Laura Recommends

October Recommendations

November 3, 2017
jolielaura_october_recommendations

Hello, there!

If you have been following my #MakeFacebookGreatAgain project, you are already familiar with some of my latest recommendations. Here is the full list of things I liked in October and would like to pass on:

 

CAMPAIGNS

One.org

Few weeks ago I saw on Instagram the image below and I immediately stopped scrolling. It was so compelling, painful and inspiring at the same time that I knew I had to learn more about it. I discovered it was made by ONE, an organization which aims at ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases. More recently, Bill Gates shared a geography quiz on Facebook and to my surprise, I realized that it was also part of ONE’s campaign. I won’t spill out more beans about it, so you’ll have to check out the quiz by yourself. I hope it will change something in the way you see the world.

image1

 

BOOKS

TED Talks – The official TED guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson

I have been fascinated by TED events for almost four years and after attending a TEDx event in Amsterdam, I decided I wanted to deepen my understanding of public speaking. The book was full of great advice, numerous references to amazing talks and a series of details I didn’t read anywhere else. One of the best parts? The fact that all referenced videos are linked here and that below each one there is a short text with the reason it was mentioned in the book. How cool is that?

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Is there anyone not fascinated by Elon Musk?! While this book has been on my reading list for quite a while, only recently I have come to finish it and I must say, I am impressed. Definitely recommend this book for everyone who wants to get a bigger picture of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity and so much more.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

One of the most captivating books I read in the last period, “All Our Wrong Todays” tapped into my soft spot for time traveling (I blame all those Rachel McAdams movies) and technology. I would recommend reading the original version since I made the mistake to read the Romanian one and it had quite too many typos to thoroughly enjoy it.

 

RESOURCES 

Business of Fashion for students

If you are into fashion, business or both, you are probably very familiar with this website. However, you may also know that once you reach a certain limit of read articles per month, you are obliged to subscribe to BoF professional, which is an extra expense for students. The trick I discovered this month is that there is a special student-only membership you can apply for which is supported by Topshop, so you can enjoy member-exclusive content for free. YAY and Bravo to both companies for this initiative!

 

PLACES 

Raïnaraï, Amsterdam

I discovered this restaurant simply because it was decorated with amazingly-looking vegetable and fruit, but the smell of food coming from inside was what convinced me to go in. Amazing choice if you are a fan of North African cuisine!

Basilico, Amsterdam

Wonderful cure for homesickness (although maybe it’s actually home-food-sickness since I am not Italian), this restaurant and grocery store have some of the best cannolis I have eaten outside Italy.

Bite, Bucharest

Probably on all hot lists right now, Bite is a super cozy restaurant with light and delicious food, great environment and the wallpaper of the moment: green leaves.

Pensiunea Samedru, Măgura

As I was in Romania for four days in October and I urgently needed to escape urban landscapes, we headed out to the mountains and went all the way to this guesthouse and restaurant. Enjoying some brief, sunny and tranquil moments here was more than I could have hoped for.

 

EXTRA

While reading this book about Swedish culture, I found out that Fjällräven, a super popular brand of backpacks, has created Re-Kånken, a product made out of 95% recycled materials and as I am always interested in ways we can live more sustainably, I was instantly won over. Click here for the full post.

Of course, as a true bookworm, I wanted to share with you this article about world’s most beautiful modern libraries. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

And finally, although you may have seen it on Instagram, I wanted to post it here as well: one of my latest micro-poems.

you are autumn
you are kind
you are all I have in mind
.
— the message you never press ‘send’
sweet and sour

Enjoy November!

Laura

 

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LauraxELLE

What is Millennial Pink and why you should care

October 31, 2017
final_collage_millennial_pink

– collage by yours truly

I’ve recently had a conversation with my dad trying to tell him about my latest Internet obsessions: Pantone Politics and Millennial Pink. Despite my enthusiasm, he replied treacherously: “So, who cares?”

However, I understand his reaction and I do not condemn him for it. He does not know what Pantone is, he has never taken into account the fact that the nuances of clothes might have meanings (except for the election campaign and the football matches), he has never heard of the “Millennials Generation” and he could not care less about pink. So obviously he was not interested in hearing more about my story: we weren’t speaking  the same language.

And that happens often. It is normal, the differences between generations are becoming increasingly sharp, as technology creates even greater discrepancies between the habits, needs and abilities that we and our parents have.

This is the reason why, starting October, I will write for ELLE Romania about the generation I belong to, namely the Millennials, to increase the level of understanding between generations and to create a constructive dialogue.

Let’s start from the beginning:
The Millennial generation, although defined differently by several theorists, generally includes people born between 1982 and 2004. And although the period is frequently challenged, it does not change the fact that this generation has some specific features, such as the lack of the need to own – Millennials prefer to rent or borrow, the willingness to work differently, as in more flexibly, and to embrace freelancing or intensive travelling. In a nutshell, Millennials are more concerned with experiences, thus they invest less in things.
In media, they are usually portrayed negatively, being cited as one of the sources for which the real estate industry has issues, as the perfect examples for illustrating narcissism, especially in the society where selfies are the most common type of images or as the main source for the degradation of relationships: from long-term commitments to open relationships and not too much emotional investment.

But this generation can not be summed up to some negative assumptions. Reality is more complex and conceals a problem: the fact that the voices we hear the most from the young side of the generation are those of beauty and fashion bloggers, vloggers who accept crazy dares and those who offer every summer some „wonderful” blunders at the Baccalaureate exam. Considering them too young and too inexperienced, we do not know what they think about politics, although most of them are part of the electorate, we do not hear too often what their views about work are and if they really consider themselves representatives of the „gig economy” and we rarely give them the confidence to speak up during important times.

Okay, okay, so how does pink fit into all of this?!

It is essential to state that Millennials are naturally more inclined to fight for equal pay, feminism and the inclusion of all categories of people in society as they want to continue the struggle for equality started by their parents. What brings us to Millennial Pink, a series of pale pink and peachy hues, considered in the last decades to be feminine and as a result, used to separate boy toys from girls’. Although at the beginning of the twentieth century the two colors were inversely related to the present given that blue was the color in which Virgin Mary was most often portrayed, and pink was the closest hue of the carnal, passionate and warrior-like Red, with time, these associations have been lost. Today, pink shades have been recaptured by younger generations and used with the desire to eliminate the gender stereotypes that have accumulated around them over the years. What brings us back to a cause for which Millennials are fighting for: accepting all categories of people in society, who may be members of the LGBTQ community, ethnic and religious minorities, individuals with disabilities, or people who do not want to have a set gender, who are often put under the “gender-fluid” umbrella. Thus, Millennials want to tear apart decades of stereotypes, not only by promoting that anyone can wear pink, but also by stating that this should not imply wearing a social label. Moreover, a year before Pantone declared Pink Quartz as one of the colors of 2016, the trend forecasting agency The Color Marketing Group had said this would be “shim,” a powdery pink hue that was defined as a neutral pink, wearable by anyone, its name being a combination of “she” and “him”.

You may have already noticed the fact that over the past few years, more and more pink shades surround us: from the rose-gold Iphone 6s to the Acne shopping bags, the cover of the best-selling book “Girlboss,” Wes Anderson’s universe in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to Unicorn Frappucino, one of the newest Starbucks drinks. And that’s not a coincidence. Given that the target audience of these products is a young one, captivated by #PalePink aesthetics, the most popular chromatic hashtag on Tumblr, a microblogging platform, color matters more than ever in design.

I have mentioned above Pantone, the international color authority. This institution is the first to build a standard color reproduction system, which involves passing a unique code between two people who can use the same shade without problems of accuracy. Thanks to its practicality, this system got adopted very quickly by the design, painting or printing industry. Moreover, each year Pantone studies the presence of colors in cinema, interior design, architecture, fashion and other areas to observe new chromatic tendencies that lead them to declare a star color for the coming year. For the last years, the colors selected were: Quartz Pink and Serenity (light pink and baby blue for 2016), Marsala (a cherry hue) in 2015, Radiant Orchid in 2014 or Emerald in 2013. The current year is marked by Greenery, a hue of light green with yellow tones, inspired by the early spring days that mark new and fresh beginnings.

And although the colors of our clothes have always been associated with a mood, an event or a message, such as black clothes for mourning (a tradition started by Queen Victoria of Great Britain after the loss of her husband, Albert, in 1861), using specific colors to transmit a political or social position has entered the current vocabulary as Pantone Politics.
Two case studies relevant to the deliberate use of color in clothing are Hillary Clinton in the presidential election campaign of 2016 and the British Royal family. To start with, Hillary Clinton got a lot of attention for choosing pants suits that came to define her image, and by subtly transmitting messages through her clothes. For example, one of the first suits worn during the campaign was a white one, associated with both purity and innocence, as well as the suffragettes, the women of the early twentieth century who had fought for equal political rights in England. Thus, Hillary paid tribute to women who had campaigned for equality and who had paved the way before she was elected the first woman to represent a major political party in the United States. Moreover, the white conveyed innocence in front of the multiple allegations claiming she would have sent classified information by email. Another important chromatic moment was her purple costume during her concession speech, a time when she admitted her defeat to Donald Trump, the Republican party’s candidate. In her speech, Clinton addressed the crowd, assuring her supporters that the fight would not stop there; while also wishing Trump good luck. The purple color, though less common in Clinton’s wardrobe, reflected exactly her words, being the shade resulting from the mixture of blue and red, the colors of the Democratic and Republican parties.
As for the British Royal house, the Cambridge dukes, William and Catherine, they received a lot of public attention after deploying Clinton-like tactics in their international travels. And while it is a common practice for diplomats and politicians to wear pieces created by local designers when they are abroad for work, the British Royal family has taken diplomatic dressing at a different level, namely chromatic coordination with the flag or history of the host country. This is also the case of the recent visits to Poland and Germany, where William and Catherine landed with their children, all dressed in red and white pieces, respectively in Prussian Blue. Thus, these calculated choices indicate the extent to which colors have come to do politics, the importance of seemingly insignificant nuances in changing gender prejudices and the role that colors have in relationship with our image and the messages we transmit.

Hey, Dad, have I caught your interest now?

– article originally published in ELLE Romania October 2017, issue 239

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Laura Recommends

September recommendations

October 8, 2017
jolielaura_september_recommendations_sicilian_coffee

Hey, there!

I am back with another list of things I read, tested, experienced and loved during the last month! I have already shared some of them with the #MakeFacebookGreatAgain on my profile, and below you will find them all plus so much more! I am currently back in Amsterdam, already preparing for my final exams for two courses, so everything is on fast-forward right now for me, but I hope some of the recommendations you will see below will make you stop for a minute, write them down on your phone or agenda and explore them whenever you want to relax or learn something new.

BOOKS

Elena Ferrante – Neapolitan tetralogy 

I know everybody has been talking about these books, but it has been awhile since I got so entangled in a series. The character construction is marvelous and the way Ferrante is ending the books with cliffhangers is the best proof of her amazing narrative powers!

Click here to see the post about what I have planned to read in the upcoming period! Also, I would love to thank again everybody who commented, sent me private messages and DMed me on Instagram about their current reads, it was so fun and inspirational! Let’s do this more often 😉

MUSIC

Eckhart Tolle’s Music to Quiet the Mind 

This is an amazing Spotify playlist recommended by Arianna Huffington in her book “Thrive”. It is truly calming and peaceful and it is also an instant mood-changer.

This is: Enya

Another great playlist on Spotify, I discovered this while I was humming some songs from my childhood and I was surprised how serene my mind felt after few minutes of listening to Enya. Give it a try and let me know if it has the same effect on you.

The Script – We rocked the world – My newest cure for low energy days.

VIDEOS

3 ways to plan for the (very) long term

Introducing solutions for short termism, Ari Wallach talks about transgenerational thinking and other two clever ideas, which form a mentality more of us could benefit from. Have a look at the video, it’s less than 15 minutes! Here is one of my favourite quotes from this talk:

[Future] is not a thing that washes over us. It’s something that we actually have total control over.

How the sandwich was invented

I always love curiosity and learning more about things we take for granted, so this video is a great example for such way of thinking. Also, the artistry behind the video illustration is absolutely stunning. Definitely worth 2 minutes of your life.

Beauty and the Beast Explained: Tale as Old as Time

I love the Screen Prism Youtube channel and I am always looking forward to seeing what they post. I particularly remember this video after it blew my mind with its chromatic analysis.

PODCASTS

Freakonomics Radio

This new find is one which absolutely thrilled me as I am always keen on discovering new ideas and seeing this differently. Their special episode on Esperanto was so full of information and amazing trivia that I had to share it!

APPS

Office Lens

I recently learned about this app, which allows you to scan documents, business cards and whiteboards and send them to your email or Drive as a photo or as a PDF, and I thought that it was super handy. Let me know if you use it and if you know more apps like this! The link above is for IOS, but the app is also available for Android and Microsoft.

ARTICLES & FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus – Srini Pillay

After attending an event with Srini Pillay organized by The School of Life Amsterdam, I was left reassured that unfocusing is indeed beneficial and that more people should try it. The fact that the message got across on Facebook and was shared by few people was a confirmation that we need to unplug from time to time and that we’re realizing this just now.

Food for the future human Martians

Although I don’t think I will live long enough to casually go on a vacation to Mars, I do believe in backup plans. And while this should not mean we should continue to carelessly destroy our planet, my belief is that we should always have a Plan B, no matter what. That is why I considered important to share how a new research project managed to grow healthy crops on Martian-like soil.

Good News

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this section on more news websites as I believe we need optimism and news which also trigger hope in us in order to survive our hectic lives. Click on the hyperlink above for all the links :)

The evolution of Women in Stock Photos

We have come so far in the past years regarding appropriate female representation, yet we still have a lot more to work on. This NYTimes article presents the evolution of women in the most bought stock photos in the past ten years, and it will definitely leave a mark on you.

(RO only) Atelierul Merci – a story by Oana Botezatu – a great read about social entrepreneurship!

(RO only) How to write better. Advice for bloggers, students and beginner writers – an amazing and resourceful article via Inoza

That was all for September, I hope you noted some new ideas and I will see you soon with some very exciting news and series of articles 😉

Have a great October!

Laura

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Laura Recommends

August recommendations

September 1, 2017
jolielaura_saint_petersburg_m_2017

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
jolielaura_marrakesh_cover_1

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 a delicious tajine 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 raffia bag with a hand woven text

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
jolielaura_back_in_business_2_0

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

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
jolielaura_gibraltar_monkey

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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The Great What Next

September 27, 2016
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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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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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