I’ve loved The Little Prince since the first time I read it (so much so, that I make it a mission to find the book in every language I can find, preferably the country I’ve visited). Each time I read it, there’s always a fair bit of new and different insights that I’d missed the last time. I’m fascinated by the seemingly simple story, which when you read thoroughly, has great wisdom obscured. It’s beautifully enigmatic, in a way that it can be interpreted in so many ways, and how your interpretation might change from time to time, depending on your current circumstances. To read something so rich and brilliant — all disguised as a children’s book — I’d always thought, what a great mind must have written this.
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know much about the author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
In 2016 I read some amazing books, a few of them have even made it to the list of my all-time favorite books (along with The Little Prince, the Harry Potter series, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and South of the Border West of the Sun, among many others). It’s hard to narrow it down to only 7, but here they are.
New place, new traditions.
This Christmas will be my first in Sweden, and while last year I got the chance to dip my toes in Swedish Christmas festivities when I visited my sister for 5 days, it wasn’t until now that I got the chance to really revel in it. I’ve experienced some of the Swedish Christmas traditions firsthand, while hearing about the others from my colleagues.
Some of these traditions are… strangely unique. Not in a bad way (I love strange things!), but it’s just a bit baffling for me when I first heard about them. So here are a few unique Swedish Christmas traditions that still leave me bemused.
When we were planning our trip, one of the first things we put on the list was snorkeling at Menjangan Island. I’d heard about the island and its reputation before, but seeing how far it was from my usual destinations in Bali, it always put me off.
This time, it was different. I was getting sick of crowded places, and escaping Jakarta with its hustle and bustle would only be worth it if I spent a good amount of time in a remote place. So when Katka said she really wanted to go to this place, I welcomed the idea.
We stayed at Pemuteran, a small village in the north of Bali (more on that later). Everything about Pemuteran was special, but it was a day trip for snorkeling at Menjangan Island that cemented our love for this place.
When we were planning my trip to Germany, Marion asked me where I’d like to go. To that question, I only had 1 answer: Neuschwanstein Castle.
It was decided long before I got there that Neuschwanstein Castle needed a whole weekend of its own, since it was a bit far from Regensburg. When we talked about that again, Marion asked if it would be okay if her parents came along for the weekend. I said yes, of course, I also wanted to meet her parents. So the plan was set, that we were gonna spare a weekend to visit Neuschwanstein Castle and spend a night in a village nearby since it was too far for a day trip, then go to Garmisch-Partenkirchen the next day.
It’s been 4 months (four!) since I went to Ljubljana, and I must admit that I’m really bad at keeping track of my travel journal. Oh well, better late than never.
So after six-hours trip from Salzburg, I arrived at Ljubljana and Maša picked me up at the train station. When she asked, ‘Are you tired?’ I said no because I wasn’t, and I really didn’t see what was happening next. I ended up in her sister’s graduation party, probably the only one who wore a pullover, leggings, and sneakers among the glamorously dressed students, parents, and teachers. I didn’t mind though. That was a taste of Slovenian experience.
The next morning, I packed really quickly for a weekend away at Bled. Considering we still had time before we had to leave, Maša took me for a walk around the town, and I fell in love at once.
We went to Vodnik Square to see the market, where a lady gave me a bunch of flowers upon knowing that I was there for a holiday. I couldn’t say anything in Slovene except ‘hvala‘, and I hoped that was enough for that nice lady.
The weekend was spent in utter bliss at Bled, where I had the chance to see the lake (which left me in awe, even hours after we went back to the cottage) and Slovenian traditional dance.
One thing that I was looking forward to when I attended GrIStuF was a day tour to Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The next day after the closing ceremony, we were packed and ready. Seven o’clock in the station was a bit early for us, but thank god nobody was left behind. Two or three hours later, we arrived in Schwerin and began to explore the city! The first stop was this, only five minutes away by walking from the station.
Sehr schön, yes?