Friday, June 23, 2017

Of wandering and writing, the wandering writer tells herself

This is the story of a woman who started to wander around the world and also became a writer. That's right, it's my story along with all the factors that worked together to turn me into a wandering writer.
For obvious reasons, and not to get you bored, I will divide this story into three or four posts, because I would also love to tell you about all those places I have been visited even just as a small transition in my life. Those, which I didn't consider as real wanderings because they were dictated more than by my desire, by the necessity.
Nevertheless, they need to be included, particularly now that I am going to tell you about myself and my inner journey to Wandering Writer.
I have to say that the traveling thing wasn't truly always in my thoughts. Sure I wanted to know always something new, having new experiences and of course writing. My wanderings started as a matter of fact, when first I had to move away from my home, and from the center of Italy, I moved to Verona.
Now, most of you know about the tale of Romeo and Juliet and their impossible love. Was it fact or fiction, we will probably never know. What I know as a writer is that, in every fiction, there is some foundation of truth. We get inspired by facts that happened around us or that we heard about, then we elaborate the information, we add some interesting twist, and voila we have a fiction novel. Now far from telling about how a novel is born, I would like to stop by telling a bit about Verona (this time it will be just a short description, but I promise that I will stop by telling you in more details about it).
The city indeed lives in harmony with its Medieval-Renaissance-Modern identity and walking around is made very easy by the well-developed pedestrian network of roads.
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 I had the pleasure to stay there only for two months, before moving to Germany to study but I am really considering to visit it one more time. Of course don't forget to pay a visit to the House of Juliet, where to dream about an impossible, heartbreaking love. Now, as I told in the beginning, this is just a legend, it is not said that it really happened, but it is feasible to think that at least the two families Montecchi and Capuleti, really existed.
Image result for verona romeo and juliet
And if it is Opera season, nothing beats to go and visit the Arena, a Roman theater for which the Aida, the opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi was written. And don't miss the chance to buy a ticket to see the opera in that wonderful theater. 
Knowing that I was supposed to move further north beyond the national boundaries was something that started to excite me. At that time, there wasn't any European Union, so crossing the border required more time, particularly if you, like me opted for a train/bus transportation, instead of flying directly from Milano to Stuttgart, my next destination. Therefore, I greeted for the last time Verona, its history, people and of course the river, that gave me a lot of inspiration, and I left.
In that journey, I've met a lot of interesting people, all different from each other, regardless whether they were all from my same country. That started to give me some hints of the possibilities behind a traveling experience, and I looked forward to discovering and meet all the people I would have met and become friend with. I knew I was going to attend an international master course, and I knew that my classmates came from all over the world, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia... I was thrilled.
It was September when I traveled from Verona to Bolzano (at the border with Switzerland) with the bus; from there with the train to Stuttgart and from Stuttgart with the train to Tübingen. 
Nevertheless, when you travel, you have to expect all sorts of adventures, and here is my tragicomic one. Someone was supposed to pick me up from the train station of Tübingen, the University city in Germany where I was going to study for at least three years.
I arrived at the train station at about 17:30, but no one was there waiting for me. Now, I am not the person who can panic easily, and I just waited at the station. I tried to call the contact person but she didn't reply my call, so I had absolutely no one I could contact, no address, nothing. Of course, I didn't have either enough money with me, as my family would have sent me some money through Western Union, but this would have happened only in 24 hours.
Now, imagine this situation, you have never been out of your country before, and you find yourself with no place to go, the contact person doesn't reply the phone and whoever was supposed to pick you up from the train station wasn't there.
The sun started to set and my hopes to have a meal, and sleeping in a bed started to fade away. I felt hopeless.
Suddenly a voice took me out from my misery, "Do you need any help?"
I looked up, and a young man smiled kindly at me.
"I don't know even what to ask for," I replied.
Shortly I explained him the situation, and he tried to find the faculty where I was enrolled. Anyway, this wasn't an easy task as all the documentation was in my email and at those times there weren't yet any smartphone to help to retrieve all the information. I just needed to get in touch with that person who decided not to pick up her goddamned phone.
We talked for at least a couple of hours, and I was really desperate, so much that I wanted to go back to Italy and forget about the study possibility and everything.
He looked at me concerned, "you have come this far, don't let the first difficulty put you down. In fact, don't let any difficulty put you down. Promise you won't give up," he said.
I don't know, but those words opened up a new world in front of me, giving back very big hopes.
He has been the kindest person I've ever known and offered me a meal and paid for me a night in the nearest hostel. We greeted, and he promised to be there the morning after to help me find the Faculty, my contact person and retrieve all the data from my email.
That night, things couldn't go worse, as suddenly the worst toothache recorded by every tooth fairy stroke me like thunder.
I wanted to cry, but I was afraid also to do that. I felt really lost.
Nevertheless, the morning after, before I could meet my savior, I tried to call once again my contact person, and guess what? She replied. We agreed that she would have come to pick me up at about 12:00 and everything would have solved.
I met my savior (Cornelius was his name), right after and told him the great news, we had breakfast, and he waited for this girl to come to pick me up.
I wanted to meet him again, but like an angel, a demon or a Keyser Söze, he walked away and with a whiff he was gone.





Saturday, June 17, 2017

The caribbean, without the pirates, but with the Wandering Writer

Who needs a pirate when you can have the Wandering Writer telling you about great trips, with twists?
OK, I know what you are thinking, if the pirate is Jack Sparrow, you'd dump me anytime and jump on the Black Pearl, what the heck? I would do the same.
This time, we arrived in Caracas or as the full official name  Santiago de Léon de Caracas, the bustling center of Venezuela, its capital and also largest city.
The first thing that came to my mind as I arrived was how the things were different from how I imagined them. Admittedly that I didn't have any idea of what to expect, the Venezuela and particularly Caracas surprised me in a positive way. Regardless the high crime rate, we felt safe to walk in the evenings on the streets, and differently than in Africa, we weren't even warned about having a taste of the local nightlife.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is being sure you always have enough money in the local currency because changing at the last minute can be difficult. Never trust the people who are changing in the streets illegally, as the chances to get forged money is quite high, and is, of course, illegal too.
However, avoid to change the money in a bank, as the process can be long and painful. We didn't know that, and since we needed cash and we couldn't find any ATM around, we spent at least two hours in a bank. There we were asked to fill thousands of forms, giving information about our jobs, back in our country, the name of the employer (firm and direct supervisor), took our fingerprints and other weird stuff.
I understand they wanted to be sure about the transaction, but this totally discouraged us from doing this again. For this reason, I warn you to get out from the hotel with the necessary amount of cash and never even by chance enter a bank.
The city looks immediately very crowded


Nevertheless, it has also a unique character, and you will really find intriguing the colorful way to build their houses. In some places, it is like living in a rainbow, and that will definitely put a smile on your face
There are plenty of possibilities for a true shopper. However, it seems like if you are a skinny woman, you will be truly challenged to find the right size
For us, the real meaning of the trip was, besides getting in touch with the culture and lifestyle, also to
discover the natural wonders, and with that I mean one of the most breathtaking and spectacular natural wonder in the world.
The Angel Falls, which is the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 979 meters and a plunge of 807 meters. With these premises, going to Venezuela and not checking out the falls is a big sin.
So with a cute little plane, we were ready to fly
And... Ohhh... Marvel!!
The beauty of those falls, I cannot find the right words that can describe such a wonder, it was like being flooded with trillions of emotions all at once, as we flew closer and closer to the slope. The natural wonders, of course, do not stop there, as there are many other small falls that deserved to be seen, particularly the Hacha Falls on the Carrao River.
where you can have a walk just behind the falls and admire their beauty. I really suggest to go and check out this experience too.

Not to forget to spend some days in the Isla Margarita; it is indeed a very touristic place where to go, but if you ever wondered whether the Caribbean sand is really that white,  can tell you right away...
YES!
And if you wondered also if they make the best rum of the world, again the answer is ...
YES!
The real treasure in the Caribbean are the natural wonders, the great forests, the mighty rivers, the white sands and the amazing water falls.
Oh, and not to forget the lovely inhabitants that will bring out the little child inside your heart and you will be surprised in finding yourself running behind this cute little fellows.
Nevertheless, as the day will come to an end, you will rather stop running behind the crabs and enjoy the sunset sipping a mojito.
And with this, I greet you, wherever you are, waiting to see you again next week for another post on this blog.
Stay tuned!!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sometimes you need to look around to see Beauty... a journey with The Wandering Writer

Far from very exotic and unexpected places on this planet, I'm going to tell you about a place, which is not as exotic as the previous destinations. However, I'm sure it will be able to charm you with its romantic beauty.
Riga, the romantic city of the Baltic and the largest city of Latvia, the city of amazingly beautiful architecture and characteristic restaurants/pubs full of soul that will enchant you, bringing back to a non-defined time, where to lose yourself in dreams you thought you'd never have.
Bad luck seems to be on our side, at least not for the good weather, or perhaps it was just our fault to travel there in fall and not in summer?
Either way, even if not raining, the Sun didn't shine upon us, except for a few breaks of fog and clouds.
Nevertheless, fog added that sort of melancholic romance to the city, and perhaps not everything was lost. So, I talked about the beautiful architecture, and here are some examples to make you wish you were already there:


One of the most iconic building is "The Brotherhood of Blackheads" building. The Brotherhood was originally a military organization  active in Latvia and Estonia, nevertheless, with the time, it lost the military aspects becoming a predominantly social organization of unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners.
I couldn't figure out the reason why they should have been unmarried, but I believe it has to do with the fact that they were connected with the order of the Dominican Monks (I cannot be sure about it, mine it is just a wild guess, so take it with the due doubts).



Another landmark is the Freedom Monument, and it is meant to honor all the soldiers who were killed during the Latvian War of Independence (19181920). As you can imagine, this is a very important landmark for every Latvian, and even in that foggy day, was a very suggestive view.


However, it doesn't matter whether the building has a particular history or it is bound to a precise historical event, or not. The whole city offers stunning views of exquisite architecture and architectural motifs that decorate most of the buildings in the city.
Each of them offers the chance to get inspired to take pictures from different perspectives, also inviting the least expert photographer to dare new points of views.
Let's not forget the romantic beauty of the parks, something that never disappoints despite the weather. Whether it will be raining, sunny, foggy or cloudy, the green areas of the city offer rest for the restless soul, the inspiration for the artists and relief from the daily problems. Just try and see it for yourself the great benefits of just sitting down in those parks.





The Daugava or Western Dvina is the river that crosses the city (and also the whole country), which gives an extra value not only to the green spaces but also to the whole city

and when the fog fades away, the sun can make miracles mirroring the city on its clear and calm surface.
The city, offers a lot of surprises, no only because of its beauty, but also for the curiosities you can find here and there, by walking around:


The black magic coffee shop is one of the most curious of all, and a must see, and try. You will fall in love with the coffee and the selections of drink and if there is a place in this world where you should try the local drink "Melnais Balzams" (black balsam) is a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur made with many different natural ingredients mixed with pure vodka.

Stop at every bar/cafeteria, because each of them has a unique character that will entice you leaving you definitely speechless. But is there really need to say anything when your senses are satisfied. 




What have I learned?

 Life is made of learning steps. Every day we learn something new, either about ourselves, someone else, the world around us, a new skill, o...