my one true love

Recently, I went back to visit my one true love, the place where I started this blog and from which I had been away for far far far too long. The ‘homecoming’ (even though it’s not technically a home, since I was neither born nor grew up there, it still feels like one) was full of emotion, fun, sometimes nostalgia and a bit of sadness too, but primarily joy joy joy. Here are some highlights.

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8484/8231688397_6499994af4_z.jpg

a fabric tree on the South Bank

a rainbow over The City

a rainbow over The City

an improvised Prime Meridian

an improvised Prime Meridian

a cafe in refurbished boat storage facilities along The Canal

a cafe in refurbished boat storage facilities along The Canal

a treat at The Breakfast Club

a treat at The Breakfast Club

knitted bunting I had to capture to show to my Stitch and Bitch group (which recently knitted an enormous amount of bunting)

knitted bunting I had to capture to show to my Stitch and Bitch group (which recently knitted an enormous amount of bunting)

a Trafalgar vista

a Trafalgar vista

Shakespeare's London out of paper at the British Museum

Shakespeare’s London out of paper at the British Museum

and blue blue blue skies all along

and blue blue blue skies all along

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

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Berlin

The month of May has been exceptionally busy travel-wise, and I have loved every minute of it. I felt really lucky to be able to zip around some wonderful places, whether it be for work or for pleasure. And it so happened that in one week I managed to zip through three B cities! Brussels, where I showed a visiting friend around for a few days, Belgrade, as you read in my previous post, and Berlin, the absolute undisputed highlight of that week, and actually, of the whole year, when it comes to travelling.

I fell madly in love with Berlin. I had been there once before, but it was winter and miserably cold, and I kept wondering why I had wished so bad to go there for such a long time… All of that was made crystal clear during this trip, though. Berlin in the spring – my, it just absolutely entrances you, there is no getting away from it!

All the space (loads of it! you cannot feel claustrophobic in that city), all the green (and the people taking advantage of it to the fullest), all the bikes (and so few cars – heaven!), all the rhythms of life slowed down and relaxed…

Oh, and all the craftiness as well! We went to one huge craft shop on three floors which was out of this world. I came away with some sweet gifts for dear friends. I had decided not to look for any yarn shops (even though my friends, knowing me, were shocked by this decision), but it turned out I couldn’t avoid them even if I wanted to. On my way to the airport bus on the way home, I bumped into this:

Luckily the shop bit was closed, as it was a public holiday, and only the cafe was open. So my no-yarn decision held fast! :)

Anyway, for the trip I was in the best possible company and we made the most possible use of our time there. So much so that at the end of each day my feet were hurting so bad I could literally not stand on them!

We saw all the major sights…

And some of the history really got to me, I have to admit. So much terrible, terrible stuff crammed into one city. As a big believer in books and all their uses and benefits, I found this square, where they used to hold book burnings, very sad. It inspired me to go and read Fahrenheit 451 (actually, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before!), and I really enjoyed it – highly recommended.

But it was also nice to see how the city is rebuilding itself, not wiping the historical stuff away but putting its own brand on it, remembering, but also transforming.

The architecture of Berlin is not particularly impressive. It has simply been run down too many times to have old buildings standing around everywhere. Most are only a few decades old and primarily functional. But there were a few survivors :)

The museums are plentiful – you could probably spend a lifetime in them. However the weather was too nice and we didn’t want to spend too much time inside. Though some, like the Bauhaus Archives, were quite impressive from the outside as well.

And of course, we didn’t miss the obligatory trip to the fleamarket either! I quite like this new travel fashion of going to fleamarkets that’s catching on!

On the whole, Berlin was one wonderful, refreshing, exciting and relaxing holiday. I can’t wait to go again. :)

What inspiring place have you been to lately?

Belgrade

Belgrade seems to be a city I only ever get to visit very briefly – the first time I went it was on the way to Istanbul by train, and we banked in a total of 3 hours in Belgrade while the train took a break. It was just enough to run through the main pedestrian street and take in a quick view from the fort on top of the hill. This time I had a bit more time (an afternoon before heading off for meetings), which amounted to pretty much the same route, but at a much more leisurely and enjoyable pace. Not to mention the wonderful company. :) The lovely Magrit, Belgradian knitter/blogger/architect/knitting teacher, was kind enough to give me a guided tour of the best of Belgrade, with special commentary on the architectural history and development of the city, which was a real treat! And of course, at the end of the day, we settled down for some much-welcome lemonade and icecream, and thoroughly discussed all our works in progress, knitterly gossip and plans for the future… Thanks Magrit for the great time! I wouldn’t mind having such lovely afternoons more often at all!

We were a bit too busy chatting away to take too many photos, but I still managed to snap two that have a special place in my heart.

This above is the EXACT spot where the river Sava, which flows through my hometown, ends. It flows into the Danube, becoming  a part of something bigger and travels with it all the way to the Black Sea. Sava is the bit coming from the left-hand side, the Danube is the crescent shaped flow on the right. Call me silly, but I find it all somehow extremely poetic.

And this – well this was just lovely. :) See Western Europe, we’ve heard of yarnbombing in “The East” too… ;)

Have a happy week everyone! :)

two sundays ago

Two Sundays ago, I enjoyed a most gloriously sunny and relaxing day in Edinburgh. Today I had a similarly sunny and relaxing day in Brussels, so maybe that’s why I’m finally ready to face the fact that I’m no longer in Edinburgh (I tell you, I fell head over heels for that city!) and write about it here ;) I’m afraid I didn’t take too many photos, I preferred taking in the sights and breathing in the crisp air – but here is a small selection.

On advice of a very good friend, I wandered around the city in the direction of Water of Leith. It was quite nice wandering, as it took me past places that looked like this.

I was quite proud of myself for managing to find this fairly easily!

But nothing, not even the previous three days in beautiful, beautiful Edinburgh, could prepare me for the magic that awaited me down there. The sound of gurgling water. The feel of unspoilt nature, as if I had walked into a magic forest. The calm of it all. The companionship of buildings and foliage – to such an extent that you feel as if the stone structures weren’t built by man, but simply arose from the ground, or at best were placed there by giants in ancient times. And all in the middle of a living city. Magic, just magic. I have no other words for it.

There were many other things I saw, and loved, in Edinburgh. The city took me completely by surprise. Even though I travel quite a lot, I still adore it and enjoy exploring every new place I go to. But this, the joy it brought me to discover this place – it was so fresh, so inspiring, so exhilarating – I felt as if it had been the first time ever I had left my tiny village and gone to see the big bright world.

I wish I could put it in better words, but I can’t. You’ll just have to trust me on this one: go there. And when you do, take a stroll along that walkway. It was the best piece of travel advice ever given to me.

knitty animals in the Belgian countryside

A few weeks before the holidays, my friends and I put into action a longstanding plan: we rented a cottage in the Belgian countryside for the weekend and left the chaos of Brussels behind us for a few days. It was only a weekend, but the amount of relaxation and calm we got out of it made it feel as if we had been there for much longer. It was just what we all needed. We spent most of our time sleeping, cooking together and eating great food (some of it bought directly from friendly local farmers).

After all the rest and food, we’d go off and explore our surroundings. Though it was chilly we took a few very long walks, and were rewarded with some wonderful sights.

But one thing that made me even happier was the fact that we ran into many sweet animals. I grew up in the countryside, but I have to say that animals seem to have taken on a completely new shape in my thinking since I’ve become a knitter. When I see a sheep, I no longer see just a farm animal, but associate with it all the joys that I derive from my knitterly pursuits.

Sheep wool is after all my topmost preferred material. And when I see this many sheep, well, I can’t help but think: stash! :)

And imagine my surprise and exhilaration when we came across these!

I’m not sure if they’re lamas or alpacas (the former seems more likely), but they were adorable and I just wanted to run up to them and hug them (though the electric fence was pretty efficient in preventing me from doing that). Especially this little black feller. Just look at him, all you can see is black. :D Cutesy pie.

In the end we ran into some chickens too. Not that I’ve heard of chicken yarn before, but you never know what they’ll come up with next… ;)

I’m curious, has the way you think about animals changed as a result of your knitting?

Zagreb shopping

The weekend is almost here! I hope you get plenty of opportunity to relax, have coffee with friends, go for a stroll, laugh, and buy yourself a little treat! If you were in Zagreb, here are some good places where you could do that… :)

Start off at the Hobby Art shop near the meridian… It’s a kind of warehouse-y space into which every imaginable craft has been crammed. Silk painting, ceramics, jewlery making, scrapbooking… You name it – you’ll find it here! They’re not really focused on the textile crafts (hm, don’t know what else to call them) such as sewing, knitting and crochet, but you can find some accessories for that too. Such as lovely ribbons to adorn your cardigans with, for example…

Most of the stuff is imported from Germany and sometimes you need to know what it is in order to, well, know what it is. :) While the shop assistants try to stay abreast of developments in various crafts, the shop gets extremely busy, and there are so many knick-knacks that they just can’t possibly understand it all perfectly. The other day, I bought some stuffing to put in toys, but when inquiring as to whether that was really what I thought it was and whether it would handle machine washing, all I got were apologies and shrugs… Well, it was still at a good price and I haven’t been able to find anything that had looked like it anywhere else, so I took my chances! On the other hand, I didn’t need anyone to tell me what this was:

Adorable, that’s that it was! :)

After you get your craft supplies, you might want to think about doing some grocery shopping too. If you’re of the strictly-organic type, bio&bio is a good choice. (Though you might be reminded at the entrance that not everyone can afford to make such choices…)

Their shops are relatively small, but well stocked with various things that may be difficult to get in ‘regular’ shops. It’s also a good place to try if you need some exotic spices or herbs…

If all that food-shopping makes you hungry, grab a snack at this house on wheels (? :D) selling home-made pies (the sign says “Grandma’s pies“).

After that, snack in hand, you can do some window-shopping for replicas of old Croatian jewlery (this is most likely from the Dubrovnik region).

While you may not feel ready to indulge in such a treat for yourself or for anyone else, do remember that a certain cheesy date is coming up… Cheesy or not, I’m sure no lady in your life (including yourself) would say no to a nice bunch of flowers. Luckily for you, there’s “a flower square” in Zagreb with about 6 little florists all crammed together. You can’t go wrong there!

And if you did pick up a gift for someone, you might need to send it off quickly. It won’t be a problem, as long as you remember – the colour of post in Croatia is yellow.

Finally, after all that hard work – you deserve a proper reward. Zagreb doesn’t have a cupcake shop (yet), but that doesn’t mean we don’t like our sweets. The drug of choice here is definitely icecream, and for that, there is no rival to Vincek. Conveniently located at the beginning of the main shopping street, this place is always overflowing with people, and fighting for a seat is quite normal. Not because of the location though. The icecream is magnificent, the scoops are huge (you can get mixed scoops if you like), and if you prefer to avoid the chill there’s cakes too. Vincek is a family business, which is perhaps why it sits in a little house crammed between two buildings full of shops… If you ask me, that just adds to the charm!

No photo of the icecream I had, though. Sorry, I got a little distracted by it… :)

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! :)

Zagreb – the things you could(n’t) miss

Usually, when browsing through a guide through a foreign city, people look for those special details, the ‘hidden gems’, the things that ‘the annoying tourists’ haven’t discovered yet. I’m no exception to that rule. I love to ‘discover’ stuff I believe no-one has ever noticed, though in all honesty I know I’m not the first one.

But have you ever thought about the stuff that’s impossible to miss?

Like the chimney of the heating plant, with its ugly, bad, polluting, visible-from-any-spot-in-the-town smoke?

Or the hills that peak just behind the city (they’re accessible by tram!), giving it healthy lungs that can fight back the smoke?

Or the cathedral (ever scaffolded), towering over everything…

It’s precisely because these views are so ubiquitous that they can always be new. This is the first time I realize there’s a clock on the back of the cathedral tower. And I’ve seen it millions of times, just not from this particular angle.

And yes, there are the hidden gems too. So here’s a few hints from a local.

Zagreb is a city where you have to remember to look up. At ground-level, it might just look like a building full of shops on a busy street, but if you look up, you could be surprised by some elaborate artwork (even if it is in decay).

It might be a bank you’re seeing on the corner there. But if you look up, you could notice a fairy-tale turret.

It might just be an ordinary house with an ordinary modern-style window… But wait, what’s that little thing underneath?

It’s a remnant of a time when not everything needed a purpose. Some things were there just for the sake of beauty. Of making this town of ours a bit more interesting…

Just keep your eyes open – you’ll find plenty more…