I haven´t updated my blog in a while because I´ve been pretty busy — I moved to Spain! I’m living in the Andalusian city of Granada and working on an animated movie. I have completely fallen in love with this city and its relaxed lifestyle. Granada is unique because it´s a mixture of Spanish and Moorish influences (seen in the architecture of the Albaycín district –which is almost like a village in itself– and the Alhambra palace that overlooks the city). So far everyone I’ve met is really warm + friendly (and they´re patient with my non-existent Spanish — pero yo hablo un poco Españiol cada dia!). Unlike other cities in Spain, tapas is FREE in Granada when you order a drink (about 2€). Tapas can be anything from small h’ordeuvres to large meal-sized portions of fish, meat, cheese, vegetables, etc, so you can be well fed for quite cheap! My favourite Spanish drink is ´Tinto de Verano´, which is a mixture of red wine + carbonated lemonade (sounds strange but it´s really good + refreshing). As for the food, they sure love their meat! Meat is in just about everything you order — even in salad! Oh.. and don´t even think about having dinner before 9pm.. it´s unheard of! I love the relaxed lifestyle here, the friendly people, and the weather is starting to warm up. Sometimes I feel a little out of place (with the language barrier), but I really enjoy waking up in a city that I want to discover. I thank my blessings everyday. 🙂
Here are a few pics I took as the weather fluctuated greatly this month.
I’m back home visiting my parents for the holidays! My parents live in a quiet village in an old farmhouse that they’ve been fixing up. The house is situated on a couple acres of land, and overlooks a valley with a river. I’ve been back for a month now, and we’ve experienced spring, fall and winter weather. Whatever type of weather we have, it’s a beautiful place to live. I also feel very lucky to be here as I get to see my kitty whom I’ve missed dearly while I was living in London.
The last city I visited on my trip was Berlin. I had heard so much about it, that I was so excited to see what it was all about! First I did all the touristy stuff — the Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, the Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery), etc. I also visited the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. It was just AMAZING seeing her work in person. She puts so much emotion (sadness, grief, loss) into her work. Her work is so powerful that it’s both inspiring and exhausting at the same time.
There was a political demonstration happening while I was walking along Unter Den Linden. A group of guys were puppeteering a giant marionette; making it walk and ride a skateboard.
There were several reasons why I visited Berlin other than just to see the sights. One of the reasons is that my Mother went to art school in East Berlin, so I wanted to see the school and the flat that she lived in. It was a very special experience for me to see where my Mom lived for 3 years (when she was younger than I am now)! 🙂
My Mom’s best friend from art school (who designed the eagle on the German version of the Euro coin!) has a daughter my age, so I met up with her. Alina is a graphic designer like her Mother, and we had a very nice time together. Alina + her boyfriend showed me the Flohmarkt (fleamarket — amazing stuff which I wanted to buy but couldn’t fit in my suitcase), we ate delicious waffles in Prenzlauer, and they showed me what is remaining of the Berlin Wall. I’m really happy I got to meet Alina since our Mothers were best friends. 🙂
I also met up with my Grandfather’s friend Klaus who is over 80 years old. Klaus took me on a tour of Berlin and had lots to say about living through the war, rebuilding afterwards (he said people wanted simple things.. like windows), living in East Berlin, and it was all very interesting. He took me to the Märchenbrunnen which is a collection of super cute fairy tale sculptures placed around a giant fountain. He explained that after WWII the fountain was busted and most of the pieces were missing. Years after the war when he was working as a journalist, he was given a tip about sculptures found in an old abandoned garage. There he discovered all the missing sculptures for the fountain! I think it’s amazing that he helped restore this fountain back to its original glory.
I liked Berlin. It felt like a city where change was possible.
After visiting Austria, I headed over to Munich, Germany. I caught a cold during this part of my trip, so I didn’t take as many photos as I had hoped. One day I wandered around the Englischer Garten dazed out of my mind and layed in the park watching people playing with their dogs until I had the energy to walk around again! 😛 haha. If I wasn’t staying in a 6-person room in a hostel, I probably wouldn’t have felt the urge to leave and would have slept for most of the day. I’m glad I pushed myself to explore the city while I was there. I didn’t want to miss out on any part of my trip!
The highlight of my time in Munich was when I came across this tunnel full of graffiti. I stopped in my tracks and was like OMG for a few minutes (Although that could’ve been due to the cold medication, LOL). Flying Förtress had work at both entrances to the tunnel.
Then inside the tunnel in the most prominent spot was Daim… my favourite graffiti artist of all time! Seeing his work in person the most amazing experience cause I’ve been a fan of him since I was a teenager. ❤
Overall I have to say I wasen’t too impressed with Munich. I was sick when I was there, so I’m sure that affected my lack of enthusiasm, but it felt to me like a generic city without many interesting things to see. I did just leave beautiful Salzburg, so maybe my expectations for seeing beautiful old architecture was set too high.
My travels also took me to Salzburg, Austria for a couple days. Salzburg is a very small and peaceful city. The buildings are all very beautiful, and the view from Hohensalzburg Castle was outstanding! But, I felt like the youngest person there as there were so many senior groups there at the time.
Salzburg is also Mozart’s birthtown so I had to visit the museum, which is in the house he grew up in. Many things were on display like his musical instruments, his hand written symphonies and even locks of his hair! My favourite things in the museum were the love letters written to his wife:
“Adieu — my love — my only one. Do catch them in the air — those 2999 1/2 little kisses from me which are flying about, waiting for someone to snap them up.”
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his wife Constanze
Wow… talk about amazing! He was quite the catch! Haha.
This was the first time I’ve traveled alone. I didn’t know what to expect, but everything turned out great. I navigated Italian/Austrian bus/train connections on my own (almost missed my bus out of Venice!), and I stayed in a dorm room in a hostel to force myself out of my comfort zone by socializing with complete strangers. I thoroughly enjoyed my time discovering the city at my own pace. I would totally travel by myself again!
Venice is the most beautiful and unique city I’ve ever been to. It feels like a medieval city mostly because of the Venetian Gothic style architecture and it’s 100% pedestrian only; boats operate like buses/taxis. The city planning has no rhyme or reason… streets go every which way with dead ends all over the place. I got lost all the time! The tourist merch was quite classy compared to the other cities I visited — Murano glass, theatre masks and leather gloves. My only criticism is that the city was so filled with tourists that it felt a bit like a theme park. I don’t know if I saw any true Venetians in their daily life (not that I’d know what they’d look like anyways, but I’d imagine super classy!). In the evening most of the windows were black which suggested to me that people generally don’t live in the city (maybe because it’s too expensive, or because of ‘acqua alta’; the intense flooding that happens in the winter). Other than that it was incredible and I would love to go back!
While I was in Venice I visited my friend Peeta who has a studio in Mestre, which is on the mainland across from Venice. His studio is located in old military fort that is surrounded by a moat (!). The military is long gone and the buildings are either falling apart or used for art studios, restaurants (serving the most amazing food… the beef, OMG!) and café’s. It was such a treat seeing Peeta’s studio where he creates his canvasses and sculptures. The space is very industrial and smells of paint, which reminds me of my Dad’s old workplace. 🙂
The sculpture below is titled ‘Courage’ and is planned to be painted…
Peeta + I drove out to Bassano Del Grappa in Northern Italy to see an art exhibit. BDG is a very old and small town located near the Alps. It was so gorgeous and picturesque… going there felt like I was visiting the real Italy after seeing touristy Venice. For lunch Peeta + I shared the most amazing local meat and cheese plate I’ve ever had (after scooping out the moth that flew right into the soft cheese – haha)! BTW, Italy prefers round-abouts over stop lights, so be prepared to know EXACTLY where you’re going, or you’ll be making a lot of last minute decisions!
The “Urban Hero” sculpture carved from wood was my favourite piece in the exhibit. ❤
I totally recommend visiting a city or town that’s off the beaten path… it might not be in the guide book but you just might be pleasantly surprised!