Sunday, October 30th. The western world is going crazy looking for scary costumes, reserving tickets in clubs for theme parties and to be honest looking mostly quite ridiculous. Tomorrow is Halloween. Or actually, “All Hallows Day”, or like we call it in Europe, “All Saints´Day” (in Hungary and Germany – as well as some other Countries in Europe – this is celebrated on November 1st).
But what does that really represent? Most people link the festivity to trick or treating, costume parties, skulls and pumpkins. In reality Halloween represents the beginning of a three day observance of the death. It is a time on which people in most of the Catholic countries take time to remember the lost ones. Even though I believe our lost, loved ones should be (and are) constantly in our hearts, this period of the year is a good one to bring families together.
Unfortunately I think the real meaning of this celebration has been lost, and it turned more pagan then spiritual. Sure it is fun and I think it is a very nice evening / night for the kids. If I will have kids I might bring them all over the place as well, funnily dressed looking for sweets in the neighbourhood. But let´s go one step back and see what All Saint´s Day is.
All Saints, in Catholic communities, is celebrated on November 1st and commemorates all the Saints “living in heaven”. On November 2nd however, the commemoration extends to the death.
I have seen many celebrations, but my favourite cult (in the sense that I find it interesting, not that I would do it myself) of the death is the Mexican one. In 2014 I visited a Mexican cemetery in Merida, and I have to say I was impressed by the colours and the flair it had. Some of the graves are painted in the deaths´favourite colour, and the bones are visible for all to see. The family waits for the decomposition process of the body to be over,extracts and cleans the remaining bones from the grave, and places them in a box right next to it. I don´t know the spiritual meaning of this, but if you do know pls comment below or send me an Email through the contact form. I would love to have more insights on this practise.
Among others, here you can see the picture of a sculpture in which a woman checks the pulse of her dead husband (picture taken in Merida, Mexico). This symbolises hope. The corpse is left at home for about 24 hours for the family to mourn, after that the heart rate is checked again to make sure the person did really pass away. I am not sure this is a tradition all over Mexico, but I really found interesting when I saw it in Merida.
On All Saints day, the cemetery fills up with people and donations to the death are made, sometimes their favourite meals are cooked or favourite objects are brought over. I find this very interesting, even though I would like to gain more insights as per the meaning of this ritual. Family and friends gather together on the Dia de Muertos, remembering all the lost ones. Personally I find the meaning of such gatherings more powerful than those of Halloween, which, as I said, has been turned into more of a pagan than a religious celebration.
Anyway, I am personally not at against Halloween at all, I find it interesting to see what kind of costumes people come up with and I did attend enough parties of the sort in my life. I did go trick or treating as well, but having spent most of my childhood in Italy I have rather celebrated Carnival (usually in February). There I always had a costume, my favourite one was a Sailor Moon costume self made by my mother, too bad I don´t have a picture to show (or maybe it is better this way hehe).
If I had to put on a costume again, I would probably copy (oh wow copy cat) one from Adriana Lima (click on the link below to see the look!) – Love it !
What are you wearing this year? Share it with us and comment in the below fields, or send me an E-mail
To all the kids (and parents) out there, happy trick or treating tomorrow !
Lots of love
In my almost 30 years old (or young) life I have seen many stunning landscapes, unbelievable architectures, and I´ve met so many people..some happy and some less happy (surprisingly, the poorer the country the more smiles greeted me).
But to be honest, regardless of the many impressions I collected from all around the globe, I was still astonished when I touched down in Dubai: an island of hope in the middle of a deserted place.
The city itself is very modern; I think it probably offers the latest technology in the world.
The looks of it is quite futuristic, many skyscrapers, glass buildings.. like New York .. yes, New York minus the historic buildings.
There are endless options to dine and drink out, many clubs and even more beach clubs. And yes, the shopping possibilities are endless, for prices which I have to say are lower than here in Frankfurt. Dining out didn’t prove to be that expensive either, unless you want to have an alcoholic drink. Alcohol has ridiculous prices, I know all the wines I drank and I can assure you I would pay a quarter of the price here in Europe
but again, when it comes to wine I can understand, the bottles are sometimes hard to fine and rare, they have to be cooled to a certain temperature (which has to be held constant) and some wines are not always easy to find, plus they have to be imported, there are high taxes and let´s face it, it is a muslim country..so price (almost) explained right there.
I was fascinated by the Fountain show, which I had the pleasure to experience both from the top of the Burj Khalifa and from right in front of it. The first few impressions passed my mind really quickly, but at some point I got lost in the magic, and I started to enjoy what took place in front of me. I stopped thinking, it was like everything else stopped as well. I forgot about all the people around me (and believe me, for someone like me who doesn’t enjoy masses, they were just a little too many people there)..I got lost in the water ´s movement to the rhythm, ironically I can´t remember which song was on, but I think it was something by Enrique Iglesias (though to be honest I am not a big fan of his!). So anyway my point is, if you are in Dubai do go to the fountain.
I also loved the Aqua World at Atlantis, the Palm. It was lots of fun, but the slides did hit my stomach at some point and I started to nauseate. Just as a note: I don’t do any weird amusement park games to start with, so I am happy I made this one through.
Ok fine, I didn’t try all the slides. There is one, the Poseidon – or, the free fall, like I like to call it – which I wouldn´t try for all the money in the world. My husband (yes, I have been married for a couple of weeks now – yay) did that one twice! This was partially my fault, as I was supposed to film his fall, but I accidentally pressed something wrong on the phone and it turned off.
The point of the slide is to walk up to one of the highest points of the park (I did the walking up part; it was really worth the view, so do it even if you know you won´t slide!) and then the people responsible for this lock you up in a capsule. After a brief countdown the ground disappears from below you and you just fall, and fall and fall until you land in a pool. Idiotic, I know. I don’t need that kind of adrenaline.
Another thing I loveeed about the city was the “old” town. No skyscrapers there, just workers and probably economically not so advantaged people. But I didn’t care; they were all nice to us.
The Gold market was very interesting, and so was the Spices market. Just as a side note – handle handle handle! We got ripped off like never before. Usually we are relatively experienced travelers who can handle down prices at local markets. This time we were probably exhausted due to the weather, the many things we have done and the hype the air conditioning gave us. We did go to the market and we did buy a few spices (which I better use soon) – we even bought some nuts and some dates (really not that many) for the astronomical “never again” price of 100€. Yup. So take care people !
We saw so much and the above are just a few of the highlights! Anyhow .. regardless of all the glam and the surreal life, I still wouldn´t live in Dubai. I know lots of people do it for the money, you earn more, spend less and can later on build a whole new life free of debts pretty much anywhere you want.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong in loving the city or wanting to live there, but it is just not me. I could probably bear a maximum of 2 or 3 years working in Dubai, not more.
I need seasons; I need sun, rain, wind and snow. I need a cold Christmas and a warm summer. I want to feel happy to go somewhere warm when in my country we have negative temperatures.
I have the need to sit in my garden, or enjoy a pool without sweating. Walking instead of driving, picking flowers, and fruits from fields. I need fresh air, and green. I need nature around me, mountains, lakes, life. I don’t want to feel that the only thing which really counts is money and I don’t have the need to drive a Lamborghini through the desert (though I probably wouldn’t mind owning one, but then again, somewhere with no speed limit J )
I can´t imagine running from one AC to the next, and even though I loved the glam, I need to be able to go down buy groceries in my pajamas (note: hair, mani and pedi done, but those jogging pants …. Gotta love them! )
One more thing I missed is history. I love history, I always did. If there´s no nature then I need history. I love old buildings, whether in Colonial or Victorian style, Baroque or Gothic.. I love them all. And I love walking in tiny medieval streets, between bricks and stones. I love local bakeries, walking to get my fresh bread on Sundays and I love cultural preservation.
Moral of the story: Dubai is definitely worth a visit (or two, or three), but it is not the place I would move to if I had a choice. I know for some this might sound harsh, but I guess this is a matter of opinion and taste.
What about you? Did you ever go? If you have any suggestions for my next visit, or any comment you think could change my opinion just share it!
Lots of love xx
Italy´s Neverland: the Cinque Terre
My first traveling tip is about my motherland, Italy. To be precise I was born in Carrara, Tuscany, but the Cinque Terre is not far away from there.
I have spent so many summers gazing at the colorful and happy houses, that I think it is such a shame not to share this experience. Anyone who is planning a trip to Europe should try to visit this magical place.
But what are the Cinque Terre exactly? Well, they are a 12 km long village compound on the North West (sorry Kim ..) coast of Italy. The compound is formed of five villages (from south to north), namely Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.
Together with Porto Venere (a village adjacent to Riomaggiore), the Cinque Terre – with their beautiful landscape and steep vineyards, are an Unesco World Heritage site.
It is very important to know that they are not accessible by car, so in case you hit the road and travel around Italy (like I enjoy doing sometimes) I recommend staying in Porto Venere, which is a beautiful site, and is accessible as well. At Porto Venere´s port you can take ferries to different destinations, including a round trip to all of the five villages, Genoa and Portofino (these two cities are worth a visit but only if you have the time for it).
You should definitely take one of the hiking routes as well as go for a wine tasting, eat original focaccias, pasta with homemade green pesto, and swim in the crystal clear waters (some parts are very rocky due to the nature of the landscape, make sure you have some good sandals with you!)
For your stay, I can heartedly recommend the Grand Hotel Porto Venere. A historic building with 54 rooms welcomes you at the gates of the old town. The location is perfect, the small but modern rooms are comfortable, and the breakfast is rich, with a big assortment of both Italian and American fresh goodies.
I personally loved having breakfast on their big terrace, with a view over the port and the old town. The terrace is chic and romantic, even though you do get one or the other surprise visit from sweet birds looking for something to eat. Don’t give them anything by the way; if you do the y won´t go away, I am talking from experience. I had one who visited me during breakfast for five days straight, I called him Jimmy J In the hotel the staff speaks fluent English and German on top of Italian of course.
I used their gym, too. A nice option in case of rainy days, but if you would like to go for a run I would recommend to do it on Portovenere´s “Lungomare”.
Going forward to where to eat… well let me start by saying “take care” ! In this region the Aperitivo is amazing! By going out for a beer or an Aperol Spritz, you don’t only get the drink, but also a complimentary snack, or rather a huge plate with mini pizzas, capers, focaccia, olives, chips and many other local specialties. So if you are planning to go out for dinner take your aperitivo way before that! (trust me, you don’t want to miss out on dinner and you don’t want to miss on the aperitivo either).
What I suggest you do is have a good breakfast, have an aperitivo sometime in the afternoon, then take a little walk, go to your hotel to shower and then go to dinner. You can have one or the other snacks in between of course because well, what is a vacation in Italy without your Gelato?
So let´s move to dinner, and personally I think you should dine in Porto Venere, place where you should also stay at.
Don’t be fooled by the good looking restaurants on the promenade, they might be ok, but the real deal is somewhere else. Believe me, if you want a taste of authenticity go to “Portivene Un Mare di Sapori”.
This is a tiny, cozy, family run restaurant on a side street, which serves pure freshness. I would recommend you order some typical dishes, and fish. During our last stay we went twice in a row.
In case you want to try it out don’t forget two things: one is to reserve a table and two is to eat sea food! You will be delighted!
Have you been to the Cinque Terre already? Email me your experience, would be great for next time I go!
Ps: here are the links to the hotel and to the restaurant, and remember September is still a good time for hiking in the Cinque Terre!