Not again…

Unfortunately, yes again.

I have neglected this blog for what seems like forever. Before I spoke of life getting busy but I had no idea what was in store for me.

Busy is the one adjective that describes my life adequately at all times. 2017 brought happy, ecstatic, tired, stressed, ill and also lots and lots of sad too. I am a completely different person now than I was at the beginning of last year. Probably a better person (read: more grown-up if I’m honest) but I still prefer last year me.

I’ve dealt with some sad situations that I never saw myself dealing with, ones we are never taught to deal with. I live with a little extra prickle of sadness in my heart regarding one in particular that I hope will fade within a few years as I learn to move on. This is really where I’ve grown as a person- coping with the fact that life does have to end. (Wow! Look who has a bit of an answer to her grief post, which you can read here!)

As a result of said sadness, I really have become a bit of a bundle of paranoia about the safety of my loved ones. It is starting to be all-consuming at times so I have got to be more on top of stopping it. It helps nobody.

I’m learning to deal with levels of stress that I’ve never quite had before as well as learning to live on a lot less sleep at times. No, I haven’t had a baby. Yes, I would happily take that as an alternative sometimes.

Socially I’m learning to balance myself with new people which is a little but fun but mostly makes me feel nervous and anxious about whether I’m doing ‘the right thing’. It has resulted in me zoning out a little bit more than I’d like to in social situations which is just frustrating more than anything else, but I’m on a mission to change that. I still have my ‘old people’ and spending time with them is the most incredible, healing thing that I can do.

Within the craziness there have been some ridiculously high highs.

  • Dearest friend travelled for 12 hours to surprise me for my birthday. One of the world’s best people, I can assure you.
  • Somehow reached dizzying heights work-wise that I am very proud of.
  • Partly moved to a new city, which I adore.
  • Did so much travelling. I was so so so lucky and I had the most incredible times and I will post about them here because if not I’d get very annoyed at myself.

I realise that nobody reads this blog (although a few people see my travel posts which I love) but this has become a bit of a travel highlights diary for me. When I put my mind to it, that is. So I do intend to continue, at some point…

Just have to find the time!

Mari x

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Firenze

Well, would you look that that. Appallingly, I haven’t written since October (classic Mari).

But apart from that, the next installment from my Italian adventure is here. I’m sure you’ve been waiting with baited breath for over 6 months.

So, Florence. What a beautiful city!

My companions and I took a train from Venice to Florence which was a very economic, clean and quick way to do it- I would definitely recommend Italy’s rail network. Very efficient!

Upon arriving at our apartment (we somehow managed to locate ourselves right on the Piazza della Signoria aka the heart of the city), we took a short break and basked in the direct path of the air conditioning (Florence is hot.) before exploring the city a bit further.

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You know this beautiful building (Palazzo Vecchio) on the Piazza della Signoria?
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Well, we looked straight at it from our window!

(The other side of our room had a view of the Duomo. How we managed to score such a gem of a place I do not know. Highly recommended!)

We are not the biggest art-fans, but we knew that being in Florence and not visiting at least one gallery is practically an Italian crime/sin/treason. The Uffizi it is, then!

The queues were long but we had pre-booked and didn’t have to wait too much. The art was beautiful, albeit a little same-y (a companion did remark “If I see another Madonna and Jesus I’m going to scream” after a while), and there are some recognisable pieces in there even for a scientist like myself.

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The detail is just wonderful. Also, so much gold.
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Primavera. I actually knew this one!
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My favourite. Baby Jesus honestly looks like a source of light. How on Earth is that painted?!

I loved visiting the gallery, even though it was just a liiiittle bit boring. Plus it had gorgeous views!

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Oh so quaint.

The Cathedral in Florence is breathtaking. The colour is incredible (although my colour-blind companion could not understand why we were gushing so much over ‘grey’ walls) and the intricacy is wonderful.

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And Florentine sunsets are the most wonderful things you will ever witness.

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I love me a good sunset

DOs:

  • Walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset. You get beautiful views over the whole city from the other side of the river in the evening light and the walk is pleasant.
  • Book everything you can in advance (galleries, Cathedral/Duomo entry etc). Remember that places require a printed version of your ticket so do this well in advance, or you might find yourself bickering in a tiny Western Union for decent internet access that can be used with a printer.
  • Enjoy the ice cream.
  • Take a day-trip to Pisa! Regular trains mean that this is such a good idea as you can avoid staying in the ridiculously overpriced city of Pisa…more on this to come.

DON’Ts:

  • Stay for only 2-3 days as we did (one of ours was in Pisa). Just one more day would have been enough, but we didn’t get to go inside any of the churches, including the Cathedral with the iconic Duomo. We went to the Piazza di Santa Croce but not into that church either, which I hear is stunning.
  • Stay out all day long. We came back inside at around 2 and stayed inside until 5ish. The heat was just a bit too much, and this meant that we enjoyed the evenings more. Those sunsets, you know.
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Grazie Firenze!

Next stop, Pisa!
(And hopefully you’ll be able to read all about it before 2018!)

Mari x

 

Venezia

So, back to my travels.

I was lucky enough to be able to go to Italy this summer, and I spent just over 2 weeks travelling between cities and then in Sardinia for some beach-y, pool-y sun.

First stop was Venice. I was excited about visiting, but I had heard that during the summer it was overcrowded, smelly and just a bit bleugh. WRONG!

Yes, it was crowded, but not more than the busy parts of London. And my word was it beautiful. I was totally blown away, and have since decided that it could be a very romantic potential honeymoon destination. Not that I’m getting married anytime soon, believe me.

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Immediately immersed in Venetian architecture from the water taxi
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So aesthetic!

The Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower on the square. I don’t think the bells ring anymore, but when you’re up there you can still see the magnificent metal beauties. €8 per person to take a lift to the top for 360 degree views. Worth every penny!

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Campanile di San Marco opposite Doge’s Palace
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Views from the top

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Gotta do a Gondola. Our gondolier even sang to us.

One of my absolute favourite things in Italy- the takeaway pasta places! Fresh, piping hot pasta in takeaway boxes, to be eaten wherever you can perch nearby or taken home. I, like many others, ate my delicious pasta on one the steps of one of the many bridges crossing the little canals.

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Another lovely thing was going and watching a performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in the Church of San Zaccaria. The façade of the church itself may have been covered in scaffolding and a huge designer advert, and the musicians not the world’s best, but it was lovely hearing Vivaldi in his hometown.

 

DOs:

  • Take a private water taxi from the airport, if you can. The views are incredible, and if you don’t want to do a Gondola ride this saves you all the hassle! A bit pricey but well worth it.
  • Take a Gondola ride if you can! They seem to have set the prices in all places at €80 for a half hour (€100 at night) which is extortionate, but not as bad as it has been before. It’s a once in a lifetime event, and Venice is extremely overpriced anyway.
  • Go up the Campanile in St Mark’s Square. The queue moves fast and it is reasonably priced. The views are unparalleled.
  • Watch out for pickpockets, especially on the Rialto Bridge.

DON’Ts:

  • Go anywhere without a map. All the roads (or rather, alleyways) look the same, and they all end at water. Screws you over big time if you don’t have a map, let me tell you. Try and get a good map.
  • Buy anything on St Mark’s Square. You can probably find the equivalent for much less within a 5 minute walk in any direction.

Overall this was a brilliant, hot, cultural and beautiful beginning to Italia for me.
Next up: Firenze!

Mari x

August and September Two Thousand and Sixteen

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Beautiful Devon

More photo monthlies for you.

Italy, Devon, London…you name it, Mari seems to have been there.

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Venezia
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Arched windows everywhere
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Firenze di notte
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Lesser photographed parts of Pisa
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Firenze di notte II
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Attention to Detail: Uffizi
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The beautiful London
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Pantheon, Roma
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Florentine mornings
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Watched the film Notting Hill straight after this

Until next month,

Mari x

Comfortable

Right now in my life I am comfortable. Very comfortable. I have a routine, I live somewhere that I know very well, the people in my life are people I love and care for and- most importantly- know very well. My work is varied, but I know it and I know the people I work with.

That’s not to say that I don’t have diversity. I travel (see here, here and here), and I do enough things on a small scale to push me out of my comfort zone and keep me mentally healthy and challenged. I like it like this.

However, sometime soon I will probably be experiencing a big change. A lifestyle change, an uprooting, following a natural path that can be followed and it will change everything.

This is not a post to tell you about how excited I am to push my boundaries, to make a new life. No. Because I’m bloody terrified. Absolutely bloody freaked the hell out. It isn’t even that soon, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Writing this is making me want to cry. I’m scared.

I have no wish to lose this comfort. People argue that you can get ‘too comfortable’ in a workplace etc, or even life, but I enjoy the comfort. It’s good for my mental health and all-round wellbeing.Everywhere on the internet, change and ‘changing your life’ is depicted as a good thing. People actively seek the loss of comfort in order to find a new sort-of one. And I don’t know why. Why do people pretend that the deep fear of the unknown isn’t there? Is it cool to be emotionally detached? Why don’t people like their lives all comfortable and happy?And, mostly, how do people cope? What would you say to me to help me through the loss of this comfort? Because right now it is rather daunting.Mari x

Languages

Hi all.

This will be a chatty post from me, which is a first in 2016, probably. I’ve been doing so much travelling (Croatia, France and Italy to come!) that my posts have mainly been about that, but I did create this blog to be a travel-thoughts blog. That means that every now and then I’ll chat a little about this, that and the other.

I try to keep it cultural or thoughtful, because those are the things that I feel are lacking in the media scene of the 2010s. Now, I’ll read the odd beauty blog post or something, and I want people to write what they love, but I feel like genuine thoughts and unscripted chatter is not present enough.

So, languages.

I am fluent in English only, a great shame. I was raised around two other languages, but I cannot speak them. Blame my parents. They used these languages to communicate when talking about things that they did not want little ears picking up on. Naturally, I didn’t pick it up- much. I can follow a conversation in these languages if I concentrate really, really hard.

I learnt Mandarin for a while. It hasn’t completely left my brain but it isn’t bubbling.

And from a young age, like any other British child born pre-2005 (now they’re more adventurous which I love) I was educated in French, and only now do I truly appreciate it.

I speak decent French. My vocabulary is lacking, but I speak rather well if I do say so myself. At least, many French people tell me so (the barrier for Brits isn’t exactly set high though, is it? Ha).

I think, in some part, my ability to pick up spoken French had something to do with being exposed to languages from a young age. Even if I wasn’t speaking anything other than English, people around me spoke other things. Being raised in London, I heard new languages daily. I had friends and acquaintances who could speak French, Dutch, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Croatian, Serbian, Armenian, Greek, American (!)…and it has helped me.

Recently, whilst in Croatia (you can read about my trip here), I was sitting at a restaurant listening to a friend of mine yatter along with a waiter in Croatian, a language I don’t know. And, somehow, I understood pretty much all that was being said, and could give a translation to another, baffled friend. What even?! That’s cool!

Languages are more than words. Languages are intonation, stresses and culture. Slavic languages bear little resemblance to Germanic languages when it comes down to it, and yet I could find myself nodding along to this pleasant restaurant chatter.

Through my French studies I have made a lifelong friend. She’s great at English (very passionate about it!) and is a lovely person. When we’re chatting together (or being silly, or watching TV, or laughing…) we get along insanely well. We slip in and out of the two languages, tending to be more biased towards the language of the country we are in (we haven’t tried meeting in any other country than England or France yet. Watch this space!), and there is no language barrier.

To sum this friendship up, I like to say that I’ve got to know her in two languages. I have seen more of her personality because I’ve seen it from two different angles. When we’ve had issues with comprehension (it happens! We’re not perfect.), we take deeper note of body language and facial expressions (as well as silly gestures). I know her better than some others that I consider close friends.

I’ve made a lifelong friend because of languages. I do not wish to ever lose the ability to learn languages, and I want to learn so many more.

Mari x

P.S. If you are thinking of raising a child bi/trilingually and are erring towards the side of no, please rethink. I know it is hard work. You might have to try a bit harder with teaching them their colours and animal sounds, but there are often books that can be bought and nowadays apps and whatnot.

The benefits it will bring your child are endless. And every parent wishes their child to have the best.