recovery mode

Spending time in Italy was all about pure color, the randomness of nature, the resourcefulness of its people, the beauty of choosing aesthetics over expense, a proud and vibrant  community, delicious pizza, focaccia, farinata, pasta, pesto, olives, olive oil, and wine… coffee in so many ways, and yet always originating at the espresso machine… dueling accordion players, young women singing their hearts out, and a fantastic gypsy 4 piece, playing music that reminded me of Chocolat. The city center was a warren of fierce yet inviting, mysterious yet beautiful narrow alleyways, leading to the next treasure, or a bit of a scare… both prospects equally exciting. The late night thunder storms were enough to wake me from a deep sleep, yet I savoured every moment, as we rarely ever experience such things here in Holland.

All that being said, I found myself a feeling bit “rootless” while there. I struggled with my vegetarian diet, which ended with me eating primarily bread, and as a result, feeling very tired. I found it difficult to turn down the tasty wine, which was often served in sexy stemware. I rarely slept through the night, due to the heat and an evil, evasive gang of mosquitoes who attacked without fail. What I discovered is that I suffer greatly without some sort of routine, and  as a result, felt off balance.

And so, when I finally left the city, I started to relax in another way. I knew I was returning to structure and to my space. I knew I’d wake up in the morning to the sun shining through my huge bedroom window (although it rained horribly) I knew it would be flat, colder, and more boring, but still, it is my home, and I feel good about that.

I spent a lot of time cleaning and doing those things that one does after nearly two weeks abroad. I shopped my heart out at the health food store. I jumped into some new recipes and back into my old routines of yoga, meditating, running, cozying up to my cat, and relaxing in the steam sauna.

Yesterday was an Ethiopian dinner at my favorite place in Leiden, Djebena, with a friend from Brussels. Today was a fabulous facial by my friend, who owns Zen of Skin here in the Netherlands. I am officially hooked on facials, and have decided that she is now my natural product and skin care guru.

In a bit, I’ll start mentally preparing myself for my return to working life. I’m looking forward to it!

Friday in Genova

Weetabix and soy milk (healthy), cafe shakerato (no sugar, sort of healthy), espresso crema (with sugar, less healthy), roasted vegetable and pesto sandwich (healthy), cafe shakerato (with sugar, not very healthy), focaccia con pomodori (so damn good and so not healthy), water, farinata (not so sure about this stuff), banana (healthy), 5 mile run from Corso Guglielmo Marconi up to the top of Boccadasse (very healthy), pizza bufala (delicious, confused on health-o-meter), vini rossi (Montepulciano) (I know 1 glass is good for you. What about 6?), Ciappe de Liguria with pesto and ricotta (probably not necessary, but not horribly sinful) … hrmm.. I wonder if my up hill run cancels out today’s tasty goodness :P

Italian vocabulary expansion and other things

Word/taste of the day: caffè shakerati – Today, Di and I went for a delicious  vegetarian lunch at Lorenzo’s place Cibi E Libri. There were small portions of tofu with garam masala, couscous pomodori, roasted cabbage, and barley with courgette and lemon, an iced green tea with ginger, and a surprisingly fantastic vegan chocolate cinnamon muffin. He closed shop for the day at 14:30 (!!!) and invited me and Di for a caffè. He ordered us this stunning, cold, heavily shaken coffee, which comes served in a martini glass. A small shot of water is on the side to cleanse your palette beforehand. Lorenzo is a fabulous conversationalist. His English is very good and even a bit charming with his heavy accent. We spoke of his home in Milano, a love for Genoa, business aspirations, dreams of travel, Italian culture, and Genoa’s reputation for making fabulous old school cocktails… he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to his city. He also invited Di and I to visit a small village called Sori, where he is catering a wedding. It looks so beautiful… I wonder if we’ll go!

Useful phrase of the day: Come si dice ___ in Italiano? – On our wanderings through the endless warren of narrow alleyways, Di and I stumbled upon a small culinary shop… delightfully called an “olioteca”. We chatted with the owners about taking photos in the store, which delighted them. They suggested setting up a small spread of their products with breads and dipping oils for us to photograph and taste. Di suggested that we’d give them our best photos for their website, which is in development, which made them extremely happy. It feels great to meet such nice people and walk away from those experiences smiling :)

Fun word to hear Italians say today: allora – Lorenzo says this a lot. It reminds me of the word, “Alors” in French. I believe it’s used in the same way, as a pause before a sentence. It’s just so pretty…

Words I’m trying to use daily: buongiorno, ciao, grazie, si, per favore, prego, due… cappucinos, vini rossi, caffè, and andiamo

Best idea ever: aperitivo – It is so nice to be sat sipping a glass of wine in the early evening and be served a small spread of tapas, without even asking for it!

I wish I had more time here as it seems that meeting people and being invited into their worlds could end up being the most enriching experience that I will have here in this amazing the city of light.

I ♥ Italia!!!