Autore: Paola

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

Never too late

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 voilà, 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?

Flower power

Unfortunately Naples, although beautiful, lively and very rich in culture, is not a city that makes you think of large green spaces and pure air to breath, but in the heart of the historic center, on the edge of a gray and busy street, there is a wonderful park full of history and rare plants: the Botanical Garden. In May it also hosts Planta, a market and exhibition dedicated to plants of all kinds, the rare ones, the exotic ones, those typical of the Mediterranean area and so on. Even on a rainy and windy day the colors of the flowers are vibrant and magnificent and it is wonderful to see the people happy and smiling for something as simple as a flower.
I was lucky, the whole time I was there it rained only ten minutes and the uncertain weather also discouraged the large crowds typical of Sunday afternoons. The next edition will be in a year’s time. What a pity! How wonderful it would be if an event like this was organized more often, especially in the city, where it is most needed.

By the way, this is my little purchase. I couldn’t buy more mostly because I didn’t know how to carry heavy vases at home all by myself. It’s an Albuca Spiralis, it comes from South Africa so I guess it should find itself at home in the south of Italy too. It’s pretty, it should have small flowers too, and quite low manteinance, perfect for my not so green finger.

Is traveling to Russia dangerous?

Hint: NO

I’m writing this because not so many days ago a friend of mine asked more or less this same question. And I won’t lie, I asked myself this too when I was planning my first trip to Moscow/S.Petersburg. Back then I knew almost nothing about Russia, apart from the things you can usually read in history books and that they have some amazing novelists. Anyway, what I found on the internet wasn’t always encouraging, especially if you are a woman. Most people were just as enthusiastic as I felt, but every now and then I came across people who suggested to only go with tour operators so that they’d take you to the main attractions and pick you up soon after (boooring!), even in the main cities. They also said to not wander the streets after the sunset (!), to not look at the policemen too much (!!) and stuff like that.

Now, since I’ve always been in love with Russian culture of course I decided to go and ignore all the scaremongering. Plus I’m from a city that sadly has a quite high crime rate so it’s not like I’m a naive woman who can’t tell a bad neighborhood apart from a good one and I’ve been to almost every big town of Europe so I know how it works.

Granted, the very first thing that happened right after getting on the train from S.Piet’s airport to the town’s center was that my friend got robbed! Anyway, at home I was robbed ten meters from my own house, I’ve witnessed bag-snatches in Lisbon, Paris (twice), Madrid. Bad things happen all over the world and big towns are almost never entirely safe.

Apart from that single episode on the metro my (our) perception of danger has been basically non-existent. Moscow and St. Petersburg are two incredibly beautiful cities, full of history and life and also quite tiring because of the long distances, so make sure you have very comfortable shoes. It is enough to use common sense and the normal precautions that would be used in any other huge city. I mean, I wouldn’t go and stare at policemen anywhere. Even traveling on the night train that connects the two cities, in second class, was fun and safe and as comfortable as it can be. Actually, the beds are even a little wider than those I found on other trains in the rest of Europe.


When I left Moscow it was dawn, the sky was pink and the city lights were still on. I swallowed my tears because I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of the taxi driver, but I miss Russia so much, and I’m planning to come back soon, probably for a trip a little more focused on natural landscapes.

Is solo traveling the recipe for happiness?

The last time I was in Milan, a few days ago, I went with some friends. A small group of four people that I feel great with. We are soulmates, or something like that, literally on the same wavelength. We had fun, we laughed, we basically lived in symbiosis for four days. It was great and I wondered more than once how fun it would be to go somewhere together, for a longer period. Then I realized that with three of those people I have already traveled on several occasions and it has not always been easy. Indeed, sometimes it was really difficult and this is one of the reasons why in this phase of my life I tend to want to travel alone. Except when I do it I really feel guilty toward others, the friends I left home. Maybe they wanted to come too? Maybe they’d have enjoyed this place or that even more than me? Also I feel like I am missing something, or rather someone, with whom to share my emotions, or simply a table in a restaurant. What I really wonder now is if I am in a transition phase, one in which my tolerance for people, even those I love dearly, is getting lower for some reasons. Or if we all simply changed a little bit so that we are not 100% compatible anymore. Or, again, if it is really so difficult to find good traveling companions but somehow I never noticed before.

A few months ago I also tried to make a little trip with complete strangers and it was tragicomic. I have to admit I have good memories of that trip, especially since in the end the tragic parts were tragic to the point of being funny. After all life should always be lived with a smile, right? Anyway, as silly as it may seem, I’m almost scared to leave town with someone else, but loneliness is not an option that makes me perfectly happy either.

If and when I find a way to solve this dilemma I’ll share my wisdom, that’s a promise!

Missing Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo

Sometimes I feel randomly nostalgic and today it just happens to be one of those days. Maybe because I recently met some of my old and best travel buddies, who I miss all the time since we are scattered all over Italy, or because it’s been a while since my first time in Japan. Or simply because I enjoyed Tokyo so much a bit of nostalgia was to be expected anyway.
I can’t honestly say that Tokyo was a place where I was extremely happy. There have been other travels, before, where I felt more at peace with myself. Anyway I loved that town, I still do, it made me feel small but at the same time protected. And I never felt lost. Now I long for the huge neon signs, for the crowded metro, for a language I can’t understand but I love the sound of.
Maybe because it’s a city with two souls, as cliché as this may be, an old one and a modern one, both wings and roots, just like me. I’m convinced there are places we share a connection with, every single one of us has a few even if sometimes we don’t notice it.
Tokyo may be just one of those places for me.