[MACAU] oo4. THE ISLAND IN 20 PICS

Let me take you on a tour of the nondescript: things you won’t see unless on foot, plowing through the city.

“It all takes time and lessons and places, but I’m learning to listen to my restless heart, telling me to “go, go, go!”
― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories

Macau directions
Quintessentially Macau signboards in green and yellow
macau sightseeing
Back alleys and winding roads. Grilled balconies.
Breathtaking views
Breathtaking views
macau wandering
Narrow meandering lanes
macau beauty
Faded walls
travelogue macau
More beautiful from behind bars
macau china
Schools, cathedrals
chinese macau
Lush green overhanging trees
DSCN6451
Underpopulated
DSCN6452
Kitty Kindergartens
DSCN6474
Pretty neighbourhoods
DSCN6476
Tinted with Baroque influences
DSCN6475
Tall street lamps
DSCN6477
Intimidating names
DSCN6478
Quaint white architecture
DSCN6479
Royal cathedrals
DSCN6480
As homely as it is holy
DSCN6481
Pops of orange
DSCN6484
Mad bloggers on the loose
DSCN6488
Road signs you don’t know how to react to

There you go friends, Macau for you

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MACAU] oo2. RUINS OF ST. PAUL’S | MUSEUM OF MACAU

Tourists are so darn easy to sniff out. If you’ve been to Macau, you’d know the Ruins of St Paul’s (大三巴牌坊) but a one-sided wall, completely demolished and naked in the back. So the first-timers (like us) would still clamour for pictures with the famed 16th-century complex, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. 68 steps would lead you to the southern stone façade, behind which lies the remains of the original pillars and a shrine. A wee bit of secret: the locals would tell you it’s customary to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, for good luck.

From here, you can spot the stone façade, far left. Pretty deconstructed huh?
DSCN6345

As we got closer, I realised it was just a one-dimensional wall. Didn’t stop me from my touristy shots!
DSCN6350
Way to the ‘top’ – 68 easy-peasy steps! And so crowded on a late February weekday, we had to jostle a few elbows outta our way. Since this wall’s one of ’em things you’ve got to check off your Macau Bucket-lists, we made it to the top and beyond. DSCN6352
Girl In Macau Travel Blog

DSCN6358
THE TOP

Girl In Macao Travel Blog
The best entitlement of a tourist is not being taken for a fool at stupid pictures. Here I am receiving a scroll from…some great Chinese scholar! (My bad, I can’t even remember names of half of my university Professors.)
Girl In Macao Travel BlogGirl In Macao Travel Blog Cannonball
I CAME IN LIKE A CAAAANON-BAAAALLL (way before wreckingball became a thing)

Girl In Macao Travel Blog 2

Next best tourist entitlement: you don’t get judged for meaningless hand gestures in awkward I-don’-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands shots.

DSCN6381
“Look, it’s a road, in Macau”

Signboards Macao St Pauls

Not far from the Ruins of St Paul’s is the Museum of Macau, filled with relics from the time Macau was part of Portuguese empire, and also most importantly these were sacred and holy relics of art. Read: Museu De Arte Sacra = Museum Of Sacred Art.

DSCN6371DSCN6370
DSCN6377 DSCN6376 DSCN6375 DSCN6372

The Museum of Macau is located in the famous Monte Fortress, in the heart of the city where the Portuguese first set foot. Being a fortress from where battles were fought and Macau defended, actual live cannons were left behind.

Macau Travel Blogger
My hands! were not awkward at all

Macao Travel Blog

I had a hard time saying goodbye to the cannon I grew so fond off. They made a good war relic, and a decent sunbed.
Herein lies the footpath from midlevel (outdoors) to the top of Museum of Macau. Great weather, amazing scenery and good company makes for a fantastic walk.plague museum de macau DSCN6397 Museum of Macau Winding steps Museum of Macau DSCN6400 DSCN6401 DSCN6402
Right at the top is where you see a grand entrance to the Museum. Conventionally, you’re meant to enter from the ground floor. The top floor consists of a garden, a small still fountain, and the fortress formation in which cannons are still located.DSCN6403 Lake Museum of Macau DSCN6406

So the view from the top stole my heart! I loooove the vantage point, though ought to have been scared shitless standing so close to the edge. All I really wanna do is get close to the heart of the city.

DSCN6408 Girl In Macau Macau Sunset Macau Peak DSCN6421 DSCN6423 DSCN6426 DSCN6427Further snapshots from within the Fortress walls. DSCN6430 DSCN6431 DSCN6432 DSCN6434 DSCN6435 DSCN6436 DSCN6437 DSCN6438 DSCN6439 DSCN6440 DSCN6442

Every city I go, I try to get the bird’s eye view. Much like the Eiffel of Paris or Burj Khalifa of Dubai. It pretty much lays the city out at your feet for a much clearer picture than any map will provide you.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S Don’t miss [MACAU] OO1. OF EGGTARTS, GRAFFITI AND ALL THINGS YUMMY

[MACAU] oo1. OF EGGTARTS, GRAFFITI AND ALL THINGS YUMMY

“I looked to the ceiling and told God, “God, next time I want an adventure, strike me with lightning. You have my permission.”
― Kristen Ashley, The Gamble

We were crazy for adventure and found our answer in Macau. The idea came like a flash of lightning. So with one day to spare we grabbed a pair of ferry tickets and bopped our way to the land of egg-tarts, casinos and tea-houses. I expected a whole new environment much like the gambling sitcoms we occasionally glimpse channel-surfing, but Macau is really an amalgam of new world Hong Kong with traditional Portuguese influences. What really amazed us – casinos were entities made of everything shiny, glazed with glamour and all that glitters that is actually gold.

MACAU BABY

Starving, we stuffed our faces with the island’s most traditonal Portuguese egg-tarts (or so every store says)
DSCN6302

best portuguese egg tarts

Then meandered the streets of Macau on foot. The air tingles with hope, because most people there were keeping their dreams alive. Making it big at the gambling den, or simply making it out alive.

DSCN6307

DSCN6313

Look what we found! Art in the heart of the city.
graffiti asia

macau graffiti

DSCN6321

awesome graffiti macau

girl in macau
God knows who created these art but they are pretty darn amazing.
DSCN6325
wall have eyes

DSCN6326

DSCN6327

DSCN6328

DSCN6330

graffiti

macau graffiti 2

colourful graffiti

In Macau, basically, you can find hand-made pastries and cookies every-damn-where. It’s like stores fight for business. It’s what this place is known for, and all tourists are suckers for. We all want to bring a piece of Macau home. Almond biscuits, pork-floss crisps, handrolls. As traditional as it gets. I love their almond biscuit and egg-rolls which are out-of-this world. I have never gone for another bakery’s eggrolls ever since. Especially since Koi Kei makes the best egg-white egg-rolls, ooh lala.

food in macau

food in macau

My favourite is still Koi Kei – never have I gone home empty-handed from Hong Kong and he’s the reason why.
DSCN6341

So since we’re on this topic, more food-talk and less sight-seeing! Sharetea in Macau is actually a cafe. The bustling cafe scene in Macau isn’t hipster at all…this is as hippie as it goes. Traditional teahouses, or cha-chan-teng 茶餐廳, which are known for eclectic dishes from Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong Western fusion cuisine, are more prevalent.sharetea macau cafe macau

macau selfie
Grabbing a selfie moment
coffee macau
Coffee in a twisted cup
fried chicken macau
Fried chicken
waffles and salmon macau
A waffle with smoked salmon, salad and potato wedges

sharetea macau cafe DSCN6460 cafe macau food macau

Food’s always the start of an adventure, as Anthony Bourdain puts it well: “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”. Every culture has its food norms. Anyone else finds it interesting MacDonalds’ caters to every country’s needs? Here’s a Red Bean pie from Macau. I still miss it.

DSCN6558

 

 

Part One here was all about what we ingested plus wall murals we caught (well if I could inhale and live off devouring art I would but unfortunately graffiti is not food). The next one and thereafter’s all about the view, and what essentially keeps people coming to Macau. The mystery of the casinos maybe… I for one enjoyed walking through the Portuguese cemetery, reading headstones of all who’s walked the land and had the means to buy themselves a place here after death. #morbid

Cheers!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[SANTORINI] oo8. SNAPSHOTS & FLASHBACKS

I have been amassing a copious amount of photographs in these two years, it’s no surprise I’ve had to spend hours filtering through terabytes of memories. My favourites are heavily biased toward those taken in Europe, especially Greece and Santorini, and oh, Belgium and Paris too. I think I take too much pride in good photos I forgot to love the bad ones. Santorini will always hold a special place in my never-ending mental scroll of picturesque sceneries.

SANTORINI GIRL OIA GREECE Breakfast at Santorini Landscape Santorini Sea P1050891

Pictures speak more than a thousand words but there are emotions that words and pictures cannot contain. At this point in time I’m just really glad for all these memories I get to keep long after this phase of my life is gone.

Though I’m gonna miss living out of a suitcase (and a blue handbag, my Longchamp tote and my cabin carry-on), I’ll not miss a lot of things tagged to the cabin crew life.
So, cheers to an exciting new path ahead!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[DIARY] ONE LESS STRANGER

A sleepless night was spent following tweets on AirBnB’s #OneLessStranger campaign. Tired and insomniac as I was, I couldn’t help applauding the global movement to connect people across cultures, to eliminate the distance we keep with people we don’t intend to know. To be on the receiving end of a thoughtful deed from a stranger – it is a simple, solitary gesture with wide-reaching resonance.

I gave the campaign some thought. What’s the point in reaching out to a stranger. Sometimes we don’t even know the person we share our last name with. How much value-add can one less stranger be? So yes it’s impossible to tag a price on gaining unlikely acquaintances. But at its core if we each know the value of having one less stranger, we would not hear of hotel sieges, terror bombings or impending nuclear wars.

I love quoting my favourite author – Haruki Murakami tells us things about ourselves we do not even know, sans big words and complexity. I would love to debate long and hard on this line:”But what seems like a reasonable distance to one person might feel too far to somebody else.” How far should you be from a stranger? How much distance should you keep from a friend, a lover? Could you draw a boundary with a firm hand and keep it? 2 people, side by side, can be worlds apart. Distances are at once tangibly physical and entirely, subjectively emotional.

January is time to begin with a new frame of mind. If I didn’t know better, 2014 was a turbulent year for many, as was the last and the year before, but that should not be grounds for excuses we tell ourselves from discarding poisonous, harmful thoughts.

We’re all on this earth for a limited time, so let’s not be strangers.

And with that said, January is already ending. I hope 2015 had been as eventful for you as it had been so far for me. Let’s keep this party rolling.

SNOW 2015

 

P.S Caught my first snowfall of 2015 in Frankfurt! I love Winter.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

 

This is HELLO and GOODBYE

Bidding farewell to the room and bed @ BLU Home Guesthouse that has kept me warm and well-rested for the past 6 nights.
And this is me saying: HELLO JEJU ISLAND!

20140326-010701.jpg

 

Embracing the next part of my adventure with KRISPY in Jeju!! Will meet her at Gimpo airport before our flight, and since I’m checking out tomorrow morning, I’ll be depositing my luggages at Gimpo before shopping (again) at Lotte Mall (Korea’s first and largest lifestyle shopping complex at the airport), then spending the night loitering in the vicinity. Insanely excited to meet Kris!!

Here we go~

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. Ever since I’ve stopped wearing makeup and eyeliner outside of work, I realise I’m looking more and more…like my brother. Gasp.

Hello Kitty Cafe | 헬로키티카페 홍대점

Two years ago I was wildly excited to come into Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae. Two years later, I’m mildly amused by how ugly their kitty-shaped waffles have become. The insanely pink stand-alone building is still a popular tourist attraction (cue an aggressive horde of multi-lingual Kitty fanatics), and always will remain a novelty this part of town! I just love coming in and remembering how excited I was to be here.

20140321-200806.jpg

20140321-200757.jpg

20140321-200843.jpg

20140321-200836.jpg

20140321-200911.jpg

20140321-200901.jpg

20140321-200921.jpg

20140321-200947.jpg

20140321-200826.jpg

20140321-200819.jpg

20140321-201109.jpg

20140321-201118.jpg

I wonder if it’s just me… their waffles were kinda doughy and under-cooked? The shape is, well…

20140321-201126.jpg

I wouldn’t look forward to having my meals here! But yes, if I’m here just to bask in an explosion of pinks!

20140321-201151.jpg

 

How many kitties? ^^

20140321-201143.jpg

20140321-201159.jpg

20140321-201209.jpg

20140321-201218.jpg

20140321-201227.jpg

20140321-201243.jpg

20140321-201236.jpg

20140321-201252.jpg

20140321-201308.jpg

20140321-201320.jpg

20140321-201300.jpg

20140321-201329.jpg

20140321-201341.jpg

20140321-201350.jpg

20140321-201400.jpg

헬로키티카페 홍대점
마포구 서교동 358-112.
Mapo-Gu Seogyo-Dong 358-112

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (IV)

This is the part we say goodbye to an awesome biking expedition:
from stopping at various landmarks at San Francisco bay, to biking till the foot of the bridge, and then across the bridgeto exploring the city of Sausalito, I had so much fun that I forgot to feel tired.

20140307-164645.jpg

From the pier at Sausalito, we booked ferry tickets bound for Embarcadero at 10USD each (inclusive of our bikes). The ferry arrives and leaves the pier at frequent designated timings, making it uber convenient to come and go from the island. As we wheeled onto the ferry, I found myself comparing Sausalito’s residential houses to Cinque Terre. So beautiful in the sunset it was!

20140307-164659.jpg

20140307-164708.jpg

Saying goodbye to the Golden Gate! Looking at you from afar once again. The sky was such a lovely addition to this landscape.20140307-164727.jpg

20140307-164718.jpg

Ladies and gentlemen, the island behind yours truly is the Alcatraz. This is the closest I’ve ever come to snapping a shot with the prisoner island; I will come back to set foot on it!20140307-164738.jpg

A kind gentlemen took this for us. Alcatraz, here you go.20140307-164747.jpg

A beautiful shot of San Francisco bay – I’m still mesmerised.20140307-164758.jpg

20140307-164831.jpg

20140307-164815.jpg

20140307-164848.jpg

So we bid farewell to the iconic structure, and to this crazy road trip which was a reckless idea borne from wanting some adventure. We spent a total of 6 hours and in this span of time, covered 8.5miles/13.5km of land on our bikes. I was so tired on the flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and my butt/calves/thighs/toes were hurting so bad. Still, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything ^^ and I strongly urge everyone to go for this bike trail if you’re in San Francisco. You have to, at least once in your life.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Sausalito – Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (III)

Took a snapshot at this lovely residential estate cum diner by the bay! Loving how the baby blues of the house were in perfect pastel harmony with the cloud-streaked blues of the skies and crystal clear turquoise of the sea. We were finally in Sausalito, after biking from the pier, then across the Golden Gate Bridge!

20140307-164053.jpg

Insanely steep downhills, narrow roads and strange sudden curves were characteristic of bike paths on Sausalito. The whole wind-whipping-in-face and look-ma-no-hands! as we careened (at times uncontrollably) down the slopes into Sausalito’s town center, felt sooo good! I had my fingers curled around the brakes, all ready to slam it, but we never stopped at the downhills which were the best parts!

This statue of a Marines soldier stands at the gateway into Sausalito, just before the bike trail hits the endlessly steep highways downtown. If you see him, you’re on the right way!

20140307-163908.jpg

20140307-163919.jpg

20140307-163929.jpg

Sausalito took my breath away, not just from the sheer exertion of biking!! This San Francisco Bay Area city in California stands at an elevation of 13 feet. With a small population of slightly more than 7000, it was once was home to an indigenous settlement known as Liwanelowa before the site was invaded by the Europeans.

20140307-163943.jpg

20140307-163957.jpg

Basking in the afternoon sunshine! That said, the temptation of taking a dip in (the shallow end of) the ocean had to be greatly resisted.

20140307-164021.jpg

20140307-164031.jpg

20140307-164043.jpg

The whole town was really quiet, except for us biking stragglers who, having reached our intended destination, had our vehicles docked in the bike-parking lots as we settled down for celebratory lunch. At Sausalito, there were a couple of novelty stores and vintage souvenir houses which looked pretty amazing.

20140307-164103.jpg

20140307-164114.jpg

20140307-164126.jpg

20140307-164135.jpg

20140307-164143.jpg

20140307-164203.jpg

20140307-164213.jpg

20140307-164223.jpg

Early dinner at Le Garage Bistro Sausalito, overlooking the bay! We dined to the sounds of lapping waves and seagulls flapping above our heads.

20140307-164155.jpg

20140307-164234.jpg

20140307-164243.jpg

20140307-164255.jpg

Some pasta and smoked salmon crepes, anybody? I guess cycling left me famished, I ate in record time.

20140307-164310.jpg

20140307-164319.jpg

20140307-164340.jpg

20140307-164349.jpg

20140307-164413.jpg

20140307-164426.jpg

Though it’s a tiny town, Sausalito has a myriad of public attractions: the Cazneau Playground, Cloud View Park, Martin Luther King Park Langendorf Park and so many more, as well as  Schoonmaker Beach, Swede’s Beach and Tiffany Beach.

FYI Sausalito is currently home to Darren Hayes (singer-songwriter, and former lead of the awesome band Savage Garden), Amy Tan (novelist who brought us The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter), as well as Ken Pontac ( author of the sadistic internet series Happy Tree Friends).

After a really short, yet very refreshing and memorable afternoon at Sausalito, we booked a ferry ticket to take us, along with our bikes, across the bay to San Francisco. Was glad for the biking journey to be over, but sad, as that meant we were about to leave Sausalito and San Francisco behind.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (II)

Part 1 saw us through the journey from Pier 39, and in Part Deux we finally peddled past the threshold and across 1.7 miles of galvanized steel!

20140307-163431.jpg

We did it – was my first thought, taking the first step onto the gate. The 2 of us only just saw the gate from the start-point miles away and then in the span of 2 hours…  Armed with only a map and scattered bike trails, I can’t help feeling this tremendous sense of accomplishment. Cheers to taking a step into the unknown!

Strength in numbers – migration of feathered flock in an orderly formation, with absolute faith in their leader’s ability to lead them to a place where they can call home. As photographed from the bridge where we were standing, there were many many many flocks of birds flying across the bay ocean in similar fashion.20140307-163441.jpg

20140307-163448.jpg

20140307-163458.jpg

20140307-163509.jpg

20140307-163520.jpg

20140307-163530.jpg

The view of San Francisco and Oakland from Golden Gate Bridge is spectacular. You have to be there to feel the grandeur.

20140307-163541.jpg

20140307-163601.jpg

20140307-163549.jpg

20140307-163639.jpg

20140307-164506.jpg

20140307-164520.jpg

20140307-164530.jpg

The wind-in-your-hair, sun-in-your-cheeks (and hair-all-over-my-face) sense of liberation cannot be captured in words. At downhill points, the speed is at once within your control and also out of your control. You decide how much control you render to the elements and how much grip you retain. Mostly, I let myself careen downhill and almost threw up both my hands and shouted HURRAY!! It was so amazing.

In the next part, we cross over from San Francisco to Sausalito, with bike trails that were insanely steep yet at the same time liberating ^^ you just let the roads take you where they go.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. I’m glad to have given up my sleep for this biking trip. Post-biking muscle cramps and fatigue was worth it!

La Galette, Copenhagen

If you love pancakes, and the French comic series Asterix, La Galette is the place for you!

20140125-145641.jpg

20140125-145651.jpg

20140125-145704.jpg

20140125-145658.jpg

The place is a well-kept local secret as it is hidden from the sidewalk. Upon seeing the cardboard Asterix cut-out, you need to enter the gates into the yellow building and walk further in. The owners are French and boy, they do know how to whip up a good crispy pancake!

20140125-145712.jpg

20140125-145719.jpg

In French, the galette is a flat, round or freeform crusty pancake – almost like a crêpe but crispier. La Galette offers both decadent sweet or savoury buckwheat pancakes. The interior is a small cosy space with an open-concept kitchen. From where I sat I could hear the chefs speaking French. When the (cute) chef served up my Pomme Caramel – pancakes with French caramelized apples – he actually said bon appetit and I melted! There’s just something about French men…

20140125-145839.jpg

Thereafter my Pomme Caramel tasted extra sweet and yummy!
C’était vraiment délicieux! Merci beaucoup..

20140125-145846.jpg

The pancakes are all within the range of DKK 40 – 110. Mine costs DKK 45 and tasted amaaazing. The range of pancakes are really stunning and varied, and you can really trust the chef to deliver the taste of French pancakes direct from Paris. Mes compliments au chef!

20140125-145727.jpg

20140125-145735.jpg

20140125-145745.jpg

20140125-145753.jpg

20140125-145801.jpg

20140125-145808.jpg

20140125-145823.jpg

20140125-145830.jpg

La Galette
Coffee and Pancakes
Larsbjørnstræde 9
Tel: +4533323790
Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00,
Sun 16:00 – 22:00
Map

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Living Room, Copenhagen

Cafè culture in Copenhagen is amaaaazing! Touched down in the morning at 6am, slept for 3hrs, until the silence of the hotel room made me so darn restless. So, I embarked on the list of coffee-places I wanted to visit! First stop: The Living Room @ Larsbjørnstræde. The street is lined with indie cafès, vintage designer stores, chill-out bars and late-night pubs – the kind of street culture I love the best.

20140125-140614.jpg

20140125-140622.jpg

20140125-140639.jpg

20140125-140645.jpg

20140125-140632.jpg

I took a while to make my choices because there were too many! Had a cuppa piping hot latte and a soft, slightly dry slice of tiramisu. Somehow I miss the tiramisu I had in Frankfurt – it’s more moist and tastes strongly of eggs and dark rum rather than flour and sugar.

20140125-140701.jpg

20140125-140712.jpg

20140125-140721.jpg

20140125-140727.jpg

20140125-140740.jpg

I love the interior of The Living Room – it’s spacious yet cosy and lives up to its name by being ideal for social gatherings! There’s even a dark underground ‘dungeon’ where friends or couples can sink into large sofas for more privacy.

20140125-140748.jpg

20140125-140803.jpg

20140125-140809.jpg

20140125-140820.jpg

20140125-140830.jpg

20140125-140838.jpg

My view of the sidewalk from the bar-top is just right. Spent close to an hour hiding from the cold (-4°C!!) and reading my book whilst sipping on latte.

20140125-140849.jpg

If you’re out seeking for good coffee, I’m sure there are better caffeine joints with tastier brews. For cakes or food, definitely there would be better patisseries out there. I still loved this place nevertheless! It gave me very good vibes. The Living Room baristas were super friendly (one of them chatted with me in perfect English!) and the variety of tables and seats are made to suit any occasion. The Living Room is best enjoyed with good company for the ambience is fantastic. Even if you’re alone, the space is quiet without being stale, and is ideal for that me-time you’re seeking.

20140125-140606.jpg

The Living Room – Bars, Coffee & tea, Snacks
Larsbjørnstræde 17
Tel: +4533326610
Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu 10:00 – 23:00,
Fri 10:00 – 02:00,
Sat 11:00 – 02:00,
Sun 12:00 – 19:00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe

Let it go , Let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in
Heaven knows I tried…

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always had to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door
And here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe
I know I left a life behind but I’m too relieved to grieve

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go,
Turn my back and slam the door
And here I stand
And here
I’ll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway

Standing – frozen in the life I’ve chosen
You won’t find me, the past is so behind me
Buried in the snow

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go,
Turn my back and slam the door
And here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway…
(let the music go on)

and here i’ll stay
let it go, let it go

frozen elsa

London Lovin’: Wafflemeister

London Wafflemeister

Amidst the London rush hour, the lost tourist a.k.a Viktoria Jean was trying to get to the ice-cream store just across the street on South Kensington. At 6pm in the evening, walking against the crowd is no easy feat. Everybody seems to be dashing somewhere, moving fast ahead with their lives, going with the incessant flow. Meanwhile, the lost tourist stops for a Stracciatella gelato.

London Wafflemeister 3

London Wafflemeister 4

London Wafflemeister 2

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

26 Cromwell Place
London SW7 2LD
United Kingdom

Book Review: The State We’re In

20131007-160132.jpg

Publisher: Headline Review
Date Published: 4th July 2013
My Ratings: 7 / 10
Average Goodreads Ratings: 3.9 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She’s a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he’s a resolute cynic – cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn’t even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it’s when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins…

REVIEW:
At times, Joanna (Jo) Russell’s naivety gets on my nerves. She attempts to salvage a youthful mistake of ditching a fiance at the altar, by flying 300miles to wreck his upcoming wedding. That simply shows how much of a tragically hopeful romantic she is. I hated her less when she’s simply unhinged and having fun, while not harbouring thoughts of how romantic love is the one thing that should determine how you run your career and life.

The story runs beautifully. We see a parallel story running side-by-side, an almost continuation of the affair that never was. On one hand Eddie Taylor at his bedside and the son that he had left 29 years ago, Dean, flies over to bid him hello and farewell, but leaves for his house in Chicago in a fit of anger when he discovers that it was not Eddie who had asked to see him, but the meddlesome nurse who felt sorry that no next-of-kin was holding the dying man’s hand. On the other hand, delusional Jo Russell leaves her parent’s house and flies to Chicago to stop her ex-fiance – Martin’s – wedding, determined that the letter of invitation was a cry for help, and that Martin was pleading with her to not hold her peace. Somehow, she was inclined to believe that she had to take him away from his current bride-to-be. That Martin was the One.

I mean, who in their right state of mind still believes in the One?

Fate, or whatever forces that be, dictated that Dean and Jo were to spend 10 hours in the pressured tube bound for Chicago in the Club Class. The moments of emotional upheaval that they shared were rather less physically intimate than usually required for Dean to feel for anybody, but in rare cases more fictional like this, Dean cared for the delusional 35-year-old.

The forces that be also created a tragic interweaving of their histories. The father that Dean came to abhor happened to have left Dean, his mother and sister, 29 years ago, for the woman that happened to be Jo Russell’s mother – Clara Russell. And in a dramatic irony, Jo finds out that her ideal picture of what family had been and should be, was destroyed by a single phone call revealing that after decades of marriage, her mom was leaving her dad for a dying man – Eddie Taylor.  And that her dad was actually gay.

What?

That much was revealed in the span of this novel which had moments of epiphany that tugged at my heartstrings, despite the loathing I felt for Jo Russell at certain points where she was behaving less than half her age. How thoughtless and selfish a woman past her 30s can be really got on my nerves.

Dean, however, made a huge impression with his touch of sensitivity. His genuine care and concern filled up the void left blank by absent members of his family. He was the true hero of the book, taking baby steps in placing trust upon people and learning to commit like nobody in his life had ever shown his before.

The part where he was beginning to fall in love with Jo got a bit unrealistic and unconvincing, though. It was clear that girls were throwing themselves at his feet – cleavage, cellphone numbers and all – yet Jo was all he had on his mind after a mere 10 hours in the air. And Jo was being such a selfish, self-obsessed and indulged woman. Perhaps the oxygen up there is insufficient indeed.

However towards the end I grew to love Jo Russell. There was a reason behind her first-hand account while everyone else’s stories were written by the third-person. Here’s where the spoiler comes: Dean and Jo doesn’t end up together. Jo marries somebody else, and the little epilogue is simultaneously the saddest and the most heart-warming bit in the entire novel. The moment we’ve all been holding our breaths for – Dean and Jo were each other’s love of their lives but for reasons only explained in the book (ask me personally cos I don’t wish to spoil the book for you) they don’t end up together, ever.

Amidst the interweaving tales of marriage, relationships and families – broken or not – lies the keen reminder that nobody is perfect. Perfection should not be expected of anybody. And that forgiveness, big or small, is the hardest yet most essential part of any human relationship.
This is one piece of thoughtful contemporary literature that I would recommend to lovers of Jodi Picoult or even Jill Mansell and Kristin Hannah.

If ‘The State We’re in’ were to be made a movie…
Joanna Russell: Isla Fisher (Bring back the Shopaholic, please!)
Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Dean Taylor: Hugh Dancy
HughDancy5-hugh-dancy-227919_1331_1056

Eddie Taylor: Sean Bean
sean

Clara Russell: Christie Brinkley
chrisbrink

20131002-162929.jpg

xoxo Viktoria Jean

Travel-diary: Mirabellgarten of Salzburg, Austria

Gorgeous flowers in a heart of a beautiful city.
Couldn’t help falling in love with the immaculate garden, the Papagena fountain and greenhouse Orangerie  photo DSCN3291.jpg

The very garden where Sound of Music was filmed
sounf_of_music_428x269_to_468x312

Gates to the horticultural masterpiece
 photo DSCN3273.jpg
Mirabell Palace, which houses the offices of Salzburg’s mayor and the municipal council
 photo DSCN3275.jpg
 photo DSCN3277.jpg

 photo DSCN3276.jpg

The palace where flowers are so well-kept and completely photogenic
 photo DSCN3278.jpg

 photo DSCN3279.jpg

 photo DSCN3281.jpg

 photo DSCN3280.jpg
The Grand Parterre is embraced by a marble railing decorated with vases by Fischer von Erlach.
 photo DSCN3282.jpg

 photo DSCN3283.jpg
On the balustrades themselves you will see statues of Roman gods from 1689: Diana, Flora, Minerva, Ceres, Pomona. Venus, Vesta, Juno and Chronos, Bacchus, Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Vulcan, Hermes and Apollo. These statues were made by B. van Opstal.
 photo DSCN3284.jpg

 photo DSCN3285.jpg

 photo DSCN3286.jpg

 photo DSCN3287.jpg

 photo DSCN3288.jpg

 photo DSCN3289.jpg

 photo DSCN3290.jpg

 photo DSCN3292.jpg
With my awesome Salzburg companions: Grace and Samm!
 photo DSCN3293.jpg
 photo DSCN3294.jpg

The Pegasus Fountain, a work by Kaspar Gras from Innsbruck, installed in 1913. The four groups of statues around the fountain were sculpted by Ottavio Mosto in 1690 and symbolize the 4 elements: fire, air, earth and water.
 photo DSCN3295.jpg

 photo DSCN3296.jpg

 photo DSCN3297.jpg

 photo DSCN3298.jpg

 photo DSCN3299.jpg

 photo DSCN3300.jpg

 photo DSCN3301.jpg

 photo DSCN3302.jpg

 photo DSCN3303.jpg

 photo DSCN3304.jpg

 photo DSCN3305.jpg

 photo DSCN3306.jpg

 photo DSCN3307.jpg

 photo DSCN3308.jpg

 photo DSCN3309.jpg

 photo DSCN3310.jpg

Open year-round, the Mirabell Palace and Gardens are free to the public! A really short walk to the east from Salzach River and a great way to rest your feet, away from the hustle and bustle of town. Am so glad to have finally found my way here 🙂