Markets and streetlife in Saigon

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was chatting with my friend S. on Skype this morning.
We started talking about our upcoming, long-waited, almost totally planned, supa-dupah trip (no spoilers), while mumbling to myself “just a few more weeks, a bunch of days, so many seconds.. I can do it”.
Though April is almost at its end, weather here is disappointing.
Rainy. Cold. Just sad. To whoever believes that Italy is sunny and warm all year long. AH. AH. AH. No. Nope nope nope. Reconsider, guys.

Thus, holidays are definitely on my mind, all the time. As my friend A. says, the only way to deal with an ended holiday is to have another one to look forward to. Check ūüėČ

So we were chatting about everything we are going to visit in a while and planning all the stuff we still have to do before leaving (I am the anxious one, must confess that); then we changed subject slowly and slipped back to Vietnam. We started recalling single, framed, sweet moments of those days. We got nostalgic right away and I started listing all the unforgettable little things made us smile or even shocked us for a second.

Like..

…waking up in the morning due to all that traffic noise (mopets honking all day long. ALL. DAY. LONG.)

DSC_0173.JPGThese lovely ladies smiled the second they spotted me taking this picture. Most people travel on mopets (and transport any kind of stuff)

…people shocked at our request for bread in the morning. No soup. No eggs. Just bread, butter, coffee and some fresh fruit.
“No eggs?? You mean, no no? No soups?!”
“Yes, bread only..”
“No meat? No fish? Is everything all right?”

Ben Thanh Market 9

Ben Thanh Market 10Ben Thanh Market, Saigon

…a sweet old lady who helped us crossing a 4 -lane¬†road safely after ages of us trying¬†not to be hit.
… young people stopping by just to have a quick chat, ask where we we from and wish us a good time.
..street food everywhere. And I mean everywhere, everytime.
…huge and crowded markets filled with tons of stuff. With a temple inside, if necessary.

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DSC_0352Oh yes, I definitely have a thing for market and everyday life pictures.

DSC_0072Ben Thanh Market 11Ben Thanh Market 5Ben Thanh Market - dintorni 1

DSC_0384Probably the hardest part is spotting the wire to fixDSC_0448I so love their traditional folk costumes and those hatsDSC_0106DSC_0054Pictures of nature always call me down. And I love these colours

Sunburnt in Helsinki

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Sounds quite unbelievable, doesn’t it?
I spent just one day, less than 10 hours up there. Nonetheless, the day was so bright, the sky cloudless and the temperature confortably warm.. not only was I overdressed (so had to carry a jacket + jumper + scarf all day long in my bag), but also got sunburnt.

Plus, since I was visiting Esti and decided the day before to catch the ferry and take a look at Finland as well, I was clueless regarding anything to do and visit in Helsinki.

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Usually I’m super organized and plan everything ahead; before leaving I already have everything figured out: the day after buying the plane ticket I start booking hotels, reading the guide, checking anything on internet and so on. By the time I arrive at my destination, I can give a good piece of advise about restaurants, museums, stuff to do.
So, this was so not like me.

But don’t you like to relax a bit when on holidays and face the unexpected? I do too, that’s why I’m so organized all the time: this gives me the chance to be confident enough about important things like where to eat and where to sleep, so I have time and energy to enjoy the little things during my days off and face everything that comes on my way.

I know it may sound a contradiction, but works for me.

Helsinki, then. Kinda expensive (had to have lunch at a fast food to save a bit and still couldn’t believe the prices), this I must say.
I loved, though, the atmosphere. Let’s say it gave positive vibes and I considered for a few hours to move there. The language, though. I don’t think I could learn it, even though literally everybody speaks English.

Now that I’ve gone through all the pictures I got how much I’ve missed of the city. My bad.

The Cathedral
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The Central Station
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The Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden
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A stroll along the lake Baltici 813
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Berlin, nochmals

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Yeah, I know. I should probably stop posting pictures of the same 3 places and start sharing something else.
But I really can’t help it.
Today I was checking the last folds I created in my laptop and, obviously, Berlin was one of the them. (All my previous posts about Berlin here).
As usual I spent my birthday wandering around that city but this time, it was definitely over the top. One of my best birthdays ever.
There was seven of us, no wait! 8. 4 of us flying from Venice, 2 from London, 2 currently living in Berlin. It was one of the best get together ever. No matter the chill, the rain, the stomache that beat me up badly one day. One night we stayed up until 5 a.m. playing cards (ok, fancy cheecky cards I may or may not have received as Christmas present after 2 months…this I won’t say) and laughing. I can’t even express how much I feel blessed right now for having those people in my life.

Though it was meant to be a relaxing holiday, we still didn’t want to miss the chance to visit something new or see again something we loved (typical of me).

This is the Sch√∂nhauser Allee Jewish Cemetery. You really don’t wanna miss it next time you are in town.
The visit only takes an hour or so, if you wanna walk around and have a look at the old tombstones and take a couple of pictures.
It’s definitely worthy your time; I love how after a minutes you walk its paths on its lenght, you can’t spot the entrance if look back. The silence, the colour of trees perfectly combining with the stones and, most of all, the history of this place.

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This the huge Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (yes, I’m into Jewish culture a lot)

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The Trabant, symbol of the city especially during the division era

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Vivid colours can be spotted everywhereDSC_0145.JPG

and if you look for a simple for of art and happiness, you won’t be disappointedDSC_0270.JPG

Hanoi, Vietnam

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My last post dates back to February. My bad.
Well at least I have a lot to say, after months of absence..

February. Those days I was booking and getting ready for the farthest I have ever been.
My first time in Asia. My second one outside my comfort zone aka Europe.
About time.

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copyright for this picture: my friend Sara. It was the only one in this post not shot by me.

When I came back everybody asked “How was it?”. All the time.
First thing first: Hot. Extremely hot. And humid. Far more than I could ever expect and I currently live amid water. We were sweating more than our t-shirts and shorts could bear.
We were literally dripping. Every second we spent outside. But it was worthy.

Here is beautiful Hanoi.

Streetfood is basically the only food for themdsc_0515A lovely young ladydsc_0630The Hanoi Social Clubdsc_0563A barber shop (can you spot me?)dsc_0519 A moment of relax: coconut milk coffee (addictive!)csc_0011The smith streetdsc_1071dsc_0932

Molasses Cookies

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Where could I start from?
Given that
– my sweet tooth is highly demanding
– I love cookies. Eating, baking, thinking about them. Everything delicious that comes in more than one unit is welcome.
– Sally (of the amazing Sally’s Baking Addiction) has tons of gooey recipes I can’t resist to (and honestly don’t even want to). When I bought one of her books, I knew I was doomed.
– Last fall I tried to swallow disappointment, sad thoughts about the upcoming winter (though it then turned sunny and kinda warm, it’s still a no for me).
– I had to test a few recipes for Christmas (last Semptember I was in a pub in London when I saw the sign “Christmas is coming, either you want it or not”. *growing anxiety*)

So I used baking as a soothing balm and, as usual, ate my feelings. All together, sugar-coated, chocolate covered, bundled up in cinnamon and ginger.
Note to me: it’s nonsense eating gluten-free and avoid alcohol, sugar and dairies for 5 days if I can’t stop munching during the weekends, you stupid truffle.

Thus, for all the reasons above-written and more, while reading Sally’s book I stumbled upon her Molasses Cookies and decided at once to give them a try.

Plase note: the link re-directs to the recipe I found on her website: I don’t think I can share the one in her book (no spoilers!). They seem similar to me, though.

These my pictures (getting better thank to my new reflex, don’t you think?ok, just a bit)

Depending on how many minutes you leave them in the oven they will come out soft and a bit chewy (oh yessss), or a bit more crispy and crunchy¬†(still a yess). I prefer the first option but I honestly won’t say no to the second one (obviously).

It was my first time with molasses (we don’t use it much here in Italy, had to ask a friend to get me some) but won’t be the last for sure.
It combines perfectly with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. The sweeteness given to the cookies is different, richer I would say, but not taking over.
The consistency is perfect; I used olive oil as shortage (neither butter nor an other animal one) and it definitely enhances the after taste of molasses.

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Home and a heart filled with joy

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Venice. Oh Venice. The power of this city is amazing.
It surprise me every time with a new detail, a different view, the way light reflects on water and hides behind a building.
Another narrow street (our calle), a wine seller, the sight of a canale from the bridge.

Alive, beating, embracing. More than water and stones, every brick has a story.
I love that even after years of reading and walking, there are still tons of things I haven’t seen, museums I haven’t visited and god knows how many I won’t ever get to know about.

It fills me with joy, hope and makes me feel there is something amazing in my life. It could never disappoint me.

Oh Venice.

I love the way clothers are hung. Rio della Misericordia
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Amsterdam

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After months of planning, booking and waiting, finally December has come.
I honestly couldn’t have waited any longer.
A Florence and the Machine concert combined with a trip in a wonderful city was all I could think of lately.
Since August, 10th (the day we decided we would leave and attend the show), we booked the flights, a flat, bought the concert tickets, collect info regarding places to see and museum we wanted to visit.

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Those days arrived and passed in a blink of an eye. All I have left is happiness, deep inside, worn and dirty shoes and tons of pictures.
I can still hear Florence’s voice in my head and feel her arm on my finger.
I still get emotional when talking about this 4-day trip.

I have recently got a Nikon D3300 as birthday + Christmas present and I couldn’t be any happier. I am honestly unable to express how good that camera is. I’m still a newbie, but I’m trying to learn as much as possible by practicing almost every spare day.

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