Another new beginning

24 01 2015

I am sitting in my childhood bedroom, wrapping my head around what is coming next. The walls are no longer pink and the many faces of Leonardo Di Caprio no longer stare at me. I’ve been a huge fan of his since Baz Luhrmann’s Rome and Juliet, after which my bedroom had his face on every wall. My books are still here, but the old dark red couch was thrown away long ago, a new smaller version taking its place. It almost does not feel like my room anymore. But I digress!

I am super excited and of course also worried. I am leaving a job I truly love behind to move once again to India, this time in Mumbai, for ~11 months. Last time I was in India, while I was walking towards my plane, I made a big cross sign and told myself I will never come back again. I really did! Sometimes I am a believer.

India was hard on me the first time around, although it gave back a lot. What was really bad? Dengue fever. What was really good? A bunch of really wonderful people I am still in touch with and I can’t wait to see again, plus a series of professional skills I built my career on. You could say I could get those anywhere, but the truth of a matter is I feel I had my real start in India, learning from the best and understanding what I really like doing… and its more than communications 🙂 #clubempower

So here I am, waiting for my visa to be ready, looking for a place to stay in Mumbai, reading for the 5th time the website of the organization I will be working with, thinking about communications strategies, child protection policies and another new beginning. When I saw the JD, it was love at first sight. I applied right away and after I accepted their offer, I spent 3 months having doubts, wondering if I am doing the right thing. Those doubts were completely wiped out last week in Klosters, when me and my fellow fellows met for a 5 days preparation program.

Europe is safe, its cozy, I feel very appreciated in my current job, I am surrounded by friends. But asking myself every day if “is this it?” for me signaled a problem. Coming from AIESEC, I do ask myself constantly if I am leaving up to my full potential. Most of the time the answer is NO. While I don’t really care about job titles and money, I do care about being the best version of myself I can be. And lately I did not feel as if I was. First world problem indeed.

So here I am ready for a new journey, a new challenge. Ready to embrace the unknown, work hard, learn new things, give back, embrace chaos, live each day to the fullest. A new adventure.

And until I am leaving, had to move my date from the 31st of Jan to 11th because of visa issues, I am ready to learn a different kind of skills 🙂 My mum will teach me how to cook. Today she and my dad made bread. He prepared the dough, because he has stronger and bigger hands, and she added cheese and olives to the mix, and “popped” them in the oven. The result is below 🙂 Later today we will be making “sărăţele” and “cornuleţe”. I will get my hands “dirty” and feel worthy to eat the result at the end…

Cheers to new beginnings!

#Homemade #bread

Homemade bread with olives and cheese





Dreaming of Lisbon

15 06 2014

I felt in love with Lisbon on May 11th. The atmosphere, the architecture, the narrow streets and large squares, the historical trams, the food, the people… Lisbon is a mix of breathing history, breathtaking views points, long walks, ice cream and “death by pasteis de nata”! Mmmm… I should start my every Sunday with a visit to Pastelaria Garcia!

We went for a long weekend, without any plans. We just wanted pasteis de nata from Belem and to walk around the city, enjoying the weather, the colors and being carefree.

From live music to graffiti, rides with Trams 15 and 28, the São Jorge Castle, small souvenirs shops, Café A Brasileira (disappointing service), the Pharmacia Restaurante (a must!) and the Santini’s Gelato (I never had to queue so long for ice-cream:) ), everything was perfection. I kept thinking how lovely it would be to actually live there.

As a child, I wanted to go and live 6 months in all the big cities in Romania. I think everything feels different when you are “become a local”. I imagined how I would go, rent a house and go exploring the neighborhoods one by one, at my own pace, walking… I am very fond of walking 😀

As an adult, I am often thinking how it would be like to just go, take a leap of faith, say … OK, I’m moving to Lisbon, Stockholm, Ko Samui, etc… If my 20s are all about traveling, maybe my 30s should be all about temporary “settling” in different parts of the world and explore the culture as a local.

I am only sorry I didn’t take better pictures, as mine don’t do justice to beautiful Lisbon 🙂

My postcards collection

My postcards collection

Can I have one? Lady, you have to learn how to swim properly first!

Can I have one? Lady, you have to learn how to swim properly first!

“death by pasteis de nata” at Belem

“death by pasteis de nata” at Belem

Lisbon art

Lisbon art

View from the top

View from the top

Care to dance?

Care to dance?

This is how a balcony should look like!

This is how every balcony should look like!

Shortest tram ride ever :)

Shortest tram ride ever 🙂

If you would like to hug a tree, this is the place :)

If you would like to hug a tree, this is the place 🙂

This is not goodbye!

This is not goodbye!





“I’m Going on an Adventure!”

9 06 2014

Again 🙂

This year has been all about traveling. 10 brand new countries to add to my growing list as I’ve been inspired by a friend to have a traveling objective before turning 30… yup, 30 countries before turning 30 in October… and it’s totally happening! And I am not counting Romania, as I was born there and lived in Iasi for a huge chunk of my life 🙂 But you… you must GO and visit Romania, it is absolutely beautiful and you will fall in love forever!

So about this big trip I am talking about… It will be epic: Brussels -> London -> Dubai -> Brunei -> Kuala Lumpur -> Melbourne -> Tasmania -> Sydney -> Great Reef Barrier -> New Zealand -> Melbourne -> Brunei -> London -> Brussels/Amsterdam (I haven’t decided yet).

The tickets are bought except for London -> Brussels/Amsterdam and it’s happening a couple of months from now, before I am moving back home in Romania for a short while, with the noble purpose of writing my master thesis, finishing my secret project and taking my driver’s license!!! Lots to accomplish by the end of January 2015 :), and EVERYTHING just makes me so happy.

My sister told me something on the phone the other day, after I told her about my epic adventure. She is worried because it feels like I am racing to do everything and see everything before I run out of time somehow. What she said made me think; realize most of my life I just felt sort of immortal. Yes, I know I am not. I don’t want to live forever, I also don’t hope to die young. But for sure, I do want to see everything!!! And I am a careful traveler and my partner in “crime” is smart and as careful and just great!

I started traveling around Romania in 2005 and in the summer of 2006 I left the country for my first trip outside. I felt in love with Vienna and Paris and Monaco and Cannes. Hated the smell in Venice and was too tired to like Amsterdam. I don’t remember anything about The Hague or Brussels. It was one of those super lousy bus trips. We were traveling by night and visiting cities by day… And then I entered Louvre for the first time… ❤

I swore off organized bus trips in those 3 weeks but my passion for traveling grew to be one of the few exclusive things that make me incredibly happy. I read travel blogs and write down lists with things I want to experience, places I want to see and food I just have to eat. And then I go! I am not talking about fancy traveling. I am talking about taking my backpack and exploring. And yes, sometimes taking the bus 🙂 I did it in India, in Brazil and in Thailand and in lots of other places… of course, not for 3 weeks in a row… We fly low-cost and use youth hostels and backpackers heavens… We eat delicious street food while we walk around with starry eyes.

I grew a lot as a traveler since spending 6 months in Ghana in 2009 without even having my own photo camera. I believe traveling changed me for the better and I cherish my photographs more than any other of my possessions. I don’t always have time to blog about my adventures and some moments are so precious that I don’t want to share them with anyone else… But if I were to give one piece of advice to a large group of people… I would say: Travel and see the world! And do it with respect for the people and the country you are visiting.

I hope you all found the things in your life that make you incredibly happy and I hope you enjoy these things as much as possible!

Me happy 😛

Ghana 2009, picture taken by Emma with Klepo's camera :)

Ghana 2009, picture taken by Emma with Klepo’s camera. Can’t believe it’s been almost 5 years!





Holiday, Paris and Family

18 03 2014

Beginning of the month, for the first time since I left home in 2008, my family came to visit me. We spent 4 days in Paris and 3 in Brussels and it’s an experience that will probably not happen again anytime soon. The trip, of course, brought back memories…

While they were here, I realized that my family and I were never on a holiday together… unless we consider one weekend somewhere in the Romanian mountains, when I was a child.  I remember it was beautiful and I wanted to sleep in a canopy bed, but my parents didn’t like the host and we ended up traveling 3 more hours, visiting friends. We laughed a lot and it felt good.

I also  remembered being a kid, my dad promising we will go to the seaside in the summer and me packing my bags 5 months in advance. That trip never happened. Romanians, I believe, are all about priorities and vacations were never one where I come from. And that is ok. I guess this is one of the reasons I constantly plan my next big trip, the next city break, the next adventure. Always a restless soul, checking the world map, HolidaysPirates and airbnb.

I don’t know how I feel about being in Brussels for almost 3 years now. It’s maybe time to move on but it’s hard to let go. I think “contentment” can be considered a “worst” enemy! I never want to say, with a bland smile on my face, “I am content”. I want to burst into laughter, smile and show all my teeth and say “I am deliriously happy”… with my home, my city, my career, and the list may go on. I sometimes feel I am in my “I am content” stage of life…. And I am not happy.

But back to Paris, holiday and family. It was lovely and I have a few photos to prove it. It was my family’s first time and Paris, and when my sister was not complaining about one thing or another, we all enjoyed it. Mario was amazing… I don’t think many 9 years old feel “Musée du Louvre”, “Château de Versailles” and “La tour Eiffel” are way cooler than Disneyland… and this makes me a very proud aunt! 😀  “La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre” was my favorite sight, the area is just beautiful. Too bad it was surrounded by booze, cigarette butts and trash… I wish people would show more respect… you don’t have to be religious to do it.

Musée du Louvre

Musée du Louvre

Mairie du Ier arrondissement de Paris

Mairie du Ier arrondissement de Paris

Cloudy with a chance of…

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

L’Arc de triomphe de l’Étoile

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View from “La Tour Eiffel”

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La Tour Eiffel

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Close to Trocadéro

Lessons in negotiation in the Paris metro 🙂

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre

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Childhood





Tangier: About Maggie

4 06 2012

I love short getaways… just enough days to recharge my batteries and grin happily thinking about how good it feels to be young and without major obligations.

We went to Tangier to finish celebrating Dipika’s B-day and while we had a great lazy time walking around the city, the markets and the Mediterranean Sea, the best part was meeting Maggie. For me it felt like she was the beating heart of the city, with her big smile and even bigger life experience. The fact that she owns Bilbo the Cat is a bonus. I am crazy about cats and the snobbish tomcat made me smile more times that I could count… By the end of our staying he was treating Rachel with love and me with that sort of “You are my servant so I will be nice with you” attitude that I find so endearing in cats 🙂

Maggie 🙂

Maggie lives in Tangier for about 18 year now and although 3 days and 3 nights weren’t enough to capture her beautiful life story, she sure provided me enough food for thought. On her map she can mark India, Spain, Lebanon, Hong Kong, US, Canada and 10s of other countries and I found myself for many moments envying her courage and life experience. I thought Barcelona would be the highlight of my spring but Maggie and Tangier were the cherry and the cake both.

Maggie has this bed and breakfast… The house is breathtaking when you look at the details and the breakfast is one fit for the kings. Simple, tasty, fresh, homemade with Moroccan and continental flavors so well combined that I could eat and eat and eat away… A group of foodies like us, we made sure to appreciate every taste and every bite.

Going back to the house, it has a roof terrace and sitting on a “sezlong” and watching the sea is sure one of the highlights of our trip. Our room was simple and inviting. It smelled of history and if you can’t appreciate that, then maybe Maggie’s place is not for you. The tiles on the floor are different colors and she has books and magazines from different years… Those articles you never have time to catch up with… Maggie’s house is a great place for it. I loved the books, the cat., the floor, the bathtub and the shower head looking like a telephone from another day and age. And the list can go on…

We loved the house so much that none of us felt very active… We lazed around, spending very little money but with the maximum of enjoyment. Rach received a marriage proposal from a very nice older man but she realized that being the “second wife” is not one of her dreams. 😛 I borrowed a funny looking white hat from Maggie and with my pink glasses I was soon mistaken for Lady Gaga… I am still not sure if it was meant as a compliment. 😀 I also seem to look British or Australian… or maybe I am just white 😛 Be prepared with sunscreen if you visit. The back of my neck still feels a bit tender after half a day without sunscreen.

While other people enjoy the music of the cities with busy streets, I sure appreciated the calmness of Tangier and the feeling of safety I had walking around. The food is amazing and Maggie knows all the best places. Of course, everybody knows Maggie and it made us smile when people were sending her their greetings. I guess it sometimes feels good to live in a small community. Of course, being different makes you easier to be recognized… But I guess Maggie’s charm is what makes her beloved and appreciated and not the fact that she is a Scottish lady in the country of spices, leather and mint tea.

Bilbo

Maggie’s appearance and style made me think about my grandmothers. While she has the looks of my father’s mother, more prominent was the fierceness reminding me of my mother’s mother. But just a little touch, enough to make me think of what I lost and what I’ve left at home… But while in India more that often I was thinking of home, Brussels agrees with me and we have a lovely relationship 😛

What I loved most about Maggie was her matter of fact attitude and the courage of living that so many of us sometimes lack. She is close to 68 and I don’t image that 40-50 years ago it was very easy to travel the world and make a living as an independent woman. I am constantly asking myself if I made the right decision, doubting some choices and mourning some loses. In Tangier I realized once again that it’s a stupid thing to do and I haven’t lost much in the process of growing up and discovering what I want. I also realized that while I love Brussels, I miss being challenged on a daily basis, I miss being the different one in a sea of smiling people. I am not one to settle as yet and I although admire and appreciate all my friends life choices I am not them and I will never be… I want to thank Maggie for that. Unknowingly she reminded me why I love life and travelling so much.

I guess this is becoming a bit long and as focused as it is on Maggie and Tangier, it is also a bit too self-reflective.

One last thing! Go to Tangier, stay at Maggie’s, and fall in love with her, her house and her cat. Eat sea food by the port, take a long walk through the city, encourage the local economy with a bit of very qualitative shopping and enjoy life… Don’t live it postponing the things that are important to you. The new furniture you wish to buy for your new house will be there also in 6 months. It is not worth it and it never will be. Invest in travelling… It’s the smartest thing a person can do, even if it is for 3 days somewhere close to home…

Loving life from Brussels,
Yours truly 😀





The future looks bright, the future looks… Asian :P

26 11 2010

I am leaving India on 23 of December.  I will stay home for a while, doctor’s orders… What to do… my immune system decided to go on strike 😛 So I guess all I need is Romanian weather, Romanian food, family, friends and familiar things… No dengue, malaria, kidney pain, stomach pain, headaches and other plagues…

And after that…

I will be back next year, I don’t know for how long. All I know is that after I will finish my internship next year I will go on an Asia trip!!! I want to do this very badly. I want to take 2 months off my life, next year and wonder around Asia… while deciding what I want to do with my future…

I thought I had all figured out… and than I realized I didn’t. October was pretty hardcore and things changed… I changed… I need time and discipline… It feels I have none right now but maybe next year I will be a better version of myself… hopefully all grown up 😛 and with the immune system in place 😀

I know that planning a trip in Asia in the context I find myself right now isn’t exactly a grown up thing but I believe  sometimes you need to stop, do something you really want, heal all wounds and than start again… With a fresh perspective!

So step I – finish packing, go home, get in perfect health condition

Step II:

Come back to India spring next year, finish my business here, stop in Mumbai and  Kerala for a few days… fly to Bali and start the journey of a life time:

It would look something like this:

Delhi – Mumbai – Kerala – Bangalore – Bali – Singapore – Kuala Lampur – Bangkok – Phnom  Penh – Vientiane – Hanoi – Hong Kong – Taipei  and hopefully Tokyo. Of course I don’t plan to visit just capitals but the plan is ruff so far and it will gain weight once I take some time and put it all on the paper.

After discussing a bit with Diana and Dasha who did this trip more or less the same itinerary, the budget should be around 2000 euros… of course nothing fancy 😀

So, who wants to join? 😀

And I guess I’d better start saving money :P… and if this works out as planned maybe 2014 will see me in an African trip… because that is and will always be my first love!

Me packing, planning, missing, dreaming…

My trip 😀





Why are all these things happening to me?

22 10 2010

I guess life wouldn’t be as fun without them!!!

I will get there this weekend... 😀

Have I ever mention that my blog is some sort of therapy? Well here it is.

So I came back from office after a Good Friday. Later in the evening I got a what seems to be a very good news. I will develop later if it is happening or not 🙂 But anyway, it made my night so keep your fingers crossed 😀

While I was doing some more research about  Pushkar and Ajmer, I updated my FB status because of course I got excited!!! And I am also a FB addict!

I have less than 6 months in India and I am trying to travel and see places.  Exactly 5 minutes later I stated feeling really feverish and cold. It’s a nice 38.4. I am not a doctor but on internet it says it’s not so bad… so I have 5 hours and a half to get better. I know I am crazy but I am not postponing this trip. I lost last weekend to the fever. It was my discover Delhi weekend 😦 I am not giving this up! No no no!

Me… having a nice hold Coldrex while contemplating my existence! With all the warm clothes I brought with me from home on! Sniff Sniff 😦

 








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