Late afternoon sunshine peeks around dark, secretive corners and into the crooked, winding alleyways of the old town, illuminating hidden boutiques, parked bicycles and humble coffee nooks. Colourful, plump cushions are poised on uneven chairs and piles of flannelette rugs are nestled in wicker baskets beside tables, alluring customers to cocoon themselves in softness and cover their cold ankles while they sip coffee from bowls and warm their insides as the crisp air of twilight beckons.
Stockholm. The city that stole my heart away in a matter of days.
There were fairytale forests with horse drawn carriages, blonde haired people everywhere, heavenly stationery shops filled with white boxes stacked as high as the lofty ceilings and fabric covered folders in every colour of the rainbow (think Kikki.K on every street corner) delicious fresh produce and indoor/outdoor market stalls, incredible architecture everywhere you turn, charming buskers, everyone smiling and greeting you with “Hej!” (which sounds like “Hey” in English) Oh, and did I mention (to the grief of my credit card) this city is an unbelievable fashion mecca? All clean, uncluttered and surrounded by water and nature. Magic. Minimalist, one might say.
So minimalist, in fact, that the room I booked had no bed or shower.
But I regress… there is plenty more to that story. x.
I’m back to my free-spirited, happy self and have had a blissful past few days…about time! I’ve met some lovely new friends, enjoying twilight picnics with wine and live music, a spontaneous afternoon trip to nearby town Séte, hiring a bike and riding to Palavas beach (still can’t sit down without a pillow) for gelati, bright sunshine and frolicking in the waves with great company.
Unfortunately it seems i’ve got to meet, get to know, and then say goodbye to most of these great people every two weeks or so, as the majority of students are here for only a very short stay. But the process is fun, ever-changing and keeps me on my toes!
I have also (finally) got myself right back into a solid (but creative) work rhythm, with new projects piling up, my tiny room overflowing with art materials/mind maps/speech notes and most importantly, the serious need, for the first time in five weeks, the inevitable ‘to do list’ (I knew I could only last so long). The weather is so beautiful and there is so much to explore here, but some self-discipline, routine and getting back on top of my inbox feels really good too.
The past week did involve one crazy cultural experience: my first run-in with French administration. I wrote quite a comprehensive post about that after the encounter (it was quite an ordeal) and i’ll post this very soon.
I’m also just a little bit excited to have just two more days at school before i’m off to London town, and after that, some days on the French riviera with my beautiful sister and new brother-in-law who will be in town!
I’ve got SO. MUCH. TRAVEL planned for the coming months. The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany… I know i’ve been in Europe for a while now, but I admit it’s still a total novelty to think that I can just hop on a plane and touch down in London an hour later. Or Stockholm. Or Madrid. Or Portugal. Or Geneva. There is so much choice, everything is so close! Recommendations, dear readers?
So all in all, lots happening, happy times had and more to be had.
Amid the turbulence of last week, a beautiful family friend sent me the most lovely pick-me-up email, reminding me of why the very reason i’m on this journey, offering reassurance that the foreign language through osmosis method will eventually work and that one day, not too far away, I will experience a magnificent ‘light globe’ moment when everything will suddenly illuminate and piece together. She then said,“So do something good for yourself today. Get some hugs. Go to that lovely cake shop, order two, and sit in the sun and eat half of each. Feed the rest to the birds. Buy a whole bunch of flowers for yourself today, not just one. And on the way home, buy yourself some proper shoes!”
So that is what I did. I bought some shiny sunshine yellow shoes, a bunch of bright sunflowers and a coffee brulee Verrine from the best patisserie in Montpellier.
Except I decided that instead of buying two for myself and wasting such deliciousness on ungrateful pigeons, I would buy two boxes of macarons for two very special friends back home, and pass the magic of the moment forward.
I popped them in the post just this afternoon… check your mailbox soon, they could be en route to you!
Such a gorgeous place. Best part? The Saturday flower markets near Hôtel de Ville. And €1 punnets of fresh raspberries (I ate 4 punnets in 2 days). A-mazing.
The photos below aren’t spectacular, as I couldn’t use my proper camera (two hands required, only had one functional arm) so the Canon IXUS point-and-shoot it was… but I think you’ll get the gist.
Don’t have time to write more right now… Too busy planning the next travel destination: Edinburgh with my gorgeous darling friend B x