Monday, 22 December 2014

Turkey day 1: Turkish Airlines

Calling, Madame Portman, Natalie. Huh? Unfortunately, we didn't get to spot the famous actress on the flight, if it really was her. 

I was invited to spend Christmas with my French family. I didn't even realise the airline allowed checkin baggages, so I juiced out my brains trying to get everyone gifts witin the airline restrictions. Not too heavy, no liquids, no food... It was hard. E had to skip his afternoon classes to catch our flight. I skipped my afternoon work hours. But no matter, I woke up earlier to do as much as possible, and told myself that I would work later on in the evening. I don't skimp on work. The plane was small, and half the passengers were Turks. The announcements were made in Turk, English and French. I passed out for the good first part of the flight - as is normal with me. I had been up early that morning that it was so good to have a snooze catch up. I woke up to the smell of food. In the short three and a half hour flight, they somehow managed to serve us a meal. Often, I am wary of flight foods. From experience, they are drab, unappetizing, even if they make the menu to sound somewhat tempting. This flight did not have a menu (that I had found), and all they asked was, 'Would you prefer beef or chicken?' No descriptions of the meals provided. I chose beef purely based on the fact that I had already had chicken two nights in a row at home. Also dry chicken is something I dread. The portions were smaller than on an average flight, as the plane was smaller than an average one, I guess. One casual steward served everyone - in Turk, in English, sharing jokes with the passengers. Tentatively I peeled open the wrapping and made a small first mouthful. Wow. Not sure if it was the good deep sleep waking up the palette, but I have almost never enjoyed a flight food like this before.  It was stuffed eggplant with beef in red, barely spicy, sauce, with glutinous rice. I've had plenty of bad rice before, but this was tasty. It's a rare occasion when I actually finish the whole main dish on a plane. Well done Turkish Airlines! I didn't eat the side salad, so I couldn't rate everything, but as A would say, bonus points for the small towelette that came with the meal as well. The rest of the flight was spent trying to digest everything and to hydrate myself as much as possible. 

So began my Turkey adventure..

Friday, 19 December 2014

Merci 2014!

I know it's pretty early, but I am leaving to spend Christmas with my French 'family' today, so I thought it'd be a good time to share a bit of what my 2014 had been like. It's been hard to choose the photos like this - and if I was to include the last two weeks, it would surely have been an almost impossible task.

I've lived in three different countries this year, travelled to a couple more, and that comes to a total of 'heaps of cities, foods, and friends'. I'm fine with that :)

Can't wait for what the rest of the year has in store for me, and what the new year will bring my way. Bring it on!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Being girly and wearing girly

Once upon a time, a friend said to me, 'you are girlier than you realise, you know.' It was random, it was a surprise, but it was nice. I understood it to be a compliment.

More recently, though, another friend suggested that I should make more girly choices for my wardrobe. That kind of hurt, because while I choose my pieces more for its functionality and minimalism, I don't think they are particularly 'manly,' as he says.

It got me thinking:
  • Should I dress more girly, even if I already feel girly enough
  • What does it mean to be girly, any how? 

Makeup, slim heels, and fitted clothes? Pinks, perfect hair, puffs of perfume, and a slim body shape?

Dress like the French, he says, you are in a country of chic -

The "French chic lady" seem to be into classic pieces, neutral colours, a flirty play on textures and minimalism. But you know what? Plenty of masculine pieces in their wardrobes, too.

I don't know what I'm missing that's in their wardrobe but not mine?

Not as many variety of items, maybe? Perhaps, the attitude. That could very well be it. The je-ne-sais-quoi, I'm-sexy-in-whatever-I-wear. Well, I guess I'm not.

Dress more like a lady, he says. What do your ladies wear?

I'm sorry I don't have the style, the body, nor the attitude of French ladies. I am all for looking well put-together and even ladylike, too, but I am not perfect.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Five finds: Dream coffee table books

One day, I will settle down long enough to own a small, finely-curated, selection of coffee table books. For now, here is a quick peek at some of the books I've been dreaming about.

book covers from the links below
  • 1/ This may be my favourite book of the year. Beautiful photos of people going about with their every day lives. But take care to talk to them, starting with a simple question, and we start to get to know them. How they got to live in the city, how their upbringing has formed the person that they are today, what their current worries and hopes are. I would like to recommend this to my parents.
  • 2/ Being in Europe is fantastic for travelling. There are heaps of low-cost airlines here, and trains and even sharing car rides are not very expensive. Let's face it, apart from money - for transport, accommodation and food, the other big factor is time (which is also money). This book outlines the top to-do lists for weekend trips around Europe. There are also books for the other continents, too. For your newly-wed best friends, for their multiple mini trips on their honeymoon.
  • 3/ Eating out is so easy, especially when one's travelling. But from time to time you do want to actually spend some time in your kitchen. I always dream of having more dinner parties at home. This book outlines the recipes you have tried on your travels. Those exotic tastes you still dream about from time to time, simplified so you can recreate with your average local ingredients. For my sister, as a silent hint to eat better quality things.
  • 4/ Coffee in France is difficult. Bordeaux does not have a Starbucks (yet), and yes, there are Nespresso machines in every apartment, but those 'good' slash 'hip' coffee shops that are popping up in Paris haven't descended down on us yet, either. Except this one place where I go every weekend. When you can't have good coffee every day, read about them. Even if you can have them every day - lucky you! - read about the history and evolution of how they came to be one of the most popular drinks worldwide. For my girlfriend with whom I like to pass my afternoons in coffee dates.
  • 5/ This last one is an interesting, unusual choice, but a fascinating one, I find. Criminals tattoo themselves to identify their beliefs and gangs. A former police officer collated information on these Soviet criminals in jails and this book tells us of their culture. For the teenage brother for whom gifts are the most hard to pick. 
If I can't have them, myself, I may give them away as presents. Hopefully you will like sifting through its pages as much as I'd like to. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas presents

I was talking to Mum last night, and she asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year.


I have kind of started to think about it during my trip in Rome, but...

There are things I want that are not really necessary, or even appropriate, for me right now. Like coffee table books. I would love them but please don't, not yet. They are heavy to carry around, and I only have a 25kg allowance. When I finally get an actual coffee table, then, maybe. Not this year.

Since being on the road for so long, I have been out of practice of receiving actual gifts for some time. This year is proving to be quite unusual, as I've already been receiving a relay of gift after another. Naturally curious, I opened some of them. Eek. You should never open your gifts before Christmas. Or just don't tell the person, because my Santa got quite angry that I didn't wait, the Christmas purist that he is. Oups.

Other things I want... they are kind of big things, or not even things, at all. Like trips to Morocco. Like paying off my huge student debt. Like getting me to get off my ass to exercise, already. That's a big one. They are more experiences more than anything else.

So, if you want to offer me something, offer me experiences, please.

Would you like to go to the Opera with me? a cooking class, perhaps? I would be all up for those :)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Playlist: Top 5 Workout Youtube Videos

Just because December is the holiday season, doesn't mean I should totally let myself go overboard with the party foods. And still not exercise. After a few sessions at the physio, I really shouldn't let myself be lazy and be sore all over again. Here are my top five Youtube workout videos, for myself and for you.

I like quick exercises with minimal equipment that can be done anywhere.

Do you have a favourite workout routine?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Reunion in Rome

In 2011, I spent a year in Paris. Under the protective gaze of the Eiffel Tower, I spent those amazing months studying at a recognised school, looked after some very cute kids, travelled at every opportunity, and made amazing friends for life.

Friends for life.
Most of these friends had stayed back or returned to Europe after the year, while I flew back to the other side of the world. Really, why do my two favourite countries have to be so far apart?

After plans and promises, made and broken and made again, a small group of us finally found ourselves reunited in the city of Rome. From London, Bordeaux, Munich, and Budapest, there are always adventures to be had when we are together. Siiiii!!!
From the first night pasta cooking class by our Italian friend, eating pizzas/gelato from places approved by the locals, dancing the night away even when we were hurting all over from bugs and flus.. We tried to make the most of our time together.
Italian coffee and Italian pasta/pizza every day with Italian gelato whenever we could.. Wish we could have stayed longer, but we are already planning for our next get together. As you do...

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