Cand va vorbesc ciudat in expresii care nu au sens in romana, cand stau in telefon cate 20 sec si ma incapatanesc sa gasesc cuvantul “dulap”, cand trantesc cate un cuvant in engleza la fiecare 3 romanesti.
Cand va intreb “are you ok?” in loc de esti bine si va zic “see you later” in loc de “ne vedem mai tarziu, pastram legatura”.
E cel putin la fel de frustrant pentru noi, cei care ne pierdem fluenta in limba materna precum pentru cei care ne asculta si mustacesc prieteneste in fata amalgamului de cuvinte si expresii ce nu-si au locul impreuna. Imi vine cateodata sa-mi iau campii cu tot cu engleza mea cu tot, cu toate cuvintele pe care nu le gasesc, sa le iau pe toate si sa ma duc in padure.
Vorba alor mei, “quatro mici con mustari”, chiar uitam de unde venim sau ne maimutarim pentru un efect mai interesant?
N-am uitat, m-am adaptat, m-am integrat si n-am exersat.
Nu mi-o luati in lume de rau, nici mie si nici altora ca mine, traim in aceeasi lume, dar in alta limba. Vorbesc romaneste cu ai mei, scriu romaneste cu prietenii de acasa, dar atat m-am adaptat de-a lungul anilor incat gandesc romaneste prea rar, aproape deloc. Ma ajuta in viata de zi cu zi, mi-a iutit gandul in sendinte, imi fac prieteni rapid, sunt fluenta in sarcasm si mistouri in alte limbi, dar pe cat de adaptata sunt prin alta parti, pe atat de alienata ma simt cand vorbesc si sunt acasa.
Dati-ne timp sa ne readaptam la propria cultura si contextul de acasa, e o provocare continua sa nu te gasesti pe tine in limba in care te-ai nascut si crescut si sunt putine lucruri mai ciudate decat sa nu-i poti spune bunicii ce faci coerent si corect.
Si ca un exercitiu, “sa va aduc un zambet pe fata”, alegeti-va o limba si simulati o zi ca un expat: ganditi, vorbiti, scrieti. Intrebati-va la sfarsit de zi cum a fost, iar daca vreti sa vorbiti despre asta, imi puteti mereu spune, voi intelege.
I’ve had some wrong ideas about Greece, particularly Athens before I went there. I heard so many times that the Greeks are lazy that it stuck to my head even if I didn’t actively believe. I expected a poor and deserted city, somewhat of a shadow of the beautiful photos on Google. I though men are strong-headed and machos and are women are tough ladies with beautiful hair – well, that part is true.
I was ready for 20 degrees Celsius but got 10 min of snow and a blue sky in the cold weather. Here’s Athens debunked for those who can’t wait to go there and have no idea where to start their research about it:
Greek people are lazy – False
They work the most hours compared to all the European countries. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re 100% efficient but it does mean they’re determined and eager to succeed. Gotta love the Norwegians and Dutchies for the work efficiency though.
Greek people love food – OMG YES, true
Such a passion for food, it’s contagious. I must’ve gained 2 kilos in 4-5 days but mind you, I do eat for a living. The feta, the salads, the meat, the souvlaki, the sweets, the olive oil and the olives – try them all at any given point. Combined with ouzo which I’ve never enjoyed before but kinda didn’t hate now and racomelo which is my fav liquor (think rakia with hot honey, yum!), you’ll end up tasting a good chunk of what the Greek cuisine has to offer in Athens. Don’t miss out on the Greek coffee, which could also be Turkish coffee and also happens to be the way we make coffee in my family – we do live in a small world – loved the thickness and coziness of small black coffee after dinner.
Athens is all ruins and tourists – False
Okay, fine, it was off-season and I can imagine how it’s packed in the summer, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the cool, underground places. Here’s a few hints:
TAFF is super close to the Monastiraki metro station and it’s hipster café that becomes an open space in the summer and hosts some exhibition throughout the year.
Six dogs is a similar place, also somehow carved in stone with access to a higher level terrace in the summer
Socrates is your casual smoky whiskey jazz bar close enough to Sintagma Square
Lotte is your grandma’s vintage stuff all rolled into a vintage fancy bar with cocktails running from 9 euros, super cute.
The entire area of Plaka, we stopped at a place called Jasmine which has a mean cheese pie I absolutely fell for.
Athens is cheap – Almost false
I definitely did not expect to pay 4 euros for a latte in an area that did not look fancy. But there seems to be a logic to it – When Greeks go for a coffee they spend 2-3 hours in a place, so the prices are higher to cover the slower guest turnover. So you know, take your time. We’ve paid 4,5 for a beer but also found places where a beer was 2,5. And there’s always the 2 euros souvlaki to fall on if you’re on a budget. Transportation is affordable with 10 euros for a 5 days ticket and taxis being very affordable as well. Restaurants seemed to charge anything between 8 and 25 euros for a main course with hidden places where wine could be 3 euros/0,5 l. I wouldn’t be surprised if prices went up in the summer. Gotta pick your battles.
Greeks are welcoming – very true
Smile and you’ll make friends, they treat their guests as kings and queens and are happy to open their houses to people.
Other random things I learned about Athenians, Greece and Athens include a pro-refugee attitude, a anti-argument rebellion because of previous bad decisions that screwed up the country, a love for their own country that includes the need to keep their people close, the sun closer and the sense of freedom deep in their hearts.
My favorite discovery is that people are doing well, they’re working or looking for jobs, they’re striving to get ahead, the bars and restaurants are full of locals and there’s hope to just end this bad few years already. The capital control is there to handle the cash flow and things are moving forward.
I’ve been told a gazillion time I need to go back in the summer and that the islands are nothing short of paradise so there, I’ve put it on the list.
Share away, what else was a surprise in Athens for you?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s gonna be miserable weather. It might rain, it’s gonna be cold and humid, oh, so humid. Your hair will be all frizzy and your shoes will get wet. But it’s gonna be lovely in a very different way.
When I was doing my research on Venice, reviews were not very encouraging and I couldn’t tell how busy the island is gonna be. So I ended up booking an airbnb right on the island (got a whole appartment worth 250 euros/night for a mere 35 euros/night/2 people because the listing didn’t have any reviews*, yay!) and left the rest for when I got there. Completely worth it!
*you can get 25 dollars off your first airbnb booking by using this link)
Italian trains are expensive – think 50 euros for a 2 hours train ride – so Blablacar worked wonders for this trip. That’s just because I got lazy and didn’t book anything in advance. Once we got to Mestre, the connection to Venice is an easy-going local bus worth 1,5 euros/trip.
Went completely unprepared in my converse and leggings and paid continuously for underestimating Italy in the wintertime – that’s how cold and windy it was in the evening.
Stay on the island
Completely worth it for the late nights when nobody is on the street. Others mentioned it’s the same for the early mornings, but let’s face it, I’ll just never be a morning person. You can go from the the north of the island all the way to the south in about 30-40 min walking – you might as well get used to the idea you’re gonna get lost. I always suggest you keep you GPS on for when things get frustrating, otherwise have fun discovering the bridges and seeing where all the small streets take you to.
Skip the gondola trip thing and just cross the canal like the locals by getting on a gondola with others, stand for 30 sec and bam, you’re on the other side. Go to the San Marco square at night, it’s empty and beautifully lit, visit earlier in the day if you need to, I loved it on the outside, the inside was way too commercially presented for me to actually appreciate it.
Do an off-the-beaten track tour, I chose Venice Free Tour and had a blast. Don’t forget to tip your guide, save on the other stuff and show your appreciation to the locals.
Also, there’s an extensive list of beautiful churches to see. I mean, really, they are impressive to look at. Here’s a top 10: Famous churches in Venice
Eating and drinking
Don’t eat on the main street – don’t be that tourist. Really, just don’t.
Wander around and enter anything that doesn’t look fancy, you know, build up your appetite by searching for the right place for you. My founds include Paradiso Perduto and Ruga Rialto – I can’t praise enough this place that simply made me fall in love with its atmosphere and its 1 euro glass of house wine. Erm, multiple glasses.
– cold, it’s gonna be cold, so cold, bring layers
– aqua alta: “high waters” – it happens when the tide is too high and it can get up some serious water on the streets, most likely between Sept and April. Laugh it up if it happens, the locals are used to it, the city just carries on like usual
– you might need to have more warm-up breaks, don’t stress over not seeing and doing enough
– Venice is not an amusement park, people do live here, find them, talk to them, learn about their lives
Enjoy the views, please drop the selfie sticks and if you go in the season, please share your impressions afterwards. I concluded I couldn’t take Venice in full-on tourist season, but the miserable weather Venice suited me very well. Arivederci!
…come from getting a goodie pack from home. And while I can’t really eat the amount of pork, beef and extra pork sent I realized that it just makes me nostalgic because it smells like home. Smoked ham, zacuscă, cured meats and homemade sausages – all of that smells like home. I’ve never had it before. Add the cozonac smell and you have yourself a non-foodie happy woman with a full fridge to last her the next 3 months.
South of France sounds exotic, laid back and fun. So I booked a flight (Eindhoven-Marseille, 55 euros, FTW) and didn’t check a thing before I took off cause I imagined a beachy weekend to work on my tan, full of good food and chill people. Didn’t really go as planned as I ended up being super active and sporty, spent only one afternoon on the beach and had mostly fruits to eat as the 40+ Celsius degrees made it hard to enjoy proper food. But man, was it pretty.
If you have 3-4 days in Marseille, here’s my recommendations and highlights. But first, a photo. (my instagram is full of #weekendtrips photos)
I went first to Vieux Port, picked up some fresh fruits on the way there from the Central Station (maybe a 20 min walk downhill), sat down on the ground and enjoyed the view, the sun, the boats and the buzzing atmosphere. Super touristy though, be ready for that. You’ll bear it for maybe 20 min and then I definitely suggest you get on your way. Pretty, huh?
I then hopped on the last boat to Chateau d’If on the spur of the moment as I realized I won’t have time the next days. It’s a fortress transformed into a prison located on the island of If, the smallest island of the Frioul archipelago. The count of Monte Cristo, anybody? It’s one of the settings in the novel, Dumas made it famous and the whole fortress is now a mix of reality and fiction. Cool stuff, take a look. The ticket was 10 euros and it said there’s a guided tour included which was not true. The boat trip is nice though, you a get a bit of breeze and some nice views over the port.
Take your time and breathe in the history of the place. There’s a pretty view from the top too, but my favorite part was the view from the cells.
Later in the evening after you’re back in Marseille, check out the Cours Julien street to have a beer or a bite and stroll around for some local sights. Mostly tourist-free, people sit at terraces or in the small market and enjoy themselves over random live music, cheap drinks and snacks. My favorite street in Marseille is Rue D’Arc, it used to be a dirty uninviting area that has now been revived with plants and street art. Go to sleep before sunrise, you have a new full day ahead.
Get up early and go to Les Calanques. You just have to, no excuses. Also, don’t take a boat trip there, that’s for the ones that are physically unable to walk, the elder or the ones that have health conditions. I hope you packed your walking/running shoes cause it’s quite a walk. Learn from my mistakes, don’t hike in Converse. No, no, bad, bad. Bring around 3 liters of water, apply sunscreen, get a big sandwich for lunch and take your sunglasses. No flip-flops, no hand bags, get a small backpack instead. And prepare for awesomeness!
I went to the Sugiton Calanque, but we took a small detour to have our lunch at the Belvedere point for the breathtaking view there. Practical info: the National Park of Les Calanque has entrance restrictions during the summer time because of fire precautions, so check that out for the period of time you’ll be there.
While getting down to the calanque (don’t be afraid to ask what it means, it’s a cove or inlet especially on the Mediterranean coast of France), the fun begins. When you get closer, you’ll simply step from one stone to the other to get to the water. But the views, man, the view over the water and the rocks and the people cliff jumping into the bluest water I’ve ever seen. There’s no sand on the beach, so expect rocks everywhere. Souvenirs, anyone?
After you’ve had enough sun and sea, brace yourself for the climbing. I’m not gonna lie, I struggled to get back to the car. It felt like 50 Celsius degrees, I ran out of water and let’s just say there was nothing ladylike in my sweat. There’s a water fountain on the way out from the national park, enjoy it. I’ve seen several buses at the exit too, so I guess it’s totally doable to get there by bus as well. If you do manage to rent a car for the day, it will totally worth it, as you can then drive to Cassis, take a stroll through this pretty little city and simply drive up on the top of the cliffs for yet another amazing view over Les Calanques.
Needless to say I completely and utterly crashed after this day. I calculated the route was about 8-10 km but the elevation of ~300 m made it a really good workout.
I reserved my last day to go around the city and grasp it better as there are no free walking tours that I love taking. Check out the Fort Saint-Jean, newly renovated a couple of years ago when Marseille was the European Capital of Culture. It’s connected to the MUcem (Museum of civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean) which has an interesting outdoor architecture. Cross the bridge that connects the two buildings and chill on the roof of the MUcem, there are free lounges in addition to the restaurant there.
The prettiest and hardest part of the day was reserved for getting up to the Cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde. Smarter people than me took the touristic little train up there or just the simple bus all the way up. But no, I had to walk. Good booty workout indeed. Get plenty of water if you wanna do this as well. I gotta say, the church is not that impressive and it’s a popular attraction, it got pretty crowded while I was up there. But totally worth it for the 360 view.
Because I was all about that view, that view, no trebble, here’s some alternative cool stuff to do and see, eat or drink:
– stroll through Belle de Mai, it’s a neighbourhood 30-40 min walking from the center which has multicultural mix of people and plenty of charming little shops
– go to one of the sand beaches in the city, I went to Plage de Catalans which was busy and closedsat 8 pm, but there are other options here.
– buy hand-made soaps instead of other souvenirs, they’re all over the place
– drink La Goudale, it’s a tasty one
– have baguettes with butter and jam in the morning
Marseille, I’ve had a blast, you’re a hot mess with all the right views but if I ever come back, I’ll never do it in the summertime again, we both deserve more. Also, your men are all flirts, aren’t they?
It was a beautiful sunny day to leave Eindhoven and land in freshly rained upon Copenhagen. Took forever to get out of the airport, check-in at the hotel and get to the city center. Bonus? It only takes 25 minutes by metro. Downside? Expect to pay around 5 euros (36 DKK) for each single ride. Welcome to Denmark, it’s expensive up here.
But man, is it pretty! Went for a stroll to get a feeling of the city and couldn’t get it enough. Maybe it was the sun that was just warming up everything, the broad streets, the lack of car traffic or the high number of bikes, but it felt so, so right from the first couple of hours. Let’s see some highlights for a 3-4 days city trip to Copenhagen, shall we?
– Free walking tour with Sandeman, it starts everyday at 11 am and 3 pm in front of the City Hall. Wanna brush up your Spanish? Have fun with tour guide Pedro, he’ll crack you up and you’ll learn so much about Copenhagen.
– Go up the tower at the Christiansborg Palace, it has one the few 360 views over the city, it’s also for free.
– The Royal Library has this amazing pop-urban art exhibition that hosts some of the oldest books and valuable manuscripts. This Dante’s Divine Comedy, an illustrated Coran, a fragment from War and Peace and so on. Awesome contrast!
– Nyhavn is the area with the pretty colorful houses you see in every Denmark postcard – pay a visit for some nice shots, but avoid walking on the street next to the houses, you’ll get squashed in no time.
– Little mermaid – it’s really not a big thing (literally, it’s quite small) but hey, if you need to see it, you need to see it. Just please, don’t take a selfie with it. Cool green area to walk around or go for a biek ride (insert self-mocking smile), prettiness overload indeed. Also, all the tourist buses stop here.
– Christiania is one of the coolest places ever. Not for the weed you can buy there (I do live in the Netherlands, after all) but for this laid-back atmosphere, no photos policy, huge lake and beautiful little houses, random hippies and hipsters blending with families and tourists. Get some food here as well, it’s all organic and eco and they care about the environment as it’s all about the community. Check out the parties and events going on when you’re headed there, you can easily spend a full day and night in this society that takes care of itself. I loved the live music, the hidden corners, the guitar players and all the free spirits I’ve seen there. Don’t stare, it’s not polite.
– on good weather, people go out in parks and on bridges and simply hang out with a beer in their hands enjoying the sun. Join them, don’t be a princess.
– go to No Ha for good deep house and chill atmosphere, good on Saturdays, no entrance charge
– if you like jazz and blues as much as I do, check out Mojo, especially on Thursdays for their blues jam session. You’ll get hooked for sure.
– go to the Torvehallerne Market on Saturdays for good, coffee, chilling on the stairs, glaring at the skateboard kids or simply falling in love with all the gorgeous Danish people that walk by. You’ll see, there’s no exaggeration here.
– find somebody who’ll make Danish meatball for you. Fine, you can also have them in a restaurant.
– wine – stock up in the duty free, you’ll thank me later.
– eat icecream from Paradise and try the liquorice flavor
– go to the small Chinese place on Stroget for a decent lunch/snack
– check out Riz Raz for steak and veggies buffet
– one Danish pastry a day keeps the cellulites away. Ok, that’s not true, but try the cinnamon rolls and the muffins. I just got hungry.
– if you’re a Cougar Town fan, you’ll love this photo:
There’s much more, of course, but I’ve always been a fan of going with the flow and taking my friends’ recommendations. I know you could also check the Danish Parliament and get a tour of it, check it out. If I lived in another country, I’d probably also be interested in taking a boat tour (40 DKK for 1 h), but you know, Amsterdam.
Also, you should listen to Mo and wear plenty of black with cool sneakers.