Thursday, 27 April 2017

6 Things Facebook Won't Remind Me Of


 2012
 Do you remember how you made me so angry when we were sunbathing once? And how you got me my favourite sweeties to apologise afterwards, even though I was the one being a baby? We drank half a bottle of tequila later and devoured an entire watermelon. That's all we really ate and drank that summer, wasn't it?
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2014
 Facebook recently reminded me of the time we spent together in Paris and bathed in the lights of the Eiffel Tower. But it won't know that the only store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées we went in was H&M.
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2016
 The happiest day of my life was the day you asked me to stay with you forever in that beautiful Italian village. The one that nobody knows took us three train rides, a bus and twenty minutes walking uphill with our luggage to get to. The one that we only went to because of our favourite video games.
 Facebook only knows about the ring. But I guess anyone can tell that I'd go back there in a heartbeat.
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2012
 And you, do you still smile when you remember waiting in line after a ten-hour drive to see that band play live in Vienna? You had the funniest look on your face when you realised we'd left our cameras behind. I wish I could have taken a picture of it.
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2011
 Us, schoolgirls aged fourteen to sixteen, sweet-talking our way into a club in Nice past midnight. We never got in, so we sat in our shoebox hotel room and watched Spirited Away. Growing up is an odd concept.
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2014
 It was the first photo of all of us together, smiling, having a good time. I untagged myself from it for superficial reasons. I still remember coming out of the club and realising that the first snow of the year was falling. We weren't even cold in our min-dresses. We walked home in silence, admiring how the street lights illuminated every snowflake. All the world was a snow globe, and all the men and women merely watched in silence. Listening. Thinking. Feeling.
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Inspired by Ioana Casapu's 16 Memories Facebook Wants Me to Remember

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Travel Bucket List (Europe)

Back in 2013, my original plan was to start a travel blog and record all of the adventures I went on during my gap year. As time and procrastination dragged on, the plan grew to accommodate any old and new trips. Finally, in the summer of 2014, I ended up creating an all-encompassing space for my thoughts and scrapping any hope of finding a 'niche' for it.
 And a good idea that was, too, or I would have been struggling with (yet) another writer's block now.

 Most of my travels during the last year were limited to places  I'd already been to before at one point or another in my life. I know - boo-hoo, show some gratitude for the amazing opportunities you keep being offered! I want to make it clear that this has had zero impact on the quality and quantity of those travels. Many of them have been some of the best experiences in my life so far, and I do feel like I am discovering those places all over again, because I finally my other half by my side. It is just that I sometimes feel stuck about what to write, and afraid that whatever I produce will either be generic travel blogger material, or something overly personal and/or pointlessly decorated with bad metaphors. I was not born to write, by any means, and you can tell just by how long and unrelated this introduction is. Putting words to paper (screen) has simply been an excellent way for me to organise and communicate my thoughts, and it has often lead to amazing things in my life.
 Who knows, maybe putting this painfully concise version of my travel bucket list will help some of those dreams come to life.

 Just a heads up: none of the images featured in this post have been take by me. Their respectful creators have been credited in their titles, and their source websites linked to.
The Northern Lights, Loch Lomond © Christopher Marr
I. Stand under the Northern Lights
 I used to see the Aurora Borealis as something beautiful, but cold and forbidding. Until a poet came along and started calling me Siyanie ("radiance", or "aurora"). "You are warmth itself, he'd say, a true autumn leaf. But your eyes are the Northern Lights: not cool or sinister, but magical. Like something both close and distant to man."
 This poet is now a close friend of mine, and he is also one of the main reasons I've become so enchanted by this phenomenon. Where I see them is of very little importance to me (so long as it is not from Skyrim in high definition, hehe). If I can catch even a tiny glimpse of this fantasy, I will be happy.
© Danielle Hopkins for aol.com
II. Cuddle with wolves in Norway
I found out about Polar Park through one of those awful Buzzfeed lookalike websites and the headline was one I couldn't pass up. Every time I mention this to anybody, I'm met with a horrified look and a delicately phrased suggestion that I should see a psychiatrist (I even had that said to me by a psychiatrist). But growing up glued to the TV switched on Animal Planet has taken its toll, and I now yearn to be as close to animals as possible, so long as the organisations allowing this treat them ethically.
 This is exactly what Polar Park does, providing sanctuary and plenty of space for all of the animal species within. I probably won't get to see the wolves howling at the full moon, but a fantasy lover can dream.

Screencap from Angel Grace's Summer Solstice Avebury 2016
III. Greet the Summer Solstice at the stone circles of Avebury
 Originally, I wanted to experience the sunrise on the longest day of the year at Stonehenge. What put me off was not how "mainstream" that would be, but rather the horrific crowds that gather there. I am not a very spiritual person, but I think anybody would find it difficult to feel their body, much less their soul, in a moshpit like that.
 Thus, in the summer of 2015, the Avebury's three stone circles came to my rescue, greeting me with an energy much more feminine and tranquil than that of Stonehenge. As soon as I saw them, I promised myself that I would return again, and what better time to do that than on the summer or winter solstice? Besides, the beautiful hair maiden of Wiltshire Albany awaits me there so that we can finally meet after months of Instagram and Facebook friendship.

IV. Swim with basking sharks in Ireland
 At this point, even I have to consider that some of my wishes might be a tad extreme. Granted, the 6-8-meter-long basking shark, the second largest shark in the world, is actually very gentle. Like its larger sibling the whale shark, it is not carnivorous and it feeds on plankton. Still, I imagine seeing something so big that it could swallow you whole swimming towards you to be quite unnerving.
 I say I want to swim with them, but in reality that probably won't happen unless I am in a boat or I have a secret identity as Charles Hood. Just sighting them on the banks of Cornwall or Ireland, however, would be enough for me and my long-term fear of sharks.

© innsbruck.info
V. Return to the Austrian Alps
 In my pre-teens and early teens, I frequently travelled to Vienna, Austria, by car with my parents. The reason is that my father is an avid listener of classical music and he had the opportunity to watch live performances at the Vienna State Opera. Thus, the entire family would tag along.
 On one such happy occasion, we'd decided that we would visit Salzburg and Innsbruck but, instead of picking the fastest route for us, our satellite navigator chose the most winding and mountainous one. Seeing those ragged peaks towering above us like gateways to heaven made me fall blindly in love with the Austrian Alps, and since then one of my greatest wishes has been to see them once more.
 On a more curious note, according to an old Bulgarian tradition, when a child is born its parents must save its umbilical cord. When they feel that the time is right, they will throw it in a place of their choosing and this is said to bring good luck and prosperity to their child, as well as foretell what direction life will lead it in. So leaving it on the roof of a hospital will mean that the child will one day become a doctor; keeping it forever will make it very attached to their home and close to their family. It was many years after our visit to the Alps that I told my mother how I yearned to see them again. When I finally did, she confessed to having thrown my umbilical cord in Salzburg on one of her visits with my father. There might be some truth to traditional beliefs after all.

 What part of Europe would you like to see the most? I'm curious, and also eager to add even more dream destinations to my wishlist!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Blue [March Favourites 2017]



 PORTAL 2
All images are screenshots from Valve's Portal 2
 This is the confession of a fantasy geek: 80% of the time, sci-fi absolutely horrifies me. It might be the literary link between science fiction and dystopias that subconsciously makes me fear futuristic science. Or maybe I was too young to watch The War of the Worlds when I first did. In any case, an otherwise perfectly acceptable scenario becomes unbearable to me if you present it alongside advanced AI, space travel and overwhelmingly dark blue and grey imagery.
 Unless it's Portal 2, in which case I will gladly allow the above mentioned AI to imprison me, perform experiments with (on) me, and insult every aspect of my existence in the most eloquent and witty manner possible. Given the popularity of this puzzle-platformer, I doubt it requires any introduction whatsoever and the only issue I have with it is that it isn't longer. I am careful not to play it constantly, because I want to retain the goosebumps I get when I see GLaDOS wake up, and the feeling of accomplishment after completing a particularly challenging test chamber. It is also one of the few games I have in which co-op greatly enhances the experience because you usually find the perfect balance between brainstorming ideas and just pranking each other.

OUTLANDER
 Despite my attraction to all things related to the folklore and history of Celtic nations, Outlander was certainly not love at first sight. The concept of falling through time, the slow introduction to the plot, and the first-person narration fooled me into thinking that this would be another cliché chick flick with wildly inaccurate historical flavouring. Oh, boy, I like being wrong sometimes.
 I was, surprisingly, hooked by the third episode, and it grew into pulling all nighters during the semester so I could watch it on Netflix. I even made an outfit post inspired by Claire Fraser. Granted, I cannot confirm nor deny the historical accuracy of the book or the original novels - Celtic studies are a pastime for me and I haven't got that far! I do, however, love the effort put into the character depth, though they have definitely sacrificed a few layers of it for Captain Jack Randall, making him an irredeemably evil two-dimensional persona. Nevertheless, I love me a strong female lead and a red-headed man in a kilt.
Screencap of the series Outlander taken from KsiteTV.com

MUSIC

 Similar to April's playlists, with a few songs transcending the month boundary. There is also a noticeable pattern: guess which Disney film I re-watched this month.

MI - THE PLUS SIZE SIDE
In case anybody here is unaware of the existence of one of my closest friends, this is Mi and I, being a horrible person, frequently pester her to update her plus-size-fashion blog On the Plus Side. Partly because she's such a good model and badarse chick. Mostly, though, it's a good excuse to hang out with her and soak up some rays of sunshine. You don't meet a person as bright (in any literal and metaphorical senses of the word) as her often. Sadly, I must warn any international readers that her blog is only available in Bulgarian. However, as fun as her writing is to follow, the main point of a fashion blog of any sort is the images, right? Right?

wagamama
Taken by Mi
On the 27th of March, one of my favourite places to eat finally opened in Sofia, Bulgaria, and it is everything I expected and wanted it to be. The British chain specialises in Japanese-inspired cuisine and, since its founding, has grown to have over 140 restaurants in various locations of the world. The atmosphere of the one in Bulgaria is, so far, the closest to an authentic Japanese restaurant I've seen (or so I've been told - I've never been to Japan myself), and the food is divine. I was thrilled to find out that my usual order of a Yasai Ramen and a Super Green fresh juice has been recreated to perfection here. With the exception of certain localised drinks, such as their ginger beer and their elderflower juice, everything here tastes just as good as the ones I have tried in Britain. The only difference is the price-to-monthly-earnings ratio, which will make this a rare treat for the average Bulgarian worker. Still, with the portions being as large as they are, I could very well skip most other meals of the day after a bowl of ramen.
Image of the wagamama restaurant in Sofia: JenataDnes.com

CAT-EAR HEADPHONES
Finally, I will conclude this favourites post with the most unnecessarily expensive gift I have ever given myself: the wireless cat-ear headphones from Brookstone.com. And, despite being judged very harshly by anybody who chooses quality over effects, I am absolutely enamoured with them. The ears can change to speakers which top the quality of any portable speakers I've had so far (though obviously not of proper ones), and the LED lights have the option to change their colour, as well as flash to the beat of the music you're currently listening to. Most obvious of all, however, is that they are absolutely adorable. I mostly use them indoors to listen to Spotify through my computer, which feels like a massive waste of their potential. However, I am very careful when I do take them outside since, as comfortable as they genuinely are, they are a bit top-heavy and a bit less balanced than regular headphones and could probably slide off, or get caught on something. At least all the photos I keep taking of them kind of compensate for this lack of attention.

Pumpkin Spice [OOTD]

Mi: Stop making animal shapes with your hands. Me: No, I must dance! Necklace: The Blackthorn Realm Bodysuit: Forever ...