Autore: Paola

I write. I read. I cook. Whenever I can I travel.

Once upon a time in Blokhus

I woke up on a sunny morning of one of my free days with a nasty pain in my back and an annoying foot injury that I had gotten myself a couple of days before, but I had planned for a long time to dedicate that day to Blokhus, a small town on the west coast of Jutland and I didn’t want to give up the trip. It was also one of my unlucky days, one of those where I couldn’t find any kind soul that could give me a ride, so I took the bus. Not that it’s a problem, the connections up there are pretty good.

I literally dragged myself all day, with the frustration of being able to move at half the speed I usually move, which in any case is not that much, but in the end, as always, it was much better to go than to not go.

First things first, Blokhus has a fabulous beach, but unfortunately for a southern girl the Danish sea is too cold, so no bath for me and not even a bit of tan, mainly because the morning was cloudy, but also because I had three layers of clothes on me an the idea of being half naked in the wind didn’t seem very appealing. The city center is not that impressive, I have to say. Just bar, restaurants, tons of souvenir shops and If you know where to look a couple of very nice craft shops. The fun part is right out of the town, some 3 or 4 kilometers, I guess.

The small Museum for Papirkunst is indeed tiny but it’s one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been. It’s like entering into a fairytale, a world made by hand carved paper artwork and lights arranged so as to create wonderful plays of shadows. The atmosphere is that of a relaxing dream, a really nice place to simply be and to let your imagination fly. It’s funny that just a few minutes away you can enter a totally different world, the Skulpturparken, an oper-air museum all dedicated to sand, wood and concrete sculptures. It gives a bit of a beach party vibration despite not being on the beach. The difference is that you are surrounded by eccentric, original and fun sculptures instead of half drunken people dancing like mad. It feel like a fairytale too, but more metal so to speak. Maybe it’s also just a little bit kitch, but that’s definitely part of the fun. And if you stop to truly ponder on what you’re looking at, you’ll see that each sculpture requires a great amount of skills to be realized, so respect for the artists, really. If you happen to be a nerd like me you’ll also find plenty of references to books and movies. I’m still asking myself if that was made on purpose or if I was just seeing what I wanted to see.

Anyway the point is, if in Jutland, go to Blokhus!

Those signs of destiny written in neon letters

First thing first, as a blogger I am half a failure and that’s a glaring truth. How bold of me to think I would have been able to be constant in posting here! So yeah, after yet another long period of silence I’m back again. I was thinking if I should just start to simply write as I always did, but it feels wrong to just move on to what is happening now (not much to be honest), overlooking all that was my summer experience in Denmark. In fact that’s why I am here.
I spent a few weeks in a small community that despite being indeed small, opened a world to me. It was as if it unlocked a window on myself, making me remember things that I had set aside for a long time, buried under boredom and dissatisfaction. That’s why you should always travel, to get rid of layers and layers of negativity, even if all you can afford is a bed in a room shared with 11 strangers and snacks for dinner.

That wasn’t my case, btw. I had my own private room and even too much to eat. Yes, I gained weigh, no I don’t care. Food is an important part of a country’s culture. I am back on my healthy diet anyway, so no harm done. Either way, to me one of the most important part of this trip is the reason why I decided to go in the first place.

Last year these days I was at the height of depression for several reasons. I felt stuck, as in a prison made by situations I thought I couldn’t change. The things I used to love, working as a freelance, being single and free, leaving in Naples, didn’t give me joy anymore, they felt like some punishment for something I didn’t know I had done wrong. My crime? Maybe I dared to chase tiny dreams, too afraid to dream big, or maybe I let other people tell me what to do way too often. In the meantime I saw my life flowing away uselessly, as if I were wasting my time in this world. And in many ways it was exactly what I was doing. When I just couldn’t take any more of it I realized it was one of those moments when either you drink or you drown. So I drank. What was in my glass? A good dose of self confidence, for a starter, mixed with some awareness that no one would save me. I had to do it by myself and I found the idea exciting, which was weird considering the apathetic mental state I was in back then. I decided to start from scratch, for which is never too late, and I decided that I had to identify the main problems first. As it turned out, one of them was that my life and my city felt too small and constricting, so the new beginning had to start from another place. Away from home.


It’s not like I put my finger at random on the map, but well, I almost put my finger at random on the map! Of course I could not go away for more than a couple of weeks without a bit of money, so I thought to put the two things together and look for a small job abroad. I mainly tried with the hotels, but almost everyone wanted people with experience or who spoke three or four languages, so I expanded the searches, I discovered famous web portals of which I was apparently the only one not aware of and I wrote to a lot of people. From the small Amsterdam restaurant to the European Parliament. The first to answer me was a kind Danish gentleman who happen to own an art gallery. It was like a huge sign of destiny written in giant neon letters. I have always liked art, whether to do it or to see it, I studied art history at university and being able to work in a museum was a fabulous idea. Who was holding me back? Same old fears… and a couple of annoying people who wanted to hold me back. I’m glad to say this time they failed.
So I left, I lived a piece of a bigger dream and I came back with the moral imperative of keeping the spark burning. That’s exactly what I am doing now and I feel so much better than 12 months ago.

What I actually did in Denmark? Learnt a lot about how to manage a business, sculpted a huge ass sculpture, visited amazing places I didn’t even knew existed and made new friends. I will explain in more details in the next posts, now it’s time for my beauty sleep this side of the world.

Sorry!

I want to apologize! I had so many projects for the first summer of this blog, but then everything went south, technologically speaking and then boom, suddently it’s september yet again! Also I’ve been pretty busy with some artistic projects and 24 hours a day are never enough.

Anyway I have tons of pics, stories and experiences I want to share so I’ll be back very soon, I just need a bit of time to reorganize my thoughts and my daily routine because summer was as fun as it was hectic. I need an holiday!

Vacuum bags are a girl’s best friends

Now, this may not be glamorous or romantic but honestly, this was for me a little revolution. I love traveling light, I learned the hard way many many years ago in Greece, but this is a story for another time. Anyway, sometimes if you have to travel long, or move around a lot so that laundry isn’t an easy option, or you are somewhere where the climate isn’t stable, to pack just two t-shirts and one extra pair of shoes simply isn’t possible. This is when those plastic bags come in handy. You put your stuff inside (store it all wisely so you can open just one bag at time, this is extra useful if your ho(s)tel room is tiny), pump out the extra air, and that’s basically it. You have now saved a whole lot of space and your luggage will also weight less, which can be important if you travel by plane, but also if you have to carry it around for a while.

I’m not here to advertise any brand or product in particular, you can buy bags of any form and dimension, but since you need to carry the pump with yourself for when you have to pack on your way back, it’d be better to choose a small, light one. Also, the bags are not eternal, so in my humble opinion it’s not wise to buy extra-expensive ones. Not that they are very expensive to begin with.

Looking for a flaw? Here we go. Depending on how long the bags remain closed, your clothes can come out quite wrinkled. The first time I used this trick was when I went to Japan, but since it was winter and I mostly packed sweaters the problem was almost non existent. This summer I’ll bring light clothes, cotton shirts and a bit of pile, so we’ll see what happens.

Jutland, here I come

This is a time of change for me, both in a positive and in a negative sense. Mostly, fate decided for me so I, in turn, decided that if my life wasn’t going to be the same anymore anyway, I’d spice things up a little bit. Long story short, in July/August I’ll go work in Denmark and I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself for taking this decision. It’s just a few weeks, but I needed to leave home for a while and I needed it badly. Sometimes routine gets suffocating, so does family, as much as I love all the people in my life. Sometimes I need new things and new experiences, I hope this will give me fresh energies to face an autumn/winter that may be a little challenging.

By the way, I plan to fully document the expedition, I may even buy myself the infamous selfie stick!

The last time I went to Denmark I was in my early twenties and I only got to see Copenhagen and Helsingør. Now I’m super eager to see the coast, there are some wonderful beaches, and not only that. I think Copenhagen itself deserves one more visit, and so does Aarhus, albeit I mostly long for natural environments.

Rigth after I’ll also go to Germany to see a dear friend of mine in Berlin, then Muenchen and possibly Nuremberg too, if I still got the time. I’ll only travel by train so it’ll be an ecological trip, which only adds to the general excitement. I’ve got to be honest, though, I’m sort of claustrophobic and that’s what makes me avoid planes if possible, but now that Greta is on my side too, I won’t even have to deal with people looking skeptically at me.

Looks like it’ll be a very exciting summer, I can’t wait to leave!

If in Naples, run to MANN!

Or three reasons why now it’s a really good moment to go and see the National Archeological Museum of Naples.

  • Antonio Canova. Enjoy Naples, the crowd, the food, the sun (despite this cold, cold spring), but don’t miss the chance to also enjoy the purity of the forms of classical sculpture, reinterpreted by one of the greatest artists ever. Canova’s skills earned him the nickname of new Phidias and you’ll soon understand why. The grace of the bodies, the incredible mastery of drapery that reminds the foam of the waves, hard marble that turns into soft curves, everything is simply magic in this exhibition. It made me all emotional, so open your heart and let youself be enchanted by beauty. It’s definitely one of those feel-good experiences that can change your whole perception of a city. It stays in Naples until 30 June 2019.
  • The archeological section. This is a permanent (outstanding) exhibition in Naples and basically what makes MANN one of the most important archeological musums of the world. Now, despite a few sections being closed for a few days due to some restorations, since many Canova’s sculptures are there, you can enjoy the paralles between classical art and noclassicism. It’s truly interesting and actually accessible to all. Meaning there are a lot of things you can notice, learn and understand without needing a classical education.
  • Hugo Pratt. Naples has always been a city of sailors and travelers, so it is definitely appropriate that it hosts a beautiful exhibition dedicated to the sailor and pirate Corto Maltese, the most famous character created by the world-famous comic artist Hugo Pratt. Corto tells the history of the first years of the twentieth century with irony and humanity, siding invariably with the weakest people while still being friends with some hardened criminals. Not your typical hero, but that’s what makes him even more charming. The exhibition, Corto Maltese – An extraordinary journey, will present a huge thematic itinerary, with 100 pieces including original panels, sketches, photos and more. Until 9 September 2019.

Happy Fair Trade!

I said I’d join, right? So this is my entry for the #fairtradechallenge! Coffe is already here, so are sugar and chocolate, tea will join very soon.

Now, this is just a fun game (and my pic may have been better) but the most important thing is that we all remember, at least every now and then, to buy food whose proceeds go to the real producers, the farmers of the countries where the goods actually come from. They often are taken advantage of or run just small business unable to compete with huge companies.

Also the taste is divine 🙂

Horses, pink water and ornitology for dummies

Today I really feel like talking about France and why you shouldn’t miss Camargue, the region between Arles and the Mediterranean sea. It may not be a mainstream destination as far as France is concerned, but it still is very popular among the locals, so if you choose to go during the summer keep in mind that some places can be very crowded.

Anyway, do you need five reasons to go?

1- Horses. Indeed. Sometimes advertising posters don’t lie. You can really drive along a paved road and see wonderful, white horses in the fields left and right. Just remember, don’t stare at the horses while driving! You’ll have plenty of chances to interact with them in one of the many riding schools all around the region.

2- Aigues Mortes. The dead waters. I know how this sounds, it’s after all a swamp right west of the National Park of Camargue, but believe me, it’s a truly amazing place! The city is small and pretty, but the real point is the salt pans that are just a few kilometers away. You will find expanses of sparkling white salt, high dunes that look like snowy hills and that dazzle the view in the sunlight. All around there are large pools of pink water due to a particular seaweed. The salt pans can be visited aboard a small train with a guide or you can choose to explore the area by car. In order to do this, anyway, you need to be well informed because in some periods of the year there are people at work and some places are forbidden to tourists. Try the official site.

3- Birds. You don’t really need to be an ornithology fanatic to enjoy the local fauna. There are some large protected areas in the region, where numerous bird species live free and in peace. I was able to visit only one, La Palissade, a wonderful park where you can observe storks, herons, swans, flamingos and many other species that I can’t even name. Don’t worry though, the park is provided with different informative material so even the less experienced can enjoy the visit. There are two routes, a short one of a couple of hours and a long one of almost five. The trekking is easy, on a very well marked path, but the summer sun is very hot and the only bar is at the beginning, so don’t do like me and bring plenty of water! Oh, keep in mind there are also many nutrias, they mind their own business but I must admit I’m not extremely fond of them.

4- Sea. Forget the CĂ´te d’Azur… well no, don’t. Just know that the beaches you’ll find here really have nothing to envy of their much more famous “sisters”. Personally, I do not prefer luxury tourist destinations, so I found myself more at ease on these wild beaches, where you will rarely find big resorts or other forms of entertainment, apart from simple bars or small restaurants. Here too the sand is soft and white, anyway, and the sea is as blue as the sky. Again, unfortunately, the road can get crowded. The local people seem to love those beaches too so try to avoid the small towns like Saintes Maries, albeit they’re very pretty, and drive directly to the more isolated beaches.

5- Van Gogh. Right north of the National Park there is Arles, one of the few places in Europe that get the honor to be considered the city of Van Gogh. The most important thing to know is that the house where the artist lived is immediately outside the walls, not inside, and nowadays it is a bit disappointing. I don’t know exactly what I expected to find, but that building squeezed between two others, which looks like a trivial little concrete house, made me a little sad. However the city is very pretty and lively and in the center you can see the bar that inspired “Cafè de Nuite“, together with other places that are along a pedestrian path, called of course the Van Gogh Path.

It is too late. But only in your head

This feels sort of personal, but I want to talk about my experience because I’m sure there are a lot of other women out there who are going through the same path. Maybe this can help a bit.

So we all want to go, right? Then why we end up staying?

When I was 20 I was super shy, afraid of my own shadow and at the same time eager to spread my wings and fly. Imagine the amount of frustration, to be like a tornado trapped in a bottle. I had to finish studying anyway, so university kept me from having to make any actual choice.

When I was 30 my family went through a very rough period. It really didn’t feel right for me to just leave, even if it was what I wanted the most. I knew pretty well, tho, that leaving was 90% running away from problems than anything else.

Now I’m in my 40’s and still afraid, still making excuses with myself. I mean, I do a lot of things, I travel much more than before thus I’m proud of myself, but there’s always that little voice in the back of my head. “It’s not yet the right moment. Just wait for things to settle down. If only you had a little more money.” What changed then? Mainly it is that now I am aware enough to understand when there is a real problem that prevents me from leaving and when I am only finding excuses.

Just a few days ago a friend of mine said something along the line of it’s too late for a new chance and I realized, not for the first time, that I didn’t want to become that sort of person. I didn’t want to wither to the point of thinking that at 40 life is already over. Actually, I feel much more an accomplished and complete person now than 20 years ago. People gets sad when they realize time goes by, I don’t. I wasn’t a very happy teenager and I already talked about my 20’s. Time is making me wiser, calmer, more positive, thinner, even (my nutritionist is an hero and I’m on a super diet which I just love!), but I am digressing.

Granted, there will always be something or more probably someone who doesn’t want to let you go. For me there is family, with the good old adagio: you should think about how to fix your life before anything else. This is a vaguely polite way to say that since I am not married, I don’t have children and I work as a freelance, my life is a disaster and they worry for me. The last part is true at least, they worry because they care, that’s why I don’t get mad at them.

Anyway, my point is it’s never ever too late to leave life at the full extent, to be what you want to be, to pursue a dream or simply to enjoy a peculiar hobby. Unless you decide so in your head. There are many people who are loaded with prejudices that prevent them from doing things, but I don’t have to be like them and neither do you. This obviously doesn’t only concern the topic of travel, it applies to everything. So what I’m doing next? First of all I’m looking for a job abroad. Secondly I’m planning to go away for the next couple of months. Most probably I’ll find myself a nice farm in the UK or Scandinavia to spend the summer, it get’s too hot in the south anyway. They always need an helping hand and they give you a place to stay for free. Isn’t it a great deal?

#fairtradechallenge

Did you know? Next weekend, 10-11-12 May 2019 is the World Fairtrade Challenge. It is a nice initiative that mainly serves to make people aware of the issue of fair trade, of the way in which small businesses that produce the goods we consume every day (coffee, cocoa, fruit juices, clothes and many many others) are often penalized, if not really robbed, by huge supply chains.
There is so much we can do, for example by choosing the products that have the Fair Trade logo, both in some supermarkets and in specialized shops. The quality is excellent (I’ve been using them for years), the price is reasonable and the profits are distributed much more equitably so that farmers and small business, the people actually doing the job, get a fair deal. But there’s even more. It’s not only about money, it’s about child labor, gender equality, climate change etc.

fairtradechallenge


I’m totally convinced that none of us have to be a martyr, a saint, much less a fanatic, but we can still help with little gestures every day, the ones that cost us almost nothing but mean so much for other people.

We are many small drops and together we can become the sea. Why give up this opportunity?

As for the World Fairtrade Challenge I’m talking about, it’s simply a nice and fun thing to do with coworkers, friends, family or by ourselves. If you work in contact with many people you can organize a public event, but a family breakfast is also perfectly fine. It’s what I’ll do, for example. More or less every country has its own site where if you want you can even request free gadgets to personalize your event. Then you upload some nice photos using the tag #fairtradechallenge et voilĂ , many people who previously had no idea what fair trade is, now know and maybe tomorrow some of them will make the right choice. Believe me, it may not look like much, but a little is more than nothing, right?