Rome: first impressions.

I feel like I have just only now began to process my trip to Rome. We had a fantastic time but it just went by too fast! Here are some of my thoughts and impressions.

  • the monuments: they are huge. I mean, I don’t think anyone would expect, say, the Colosseum to be small but it’s just so much bigger than I imagined it to be! And not just the Colosseum, but all of it. The sights are really breath-taking in person. Sometimes I would just stand there and stare because that was all I could do. I was awestruck. The Pantheon in particular is just stunning.
  • Trastevere is just gorgeous. We spent a good part of the Sunday afternoon walking through the streets there and it’s just so picturesque!
  • the only thing I was a bit iffy about is the public transport — but I did expect that. And I admit to being spoiled by London and Geneva in this matter. :P
  • the queues; oh my goodness, the queues. If you ever do go there, book or buy your tickets online so you can skip the queues. I mean, the queue for the Vatican Museums was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. I think that some of the people we passed on our way there might still be waiting there. Book or buy your tickets online, always.
  • the Sistine Chapel is a wonder to behold and worth the claustrophobic tour. As is going up the 551 steps up the Basilica di San Pietro. You can take the lift up there, too, but it’ll save you barely a half of the way up. It’s a good exercise and the view from the top is breathtaking.
  • we visited Ostia Antica one day as well and it was gorgeous. I’m such a city girl but I really enjoyed walking out there all day long. It just smelled like summer there and I loved it. It’s really interesting there and well worth a trip.
  • I loved the food. I’m a pasta person so I knew I would but damn. I’d never get tired of it. I actually have some recommendations regarding the restaurants, cafes and gelaterias that we tried. So here’s a small list of places you should definitely not miss if you’re ever in Rome:
    1. We stayed in a place called Atlantis Inn and I can’t recommend it enough. It was super clean, the owner was very helpful and efficient and it was about a 5-minute walk from Castel Sant’Angelo. Perfect location, perfect services. That part of the city was really beautiful, there were also many restaurants and cafes and the nearest metro stop was within a 10 minute walking distance from the hotel.
    2. Splendor: this is where we had breakfast every day and it’s such a neat, retro place. Great cappuccino!
    3. Pizzeria La Boccaccia: we ate there the day we wandered through Trastevere. It’s a tiny pizza place where you can choose from many delicious pizzas. They sell them by weight so you can actually taste as many of them as you like, you just tell them how big a piece of each pizza you like. Delicious.
    4. Il Sorpasso: We ate there after our visit to the Vatican. The waitress who served us was amazing. The menu was in English but the daily specials were not and she just went through all of it with us, making sure that we chose something we really liked. Same with the puddings — I hadn’t heard of some of them before and she was just beyond helpful. And the food was fantastic.
    5. Cantina E Cucina: Deceivingly close to Piazza Navona but definitely not a tourist trap. It’s bigger than it looks from the outside, it’s very stylish and the staff are so friendly! Try the asparagus risotto while you’re there, you won’t regret it.
    6. Pompi: This came recommended as the best tiramisu in Rome. I concur. We had one (HUGE) strawberry tiramisu each and despite our primary apprehension about it being too much to eat for just one person, we were so happy we didn’t have to share. :P
    7. Gelaterie del Teatro: Our favourite gelateria. We actually went there instead of dinner one day because we just couldn’t stay away. They have so many fantastic and unusual flavours — chocolate+wine, cheese+fig, lemon+rosemary… the list goes on. It took us forever to decide just on two or three flavours each time and quite frankly, I do regret not having enough time there to try them all.
There will be pictures, of course! Here’s a little taste from my instagram. :)

Peonies.

So, peonies. I’m really crazy about them. I think they’re right up there with lilacs as my favourite flowers. We used to have them in our garden when I was a child, we had these huge, bright pink ones. They were astonishingly beautiful. I loved seeing them all over the garden and I loved bringing them back home with us. With them, unfortunately, we’d also always bring back home these huge blue rose chafer beetles. Well, they may not have been so huge but they certainly seemed so to me then, and quite frankly they still do even now. I can’t stand beetles, I have always been terrified of them and these colourful guys unfortunately love peonies as much as I do.


It has been unexpectedly difficult to buy peonies here but I finally managed — one day before I leave for Rome. I hope I’ll be able to get some more when I get back!


For me, peonies are the true heralds of summer. I’m yearning for long, hot summer days and I’m so excited about the upcoming weeks!


I’ll be away for a couple of days but, as ever, if you’d like to keep up with me, follow me on instagram. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And go buy some peonies if you can. :)

My friend’s wedding.

I went to my friend S.’s wedding. I’m not really a wedding person but I must admit that their wedding was really great. Luckily, they had great weather, which was pretty much a pre-requisite because it was an outdoor wedding. I was so happy to be able to spend the whole day outside as I don’t get to do that so much lately. It was a fantastic day.


This is the place where they chose to say their vows. It has been voted the most beautiful spring in the area recently and it’s a really nice spot.


They were married by the bride’s close friend and colleague, who also happens to be an evangelic deaconess (<– I hope that's the correct term?)


The bride and the groom.


They had the most beautiful peonies there from the bride’s garden.

Since I was the one taking photos, I appear in exactly ZERO photos from the wedding. :P But I at least took a photo of my outfit before I set out. In hindsight, it was a great choice of a dress — and I’m very happy that I decided to wear lycra shorts underneath it because I ended up climbing around a semi-derelict amphitheatre in order to get the picture I wanted. :P


The dress is Yumi (from their last year’s collection).

Swiss roll woes.

I made this swiss roll two weeks ago. It was really delicious but making of the whipped cream turned out to be a nightmare. Let me take you through the process.


First, I put together the cream and chocolate and mixed it together. So far so good. Then I put it in the fridge for some time and I thought that’d be it.


Meanwhile, I whipped the egg whites.


Mixed the yolks and some sugar.


Then I put it all together and mixed it very gently as it needs to remain fluffy.


All done. Then I rolled it into a damp cloth.


That’s a very important step because if you don’t do it, it will crack and fall apart.


:D


I prepped my strawberries and started whipping the cream. It didn’t work at all. The consistency was all wrong, it was too runny and there was nothing I could do about it. On the second try, I had the same problem and eventually, I managed to turn it into butter. Eventually, I just made it without the chocolate and that worked. I still don’t understand what I did wrong on the first two tries and it really bothers me.


It was still good but I really wanted that chocolate whipped cream!

Lilacs: the 2015 edition.

I can’t let a year go by without taking photos of my favourite flowers: lilacs. Their smell always takes me back to my grandparents’ garden. It is a smell that is full of happy memories of my family and it carries a promise of summer. The weather has been less than summery here lately but the lilacs keep me hoping. :)


I love how the colours vary slightly.


Chestnut trees.


I may have gone a little overboard there. :P

Marek’s 25th birthday party.

It was my friend Marek’s 25th birthday last Friday. He threw together a really superb birthday party — and I’ve got the pictures to prove it. :) We were supposed to have it outside but the weather around here has been rather unfortunate lately so we had to stay in.


My outfit for the night.


The decorations were super pretty.


Martina, Katka and Pavlina.


Martina.


Katka.


Chocolate chip muffins.


Martina & Katka.


Marek and Denisa.


The birthday boy.


Klara in her 1920s headband, which she apparently bought in an office supplies shop. :P


Klara and Tom.


Klara, Tom and Veronika.


Pavlina with Chloe, who is Klara and Tom’s British Greyhound. Chloe is a rescue and she’s precious and very sociable. <3


Marek.


Savoury muffins.


Me and Marek.


Martina’s hair was super gorgeous that night.


Marek, Denisa, Pavlina and me.


Pavlina and Katka.


Veronika.


Klara & Tom.

Home-made granola.


Sundays are the only days I can get proper sleep and have proper breakfast without having to rush anywhere. It is when I slow down for a bit — and really enjoy it.

If at all possible, I also try to do some breakfast/snack prep for the upcoming week because I never have time for any other day. I usually make a big bowl of Swiss oatmeal (I shared my recipe for it here) and sometimes I make something extra. Today I decided to make some chia parfaits and tried to make my first-ever home made granola.


I played around with the parfaits a little bit. The darker ones are chia seeds soaked in a small espresso and topped with raspberries, blueberries, home-made yoghurt and shaved almonds.


The lighter ones (right) are chia seeds soaked in coconut milk and topped with blueberries, strawberries, home-made yogurt and shaved coconut.


And here’s the granola. It was super easy to make and it made the flat smell heavenly — if you like the smell of coconut oil, that is. Which I do. :)


I put 2 cups of rolled oats, some dried fruit and a handful of pumpkin seeds into a big bowl. I drizzled one tablespoon of honey all over it and added 2 tablespoon coconut oil. Then I used my hands to mix it all together. I spread it on a baking sheet in a really thin layer and baked for 15 minutes at 150°C.


What I love about these recipes is that you can put literally anything you fancy in it. It tastes fantastic and you have 100% control over what you put in it. I personally think that one tbsp honey and all that dried fruit is absolutely sweet enough but if you have a sweet(er) tooth, you can absolutely add more. It takes maybe 5 minutes tops to put it all together and then you just pop it in the oven and let it do its own thing.

If you make your own granola: is there anything you like to put in it that takes it to a whole another level? I’m open to suggestions. :)

Early spring 2015.

Two weeks ago I was convalescing from a minor(ish) dental surgery and I couldn’t exercise or skate for a couple of days. I used these days to play around with my camera a little in order to document how quickly everything’s changing now that it’s finally spring. There are two sets of photos taken only 5 days apart and you can see a huge difference there. I often hear people saying that those who carry around cameras miss most of what’s really going on around them because they concentrate on taking the photos. The opposite is true for me. I notice so much more through my camera lens. It really opens up a whole new world to me and gives me another opportunity to really see and appreciate the world around me.

April 15th

The cherry tree in front of the cinema.


My favourite alley.


The yelow is blinding.


Down the stairs.


Lilacs!


Better shots of the cherry tree.


The linden tree in front of my house.

April 20th


My favourite alley is decidedly greener.


Spot the bird!


Soon, my dearies. Soon!


The magnolia tree is falling behind a bit.


But it won’t be long now.


What a difference 5 days make!


I took no photos of this tree the week before because there was nothing to see. And look at it now!


I love how fluffy they are.

Genève.

Let me preface this post by saying this: one day is not nearly enough to get to know Geneva. I’ve barely scratched the surface and I definitely need to go back. And I’d love to go some time in the summer to see how different it must be. But I have to say, even in February, it was absolutely stunning. It was quite cold but sunny all day and I remember that day very fondly.


Gare de Cornavin.


I love that Geneva has trolleybuses! I grew up in a city that had them and I’ve love them since.


Love the colour of the water.


Even the bikes in Geneva are charming. ;)


Love those houses. And the Alps in the background.


I thought this looked like something right from Harry Potter. Totally a Diagon Alley bookshop, right?

St. Pierre Cathedral.

Parc des Bastions.

Jet d’Eau. I really wanted to see it but unfortunately it was very windy that day and they turn it off when it gets too windy so the people on the shore wouldn’t get splashed.


L’horloge fleurie // The flower clock.


<3


Until next time, Geneva! <3

Easter 2015 hodgepodge.

I don’t like Easter purely because of the local Easter tradition. It involves men making a whip from willow branches and then going house to house, beating women with it (and sometimes also throwing cold water on them) and getting eggs, sweets and alcohol in return. It’s apparently to keep the women healthy, beautiful and fertile for the next year — and, in some cases, to showcase their attraction to the women they beat. Well. No, thank you. I don’t care how big of a tradition it is, beating women “for their own good” and expecting a reward in return or in order to exhibit attraction is just bollocks.
So I celebrate Easter in my own way — with good food, family and friends. This year, we met at Veronika’s place for a low-key Easter evening.


Veronika, Klara, Denisa, Tom.


Klara.


Denisa.


Tom.


Veronika.


Glorious, glorious food. All made by Veronika! <3


Tom is up to no good. :P


I posed with a cupcake. And then I ate it.


At home, we baked a mazanec. Sort of an Easter bread (if you will) with raisins and almonds, eaten either only with butter or also with jam or honey. It’s terribly good.


We also bought some flowers to usher spring in. Haven’t been too successful yet.


Devilled eggs. Loved them.


Also my latest delivery from Yankee Candle arrive a couple of days before Easter and I couldn’t be happier with it. It made me look up a recipe for Tarte Tatin because the smell is incredible. And it doesn’t look like it’s too difficult to make so I might give it a go soon.


Monday lunch was Easter stuffing with apple, fennel, celery and watercress.


I also finally took out these adorable pom poms I bought last year in Paperchase and put them up.


They’re terrific!