Laura Recommends

August recommendations

September 1, 2017
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Last month I started a special social media project, called #MakeFacebookGreatAgain, which consists of recommendations of books, things, places or articles I enjoyed so much that I would like to share them with others, so this post will compile everything I shared in the past 30 days and some few more, just for the blog readers 😉

 

MUSIC

Have a nice day – Stereophonics tribute (put this on before continuing reading, it will definitely brighten up your day)

 

BOOKS

Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair (published in Romanian by Baroque Books and Arts, which is the first one in Romania to print on sustainable ecological paper!)

Thrive by Arianna Huffington ( Facebook post here)

 

PLACES

VanFruct, Bucharest. They conquered my heart after I learned they have recyclable cups made from vegetal sources, so I highly recommend them.

Grilled vegetables and Halloumi cheese salad at Simbio, Bucharest. So. Damn. Good. That’s all I’m gonna say.

 

FILMS

Dunkirk. Even if you’re not a fan of the war genre, check this out for the amazing soundtrack Hans Zimmer has created.

Atonement. I know I am late to the bandwagon, but I recently watched it and I can’t believe nobody scolded me for missing out on such great movie.

 

ARTICLES AND VIDEOS

What the Truman Show teaches us about politics – video ( Facebook post here)

The surprising habits of original thinkers – video (Facebook post here)

Why UPS drivers don’t turn left and you probably shouldn’t either – article (Facebook post here)

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms ( here is a quote I liked from the article : “An entrepreneur is someone who works for a few years like no one will so they can live the rest of their life like no one else can.”

P.S. With great joy I can finally share with you a piece I wrote for ELLE Romania about my experience in Russia. Although it’s originally in Romanian, some friends already told me they translated it within the browser. Let me know what you think!

 

INITIATIVES:

Dior’s What Would You Do For Love? – a campaign which supports the education of young girls

 

I hope I inspired you to watch more, read more, see more and most importantly, BE MORE!

Until next time,

 

Laura

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travel

5 things that happen when you are alone in Marrakesh

August 9, 2017
Man in traditional Arabic clothes on Avenue Yacoub El Mansour

Four months ago I had the opportunity to go on a trip of a lifetime to Morocco. (Un)fortunately, things didn’t go as planned, so I ended up alone in Marrakech.

Here is what I learned:

 

1. You have to adapt QUICKLY

Long story short, I was supposed to meet a group in Marrakech and while I was waiting for my second flight in Lisbon, I got the message they were going to be 2 days late. There was no going back from there, so I had to adapt with the fact that I was going to be alone in a country I had never been before. Plus, not all stories and urban legends I heard were pink, so I wasn’t exactly confident, but I had to figure out how to survive there.

Which led me to avoid being scammed in the airport at the exchange office, negotiate the taxi fare, find a hotel I knew nothing about and argue in French with the receptionist because there was no reservation on my name. Fun times.

However, there was no plan B. And whenever this happens, you learn how to make the most out of plan A. Which leads me to my second point.

 

2. You are FREE to make your own schedule

Being alone in Marrakech, I was able to wake up at whatever hour I wanted, take as much time as I needed for breakfast and walk as much as I wanted (12 km in one day, in case you were wondering). During my first solo day there,

  • I walked to the Koutoubia mosque,
  • I spent two hours inside La Mamounia Hotel and Spa,
  • I hid from the heat near the Saadian Tombs,
  • I ate something delicious nearby the El yazid Mosque,
  • I visited the El Badiî Palace,
  • I fell in love with the beautiful Bahia Palace, and I ended the day in the Jamaâ el Fna square.

It was a pretty light day.

 

3. You become more comfortable with being ALONE

Being alone is terribly uncomfortable and awkward if you are not used to it. But I feel that traveling by yourself can change that. For example, when you are alone, you have to ask your tour guide, your table neighbours or random strangers to take photos of you, so you learn little by little to step outside of your comfort zone and timidity and just ask someone. I was pretty hesitant at first, but when I remembered that I may never see those places again, I wanted some digital souvenirs to prove that I was once there.

Living alone in Amsterdam definitely helped, because I no longer felt weird being alone at cafes or restaurants or simply on a bench in a park. I feel like society pushes us a lot to be in groups or couples that we forget we should first know how be alone, so solo traveling may be a great idea for getting to know yourself better and for being OK with yourself. You’re the one who has to stand your own persona, so you’d better like it.

 

4. You meet NEW people

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember seeing this photo back in April. The girl pictured is Sofia, a Spanish blogger whom I met at La Mamounia (we were all there just for the photos, don’t get too excited) and her energy and fun spirit were absolutely contagious.

I think this is an amazing example of how being open to talk to strangers (and take dozens of photos of them) can lead to great moments and friendships all over the world.

 

5. You feel EMPOWERED

I have to admit, I never felt more empowered than during those days when I was alone in Morocco. I learned that being alone shouldn’t stop me from enjoying the beauty around me. Being alone actually gave me more time for reflection, which is something we do too rarely, especially when we travel. Blame it on the fact that I was alone, but my trip to Morocco was the most powerful and inspiring trip I have ever been on.

There was indeed one moment when I felt the power of this solo traveling trip. It was during one of the meals I had just by myself, in front of a mosque, when I was finishing my chicken tajine with candied lemons. That’s when I realized that I may have never been happier during a trip. I was 19, alone in a foreign country and I managed more than just to survive – I crafted a wondrous adventure for myself and I came back  to tell the story.

Here are some of my favourite photos:

Blue fountain in the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

Blue fountain in the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

The Marrakech Airport

The Marrakech Airport

Light seen through a stained glass in the Bahia Palace

Light seen through a stained glass in the Bahia Palace

Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle

La Mamounia Spa

La Mamounia Spa

Paradoxical commercial street in Marrakech

Paradoxical commercial street in Marrakech

Local landmark in the Rahba Kedima square: Café Des Épices

Local landmark in the Rahba Kedima square: Café Des Épices

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

NOMAD restaurant in Rahba Kedima

NOMAD restaurant in Rahba Kedima

Interior court of the Bahia Palace

Interior court of the Bahia Palace

Light stripes in one of Marrakech's souks

Light stripes in one of Marrakech’s souks

The view from the Jardin Secret

The view from the Jardin Secret

One of the ceilings at the Bahia Palace

One of the ceilings at the Bahia Palace

Café Des Épices

Café Des Épices

Traditional pink salmon house in Marrakech

Traditional pink salmon house in Marrakech

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Man carrying plastic bags in Marrakech

Man carrying plastic bags in Marrakech

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

The Badiî Palace

The Badiî Palace

Nomad Restaurant personalized hats

Nomad Restaurant personalized hats

Framed city view from the Badiî Palace

Framed city view from the Badiî Palace

My newest acquisition: a hand woven text on a raffia bag

My newest acquisition: a hand woven text on a raffia bag

Hypnotizing shadows in the Badiî Palace

Hypnotizing shadows in the Badiî Palace

Flowers in the botanical garden of Yves Saint Laurent, le Jardin Majorelle

Flowers in the botanical garden of Yves Saint Laurent, le Jardin Majorelle

Street signs in Marrakech

Street signs in Marrakech

Mosque of Ibn Yusuf

Mosque of Ibn Yusuf

 

Much love,

Laura

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Laura Recommends

Back in Business + July Recommendations

August 1, 2017
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I know it’s been a while since a proper blog post, but the past 12 months have been a ride during which I chose to focus on myself, hence the blogging gap year.

Besides adapting to living on my own and doing so in another country, while studying, I had many questions for myself regarding my choices in the future, including my blogging experience, such as:

  • Are blogs still relevant?
  • Does my blog matter? Does it improve anyone’s life? Am I making a difference?
  • What type of content should I create?
  • Shouldn’t I focus more on micro-blogging like Instagram rather than invest hours of writing on a lesser known blog?

After a year of self-discovery and personal development, I have reached a point where I know how my next moves will look like and what type of content I should strive for.

I believe that we lack a certain type of content, which is both educational and inspiring, from our very own peers. Indeed, there are many websites, YouTube channels, books and so on that do exactly that, but I feel like we are missing this type of content from the people around us. The people whose opinions matter to us. The people who can influence us positively thanks to their connection with us.

So, I started sharing videos, books, articles and anything that seemed worthy of recommending to other people, under #MakeFacebookGreatAgain, a personal initiative that aims at creating a more informative and cultural environment on social media.

Below is what I shared in July and some extra (blog exclusive) recommendations. Please feel free to comment what you think, reach out to me on social media and share yourself the great things you discover.

 

BOOKS:

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook post here)

The Land Where Lemons Grow – Helena Attlee

 

VIDEOS:

Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem – Vox (Facebook post here)

Nonconformity and the creative life – Shots of Awe (Facebook post here)

The Art of Storytelling – Pixar in a Box – Khan Academy (Facebook post here)

The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars – Ted ED (Facebook post here)

Why do competitors open stores one next to another? – Ted ED (Facebook post here)

 

DOCUMENTARIES, FILMS AND SERIES

Atonement

Before the Flood (Facebook post here)

Handmaid’s Tale – a TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s eponymous book (Facebook post here)

The True Cost (Facebook post here)

 

INITIATIVES

Dior –Women@Dior (Facebook post here)

 

APPS & TECH

Headspace – mindfulness app (Facebook post here)

Iphone lightning cable

 

PLACES

Bucharest

Beans and Dots

Mara Mura

Spatiul M60

 

Cluj & surroundings 

Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden

Bujole

Casa Boema

Jibou Botanical Garden

Joben

Klausen Burger

Toulouse Café

P.S. There is a low-cost flight from Bucharest to Cluj, so you can be there in no time!

 

Prahova

Conacul Bellu

Conacul Domnitei Ralu

Gradina cu Lavanda 

Manastirea Jercalai

Manastirea Varbila

 

Valcea

Casa Memoriala IG Duca

Conacul Mardar

Crama Avincis, Dragasani

 

I hope I inspired you to watch more, read more, see more and most importantly, BE MORE!

Until next time,

 

Laura

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travel

The Great Andalusian Road Trip

February 3, 2017
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When I was younger, my dad told me about this wonderful cathedral with hundreds of pillars that used to belong to Moors  and  Christians. I was intrigued as dad showed me a National Geographic documentary and while it played in front of us, I knew we would get there once.

And so it was.

Last month we finally booked our tickets to Málaga. After two nights there, we rented a car and explored Gibraltar, ending the day in Seville, where we stayed for other two nights, followed by one (freezing) night in Cordoba and two nights in Granada.

Covering so much in so little time was definitely energy-demanding, yet I highly recommend this Road Trip as the region is absolutely splendid (although I would avoid August at all costs unless you want to sweat out all the water you have in your organism).

 

Here are some bits of what we saw (not necessarily touristy photos – those images are more about the things that particularly captured my attention):

Málaga

The Castle of Gibralfaro would have been a truly rewarding experience if we wouldn’t have climbed the hill in a taxi, but nonetheless the ride and the view were great. 

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January’s sun at Gibralfaro Castle

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Don’t be fooled, there’s orange juice in the glass!

We couldn’t miss a ferry wheel ride, so here is one image taken from above:

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I would definitely not mind an adventure on a boat

Overall, Málaga was a nice surprise and I am more than happy we chose to stay than more than just for transit.

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Málaga’s Cathedral

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the kind of balconies from which people in musicals pop out and sing their hearts out

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Málaga’s Pompidou Museum

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playing with reflections

Gibraltar

Besides almost crossing the Strait by mistake – we thought the line of cars was for the parking, but it was actually for customs, and nearly ending up in Morocco (which would not have been bad at all), our day in Gibraltar was mostly peaceful. Except that time when a sweet-toothed monkey decided to rob mum of her chocolate. Unfortunately, the macaque didn’t know my mum was a much bigger chocolate lover than herself, so she torn apart the foil until she realized there was nothing good hidden anywhere.

If you ever find yourself in Gibraltar, don’t take the cable car because it will leave you on the top of Gibraltar’s Rock with no other means of going around it. Instead, go for an 8 person taxi which will stop in key points such as St. Michael’s Cave ( the audio and visual show projected in the cave is a feast!), the southernmost point from where you can see Africa and the tunnels of the Great Siege.

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pictured in the background: Gibraltar’s plane runway

Seville

By far the city I enjoyed the most, Seville hosts the second largest religious building in Europe (the top spot being occupied by St. Peter’s Basilica), an impressive amount of orange trees, modern architecture ( the Metropol Parasol being my favorite example), fabulous food (I was too big of a coward to try the traditional oxtail stew, but maybe some other time) and the prettiest tiny rooftop pools I’ve ever seen.

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pictured: one of the towers of Seville’s Cathedral

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Honestly, the Metropol Parasol looks like waffles. Or mushrooms. Or Viva chicken flavored chips.

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and I thought I’ve seen some crowded cities in this life…

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Japanese art style meets Van Gogh 

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perfect sun rays

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can you feel the warmth?

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the beautiful architecture of the Alcázar of Seville

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Plaza España

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sunset on top of Metropol Parasol

Córdoba

The much awaited visit to this Church-turned-Mosque-turned-Cathedral (Mezquita) was definitely worth it. They say that once you’ve seen this place, you’ve seen them all. And it’s true. The Mezquita beautifully incorporates so many styles and influences that without being there you can’t truly understand how all those architectural elements can be present all in one place. 

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yes, I waited 5 minutes for the area to clear

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a hard-to-forget ceiling

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a view similar to Istanbul’s Water Cistern, right?

Besides this miraculous Mosque-Cathedral whose foundation was established in the 7th century (!), we have also went to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a royal fortress with serene and neat gardens. When we went there it seemed like the best place to sit around, enjoy the sun and read a bit.

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lush paradise

Granada

Famous for the Alhambra Castle and the surrounding domains (by the way, it’s necessary to get your tickets online in advance if you want to go in for sure!), I though Granada was not going to offer more. It turned out I was wrong. Its Cathedral is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen ( and I have seen a few), with the best use of light and art (yes, you read correctly – this Cathedral has several paintings on display in the Dome). What’s more is the charm of the Moorish neighborhood, called Albayzin, where we got to eat some amazing Moroccan food ( Chicken Pastela is my dad’s newest crush) and roam around the narrowest streets of the city.

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every inch of my body is itching to go to Morocco and those arches are not helping…

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The Dome of Granada’s Cathedral

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Alhambra should be a fancy synonym for Patience

All in all, this road trip was a feast for all the senses and I would gladly do it again.

Also, if you are going on a trip to Andalusia soon or you just want to find out more, let me know!

Thank you for reading this!

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P.S. Thank you to everybody who showed concern regarding my blogging hiatus. The past few months have requested my full attention which led me to choose to do less things, but of better quality. Thank you for respecting that. I am preparing some bigger things, but everything will be revealed at its own time.

Love,

Laura

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life

The Great What Next

September 27, 2016
jolielaura_the_great_what_next

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of September is change. And currently, this September is the best example for it. ( I am not going to start a third grade short text on how the colors of the leaves change, so you can breathe out now).

I have recently celebrated my first month living in another country. Which may not seem a big deal, but if you’ve also been through it, you’ll agree with me that it is. Because everything is different now.

I have become my own private chef (and surprisingly, this has been going remarkably well) and a full-time house keeper (which as a matter of fact, I am truly enjoying, because it gives me a decent reason in order to postpone doing an assignment which I am not in the mood for #sneaky). I have also converted myself from a driver to a cyclist (if you’re wondering, yes, Biking is the unofficial religion of the Netherlands) and I am proud to say that since I have been biking and not taking the very-unfriendly-to-my-student-budget public transport (aka the past 28 days), I have reached my 400 km milestone without any falling, bumping or killing myself or others (although I was pretty close to offering some tourists a free ride on my front wheel, but in my defense, they were crossing the bike lane without checking for bikes #rookies). And most importantly, I am now a first year student at University, which makes me wonder when did all those years pass, but let’s not get into that, shall we?

At the same time, for the past few years, September represented the month when I celebrated my time blogging. Which brings me to the topic of my fourth year anniversary as a blogger. (!!! – I have literally no better signs or words for what I’m feeling, thus the use of the exclamation points). However, I can say that although I am not a worldwide known blogger, I am still extremely delighted by all those four years and I feel that as long as this brings me happiness, the other aspects simply fade. Blogging offered me a much needed space for my thoughts and for my creativity, while also generating a considerable amount of joy and relief.

I have currently embarked on a new journey, with a more or less known destination, but I have a feeling that it’s going be something marvelous. And just the thought that so many memorable moments, friendships and opportunities are a heartbeat away, it makes me look forward to every second of this adventure.

Cheers to The Great What Next!

 

P.S. Did you notice the rainbow in the cover photo?

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Reporting (with a huge grin on my face) from Amsterdam,

Yours truly

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life

You will be missed

August 21, 2016
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I thought I was OK. I thought I was handling everything. Until I opened this note written by one of the dearest people in the world to me. It crushed me. It literally tore apart every single bit of my nonchalance. It marked the first moment I realized I was leaving, flying 2000 km in the other part of the continent. It triggered the idea that I was living the last days of life as I knew it. I admit, I cried a lot that day. But it’s a natural thing to do when you reach the end of a chapter, or at least, that’s what I was saying to myself.

I cried thinking that no matter how many times I’ll say things will not change, life has its own twisted ways of making everything different in just a couple of seconds, so I was saying good-bye to the scenario where things remained the same. Me, my family, my friends, my hometown, my world…so many things can change in a twinkling of an eye. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will, but they can, and that’s quite scary, to be honest.

I also cried thinking about the fact that we often take things, people, events and relationships for granted. And when the risk of them vanishing appears, the epiphany strikes us. I should have said ‘I love you’ more, I should have done that, I should have showed him or her how much they mean to me and so on… It’s undoubtedly saddening to acknowledge what you had only after you lost it, but at the same time I think such thoughts can guide us better in life in order to be grateful every second for what we have.

Packing my clothes was something I could have done eye folded. Packing various boxes full of kitchen accessories and room necessities was easy. But packing memories was the hard part.

I went over my fondest memories with the people I love. Such as my Saturday routine with Mum. Each week we knew we had at least 4 hours of mother&daughter quality time as we were going to Pilates and Aerial Yoga together (the lobby I had to do in order to convince her to join me was lengthily, but it was totally worth it.) We added to this routine the brunch, which we always had in a different place, as we love testing out restaurants and cafés together. I will miss these moments a lot as only now I realize how precious the time you spend with your mum is.

I will miss procrastinating work while watching a documentary with my Dad and our dog. On my way to get chocolate from the fridge while working, I was always passing near the two of them enjoying a history movie on World War II or a documentary about wild chimpanzees or sea turtles. It could have been about anything, really. Most of the time my mental to-do list magically emptied, so I was joining them until the credits, the moment when I was usually realizing how late I actually was. But I don’t regret a thing.

I’ll miss my friends like never before. Being home, going out with friends doesn’t seem like a big deal. Sometimes, weeks may go by without seeing them, but you always know they are there, just one message away and you have a night out planned. But going away, things are not so easy anymore. Teleportation is still not a thing, so no matter how badly you want to see them, you have to wait. And that’s never a nice thought. However, I hope we’ll remain at least as close as we are today, despite of the distance between us.

To all my close friends: I truly love you. It was my greatest pleasure to meet you. You have changed my life and for that I’ll be forever thankful. You have made the past years more enjoyable, more adventurous and definitely, more meaningful. I hope my presence in your life made you a happier person. Please don’t cry. We’ll see each other in no time.

I’ll also miss some small, yet important things. Such as me driving in my super car, doing karaoke with my friends or bumping into my very own house while reverse parking (unfortunately, I’m not talented towards parking my car, otherwise I could say I’m a pretty good driver). I’ll miss the feeling of independence my car offered me and the pleasure of going from place to place by my own, just me and the radio.

It will be quite a challenge for me to wake up in a room other than mine for one year. I’ll miss going to sleep while watching the stars (yes, over my head there are fluorescent stars, cliché or not, I love them to pieces), I’ll miss having so many memories glued onto my walls and in general, I’ll miss my cozy haven. My room was a part time library, a permanent art exhibit (with an easel blocking the door to open properly at times) and a constant boarding gate for flights. I hope I’ll manage to turn my University room into a similar eclectic mix.

Of course, I’ll miss some aspects of my city too. The quiet streets in green neighborhoods, the familiar scent of summer during the deserted August nights, the hidden coffee and tea shops, the walks in the park just outside my high-school, the nights out, the innocence and the naivety of the years spent in this city.

By all means, I’ll miss myself. As in the person who I was here. I’ll miss my teenage, carefree and courageous up until the point of unconscious self. All those moments when I killed the silence with my laughter, all the times I was the clumsiest and most awkward person in the room, all those moments make my day right now. Because when I add them up, I get who I am right now, which is a person I like.

But mostly I will miss the people. My people. Because I have realized that what you do is pointless if you don’t have around you the people you love.

I have to go now, I am running low on tissues!

 

Until next time,

Laura

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life, travel

Stand up paddling in the Ionian Sea

August 15, 2016
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I was trying to stand up. I knew I could. The previous time I did it, I found my balance instantly. Now, I was hesitating. My knees were shaking and I could not get a grip on them. I looked around and I saw that others had already succeeded.

I couldn’t seem to find my place. Wherever I put my right feet, a cramp was immediately striking me. I tried to ignore it and proceeded to stand up although it was uncomfortable and moreover, painful. Of course, my right foot complained about my reckless decision by losing all its stability. And as a result, I fell into the sea and gulped a big mouth of salty water. Not really delicious.

While trying to get my paddle back I realized I should have remained seated on my knees and resolve my foot issue. Right after I managed to climb on top of the board again I could feel my foot had calmed. I tried to stand up one more time, with a different level of confidence. I wasn’t proud of my falling moment, but I tried to concentrate on the present, which required my entire attention.

After that incident, I finally found my pace. Slowly, but steady, I was making progress. The others were very far ahead, but for me, my own situation became more important. I focused on my breathing, on my paddling and on my balance and I successfully stood up for the next hour. The satisfaction was spreading through all my body and I have to admit, it was amazing to finally be able to relax and savor the views.

Of course, I am talking about stand up paddling ( or SUP if you prefer the acronym), an activity which taught me many things, such as:

  • Different people have different paces – This is why some people get successful at 25 and some at 45.
  • Checking the competition can actually distract and slow you down from your path.
  • Issues have to be taken care of. Nothing is solved by ignorance.
  • Peace comes with balance. Everything gets better after finding these.
  • You are in charge of your own happiness. So enjoy the moment and let others worry.

I hope I’ll able to post more about my summer travels in the upcoming weeks, so see you soon! :)

Laura

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travel

Călător prin lume

July 2, 2016
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Zilele trecute am dat peste fotografia de mai sus făcută în Egipt în 2007. Nu e chiar ce ți-ai imagina când te-ai gândi la anticul fost imperiu, nu? Unde e măreția copleșitoare, unde e înmărmurirea vizitatorilor în fața unei capodopere arhitecturale milenare ale cărei mistere nu au fost încă deslușite? Unde e întinderea nesfârșită de nisip?

Nu la Giza, din păcate.

 

De când capitalismul a cucerit lumea, turismul s-a transformat dintr-o activitate a păturii erudite într-o activitate accesibilă maselor. Ceea ce nu e neapărat un lucru rău, dimpotrivă, mi se pare că dacă e făcut cum trebuie, turismul poate avea un impact inegalabil asupra percepției oamenilor despre întreaga societate și asupra empatiei umane. Așadar, un rol posibil educațional.

Dar ce e educațional în a vizita de două ori pe an capitale internaționale pentru a te poza clișeic cu cele mai importante construcții de acolo? Nimic. Bine, recunosc, se poate îmbunătăți tehnica apăsării nonșalante a butoanelor care surprind selfie-ul perfect. Dar cam atât. Foarte rar mai sunt văzute persoane în locuri cheie ale capitalelor, precum dealul Montmartre, care doar să stea și să admire frumosul din fața ochilor. Restul oamenilor sunt prea preocupați de a obține supremația cerului de deasupra capului pentru a înălța o coadă metalică de mătură numită evident selfie stick.

Prin turismul acesta superficial, scopul călătoriilor s-a transformat din ”a vedea lumea” în ”a poza lumea”. Dacă îmi permiteți să adaug (și îmi permiteți de altfel prin continuarea citirii articolului), ”a poza lumea fără măcar a o cunoaște”. Să călătorești a devenit mai mult un moft, un rezultat al dorinței de a bifa încă un loc, de a completa albumul cu aceleași imagini pe care le mai au alte câteva zeci de milioane de persoane (studiu de caz: Turnul din Pisa). Călătoria nu mai are astfel rol educativ, rol de cunoaștere a unei alte societăți, mentalități, culturi etc. E mai mult un periplu la costul a cinci salarii care se materializează într-un banal contact la suprafață cu altă țară. Fiți toleranți cu mine, vă rog, ajung și la părți mai frumoase!

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Revenind la imaginea din Egipt, ea înfățișează realitatea dură, care nu este expusă în majoritatea publicațiilor. Fundalul cuprinde Piramida lui Kefren (Kafra) și o parcare improvizată cu autocare pline de turiști refugiați la aer condiționat. Combinație cu adevărat frapantă.

Ce este prin excelență delicios este prim-planul în care se observă un autohton dând indicații unui cuplu occidental pentru realizarea fotografiei perfecte de arătat în ciudă neamurilor de acasă. Evident, privirile invidioase ale cuplului aflat în trecere sunt o dovadă a necesității lor de a face exact aceeași poză câteva minute mai târziu și o inconstestabilă mărturie a succesului pozei originale. Că deh, odată ești la piramide și poți să ții mâna lui iubi exact în unghi de 45°.

Iată cum o experiență extraordinară și unică în viață, aceea de a te afla pe platoul cu ultimele minuni antice încă în picioare, se transformă în copia la indigo a vacanței altor mii de oameni. Bineînțeles, fiecare va descrie diferit senzația resimțită în interiorul piramidei, desigur, dacă s-a concentrat la asta și nu la ce hastag-uri ar merge pe Insta la o poză cu piramidele editate evident în VSCO. Eu, sincer, recunosc că nu am să uit niciodată cum am zis în gura mare: ”Mami, aici miroase ca în beci la Mama Mărioară*! (*a se citi “străbunica”)”.

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Poate ați observat că majoritatea lanțurilor mari de hoteluri au același design și același aspect peste tot în lume. Mall-urile devin laitmotive ale setei comerciale umane care nu realizează că, de fapt, sunt aceleași magazine peste tot și că iarba vecinului nu e mai verde. O globalizare similară se observă și la nivelul mâncării, ajungând astfel să mănânci la Craiova același burger ca în Chicago. Bun. Și atunci vine întrebarea, dacă stai la același hotel, dacă mănânci aceeași mâncare (studiu de caz: micul dejun ”continental”) și dacă ești înconjurat de aceleași nume, cum mai știi că ești într-o țară străină? Evident că apar opinii de tipul ”Urbea X m-a lăsat rece” dacă persoanele respective au luat contact cu adevăratul oraș doar treizeci de minute din cele 12-14 ore în care n-au dormit.

Nu mint, așa am fost și eu cu ai mei o perioadă. Deschid aici o paranteză ca să le mulțumesc încă o dată pentru sclipirea pe care au avut-o când au decis să investească în călătorii și în amintiri în loc de telefoane de ultimul răcnet, laptopul cu păcatul Evei, țoale cu sigla pe dos și altele… Ați fost măreți!

Totuși, de câțiva ani, am ales să nu mai dedicăm atâta timp atracțiilor sugrumate de puhoaie de turiști care nu au ajuns mai departe de pagina opt din ghidurile cumpărate și să vedem mai multă culoare locală, autentică. Totuși, diferența dintre a fi turist și a fi călător nu stă numai în ce alegi să vezi. Călătorul vrea să cunoască în profunzime, să înțeleagă, să discute, să asculte și să se “contopească” cu oamenii din comunitatea în care tocmai a aterizat.

Așa am ajuns să învăț în Madeira un cuplu catalan cum se joacă canastă (fi-mi-ar scuzată cacofonia!), așa am avut cele mai interesante discuții din Emirate cu niște vânzători din souq-urile de textile (fie vorba, se gândeau serios să emigreze în România pentru că acolo trăiau de pe o zi pe alta), așa am ajuns să mă negociez cu diverși portughezi în Feira da Landra pentru niște suveniruri cu adevărat dragi și nu pentru clasicii magneți, așa am ajuns să vorbesc într-un parc londonez cu niște pensionare din Australia despre sistemul international de învățământ, așa am ajuns să vorbesc în franceză cu un tânăr din Angola în drum spre Lisabona și așa am ajuns să ies la un cocktail cu un vânzător de rechizite, o agentă de turism și prietenii lor în Funchal.

Așadar, de ceva timp mi-am propus să experimentez și activități mai puțin cunoscute turiștilor și să devin ușor-ușor un călător, care să descopere locuri noi, nesufocate încă de roiuri de camere “săpunieră” și care să aprofundeze cu adevărat ce înseamnă o altă țară.

Mă bate gândul să revăd Egiptul, magazinul în care am atins pentru prima oară un cap de crocodil (pe atunci aveam numai 10 ani și încă nu eram o ecologistă ferventă) și apele turcoaz ale Mării Roșii. Însă cel mai mult mă gândesc la oameni. Cum s-au schimbat, ce mai face românca de la parfumeria din Cairo, cum se descurcă toți în lumea asta nebună, cum i-au marcat ultimii ani și în ce culoare văd viitorul.

Mă tentează și ideea de a deschide o școală de călători, un loc în care exploratori din toate colțurile lumii să se întâlnească și să discute despre minunățiile ascunse ale țărilor luate de ei la pas.

Dacă vă tentează și pe voi, aștept un mesaj mai jos! Și poate o simplă idee prinde contur…

 

*Articol înscris în concursul “Thailanda, Te Iubesc!” organizat de KLM România, în colaborare cu Tedoo.ro și T.A.T. Balkans

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life

Thoughts on mistakes, social pressure and existential dilemmas

June 26, 2016
jolielaura_collage_say_no_to_social_pressure

* paper collage by me

Torn between what the people in your close circle want for you and what you want for yourself, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of opinions, beliefs and ideas.

Who am I?

What is my purpose on this planet?

What do I want to be ‘when I grow up’?

Are these the right questions? Are my choices the right answers?

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During the past year I have jumped from one dilemma to another. I tried figuring out what I want to do in life, what causes I should support, where is my next home or how I can positively impact the world. And perhaps the most bugging question was how would have my life looked like if I had chosen differently. Doubting my decisions only led to more issues I had to solve, which included backfiring existential crisis and unstable self confidence levels. Which, of course, I don’t recommend.

I still haven’t figured out everything. But I am working towards that.

Obviously, this doubting I felt came from the impression that I did something wrong.

Why am I not there yet? I was asking myself.

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I have learned since then that trying, failing and trying again are natural parts of the process called ‘Self discovery’. And doubting yourself is part of the package too. That’s why we should embrace all these steps. Because they make us us.

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Personally, I believe it’s completely fine if you don’t know who you are yet. Currently, there’s so much social pressure on young people from whom older generations expect perfection from the first shot and that’s totally unrealistic.

The worst part is that this stress is put on kids starting from very early ages. It continues with the choice of the perfect high school, the entrance to the perfect University, the perfect after-Uni life and it goes on and on only about accomplishments.

Apparently, even though it’s natural for us, human beings, to make mistakes, the society has zero tolerance to any imperfection. And this perception becomes very difficult to avoid.

The idea of rejecting mistakes has already deep roots in us. That’s why, probably, we hide every time we do something wrong when we are little or why we have so many secrets in our teenage years. That’s because we feel we have done something wrong, something that society might consider rude, immoral, shameful or disgraceful. Reality is, everybody is just exaggerating. And even though we know most things can be repaired in this life, we continue to make such a fuss about every single mistake, that when we actually do something well, we don’t enjoy it, but start looking for faults…

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I believe that if you don’t know who you are yet, what your goals are or who you should be, you shouldn’t be constrained by what the people around you are saying and just do your thing. And if you don’t know what that is, try as many things as possible and stick to the one that makes you the happiest and the most satisfied. And if you do make some mistakes on the way, remember they are natural steps alongside your evolution and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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So please remember the following: you are living your life and not others’, what other people say about how you should live your life is not at all important, making mistakes is totally acceptable and not knowing who you are yet does not represent the end of the world.

Keep growing, learn to love yourself and never stop persevering in finding out who you are!

Laura

 

P.S. If you need another push, here’s one from Jessie J: ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’ Listen to the song below and let it work its magic:

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