“What do you want to have today?” – my “smoothie lady” asked me every day while already pulling my favorite fruits from the refrigerator.
“You choose! I trust you” – I’d tell her and be delighted every time.
“Let’s start with passionate fruit, your favorite”.
“Sit and smile”
Because of this woman, Jirawan Chaidoungkaew, and her magical smoothies, I will remember Chiang Mai. Visiting her fruit stand in front of her home became my favorite routine while staying in the city.
I stumble upon it accidentally, when leaving the Thai massage salon run by the former female prisoners just across the street. I needed refreshment and saw the sign “Sit and smile”, as well as the names of the fruits I’ve never heard of or even tasted before, like passionate fruit and dragon fruit.
Not that I was just buying refreshing and healthy smoothies for 30 Baht, but I was always greeted with a smile and no money can buy the feeling of being truly welcomed.
– Hi, I am Fred. I’m Canadian.
His shirt was green as our bed curtains in a night train to Chiang Mai.
– Hi, I am Ivana and I am from Croatia. Do you know where that is?
– Oh, I know. I’ve never been in Eastern Europe though – Fred said.
Stranger in the night
After two weeks in Bangkok, it was time to leave. The Road called me. And the Road knows. When the boat started moving, my heart started blossoming. I was waiting for some kind of excitement but all I could acknowledge was calmness. Bangkok wasn’t the place that could silence my longing for what never quiets – the wanderlust. Will Chiang Mai succeed in this game of taming, I asked myself.
“I love to travel – Fred started talking. – But I won’t be able to sleep. Trains, buses, planes.. I never sleep”.
His movements were slow. Gracious. I could see that his eyes have seen more than he remembers, whilst his skin was touched by the places I can still only dream of.
I love airports.
People usually hate airports because of long layovers. All the waiting and boredom and walking up and down can drive you crazy. I actually very much enjoyed my 4 hour flight layover at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. Vodka everywhere, interesting people and lots of different gates exits where you can sit and watch people leave.
Though I was in the ‘transit area’ for tourists without visa, and it felt as a ghetto, I loved the feeling of being “just” a number. In airports everything is safe and scheduled until you step your foot into a plane. Then it’s showtime.
„Let’s be honest. You are just a girl from a Balkan country. Your CV is incredible for a young person but unfortunately you’re not from Spain or Ireland. You are from the Balkans, therefore you can forget about the job”.
I am from the Balkans? Where is that? I thought I was Croatian. Do I worth less?
Questions were running through my head as I was walking from this, obviously, unsuccessful job interview for a position within international company. Tears were filling my eyes though I didn’t know exactly why. It was the first time someone addressed me as a “Balkan girl”.
I didn’t know what that means though it made me feel bad by the way it was said. What hurts the most, these words came out from a Croatian guy.
How can I love more there than here? How can I feel foreign more as mine?Oh, but I can. Istanbul. Istanbul. Have we met before? A long time ago? Because, you got me.
Taksim square and Istiklal Caddesi
I arrived before they wounded you. The bus driver left us with simple: „Welcome to Istanbul“, and my first thought was: I am so lost. In the middle of a huge roundabout I saw people going in one direction – Istiklal street.
It is more than just a caddesi. Peppered with pedestrians, housing a huge variety of shops, Istiklal is more like a song. It can be loud and stressful or whispering silently. The message is same in both ways: FEEL. COME ALIVE. GET INSPIRED.
Sky is turning red as I’m peeking through the window in my coupe. I am going home for Christmas. Fifty! Fifty-one! Mister, sixty four is further down! People are walking with their heavy baggage, looking for their seats, checking their reservation tickets. They are rushing as if it’s a guarantee for a faster arrival home.
Christmas music is bursting through speakers. It is the first time I hear music playing in a train and I’m waiting for the hidden camera to reveal itself! I’ve been traveling for years in Croatian trains and could write a book solely about it. Trains in Croatia are slow, rarely on time and you’re lucky if you find a seat during the rush hour or don’t end up stuck in the snow.
Obviously this is not a scenario in my train, as Mariah Carey is singing “All I want for Christmas is you”. A girl across me is anxious to get home. “I don’t feel Christmas here in Zagreb”, she says. “Christmas is home”. I wonder, how come she feels that way when every store, every street and every shiny lamp in Zagreb reminds you of Christmas. I am kind of a jealous at her. In a dreamy haze, she is so sure of her home. Continue reading “Going home for Christmas”
They say, once you start traveling it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. And oh my, I’d like to write some poetry right now. To sing a song for the city I love.
With every heartbeat my love for you grows bigger and bigger and I wanna cry, I wanna laugh and be neurotic and calm at the same time. So I am.
You make me wild and young and refreshingly free, yet balanced. And that is all I ever wanted of you.
From the minute I wake up, I’m all yours and you use this against me. I was shy until you whispered to me – you are safe, trust yourself. So I did, for trusting myself was the scariest part.
We all have them. Sometimes miles away. Sometimes a continent away. Some days just a click away. And sometimes we just haven’t met yet. Connected without knowing that, or even each other, they are here for You.
Your Travel Guardians
When one decides to live a life of uncertainty, an avalanche starts to roll within the body of a future traveler. A warm current flows through it, attacking the cells with something that one has been suppressing for a long time – a scent of choice.
You may not know where you’re going or what you’re gonna do but honestly, it doesn’t even matter. The decision is made and you’re off on a great adventure. To see the foreign lands.To rose deep into orgasmic pleasures of the newly awakened freedom. And this notion deliberates you unimaginably.
Once you’ve decided to go this path, surrounding yourself with good people is crucial. Their strength will become your strength. Their stories will become your soul food but most importantly – they will push you beyond your limits to show you how far you can actually go if someone truly believes in you.
Inside the streets of the Jewish quarter in Budapest lies a new wave of entertainment. If you see an abandoned building with charming décor, contemporary art and live music – you found them.
I haven’t heard of them until I went to Budapest for the fourth time. Browsing through the city map, it was time to explore the old Jewish quarter (district VII). And while I’m already enchanted by the Jewish history, architecture and music, ruin pubs were new to me.
When Fogasház takes over
Crumbling buildings and perky, yet quaint and fusty atmosphere, unique cafés and pieces of history on every corner – it makes my heart tingle whenever I’m close to something Jewish (without being Jewish myself. Funny, I know).
And then I stumbled upon them. Especially one – Fogasház. I visited a place I couldn’t believe it exists.