After all the busyness of the past weeks, I had no other choice but to look forward to a very relaxing few days. Seeing a bit of a gap during these busy times, I planned a holiday where all I can experience is peace and quiet. It’s a holiday that doesn’t need to hurry to go here and there, and to see this and that. Because all I really need is some rest, to read a book, to draw, to listen to music, to do origami… A stroll on a secluded beach will be a plus factor too. And there I found Burgas in Bulgaria!
Staying some 20 kilometres from the Burgas City centre, it is not even overrated to feel completely isolated from the rest of the world. The resort was completely empty! It felt like I have a complete possession of the place, yet with friendly people cleaning up and serving us good meals. The daily walks on the empty beach was such a wonderful routine. And to hear the constant sound of the crashing waves gave such a comforting feeling. Of course, I didn’t really finish any book and haven’t done much drawing either. But I did sleep and ate a lot!
I love Lisbon. The people, the food, the architecture, the sea, the language, the music are just some of the things to love about it. I love how the sun revealed and hid itself during sunrise and sunset. The colours gave so much delight that I wanted to witness these moments of change repeatedly by Ponte 25 de Abril and Cristo Rey, by Cais Das Colunas overlooking the Rio Tejo, by the Belém Tower and by Castelo de S. Jorge.
Staying at a hotel on Rua Augusta near the Arco da Rua Augusta, it was easy to walk around the city and explore Barrio Alto and Rossio Square. The Santa Justa Lift is just nearby. Rua Augusta, the main pedestrian street of Lisbon, also gave a lot of good food experience. Pastelarias are everywhere to get a taste or two of the famous Pastel de Nata and the Pastel de Bacalhau. Ginha bars are also in many places to try Ginjinha, a sweet cherry liqueur which originated in Lisbon. I recommend sipping it from a chocolate cup. Although the chocolate cups came in later, around 10 years ago from Óbidos, the chocolate town of Portugal.
Then there were lovely walks in Alfama and the sentimental Fado music experience. The costal town of Cascais was also just an hour train ride to the west of Lisbon, then walking all the way to Boca du Inferno. The weather was pleasant, not cold and not warm. It was just right. The sun was shining and even the light rain added more spice to this wonderful holiday. One thing I was always tempted to say was Arigato instead of Obrigado. After all, Arigato originated from Obrigado. It was also interesting to understand that I can now travel using both English and Spanish. I totally recommend Lisbon for your next travel destination!
After taking a very expensive Shinkansen ride from Kyoto to Mishima, it took a bit over an hour to reach Fujikawaguchiko on a Thomas’ Land bus. It was a lovely surprise to get on a Thomas’ Land bus. It was the cutest bus I’ve ever been!
Arriving in Fujikawaguchi, Mt Fuji’s presence can be easily felt. It is very domineering that there is no way to miss it. It is behind the bus station and it shows itself at the restaurant while eating a bowl of soba.
Then a further 25 minutes ride on another bus led to Lake Kawaguchiko where Mt. Fuji reveals itself in all its majesty.
And by the Lake Kawaguchiko, I also saw the prettiest manhole ever!
Mt Fuji can also be seen from the guesthouse’s window while having breakfast and dinner. Even when taking a shower!
Imagine to be in a place so green, beautiful trees surrounding you. Then comes the rain, a wonderful relief from the summer heat. You are sat under a shade, feeling calm as you wait for the rain to pass by.
Then you walk pass a beautiful garden. So beautiful, so breathtaking. It represents peace and tranquility.
Then imagine walking pass traditional houses lined up on the narrow road. You walk in silence as not to disturb anyone. You are amazed at how clean these roads are. How quiet, how peaceful.
It’s really hard not to fall in love with Japan. And the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai never failed to inspire. So you can imagine how happy I was to see the original The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The original The Great Wave off Kanagawa was published in the late Edo period sometime between 1829 and 1833 as the first print in Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. It is Hokusai’s most famous work and one of the most recognisable works of Japanese art in the world.
And there is this pretend thing where I was watching aged Hokusai at work with his daughter, Katsushika Oi. Amazing! It felt so real this diorama.
Then there is the International Manga Museum in Kyoto. I’m seeing this form of art in a different way now after I learnt a lot about it. It was very inspiring. Ended with art supplies but let’s see how I will manage to find time to try my new pens, especially now that I got my own Hanko in Kanji characters!
Then there’s the Japanese food. I love Japanese food because why not! And I was even amazed how ordering a meal can happen by dropping coins into a machine.
Japanese people are also very respectful, helpful and kind. The busyness of Tokyo gives a sense of serenity because people are not loud, no loud music, no talking on the phones… Just peace and being considerate of each other at all times. Japan is also unbelievable clean. Kudos to Japanese people!
It’s true. I have to admit. I am such a sad person. My very first entry point to Europe was Frankfurt. After that I have been passing Germany many times. In Frankfurt, in Munich, in Hamburg and other stops where I don’t even try to remember the names of the places. Yes, stops. I was at the airports with no intention of going out. Sorry to say but Germany was one country that I was not attracted to. I can’t even pinpoint why. Maybe because in my mind, I associated Germany with physics, numbers and formulas. I pictured it with industrial buildings and nerdy, very efficient, no non-sense people. Even my former German colleague has a PhD in Chemistry! And in my travels, I want arts. I want arts badly. Yes, I am a sad person.
So when I went to Hamburg in September for an event, I was embarrassed to say that it was my first time to go out of the airport. And even more embarrassed because I was there meeting artistic people! The first person I got talking with was an artist who showed me her sketchbook of landscape drawings. I even went out with a group of Germans to do Urban Sketching. Then I met this lovely lady whose art I crazily admire. My heart skips a beat every time I see her sketchnotes. So my idea of Germany came tumbling down!
So this time was the second. This time in Berlin for a workshop about visuals! I was so wrong. So wrong that I feel the need to apologise. So to reverse this embarrassing situation, I’m supposed to be posting a photo of a German artist but that didn’t actually work out. I was so admiring his work that I forgot to take photos when the light is right. But then I finally got signed copies of his/my books! The amazing artist is Malte von Tiesenhausen.
It took 3 hours to drive from Dubrovnik to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The good thing was the border was not busy at all as it usually is. It was a good experience to know more about Bosnia and Herzegovina, how it was in the past and how it is in the present.
The main thing people go to see is the 16th century Ottoman bridge on the river Neretva which connects the two parts of the city. The bridge is called Stari Most which means old bridge. This bridge stood for 427 years but was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat – Bosniak War. A temporary cable bridge was constructed in its place. Stari Most was rebuilt and was in used again in 2003. The steps of the bridge is made of Tenelia stone which makes it very slippery to walk on.
Ćevapi is a recommended food to try. It is a dish of grilled skinless sausages. Ćevapi originated in the Balkans during the Ottoman period. The biggest surprise for me was the huge portion. There were 10 pieces of Ćevapi covered with the flatbread. Three could have just been enough for me. And yes, you counted it right. I already ate one!
If you know me, you know that I’m not an active person. I don’t exercise. I don’t go to gym. So I must say it was a genuine miracle how I survived every step that I had to take in Dubrovnik. And no, I’m not talking about the act or the movement of putting one leg in front of the other, but the placing of one foot from one level to another. So here’s the thing, there are lots and lots of that movement to be made when visiting Dubrovnik. Even the hotel didn’t have an elevator. Although the hotel instruction says that in case of emergency do not use the elevator!
But what not to love about Dubrovnik! Staying on the beachfront. Waking up to the sound of the waves. The refreshing water of the empty beach. The wonderful cool breeze. The golden sun pricking my brown skin and preparing to manifest an amazing sunset. It was a perfect holiday! The song in my head, A la playa yo quiero ir a bailar…
Also visited the Lokrum Island where I know that Rome is somewhere beyond the Adriatic Sea.
This Friars Minor Franciscan Monastery reminded me of Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence I visited in June last year.
Also, went to Cavtat to enjoy a lovely meal, learned about Vlaho Bukovac and saw some of his paintings at his old home and ended the day to experience yet another breathtaking sunset.
I gained weight during a week in Barcelona. Paella, Tapas and Sangria. Don’t forget the Crema de Catalunya. Even brought home some Turrons. One unexpected thing was to be given a room with a balcony. I didn’t reserve a room with balcony because it was much more expensive than without. But arriving at the hotel, the room with a balcony was presented with the same price. So here I am in a room in Rambla with a balcony. It was so cool, to be honest. I got to observe the ins and outs of Rambla.
There are many things to see in Barcelona. There’s the Sagrada Familia, of course.
The Gothic Quarter.
The Park Guell.
And Joan Miro’s painting!
And of course, Montserrat!
But the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria was the best of all! There I learned that I can eat dark chocolate with olive oil. Have you tried it?
There is nothing like the light rain and the strong wind before the sunset. Sunset is my favourite hour of the day. It’s the transition hour, the magic hour when light changes. And my favourite place to watch the sunset is by the Mekong River. The combination of the sunset and a rainbow is the most beautiful thing. It didn’t bother me that I was wet and my big hair was all over the place. Sunsets are always worth the wait.