Twists, Turns And Paradises Found In Indonesia

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Many things went wrong on the last part of my trip, in Indonesia. Many things also went right and now when I think of Indonesia I see it as a very appropriate ending for my trip, and it somehow tied the journey together.

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A Little Treasure Called Laos

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Probably the most common question I got after my trip was ”well what was your favorite place?” And answering that is just as impossible as it sounds. Instead I replied that the place I would first go again to would be Laos. Because I felt I saw a tiny glimpse of something absolutely amazing and largely undiscovered by many.

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The New York Experience

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There are places you wish to go to someday and then there are places you know that you need to go to. New York for me was one of the latter. I feel like I don’t want to write too much about it to not to spoil the whole thing but on the other hand I could spend an entire day just talking about it. I could also list every single place I saw but that wouldn’t really help. Guide books are also going to tell you a bunch of other things: Times Square isn’t nice at all but you should still go there once, go to the Empire State Building in the morning and yes, MoMA is a very nice museum and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is something you should do. Now that I have that over with I can write about why I personally fell in love with the city as much as I did.

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Christmas Feels From Vienna

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So Vienna was beautiful, damn. I am suffering from a loss of Christmas vibes now here in Finland, no snow and so so grey and somehow the whole December has been far too busy for me to really let Christmas sink in. So that’s why I’m extremely glad I got to spend a few days in Vienna because was that place Christmassy! Yes. I was there only for four days so not long at all, definitely SO much left to see and do. Well it’s a good excuse to go back.

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The first thing you’ll notice are probably the buildings. They are so majestic and beautiful. It is extremely hard to find ugly houses. Everything is so decorated and pretty that it’s almost blinding. The whole city feels somehow very… European. In a high-class, historical way.

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And then the Christmas markets, one of the main reasons we went there. Some, like the one in front of the town hall seen below, are super crowded and that takes some of the glam away. But they are still pretty. And you can find so many smaller ones around the city. They sell basically quite the same things: gluhwein (like hot wine with christmas spices), waffles, chocolate things, lots of amazingly done ornaments, candles, just to name some.

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Ornaments made of wood

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And there are christmas lights, EVERYWHERE! Funny that even when it’s dark, it doesn’t feel dark because of the hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of lights hanging above the streets. One downside, having been in this glittery christmas wonderland makes Helsinki feel a bit lame.

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One night we visited an amusement park (that also had a christmas market) but we only went to this ferris wheel, one of the oldest ones in the world. It was built in 1897 and was the world’s tallest for most of the 20th century. I thought it was so cool but needless to say, if you’re afraid of heights like my mom, then it’s probably not for you, also knowing its age… 😉 But I loved it, the whole place really had that old time feeling and the aerial views were so cool.

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There was this weird fog all over, it created a very ghostly and supernatural feeling to the whole place.

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Being the history freak I am, I also wanted to go to this military museum (I know I’m such a geek) and it was so interesting! Could have spent the whole day there but there’s always a next time 🙂
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That too, was in a palace of course

Vienna is famous for its horse carriages that drive around the city. Being such a lover of animals, I of course had to go and greet and pet them when I saw them standing somewhere. They were so nice and calm and lovely and so soft!

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These were my favorites. I think the one on the left really liked me 🙂

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Vienna is also the city of cakes and cafes, the Sacher cake itself is from Vienna. You can find all sorts of cakes with very reasonable prices, I mean here in Finland you’d have to pay twice the price of a piece of cake than you do there. And they are big enough too! Too often in cafes the cakes are so small at least in Finland. As Justin Bieber would say, what do you mean? That small piece of cake doesn’t satisfy my needs. But in Vienna it does.

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Sacher cake on the left, my nougat one on the right

Original food culture in Austria is uhm, how should I say this, very meat-based  with its wieners and schnitzels and steaks. But luckily there are every possible ethnic food places you could imagine! For example, on Naschtmarkt, one market place, they have super duper good falafels and so many types of different hummus! It was heaven. And also all sorts of dried fruits and spices, really reminded me of Istanbul or Israel.

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Albertina Museum, maybe the most famous one in Vienna.

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I have no idea what’s going on in this statue but I thought it was so hilarious I just had to share this.
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Taking a peek at a horse preparing for a show of the Spanish Riding School, Spansiche Hofreitschule, famous for its white Lipizzan horses.

As I said, there are lots of pretty buildings but there are also equally lots of palaces. Loads of them. So much that at some point, you don’t really know what palace you’re looking at, it’s “just another palace.”

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Part of the Hofburgs Imperial Palace complex
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And its pretty park
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Mariahilfer Strasse, the biggest shopping street.

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They have these funny traffic lights all over the city. The feels though, when traffic lights have better love life than you…

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Vienna felt very classy, very traditional, like a piece of history that really wants to cling onto its roots. But if I’ve discovered something while traveling, it’s that very few places are entirely what they first seem like. They can prove to be the opposite or something better or worse or something like you imagined but not in the way you imagined. Some of my friends ask after I’ve come back from somewhere, “what did you like about the place?” And so often I cannot give a proper answer. Like this time, is it because I love history? Or because I appreciate and admire old architecture? Or because I just happen to love beautiful things?

I don’t know. That’s why i feel like I need to dig a little deeper, and like so so often after a trip, get the feel that I need to go back.

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Love,

Julia xxx

 

100 Memories Of Capri

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You know what? Never ever has choosing pictures to a post been this hard and I always pick my pictures with care. When every shot you take seems like the most beautiful postcard it’s not just wonderful but also emotionally very tiring to go through the hundreds of pictures and then try to pick the best ones out of already most gorgeous pictures. My heart bled for every pretty picture that didn’t make it here but at least it gives me the permission to keep throwbacking this trip for ages in. Sorry not sorry 😉

It’s said that Capri is “the most beautiful island in the world” and I honestly cannot say it’s wrong. Even though I’m this young I’ve been lucky to have travelled to so many incredibly beautiful places but this was one that absolutely took my breath away. I would like to come up with some other adjective than beautiful but that’s just what describes Capri best. The amount of beauty is so overwhelming and gives you the wonderful feeling like you’re being embraced by all that loveliness and glamor. Everywhere you look you feel like giving a long sigh. I do not wonder for a second why so many Hollywood stars, artists or just ordinary people want to come here for a vacation, to get married, celebrate something or just to experience its famous beauty.

I should mention here something about Italy and me. I don’t know how it started but my family has always got this thing for Italy, it’s been sort of our number one vacation destination during my childhood and I’ve loved it since the first trip there. I counted that this is probably my seventh time there: I’ve been to the northern lakes like Garda many times and then in Tuscany and twice in Rome which not surprisingly is probably my favorite city in Europe. So if I started writing about Italy and why it’s so dear to me this post would be the length of a novel so I’ll make a whole other post about that sometime.

Since Capri for me was such a special and impressive place, this time I decided to make a bit different travel story. Some places are just too beautiful for words, so why then say so much? Although I have already written more than I intended… I have carefully chosen 100 pictures (a few from Sorrento and Pompeii so that title isn’t 100% accurate) that for me captured a tiny piece of Capri’s captivating charm. It’s like a photo diary and I try to keep the stories short in the captions. This time I do believe that pictures tell more than I ever could and I hope that these little pieces of sunshine, laughter, salty sea, joy and excitement make you feel a breeze of that Mediterranean wind, taste the rich, chocolatey taste of Italian gelato and take you on that crazy taxi drive on the serpentine roads up towards heaven.

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There are two big villages, Capri and Anacapri and this is the view from Capri to Marina Grande, the big harbor, where we stayed.

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In Capri they use a lot of pattern ceramic tiles to decor for example benches and stairs.
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This is from Giardini di Augusto which is an old gorgeous garden with stunning views.

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The Gossip Club
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A sun dial which they used in the Roman time.

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We walked a lot since one of the things we wanted to do was to hike, so these following are from a gorgeous route that went by the coast and is said to be one of the prettiest coastline routes in the world.

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Lunch with a view.

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Capri village
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Via Marina Grande, a zigzag road from the harbor up to Capri village.

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The view from our hotel’s roof terrace where we had breakfast was so amazing.
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And in case you’re wondering, that mountain that you can see in some of the pictures, is Vesuvius and at its feet there’s Naples.

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Marina Grande

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We took a chair lift up to the highest point of Capri, Monte Solaro, and it was so much fun, except for my mom who’s afraid of heights and kept her eyes closed the entire time.

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No one can argue with this view.

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Torta Caprese, a famous Caprese cake with chocolate and pieces of almonds. SO GOOD. And they even make ice cream that’s flavored like that and it’s even better.
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Then we decided to walk down. That was the day when my sisters pedemeter showed 14 km which wouldn’t be bad if half of it wouldn’t be stairs. At least 750 up…

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… and 950 down. My walking the next day looked very interesting. My feet have never been that sore so it was the best and worst leg day ever.
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The route went just by the mountainside. Overall the height differences in Capri are unbelievable so there inevitably is lots of climbing and descending. Unless you use just these cute little mini buses which when passing each other go so close to each other that you can actually touch the other bus from the window. I tried.

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One of the attractions there is Villa San Michele which was owned by Axel Munthe who was this Swedish doctor, writer and physician and lived in Capri for many years. The Villa and the garden are stunning and located really on the edge so the views, again, are gorgeous.

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It would be quite nice to have a terrace like this.

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I walked past this square in Anacapri for probably five times and each time there was this same cat, almost in the same place.
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The view of Capri village and Vesuvius. It looks really like a postcard.
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Cats for sale.

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Then we took a ferry and made a day trip to the coast, Sorrento.
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… and took a local train to Pompeii, which is a place I’ve been dreaming of visiting since I first learned about it. And it really has got this extraordinary feeling in it. The ruins of the city are so well still visible that you can actually imagine the city and people walking on its streets.

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These are of course the most impressive and famous part of Pompeii, the plaster casts made of the “holes” that people who were buried inside the lava made. It’s so moving and also terrifying to really see the last positions and expressions of the people who knew they would die now. There quite in the middle were even two kids, apparently with their mom. And behind them this person who appears to be sitting and praying.

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And I made a friend! There were these ruin dogs that are just running free in the ruins.
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Back in the beautiful Sorrento.
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There was this cat and her kitten who were just chilling on this sort of roof and they were there in the morning when we arrived and in the evening when we left they had moved like two meters. The ultimate cat life.

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I could make a whole other post only about Italian ice cream since it might really be one of my favourite things on this planet. I don’t think it should be called ice cream because it’s not you know, hard, like our normal ice cream is. It’s like frozen mousse of some sort and if it says it’s strawberry flavor, it really tastes 100% strawberry and if it’s chocolate, then it’s like eating chocolate but in ice cream form. Oh I miss it already.

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Back in Capri for the last couple days.
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I though this idea of an outside gym was so fun.

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Then we, again, walked up to visit Villa Jovis, or the ruins of it, and along the way there were so many absolutely stunning gardens and houses and it was so nice and quiet.
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And a cute little family-run bar with the best orange juice.

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So this is a place were the Roman empire was run for the couple first centuries AD. It’s so high that the wind was crazy and the views even better.

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You could actually see were the rooms, chapels etc. had been and that was so cool.

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Rosemary, one of my favorite herbs.

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Love,

Julia xxx

Lovely, lovelier, London

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HEYYAAA!

It’s been a while, huh? This blog has been very much dead for a month now because I have been a lot busier than what you should be allowed to be on your summer holiday. But I don’t complain because I’ve had an amazing time in Israel for example, but that’s coming here as soon as I can get it done. But now, what would be a better way to start again than by writing about London? Yep, that’s right, there isn’t a better way.

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Tales from Beijing

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So, Beijing, China. I had been waiting for this trip for almost a year, ever since I got accepted to this project last May. To give you some information, this is my one of my high school’s international projects. We have a friend school in Beijing, so last August a group of students came to Helsinki and we hosted them, and now it was our turn to go and visit them. So, on April 17th, 12 students and two teachers left to Beijing for a week, and damn, if I could just put all my overwhelming experiences here. But there would be no point in trying to describe everything, that’s why you have travel guides, so I’ll tell my bits, my tales, the ones that made the trip what it was for me.

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My trip to Singapore and Bintan, Indonesia

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Feel like going to Singapore? Great, let’s go.

Imagine the weather quite hot and humid, sun shining down on you. You’re wearing your favorite summer clothes and maybe zipping some cold drink. Around you there are people, lots of them, lots of different cultures and ethnicities and languages. When you look up you may see some skyscrapers but if you look around you see also old buildings from the era Singapore was the trading center of the whole Asia. Green color is quite apparent, parks are everywhere and flowers bloom in streets and bridges. You’re most likely hearing the sound of water, whether it’s coming from the Singapore river or from fountains that can be found all around the city. Everything around you is very very clean, it’s hard to spot even one rubbish on the ground, and no wonder, you get a fine if you do throw one. You look around yourself and think that everything looks just so pretty, very tempting and something that eagerly waits to be discovered and unfolded. There you go, you’re in Singapore now.

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