t has become a tradition on this blog to write one long post at the beginning of each year, about all the things I loved in the previous year, and I'm keeping with it. It is a lovely tradition. I am so excited with the idea of sharing things I love (things being a bit clumsy word for all the travels, music, artists, books, moments, foods) that it had occurred to me more than once doing it as a monthly post, but it hasn't happened yet. There is such a long list of past travel stories waiting to be told, photos waiting to be published. For now, let me share with you my favorite things and snippets from 2017.Read More
At the beggining of 2016 I wrote down a list of things that inspired me and that I enjoyed last year. At the fresh start of this year I am excited to share with you all the things that excited me in 2016. There was a lot of traveling, music, good books, movies, awakening documentaries and blogs and resolutions that followed them, tasty food, some nice things for our home... Let's start the year with music, because it's the thing that, alongside traveling, moves me most. It can make me happy, sad, inspired, you name it.
Music: We went to a Bruce Springsteen concert in Milano this summer. It was the best time we had on his concerts sofar (and we had so much fun each time!). Maybe it had to do with Milano, with Stadio San Siro, with cheerful Italian fans and the fact that Bruce loves performing in front of them. But it also had to do with the fact that the concert was part of his The River Tour, and the playlist selection was outstanding. There's an accompanying CD collection called The Ties That bind: The River Collection, and it's amazing list of Bosses well and not so well known songs. My favorites: Point blank and Drive all night.
I rediscovered Yann Tiersen lately on Arte TV (another of this year's favorites!). I knew him as a composer of the amazing soundtrack to equally amazing movie Amelie. Live in the city of Nantes is one of the most beautiful performances and music which (as pathetic as it may sound) fills my heart with pure joy and inspiration.
Thanks to Arte TV I discovered an ultimate feel-good performer, Calypso Rose. Her concert in La Cigale Theatre in Paris is so groovy and the entire band along with the fans are having so much fun that it's contagious. It will make you dance.
To end this list I have to mention a choir song that I heard on a concert here in Zagreb in December. It's called Lully Lulla Lullay, it is composed by contemorary choir composer Philip Stopford, and it is pure beauty that gives me chills every time I hear it. I found a version performed by Ecclesium choir led by composer himself, but maybe I liked even better the version where the kids sing. Unbelievable.
Television: Now that I mentioned Arte TV, it's only right to explain it a bit. It's a French-German TV network that promotes art and culture. You may be already familiar with it, but I'm thrilled to have found it! Apart from concerts, I've watched some pretty good documentaries, mainly about Italy (because, Italy), but also about Alpine architecture, German rivers etc. There's a lot more to explore! I watch both german and english version, but I find german version better. And for watching a concert you don't have to speak the language. :)
Travel: We traveled a lot last year, even for my standards (and I'd like to travel all the time). We went to Italy (Veneto and Alto Adige in January, Milano in July and then Umbria in October), Belgium, Luxembourg, Japan, Austria, and the island of Cres in Croatia. Each of this travels was very special to us in its own way: we had a relaxing couple of days camping on the most beautiful island of Cres, we met friends in Alto Adige and Vienna, we stayed with friends in Luxembourg and Japan (thank you so much Marina, Pavle, Daria and Denis, we enjoyed those trips a hundred times more beacuse of all the fun we had together), we explored the culinary scene and the Triennale in Milano, watched the sunset from the roof of Duomo, and enjoyed our favorite singer's concert along with thousands of other fans, we spent a week in the fairy tale setting of Umbrian hilltop towns, enjoying the cuisine (one of Italy's best) and the unbeatable views. But if I have to pick something from that list (and although everything else was amazing as well), it has to be Japan! Because of the cherry blossoms, of insanely big yet "feels small" Tokyo, of the friendliest and kindest Japanese people, of busy Shibuya crossing in comparison with peaceful temples and shrines, of the most delicious and diverse food (Japanese cuisine stands proudly side to side with the Italian on my list), of the fastest trains that are never ever late, of the town of Kanazawa which is everything you can imagine about traditional Japan, because of our friends that welcomed us so warmly (and took to the best bars in Tokyo!).
I'm looking forward to our next travels which will include (hopefully) Berlin, Italy, Spain (or France?), London and Iceland. But that's something we're still working on.
Blogs: There are two blogs I have been following regularly last year: Mimi Thorisson's Manger and Erin Boyle's Reading my Tea Leaves. Both lifestyle blogs (Mimi's is officially a culinary blog, but there is a lot of lifestyle there as well), and very different ones!
Mimi lives in a chateau in France with her big family and a pack of dogs, celebrating life in the French countryside, cooking decadent feasts and blogging about it in a way that living in the countryside suddenly feels like the right thing to do. Her posts are spiced with her husband's photography, reminiscenting Caravaggio style of light and shadow, with still lifes looking like taken directly from baroque paintings.
Erin lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and daughter, in a tiny apartment where every thing that goes in has to be carefully considered. She celebrates life in the big city, but also simplicity, nature, sustainability, little things that make every day so wonderful. Her ideas, and consequently, her writing is focused and direct, and the simplicity of her life is reflected in her photos. When I need inspiration to live simpler, surrounded with less stuff, to find joy in everyday little things (a cup of tea, a bloomed branch on the table, a book waiting to be read) I turn to her blog.
Movies: We were quite regular cinema goers last year, but we watched a lot of movies at home as well. The list is long, and I'm sure I forgot some great movies (feel free to write down the list of your favorites in the comments below, I'd love to watch them).
The Danish Girl for its scenography, cinematography, Alicia Vikander's performance, Alexandre Desplat's music.
Fuocoamare for taking us closer than we might have wanted to the tragic events that are happening on Lampedusa and introducing interesting local characters with their everyday life. Also, excellent cinematography.
A Bigger Splash for capturing the essence of summer on Sicilian island of Pantelleria. And Tilda Swinton's outfits.
A Man Called Owe for making us believe that there's something good in every man's life, and for making us appreciate what we have.
Toni Erdmann for being genuinely funny and heartbreaking at the same time, while capturing a father-daughter relationship.
Cairo Time for taking the viewer to the busy streets of Cairo with all its heat, chaos, golden hues, and beauty. For making me want to visit the city one day. And for telling a decent love story.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople for making the entire cinema laugh loudly, silly, sincerely while telling a delicate story about a boy who's childhood is defined by living in juvenile homes and foster families.
Books: I wasn't as dilligent book reader as I was movie watcher last year, and one of my New Year's resolutions should be to read more books. During the course of the last year I borrowed 20 books from the library, and read a couple more borrowed from family or friends, but that's it. I guess all the wonders of internet have stolen my attention, but that's about to change.
One of the books I liked the most (and I know it's not for everyone's taste) is Sketches from a Hunter's Album by Ivan Turgenev. It's a compilation of short stories that depict nature, people and events happening during author's hunting trips. It's an open critic on feudalism, a praise of Russian nature, but above all a disarming portrayal of people, their relationships and struggles.
I recently read Kjell Westo's Dar vi en gang gatt (Where We Once Went), and it was one of those books that keep your mind occupied even after reading it. It follows the interconnected life stories of a couple of finnish families through a period from 1905 to 1944. The stories soak you in to the finnish capital atmosphere of the period: the nightlife, the arrival of jazz music, the prohibition, the evolution of football teams, the fashion. I'm not quite sure if it has been translated to English, but for all my Croatian readers, it has been translated to Croatian, and it will be an interesting read for the wintry days ahead.
Jewelry: I'm a sucker for jewelry. If it's beautiful, handmade, and if I find it on one of our travels ("But it's handmade! It will remind me of this trip!") I'm ready to buy it. I'm especially fond of the pieces that have a story behind it. There are two pieces I brought from Italy and love to wear:
First, a pair of colorful earrings I found on a hot summer day in Milan's district of Brera. Just after a visit to Pinacoteca di Brera and before the lunch at iconic Latteria San Marco restaurant. They are made of wood, but look like precious stones, light on the ears, and perfect for making a simple outfit special. Designed by a pair of Milanese designers under the fitting name of Rosso Prezioso.
Second, a ceramic necklace I fell in love with wandering Perugian Via dei Priori street. I didn't buy it immediately though, it was during dinner that I decided that I would really, really like to wear it, so I stormed out of the osteria, in a tiny time gap between two courses, and came back with it just in time for the main dish. It was made by lovely mother-daughter team and selled in their shop/workshop called Materia Ceramica.
Recipe: There was a lot of cooking in our home last year, but we were especially proud of the home made jam we made of the loquats growing in our garden. The tree gave fruit for the first time last year, and we had to make something out of it! I found the recipe on the internet and was happy to find out that loquats have high content of pectin and therefore don't need any artificial ones while making jam. We got 4 delicious jars last year, ate them in a couple of weeks, and now we're waiting to see what will this year bring. I think I used this recipe.
During our trip to Umbria we stayed at this magnificent agriturismo near Todi, where we were greeted with a tasty crostata di marmellata (Linzer Torte, jam pie, whatever you call it). I tried to recreate it at home, using Jamie Oliver's recipe for the crust, and then just filling it with the entire jar of jam (first time with plum jam, second time with raspberry jam). When I baked it for my mom's birthday I felt creative and adorned it with crust leaves (it was also very suiting for November), and we even did a little photoshoot of it.
In the summer I try to make the best of the tomato season, and there were a lot of tomato-related dishes on our table. One of the tasties recipes included tomato, chicken, basil and cream and if you like the ingredients I'm suggesting you give it a try.
Home: Lately I've been trying to be more conscious about the stuff we bring into our home. In other words, if I don't really need or have a good plan what to do/where to put an object I'm considering taking home, I refrain from buying it. There can always be a little exception, if an object is handmade and beautiful, and if there's a travel story surrounding it. During our trip to Japan in March, we visited the town of Nara. We spent most of the day exploring temples and a botanical garden. On our way back to the train station, we decided to take another route, crossing a residential neighbourhood. And there it was, the most beautiful ceramic shop in all of Japan! The sweet lady was making ceramic herself and selling items made by local artisans, each one more beautiful than the rest. We came home with two teacups and two bowls, adorned with pretty blue and yellow flowers. Drinking tea from those cups has become sort of a ritual to me: I make some green tea, if it's warm weather, I sit on my terrace, sip the tea and think about our time spent in Japan; if the weather is cold, the procedure is pretty much the same, only in this version I'm tucked under the blanket in my living room. A thing that can bring so much nice memories and simple joy is definitely worth making its way into one's home.
Documentary: The most fantastic documentary we saw last year was David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef, and that should come as a no surprise. Because I'm pretty sure no one can surpass nor Attenborough nor BBC production when it comes to filming natural wonders. You *may want to book plane tickets for Australia after watching this.
Something completely different in terms of filming and presentation was Bag it Movie, but with the same final goal, that is protecting our oceans, and subsequently enviroment. Bag it talks about the effects of using plastic in our everyday life- effects to our health, to animals wellbeing and to the marine enviroment as a whole. I'm ending my 2016 list deliberately with this movie, hoping that at least some of you will take time to watch it. It might just nudge you in the direction of taking small but important steps in protecting our planet.
I would love to hear your favorite 2016's travels, books, movies, anything that made your year!
as new year has just begun, I wrote down all the things I enjoyed or that inspired me in 2015. I hope you'll find something interesting in it, and I would really like to hear your last year's favorites- I wouldn't mind some fresh inspiration for the year to come! :)
We traveled quite a lot last year, and I was really happy with all of those travels. I haven't wrote about them all yet, but I intend to. My favorite little town this year was by far Matera, enchanting place perched on the hills of Basilicata region in Southern Italy. The houses of the old city are actually caves, which provide for truly original experience and austere beauty. If you're visiting the region of Puglia, with its popular hotspots such as Alberobello, Vieste, Lecce, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni or Otranto, don't skip Matera! It's just over an hour away drive from Bari, and I'm sure it will pay off!
As far as bigger cities are concerned, Lisbon was amazing, but I don't have to tell you that! Lots of light and brightness, coroful tiles, chic houses and edgy streets... Our big surprise last year was Antwerpen in Flanders region in Belgium! We spent three days there and fell in love with the city! It is obviously a wealthy city, very well mantained- from the medieval houses and narrow little streets arround the cathedral, to classy Art Nouveau houses surrounding the center, and a chich new area of the docks (Antwerpen is second biggest European port!). One of the most beautiful parks I've ever been to is also there- The Middleheim park which houses an excellent modern and contemporary sculpture open air museum. There is an amazing system for renting city bikes, and a very well organized net of bycicle paths. The foodie scene is flourishing, and the people are friendly and open minded. I also think of it as a great destintion for expats!
This summer, a brilliant street musician visited the Croatian coast; we heard him playing one evening in Pula and we got so thrilled by his sound and his humble yet captivating performance, that we kept coming every day until he left the city. We bought both of his CDs, and they have been playing in our car most of the summer, after which they moved to our home. :) Oh, and his name is Jimmy Jimmy One Man Band, and you can listen to his music on Youtube.
I follow along a lot of travel blogs and websites, but the one that influenced me most last year wasn't about travel at all. It is called Trash is for Tossers, and it's about a movement called Zero waste. I first heard about it bumping into this blog by chance, it was so interesting that I read all of it, and it made me more aware of the influence we have on our enviroment, and that there are ways to change our negative impact! I'm far from living Zero waste, but I try to adopt little changes in my everyday life: I refuse to use plastic water bottles, instead I bought a Klean Kanteen bottle and it's a great thing; I now shop for groceries with my reusable bags, and I turned to more natural cosmetics with less plastic packaging.
The Zero waste movement is not just about sustainable living, it's also about simple living, about owning less and fulfilling your life with experiences, not things.
Lauren, the person who stands behind the TIFT blog, found an interesting and light way to present her lifestyle, more encouraging then judgemental, which works fine for me. :)
It doesn't come as a surprise that I love to watch travel documentaries. Last year, I discovered a BBC series Italy Unpacked presented by Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli and British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon. The series is very interesting, the two of them are both fun and professional, enthusiastic and real connossieurs in their fields, that after watching the episode on the Italian south, we went there in July, following the steps of Giorgio and Andrew.
We went to the movies a lot last year, especially to our favorite, old cinema in the center of Zagreb, called Kino Europa, which specialized in European movies, documentaries, art films, and all that beatiful cinematographic production outside Hollywood. They have the best popcorn too, so it's a win-win situation! :)
The movie that moved me most was Icelandic Hrutar (Rams) by Grimur Hakonarson, which won Un Certain Regard last year on the Cannes Film Festival. The story evolves around two brothers who live next door, but haven't spoken in years. The setting for the movie is austere Icelandic valley, where the brothers take care of their sheep. The life of the brothers is simple, harsh, and real, and so are the shots of landscape that surrounds them. Great, great movie!
I discovered the COS store last year in Berlin, wandering the famous Kudamm shopping street. I bought two t-shirts and a necklace, and they turned out to be the most used items in my wardrobe. From then on, I always look for a COS store on my travels (there aren't any in Croatia), and everything I ever bought there was so wearable, because of its simple yet edgy design and comfortable fabrics, and their jewellery is irresistible!
My husband discovered the Monocle magazine while waiting for me to try out all the cool items I found in the COS store. Since then, we are Monocle's devoted readers: it's an inspiring magazine that covers all the interesting and fresh things happening in the field of culture, lifestyle, business, politics, urbanism and fashion. The stories about young enterpreneurs are full of ideas and encouragement!
There are two books that influenced me most last year. One of them is Carlo Levi's: Christ stopped at Eboli (Cristo si e fermato a Eboli), and the other one is Cees Noteboom's: Roads to Santiago.
I ordered Levi's book after visiting Matera this summer, as he was the person who presented the problem of impoverished Italian south to the rest of Italy in the 1950's, which ended in government program of social housing for the hunger and malaria struck inhabitants of Matera. His writing style is simple and sharp, just like the desolate landscape and isolated people of Italian south in the first half of the 20th century.
I am currently reading Noteboom's Roads to Santiago, and I already see that I will want to visit Spain again soon, and that this is going to be one of my favorite travel reads, to which I will be returning over and over again. The writer reflects his travels all around Spain along with the history, art and a spanish way of life.
There is a little jewelery shop (and workshop) called Lapidarium in Zagreb, specialized in artsy pieces, and I would like to wear everything they make! They made the beautiful earrings in form of gingko leaves for my wedding, later I got a gingko ring as a present, and this Christmas, a gingko necklace. Here is a link to their amazing new catalogue, and also a picture of the necklace!
I am not an expert when it comes to make-up, but I love light, breezy and natural look, and I got all of it packed in RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek, which can be used both as blush and lipstick, made out of organic ingredients and packaged plastic-free! My parents brought it as a special delivery from Berlin, because it's not an easy find in these parts of Europe. I really haven't been this happy with a make-up product in a while!
Wondering the streets of Padova last year, I discovered a little shop that makes and sells cool handmade bags. I'm always reluctant to entering those small shops as I fear the salesman focusing too much on me (and that it will make me uncomfortable leave without buying anything), BUT the two ladies which make the bags are easy-going and helpful at the same time, so I left the shop, feeling comfortable, with a new bag in my hands :), which I wear all the time ever since. The shop is called JDK Bags!
This winter we rediscovered ice skating! We haven't been ice skating since we were kids (or students, but that was also a long time ago :D), and this year, after watching the Golden Spin of Zagreb (Zlatna pirueta in Croatian) competition, we decided that we want to try it out again! We bought the skates, and already went a couple of times to the open air skating rink on the King Tomislav Square in Zagreb. It was so much fun, that we are currently carrying our skates in the car all the time- in case we bump into a skating rink along the way! :)
I am constantly on the look for new recipes, and here is a list of my favorite ones in 2015:
Jamie Olivers Pannetone cake (my favorite cake at this moment)
Tuscan Bean Soup by The Wanderlust Kitchen:
I've been making this one a lot since I've discovered it.
Pizza with figs, caramelized oninons and Blue cheese by Alexandra's Kitchen:
The best pizza I ever made, without doubts (Fig jam is being used in the recipe, I used fresh figs in the summer, and jam in the winter, and both turned out great!).
If you have something interesting to share, please do, I would love to hear from you!