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The Brussels Waffle

I’ve eaten a lot of things this Europe trip. Like, a lot. My jeans can attest to that. But even with the tighter jeans, I am glad and grateful to have been able to consume so much deliciousness. Especially when there are literally billions going without food every day.

I ate in Spain, France, Switzerland, and Belgium (Italy and Greece will have to wait for me and my future husband).

Food is just incredible in this continent. This is because, the majority of our favorites derived here: fries, waffles, pizza, crepes, etc.

Though I can write pages upon pages listing the delicacies I gobbled up here, only three of these have actually blown me away. As in, whoosh and into dreamland where my only wish of my sparkling fairy godmother was that my real mother could also taste this or that.

1. Ham, cheese, and lettuce French baguette.

2. Brussels waffle topped with strawberry and Nutella.

3. Handmade pistachio macaroon from a local market.

Forget Spanish churros, Belgian fries or Swiss chocolate. Forget cheese, olives, paella. Godiva? Lindt? Who needs them! My three, those are the ones I vouch to never forget. If I could marry one, well, let’s just say I’d have to first change gender, second religion and third, get used to pampering three women.

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Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once. (Anthony Bourdain)

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Belgium Equals Bricks

Really, I have never seen so many bricks! And not your regular bricks but these tiny tiny teeny ones. So far, I have visited Brugge and Ghent. Today, we will sight-see Brussels and tomorrow, I will fly back to Switzerland.

Laura and her family have been so sweet to me. Speaking of sweet, my very first Belgian experience after arriving was being driven to one of the world’s largest chocolate factories. It was 9 or 10pm and all we did was park outside and sniff. I kid you not, that’s all that was required. We didn’t have to taste any. We didn’t have to go in. For I have never ever smelt anything so sweet and delicious. If only you were there. #chocolateminusthecalories

Last night, I found myself feeling homesick again. I messaged my mom and called my special friend and then I felt better. Though I couldn’t quite articulate my homesickness. I don’t know, something to do with continously being on the move. Though these days, every day is literally an exciting adventure, I still find myself longing for familiarity and routine. You know when you go on a holiday and nearing the end of it, you kinda can’t wait to go home and get back into the everyday? Well, it’s kinda sorta exactly like that except I’ve been travelling for 2 years (hehe). Yeah yeah I know, first world problems.

This morning, I came across a Simon de Beauvoir quote which perfectly describes it, this feeling of contradiction: “I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger”

Behold, the bricks:
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You Will Find Your Way It Is In The Same Place As Your Love.

I’ve been absolutely terrified of every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. (Georgia O’keeffe)
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If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. (Banksy)
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imageimage1imageNothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)
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image3image4Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. (Zooey Deschanel)

A Disaster

Dear friends

I have a very big (big for me) first-world-problem. Don’t laugh but I dropped my phone in the toilet. No, I wasn’t taking a picture of the toilet seat (Danny’s comment). It was in my back pocket and when I pulled down my pants.. well, you get the picture. Trust me I was quick. I took it out within half a second but hair-dryer, rice, oven, it’s still completely dead. Communication isn’t the problem.. for that I can use my computer. The real problem is photography. I use, well, used (wahh) my phone to take and edit my blog and Savvy Tokyo pictures. What now?

I can’t curse the universe for this. I realise I am completely to blame. But instead of sitting here and feeling disappointed in my stupid self, I will use this opportunity (gah I hate me for even being this sickly positive) to better myself. I will open my eyes and be attentive. I will carry a diary and take note of the noteworthy things I encounter. Then, I will try as best as I can to write them in a picturesque manner.

Today is my last day in Galicia, Spain – though I have a post on Galicia scheduled for tomorrow (with pictures). Tomorrow morning I will fly to Geneva. I don’t know what to expect other than a certainty of love from my auntie, her husband and two gorgeous daughters.

PS feel free to make a phone/camera donation (half joking).

PPS this means no more Instagram.

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Edward Gorey (1961)

Pear Festival

A unique town:
Pontedeume serves as the gateway to the Fragas do Eume Natural Park, one of the last Atlantic forests remaining in Europe, whose origins lie in the Tertiary Age, with a dense covering of oaks, chestnut, laurel, strawberry trees and firs. It is also the home to an extensive range of fauna. The Romanesque-Baroque Monastery of Caaveiro in the heart of the forest offers excellent views over the area, giving visitors an idea of its grandiose nature.

The park area and the vicinity of Pontedeume play host to the pioneering project known as the Eume Cantina Network, with a series of typical restaurants offering local and regional dishes based on the strictest quality criteria, to the delight of visitors to the area.

Don’t miss:
The feirón, an attractive weekly market held every Saturday where it is possible to buy nearly everything, although the emphasis is on small stands selling local foodstuffs, and it is the ideal location to buy the local specialities known as costradas (pies made using puff pastry), or local pastries such as the proia mantecada (a flat, sweet butter cake), fritters, almond cakes or sponge cakes.

The Festa das Peras (Pear Festival) is held on the first Sunday in September in honour of the Virgin of As Virtudes and San Nicolás de Tolentino, where it is possible to enjoy the fruit prepared in a multitude of different ways. The festival is accompanied by the sound of bagpipes and drums, as well as sporting events that include climbing a greased pole over the water, fireworks and a large barbeque.

Words plagiarised from HERE.
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Getting a too close closer look.
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Climbed a wall with much difficulty to take better pics for you.image4
Creepy.com
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Chuuu (kiss in Japanese).
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Spot Sara and Jose.image8image1
Oops!
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Ciao!
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I keep on fallin’.

 

A Day In Central Madrid (Part One)

I have arrived and I am in heaven. I shared some pictures on my personal Facebook account telling my family and friends how much I love it here and how different to Japan it is (the fruit are not wrapped in plastic, the people are happy and care-free, there’s much colour and diversity). Then my dad told me off. He said, I shouldn’t be comparing countries because each flower has its own beauty. You’re right papa! That was not my intention. Just, I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s so damn romantic and it looks just like its pictures.
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More delicious than expected. According to Jose (my new host-father), the chocolate sauce/drink must be so thick that when dipped, your churro sticks up-right in it. Oh mama!
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A real espresso.
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I found this man and his chess board alone in the park. I asked him (well, gestured) if I could play and he said, “SI” (yes). Of course I lost because he was an expert but wow what an experience. We had no idea what the other was saying.
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Sorry dad but I have to compare. I mean, look at this! No plastic and so fresh and cheap and organic. Ugly but delicious. No gigantic plasticky apples here.
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A for Anisa.
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Beautiful People Do Not Just Happen

Do you remember THIS? When I introduced my favorite illustrator whose work I randomly (and luckily) came across at a small bookstore in Osaka station last year? Well, I added him on Facebook, declared my love to him and begged him to meet me in Tokyo the other day. Mitsuie-san is an incredibly humble (as well as talented) artist. He couldn’t believe how much I loved him. We spent the evening discussing his work, life and inspirations. As well as taking an hour train to meet Minako and I, he gifted me a big bunch of postcards featuring all of my favourite pieces of his which I have shared on my blog and social media since I have known him. God willing, we will be collaborating in the near future so watch this space! To check out more of his work, click HERE.image[2]image[1]image[1]image
When this precious little girl and I met two months ago, we both felt an instant connection. Aoi is so sweet it hurts. And though we couldn’t communicate more than a few words, we spent the entire day making origami (paper art) and playing on the hammock together.
Last week, she and her mother visited me in Osaka. I was so blessed to see her radiant face again. It’s true, children are the light of the world!image[5]image[1]image[2]imageimage[3]image[4]
I made a big batch of fresh granola for Minako and I’s Tokyo trip because I didn’t want to be eating out for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. After our one night stay at a hotel which came free with our shinkansen (bullet train) ticket (thanks to Mina’s amazing organisation skills) we took the remainder to her parents’ place – our accommodation for the next two nights and days. Mina’s mom tried (my) muesli for the very first time in her life and happened to love it. So on my last day, this happened: a big bowl of delicious. After, she (Mina’s sweet mother) wouldn’t stop thanking me for it. She said she thinks she is going to lose a lot of weight (hehe).
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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Tokyo Had Everything But You

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A rainy summer festival.
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Senso-ji temple.
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My lucky fortune – now ain’t that the truth? I had a really hard time living in the Japanese country side and working in their education system but now, apparently (hopefully) all that’s gone.
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A pancake/pikelete thingy majig filled with anko (sweet red bean paste) and matcha (green tea) ice-cream.
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A maid cafe waitress hoping for business.
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This is Akihabara. A popular Tokyo district mostly famous for its many electronic stores.
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image[2]image[3]I really enjoyed this colourful district and I kept thinking how much my father (the ex electrician) would also.

Osaka Somewhere

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Guys, I said I was gonna blog less, not not at all! I mean, I blogged every single freakin’ day for two entire years. So now, only 3-4 times a week, if that’s okay with you (hehe).
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Japanese grapes are like no other. Really, some of them sell for thousands and thousands of dollars! The purple ones (similar to these) are usually peeled. I can still remember the first time I saw my colleague, a 50-something year old carefully peeling her bunch of grapes as if they were bananas or apples. My mind was, and still is, blown. Also peeled by Japanese: pears, apples, the inner skin of all citrus fruit and figs.
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I volunteered as a security guard in Haifa, Israel once where we used the code 10-68 for inappropriate behaviour. Nowadays, even though 5 or 6 years have passed, every time I see something “inappropriate” I think 10-68! Funny how some details stay with you.
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It’s not all green-smoothies and health-foods. You know it’s a bad day when you find yourself sitting inside a Mos Burger at 9.25 on a Saturday night alone. Biting into the flesh of a dead animal as a second dinner – after having already eaten a big plate of cold left-overs plus two cream buns. Which, is the reason you’re out at all, you know, to convince yourself you’ve killed some of em kilojoules. Listening to Adele through stepped-on-broken headphones while using the restaurant’s feedback pad to write ex-lovers depressing love notes.
image[3]image[6]image[4]image[3]“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” -John Burroughsimage[1]image
100 yen vending machines are popular because they only require 1 coin.
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Singledom has a completely new meaning when you’re with the flu. These are freshly squeezed orange and carrot juice – my attempt at mothering myself with my real mama so far.
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Would have been a completely vegan meal if not for the fish flakes atop the tofu. Of course, still delicious. I am really going to miss soba. Both soba and tofu are my favorite Japanese foods.
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Often I have to remind myself that being single and living alone has its benefits too. I swear, except for the time I ate my feelings through a Mos Burger and fries combo, there hasn’t been a night where my dinner hasn’t been muesli and fruit.

PS I have had some recent fame, you can check it out HERE also, my latest Savvy article, HERE.

Mom Was Right

Dear Ones:

I’ve realised my mom was right. I have been blogging too much, working too much, exploring too much, thinking too much, exercising too much and plain pushing myself to exhaustion. When she first said it, of course I disagreed with her. “You don’t understand, I’m FINE,” I said. And we all know what that “fine” means. But a simple comment by Yuka today on how I’d mistakingly written “orange” in place of “apple” in a previous post,  finally touched the right nerve.

Believe me, I’ve had the best of intentions. I’ve blogged everyday because I enjoy doing it but also because I believe it will one day, some way or another, make me a real writer. For the past two years, I have not stopped. Even now, on holiday! I am walking, thinking, over-thinking, exploring, photographing, blogging, and freelancing. Then I write a post about holiday blues. I am so silly.

I don’t want to be like this anymore.

So, I have made a choice. The great Bahai leader, Abdu’l-Baha says:

“One cannot obtain the full force of the sunlight when it is cast on a flat mirror, but once the sun shineth upon a concave mirror, or on a lens that is convex, all its heat will be concentrated on a single point, and that one point will burn the hottest. Thus is it necessary to focus one’s thinking on a single point so that it will become an effective force.”

In short, I am finally going to take that overdue holiday. I am going to enjoy my upcoming travels to their fullest and I am going to live in the moment. This means photographing less, blogging less, hopefully thinking less and overall, chilling the F out. I guess my only concern is losing followers but I know that my health comes first and that this way, contrary to my previous thinking, I can become a better writer. Something to do with quality over quantity, I guess.

In the words of Anne Lamott:  “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”.

Again, thank you for being there.

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