Tuesday, 28 April 2015

May Challenge


Long time, no see, my friends. How are you? I hope you're well, enjoying the sunshine wherever you are. Life here in Stockholm has been far from dull. Here's an update...

...I managed to burn my hand and thus decided to stop drinking tea. Apparently drinking tea is very, very dangerous. Fortunately it was my left hand and I have also forgotten my promise. So, there was no real harm done. In fact, a smoking hot cup of tea is waiting for me! 

...Belgium was lovely - much less conservative than I expected. To me, Brussels equals the European Union, a haven for all bureaucrats. Glad to admit I was wrong.

...Dutch is a funny language. All language learners have come across false friends. Klant is a spectacular false friend. Look it up! 

...speaking of languages, it's funny how one can hold a fairly decent level in a foreign language, but then struggle with other aspects. My fancy British university did not teach me how to write copy in English. Then again, I studied Politics and Russian, so maybe the initial plan did not include copywriting. Practice makes perfect, though, so no worries. I love writing in English, so I'm glad to be doing what I do. 

...we are addicted to Elementary. Or rather, I've got a wee crush on Sherlock Holmes. And that British accent. Lovely. 

...best of all - Friday is a public holiday, so there are not many days left of this week. All in all, May will be exciting and June will start with two weeks of holidays. Looking forward to that. 

Now, how are you? 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Lovely, lovely Belgrade

Did I tell you that we managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Belgrade in the beginning of last week on our way back from Skopje as well? No? Well, guess what. I visited Belgrade for the second time of my life. Lovely, lovely city. I want to go there again, in all its grayness, that city has a wonderful atmosphere. I want to go there, sip on coffee in a coffee place and just write. And people watch. And listen to that inspiring language that is Serbian.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mакедонски јазик [MK: Macedonian Language]

It was rather surprising how easy it was to get around in Skopje. You see, everyone spoke English - tadaa! Macedonian, however, is fairly easy to understand (especially written but also spoken) as well if you have previous knowledge of any Slavic language and know how to read Cyrillic. Piece of cake. The majority of signs were in Macedonian and Albanian. Information for tourists (about sights and such) was in English as well. I thought it was a bit funny that many companies had English names, usually starting with Euro-. Seems like someone wants to join the European Union.

Macedonian is a South Slavic language, forming a continuum with Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian. The language is fairly new, as it was implemented as an official language in 1945. It is during and after this time that the language was codified and it developed a literature. Unlike the majority of other Slavic languages, Macedonian has no case system. It also has definite articles. This is so confusing. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Македонска кујна [MK: Macedonian Cuisine]

Hearty is the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe the food in Macedonia. Not spicy, but tasty. Fresh vegetables, cheese, meat (kebab, anyone?). Something for vegetarians as well - there are the veggies, beans, cheese and the list goes on. And for those of us with a sweet tooth (or two), the options were endless. And the wine was delicious, of course. Mostly red. There is a grape called vranac or vranec (depending on the country) that grows in the Balkan, and it is definitely one of my favourite grapes. It never disappoints!

Eating is one of the great pleasures (and adventures) when travelling. Don't you agree, fellow travellers?

Burek filled with spinach and feta cheese

Shopska salad

Week Ahead!

Yet another week is starting and this one also includes a trip. This time the plane is taking us to Brussels, how exciting! I have never been to the capital of Europe, nor Belgium for that matter, so it'll be fun. I'm expecting sunshine and a picnic in the park. 

Apart from more travel adventures, I'm looking forward to work, yoga, tai chi, running and a dinner with some friends. And plenty of good food. My mind has been on food lately. After eating out almost everyday last week, it is now time to focus on homemade meals. Actually I prefer homemade food to fancy restaurants. It's fun to explore in the kitchen. This week's menu includes meatballs, salmon, zucchini and spinach salad. Can't wait!

Inspiration: paleo

More food inspiration

My corner


Lots of green stuff

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Places: Macedonia

Where? Macedonia is located in south-eastern Europe on the Balkans. It is a landlocked country and it is one of the former Yugoslav republics. The capital is Skopje. There is plenty to see and to do in Macedonia, due to our short visit, we stayed in Skopje throughout our visit.

How? There are some flights to Skopje from Scandinavia. We flew there with Air Serbia, via Belgrade. We stayed at an apartment in central Skopje.

When? We spent Easter 2015 in Skopje. It was fairly warm, but the weather was unstable. Apparently it would have been a better idea to go there a week later. The locals we talked to recommended to visit in May-June and/or September.

How #2? Macedonia was a very pleasant surprise. It was love at first sight when I saw the mountains and the green fields. Skopje is a fairly small town, so it is easy to get around on foot. All the tourist signs are in Macedonian and English, and people spoke English surprisingly well. There were very few tourists, so we were happy. Macedonia seems to be a country of contrasts and diversity. On the way from the airport to the town, as well as outside Skopje, we saw horse carriages, goats and buildings in fairly bad condition. Skopje was more modern. One of the charming aspects of Skopje was the diversity. Mosques, churches and multilingual street signs were everywhere. We noticed that Macedonians seem to be proud of their history. There was a statue of everyone important, Alexander the Great being the most famous of them all. The Macedonian flag could be found on every street, in front of the majority of buildings. The level of service was good, the food was tasty.

Conclusion: I want to go there again! When the plane back to Belgrade had taken off, I looked longingly at the mountains and felt a sudden urge to go hiking. There is a first for everything!

Saturday Wine & Cheese

Back in Slovakia we had a tradition of regularly gathering all our friends for wine and cheese. It's nice to keep good traditions alive so yesterday it was time for our very first Wine & Cheese party in Stockholm. The basic idea is that everyone brings some cheese and a bottle of wine.

Lime and raspberries can never go wrong... 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Valokuvatorstai #363: symboli

Skopje. Macedonia. April 2015.

Mies. Sota. Euroopan historia. Nainen. Lapsi, Äitiys.Tulevaisuus. 

Man. Krig. Europas historia. Kvinna. Barn. Moderskap. Framtid. 

Man. War. History of Europe. Woman. Child. Motherhood. Future.

Hombre. Guerra. Historia de Europa. Mujer. Niño. Maternidad. Futuro. 

Mужчина. Война. История Европы. Женщиa. Ребенок. Материнство. Будущее.

Mężczyzna. Wojna. Historia Europy. Kobieta. Dziecko. Macierzyństwo. Przyszłość.

Muž. Vojna. História Európy. Žena. Dieťa. Materstva. Budúcnosť. 

Férfi. Háború. Európa történelme. Nő. Gyermek. Anyaság. Jövő.

Saturday Feeling Good

The other day I met some people of the fascinating kind. We learnt about books and we had some great Middle Eastern lunches and South American dinners here in Stockholm. It was fun but at the end of the day the fancy life is only the surface, The most fascinating part was the aha-experience that one can get when truly listening to someone. So people, listen!

I will show you a formula:

 a + -> = b

a = the plan
b = the result
-> = the process

The simple aha that this one fascinating person provided me with the other day was this: the process needs passion. Simple, isn't? And obvious. What a pity that we do not always get the simple and the obvious until someone tells us about it. How to remain passionate while life happens? I know a lot of people have conquered this skill. I have not - at least not to the extent that I would be completely focused on only doing what I love.

Next topic... I finally have the photos from Macedonia on my laptop and I will write some posts soon. In the meantime, I'd like to share one of my favourite photos from the trip. There were books everywhere in Skopje. Lovely, lovely books.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

364 Days Ago

364 days ago I moved to Sweden. In the past year I have looked for and found a job. I have held three different positions in the same company and somehow I landed at a job that I enjoy. I like going to the office. Not too long ago I felt frustrated and stressed to pieces. I finally feel appreciated, mostly by myself, but also by others. Some people mature really quickly, in my case it has taken very long to find inner peace and acceptance. I have always tried to focus on the things that I enjoy, trying to remember that it is the journey that counts, but there were times when the journey felt tough. This past year great people have been there for us. Old acquaintances have become friends. My home that never felt quite like home is not too far, so finally there is no need to choose. And I have a home that feels like a home, with a person who feels right. 

So tomorrow it is exactly one year ago that I moved to Sweden. Tomorrow is also my birthday. I have never liked celebrating, but as a friend put it: why not celebrate at every occasion that we can? After all, we only live once. 


Goodbye Macedonia, hello Serbia, goodbye Sweden and hello Finland. It's so incredible that it's already Wednesday. Yesterday I came to Finland for a a quick visit. Actually the trip was work-related but it also gave me the chance to visit my family. My brother had even baked a cake for my birthday. Bless. The past 24 hours have been super efficient. I had a hair cut and attended a business meeting. I saw my grandmother and my niece. I voted and thus feel like a good citizen (I can now comment on the outcome). Now I'm feeling smug as well as seasick while listening to Swedish schlager with a bunch of 70 year olds. 

Travelling - or rather, the time spent on various means of transport - is the perfect opportunity to get things done. During this trip I have read about yoga, improved my Macedonian skills, polished my Spanish and generally spent time on meditating. This wouldn't be such a big deal were it not for the fact that I get less done at home. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Matkakuume [Fi: Travel Fever]

Right Now

stretching and turning in bed
Feeling: 87% relaxed, slightly excited and a bit cold. Also looking forward to the rest of the week. Actually, positive with turbulent overtones might cover it.
Nuisance: this device I'm writing on, I do not understand why this particular brand is so popular. This machine makes me go crazy at least twice a day. 
Tip: nowadays I'm hooked on memrise for learning and repeating foreign languages. Try it if you haven't done so yet!
Inspiration: how very old fashioned of me. Magazines are still my number one source of inspiration. Yoga, food, sports, you name it. 
Topics on my mind: the good human, the best travel companion and Ernest Hemingway's wives.
Thoughts on travel: I want to return to the Balkan. Soon!!!
Language inspo: Serbian

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter Sunday @ Matka Canyon

Stream of Thoughts

Red lips. Femme fatale. Rainy streets, frozen feet. Urge to sit down now. Beautiful people, beautiful language. The other day I read a book so good, it started to mess with my mind. Hot shower, still cold feet. Fingers barely move, the cold hides within my bones. Urge to write it down too. The world is still, it is Sunday after all. Easter Sunday after all. 

I would love to be able to wear red lipstick. The insecurities are taking a firm hold of me. Breathe now, breathe slowly. Don't tell me how to be. Leave those platitudes. 

Just a typical Sunday. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Macedonia: First Thoughts

Maybe it's the smell of freshly cut grass, or the politeness of the people. The tasty wine and all the statues might have something to do with it. Or maybe it's the sunshine and the vague reminders about times long gone. But I like it a lot.