Magic Christmas around Europe

Zurich, Swarovski Christmas Tree

I had a short Christmas vacation but I’m back now with a few words about Christmas. Christmas may be a family holiday, but the way people celebrate it, as well as where, has changed slightly over time.

Celebrating with family is still one of my favorite ways of spending Christmas, but once in a while this magic day catches me somewhere else, far from some of my dear ones but closer to some others 🙂

Christmas is a happy holiday and therefore I enjoy it most. No matter one’s mood, we are all filled with happiness when we see Christmas lights and Christmas decorations everywhere.

I find it easier to describe the magic of Christmas in pictures rather than in words, so here are a few photos from some places I’ve been around Christmas. I’ll update this post with photos from a new place each year, and the post will Continue reading

On Beauty

This is a novel written by British author Zadie Smith. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the book, though I did have some high hopes based on the fact that it was shortlisted for the Man Book Prize award in 2005.

To be honest, the start of the novel didn’t impress me, but after patiently reading through the first 30%, I adjusted to the pace, began to like the style and became enthusiastic about the story. From then on, I went through the second half in a single sunny Sunday morning.

The entire story is carefully constructed and interesting, so I enjoyed the novel, and it wasn’t until after a few weeks that I realized I was still thinking about it. I liked the book because of its many details and intense action scenes, which lead to grave consequences in the novel’s revealing climax, while at the same Continue reading

Slovenia

This small country is bursting with natural wonders. When visiting Slovenia, I was impressed by its diverse landscape. There is a sea coast, there are mountains, lakes, rivers, caves, underground rivers, and the country is almost entirely covered by forests.

This green land is simply surprising. You can get from an Alpine landscape to a coastal scenery with the Adriatic see on one side and cliffs on another in just a few kilometers.

I decided on visiting Slovenia when I saw an aerial photo of a tiny island housing a church amongst green trees, and surrounded by a lake with the bluest water. Beyond the lake, there was a castle raising in the backdrop of snowy mountains peaks. At first, I thought that the surreal photo had been taken in Switzerland, but it was actually in Slovenia at Lake Bled. So on our next vacation, we jumped at the opportunity Continue reading

The Feast of the Goat

I’m taking a risk writing a review for a novel written by a Nobel prize winner in literature, Mario Vargas Llosa.

Mario Vargas Llosa is yet another great author from Latin America-to be more specific, he is originally from Peru.

The Feast of the Goat is the first book I’ve read written by Mario Vargas Llosa, and I’m certainly going to read more of his work. I was captivated by this book, and even if it is quite long, it was interesting to see that I managed to complete it in just three days (I was of course on vacation 🙂 ).

The novel is based on true facts, namely the regime in the Dominican Republic under dictator Rafael Trujillo. The author presents historical events in an artistic, romantic manner. After I finished reading, I checked facts on Wikipedia and was surprised that something like that could actually happen. It would Continue reading

Norway

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Norway is an amazing, vast country with breathtaking landscapes: fjords, seas, huge cliffs, mountains and countless islands. A few trips are needed in order to be able to experience everything this amazing country has to offer.

Norway is quite impressive with its unbelievable scenery. The only down side is the weather, and the lack of light which didn’t help in truly representing the country’s beauty in photos. We were there for a few days at the beginning of July and got a single sunny day, while the rest of the time it was raining or cloudy, the temperature varying between 10 – 22 degrees depending on how far North we went. Even so, with the bad weather, I couldn’t stop myself from repeating how beautiful the view was, every ten minutes or so, as we went across a mountain pass a lake, a fjord or past an ordinary wooden house. Continue reading

Amsterdam (novel)

The previous summer, I was searching the web for some ideas on good vacation reads, and came across an article about Ian McEwan. I was impressed with his writing career and felt a bit ashamed that up until that point I hadn’t read any of his works. I decided to fill the gap, and ordered four of his books: Amsterdam, Saturday, Enduring Love and Atonement. Both the article and his writing style must have been very convincing, since I read all four books one after another 🙂

Ian McEwan is a well-known English novelist and screenwriter. He was nominated for the Man Booker Prize six times and won the award in 1998 with the very novel I will be reviewing in this post. His writing style is simply perfect, and whenever I read something written by him, I’m surprised how every word fits in perfectly with the next, creating a Continue reading

Stockholm

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Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I’ll be probably saying this a lot about other cities, but there is something about Stockholm that really impressed me. It has access to water from almost everywhere, therefore it is also called the Venice of the North.

I like to plan and organize in general, and I think that cities can be easily grouped in different categories. One category I came across could be Impressive/ Big cities and Stockholm definitely fits well here.

I’ve been to Stockholm twice, the first time in the middle of May and a second time in August. It might be a good idea to go there in the summer as during the rest of the year the weather is unstable. It is rainy, windy, cloudy and it can be quite dark actually. Except for the weather, Stockholm is probably the most spectacular Continue reading

The Light of Day

When I first began reading this novel by Graham Swift, I wanted to go through each page as fast as I could. But when I reached the final chapter, I went back and read it again a few times, since I couldn’t believe that was the end. I just loved the book, it’s easy to read and has a catchy plot.

The main narrative follows detective George Webb, in a profound reflection on a few of his cases, as well as his personal life and the way the two blend. There is of course a love story (or rather a few), but it is hard to tell if any of them have a happy ending. The book also deals with the abstract theme of deprivation, which is explored in a couple of secondary plot lines. Every character is stuck in his own circumstances or reality, without the possibility to escape Continue reading

Corsica

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Some time back, we were looking for an island where we could spend our summer vacation. We wanted to go somewhere in Europe, however it would’ve had to be exotic, so we thought that Corsica would be an intriguing choice. We didn’t know much about the island at the time, but the mere thought of French desserts and the Mediterranean, already made it seem like the perfect destination.

We finally managed to get there last year.

It was quite easy to find flight tickets to Paris and from there to Ajaccio, Corsica’s main city. The problem however, was to find a decent hotel, on one hand because there were just a few options, and on the other hand, the ones above average were either taken or prohibitively expensive. Accommodation in Corsica usually means either expensive luxury hotels or unrenovated hotels at a reasonable price. There are a couple of good Continue reading

One Hundred Years of Solitude

I’m almost certain that most people have heard of this book or at least about the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It seems pointless to write yet another review out of thousands already available on the web, or outline facts about Marquez that could be easily looked up on Wikipedia (however I do recommend his page, it’s a captivating read).

Instead, I’d like to share the feeling I had when reading the book, and my opinion regarding Marquez’s literary style.

First of all, I chose One Hundred Years of Solitude as the opening post to my book section, because I was never more touched by a novel as I was after I finished Marquez’s masterpiece. It is simple, yet extremely complex, it is magical yet also bluntly realistic. I cannot say with certainty how the story is, and I would probably not remember the plot in detail even after I had Continue reading