and watched La Manche, that grim light and those greyish waves… and I told myself that I had probably never seen any sea or beach that could fascinate me like that.]


















11. Farr Beach
Bettyhill, Scotland
Petra: ‘Hey! Why are you back so soon?’
Marcel: ‘I’ve come to tell you that I won’t make it to lunch with you, guys. …I’m going surfin’!...’
[I’ve gone to the beach later on to watch him with my friend Alison. The light, the waves, the sand… they were all incredible. I’ll always remember that afternoon. I secretly wished to be in the water and ride those waves, too. History came first at that time. But there’ll always be a ‘next time’.]













12. Jurmala
Latvia
Petra: ‘Don’t forget to take your beach towel.’
Marcel: ‘Damn! I dropped it… the sun from the Sun Museum… you and your crazy ideas!’
[And he was apparently right. There was no need for a beach towel. It was the last day of May, at a pretty high latitude, the wind was cold… but our spirits were high.]













13. Aphrodite's Rock
Cyprus
Ice cream seller: ‘Would you like a flake bar with your ice cream?’
Petra: ‘Yes, please.’
[As I felt the ice cream melting on my tongue, I could sense the murmur of the sea and perceive everything as the white version of dark Dyrhólaey.]

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ziua „AZI NU”



A fost un an greu; frumos, dar greu. Ştiu că poate nu pare aşa din postările mele pe Twitter, Facebook sau blog. Şi nici după zâmbetul meu şi după faptul că sunt tot timpul cu el pe buze nu s-ar zice. Şi nu mă prefac: sunt fericită, aşa am fost mereu şi aşa sper că voi fi întotdeauna. Însă nu îmi place să mă victimez, rar cer ajutorul celor din jur pentru că îmi place să mă descurc singură şi, poate cu atitudinea asta de self-assured şi always collected, am obişnuit lumea prost. Poate că în spatele acestei atitudini sunt multe nopţi nedormite şi sacrificii cu duiumul. Tocmai ca să reuşesc în continuare, indiferent de greutăţi financiare, de prieteni pierduţi, de dezamăgiri, să îmi trăiesc viaţa în felu-mi caracteristic şi în reţeta care mi se potriveşte de minune şi care îmi asigură felia mare de fericire pe care – haideţi să recunoaştem! – cu toţii o căutăm.
Pe de altă parte, am avut o perioadă, acum vreo două săptămâni, când am simţit un val mare de invidie venind din partea mai multor persoane asupră-mi. Eu nu înţeleg acest sentiment, pentru că nu l-am simţit niciodată. Am fost tot timpul omul care a privit cu admiraţie şi şi-a zis „Wow! A putut! Bravo lui! Eu de ce n-aş putea?”. Şi apropiaţii mei ştiu despre ce vorbesc aici. Că postez pe Facebook fotografii cu mine în diverse locaţii şi ipostaze e nu ca să-mi dospească orgoliul, ci ca cei care mă iubesc [şi care sunt răspândiţi pe mai multe continente] să se bucure alături de mine. Pare rău dacă am deranjat pe cineva, dar voi continua în aceeaşi manieră. Eu nu spun că stilul meu de viaţă este cel mai bun sau că li s-ar potrivi tuturor, dar nici nu îi condamn pe cei care duc vieţi opuse mie. În final, fiecare trebuie să îşi găsească drumul şi să acţioneze după cum crede ca să fie recompensat cu crâmpeiele acelea de fericire vizate, atâta timp însă cât nu uită să fie bun, tolerant şi sincer şi cât nu încearcă să îi rănească pe cei din jurul lui care chiar nu ar merita asta.
Aşadar – şi ajung la ce înseamnă titlul acestei postări –, m-am simţit copleşită şi am avut nevoie de timp cu mine. Ca un fel de resetare. Şi mi l-am luat. Mi-am închis telefonul, Facebook-ul şi Twitter-ul de la 9:00, apoi pe la 14:30 [timp în care a trebuit să rezolv probleme administrative], mi-am închis şi mailul. Şi am făcut absolut ce m-a tăiat capul ca să mă deconectez în respectiva zi – am ascultat muzică, am ronţăit ce mi-a poftit inima, am cugetat, m-am autoanalizat... [Aş fi vrut sincer să umblu de bezmetică prin oraş sau să plec pur şi simplu undeva, însă nu aveam chef de ploaia de afară. AZI NU, vorba cântecului.] Aşa că seara mea s-a încheiat cu o întâlnire, în fapt, singurul om cu care m-am văzut în respectiva zi, pentru că aveam ceva de rezolvat între noi. Apoi, în drum spre casă, atunci când mi-am deschis telefonul şi am început să primesc mesaje şi apeluri, m-am simţit eliberată şi m-am gândit că ar fi bine ca ziua respectivă să se repete – şi recomand asta oricui!!
In the aftermath, care încă simt că nu-i pe terminate, au început să se aşeze lucrurile, fără ca măcar să le forţez. Este de-ajuns 1 săptămână ca să-ţi fie încununate eforturile nerecunoscute timp de 3 ani. Sunt situaţii în care ajungi să te găseşti şi care-ţi demonstrează că ai luat decizia cea mai bună în urmă cu mai mulţi ani şi că acum, deşi talentul nu ar fi o problemă, o faci de fun pentru că ştii că pe drum ai găsit o dragoste mai mare. Apoi, sunt oameni care – deşi nu ai fi zis –, te surprind prin dedicaţia şi ataşamentul lor şi poate că, aidoma basmelor noastre, numărul „3” îmi va purta noroc.
Important este că am conştientizat, parcă şi mai în forţă, că trăiesc într-o lume cu o multitudine de oameni talentaţi, frumoşi pe dinăuntru şi cu multe de oferit. Avem zile mai bune şi zile mai proaste, dar rămânem valoroşi cu toate acestea – asta ca să mai adaug puţin mister la şi-aşa misteriosul text anterior –. Şi cel mai frumos, după părerea mea, este când întâlnim oameni care ne completează. Când refuzăm să ne lăsăm călcaţi în picioare pentru că nu încetăm să credem în noi şi în visele noastre, indiferent de cât de mult încearcă cei din jur să ne facă să credem că suntem altfel decât extraordinari. Şi când suntem, în primul rând, corecţi cu noi înşine, cu ceea ce simţim şi ştim să recunoaştem dintr-o mie pe acele persoane care nu numai că ne iubesc cu adevărat şi ne arată asta, dar ne şi îmbogăţesc vieţile. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Stopovers – the cost-effective version of city breaks



I love to travel. You all know that. But then, there are those destinations that I wouldn’t necessarily consider as vital items on my bucket list; consequently, I wouldn’t pay much to get there [because I would rather invest the money to be paid for the flight there in a trip somewhere I would really-really want to go to]. Out of these big cities, there are some that get under your skin, although you wouldn’t have expected it to be that way. And then, there are those places you were in love with in the first place and that you’d like to re-experience, feed on your memories, and help create new ones. I’ll just let you figure out the category in which each of these cities falls. :)

A) Milan
When and why?
September 2008, en route to Lisbon (and back)
March 2009, en route to Edinburgh (and back)
March 2011, en route to Belo Horizonte (via Lisbon, and back)
Enough time to…
Eat your heart out [if you’re an Italian food addict, like me], walk around Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II several times, see Colonne di San Lorenzo and Scala di Milano, topped with an unforgettable visit to your [he he] favourite football team’s [AC Milan] home stadium, San Siro.   
As it clearly seems, Milan – apart from being one of the cities that I love with all my heart [and it’s always going to be like that!] – is my life’s most common stopover [so far]. In total, 5 nights in the city, 1 night at Milan Malpensa [I know that airport by heart...] and several more hours in-between.
Il Duomo di Milano
B) Madrid
When and why?
December 2008, en route to Marrakech (and back)
Enough time to…
Get drunk on sangria, eat yourself silly, and hang out with the old ladies of the neighbourhood in one of the tapas bars in Barajas.
We were so tired on the 2 nights spent near Barajas Airport that we didn’t manage to explore Madrid properly. So, we’ll have to reschedule the visit. Another stopover probably. Whereto? Aaah, that’s the question!
Aterrizando en Madrid
C) Lisbon
When and why?
March 2011, en route to Belo Horizonte (and back)
Enough time to…
Head back to Belém and to that unmistakable taste of the Pastéis – some with delicious cinnamon, some without, and some to go. A glass of orange juice beside our plates, that’s understood. Then a longer walk along Tejo River, taking in the sights of Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos and heading afterwards to Praça do Comércio and the winding alleys leading to Alfama.  
When it comes to one of the cities that I adore [and there are not many on that list!], not even the risk of not catching the flight to Brazil could stand in the way. Or the 6 morning hours following a freezing night spent in Lisboa Airport [long layover, you presumed well].
O bonde amarelo
D) Berlin
When and why?
July 2012, en route to Reykjavik (and back)
Enough time to…
Enjoy a grapefruit-flavoured beer + some apple strudel and vanilla ice cream and a pre-booked [and free] visit of the Dome of the Reichstag Building.
There were quite a few telling me that I was a fool trying to spend those few hours outside of the airport and jeopardising my flight to Iceland. Well, I’ve told you it seemed doable in the first place, haven’t I?
Spielerisch

E) Rome
When and why?
October 2012, en route to Tbilisi (and back)
Enough time to…
Sample a delicious unorthodox breakfast including cappuccino, pizza with mozzarella and rucola, and finally Italian ice cream, and visit Foro Romano [missed out during the first time in Rome].
5 hours and a totally different experience in Rome. Bitter taste replaced by a sweet-savoury one.
Vista del Foro Romano
F) Budapest
When and why?
September 2013, en route to Edinburgh (and back)
Enough time to…
Get to the Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya), spend a wonderful evening with your cousins and aunty, meet up with your kayak instructor for a jazzy evening, try to escape from a basement (TRAP), sample lovely vegetarian dishes and sweets, walk the wide streets up and down, and even get to Leányfalu and the adjacent thermal baths, courtesy of your cousin.
3 nights in one of my favourite cities – and I was still left craving for more.

A lány és a város
G) Istanbul
When and why?
April 2014, en route to Tehran (and back)
Enough time to…
Have breakfast and at least 2 (!!) cakes in the exquisite Saray Muhallebicisi, visit your favourite hamam [a.k.a. Çemberlitaş Hamamı], see the Blue Mosque once again, then cross Galata Bridge after paying a visit to the Egyptian Bazaar and end by walking the hectic streets of Beyoğlu and caressing a few cats.
Probably 6 hours altogether to revisit one of the most special cities in my heart.
Kediler
H) Copenhagen
When and why?
September 2014, en route to Aberdeen
Enough time to…
See Nyhavn, head to Christiania [where you are not allowed to take pictures or run; p.s. weed is in the air], have some very nice rhubarb muffins at Lagkagehuset, and finally understand that things may not always go as planned when you are asked to leave the cars of the subway heading to the airport, twice [you understand that as, we, Romanians, claim – Se întâmplă şi pe la case mai mari].
Only 5 hours, but such a nice surprise! And the first time I’ve ever felt welcome in Scandinavia; returning here = a must.
Overfyldt
I) Belfast
When and why?
September 2014, flight from Aberdeen
Enough time to…
See the City Hall, the panorama offered by Victoria Square Shopping Centre, and SS Nomadic, walk to the Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House and sample a cider with your very dear friends = the perfect hosts and guides.
4hrs30’ filled with the laughter and joy of your friends. Priceless.
@Titanic Museum
J) Dublin
When and why?
September 2014, bus from Belfast
This would have been an excellent idea [as I planned the trip from Romania to Scotland and back]. However, I left 1 minor detail out: issues with luggage. The thing is you can’t really stroll at ease when you’ve got only 2 wheels left on your trolley following several flights. Hence, an extended (and direct) visit to the airport follows.