Category Archives: Leisure

The Renaissance city – Firenze

That’s how I know it now, as the Renaissance city.

And it makes sense, once you take the Renaissance tour and hear the amazing history of Firenze. When I say amazing, I don’t mean it was all nice but it was definitely colorful and had a profound impact on the world at large forever (Firenze was once the economic center of the world). And that history wouldn’t have happened without the influence of the Medici family. I knew about them but I really wasn’t aware of the enormity of their legacy.

I am not going to go into detail regarding that, if you’re ever in Florence, you can take the tour and learn for yourself (my guide was Silvie and as a side note, she sings amazingly).

That’s a bit of Silvie while taking a pic at Medice palace

I want to write so many things about my three days there and not make it too long but give you as many highlights as possible.

I’ll just do a quick run-through of what stands out the most in my mind.

Be ready for a horde of tourists. Going to all the famous Florentine places like the Academy, the Dome and the Pitti palace. The best thing you can do for those is book tickets online and be there when you’re supposed to be. I didn’t know my timetable so didn’t do that and only saw those places from the outside.

Which didn’t bother me that much because I saw many other places from the inside and looking back, you can’t choose wrong with so many interesting places to visit.

Speaking of those places, ticket to any of them is between 8-10 Euros.

My selection of churches were Basilica San Marco (and the accompanying museum), Santa Croce, and Santa Maria Novella. Of the three, San Marco is the least interesting and the smallest but has a certain coziness (it actually got me to stay and listen to Italian mass as the girl playing the organ did it so lovely, and then sang lovely as well).

San Marco
Library at San Marco

Santa Croce is where many famous people are buried (Galileo, Machiavelli, Dante…) but it’s the worth the visit for the beauty of the place itself. Like Santa Maria Novella as well.

Dante’s grave
Santa Maria Novella

Which brings me to Santa Maria Novella Profumo which definitely deserves a post of its own (and is getting one). I want to say go there if you’re in Florence but be warned, money just flies out of your hands there.

My last day in Florence was the best one even though I walked 21 km. I still feel that in my legs. πŸ˜€

Anyway, a little warning, even though the Gardens of Boboli are beautiful and worth the visit, nobody tells you they are on a hill. A steep hill. So, if you plan on walking through most of the garden, be aware it’s a serious exercise. Which is why I think everyone at Palazzo Pitti was probably fit.

View from the garden towards Palazzo Pitti
Go down the garden and then you have to come up – it’s steeper than it looks here

Which brings me to the next hilly destination – Piazzale Michelangelo. Amazing view, quite breathtaking to get there. πŸ˜‰

View from Piazalle Michelangelo

The last two places of my last day just plain made me happy. Climbing the Tower of Palazzo Vecchio and visiting the museum there and then visiting this little wine shop/wine tasting place. The owner is very knowledgeable and will do her best to offer you wine to taste according to your preference. I was amazed by the wines she gave me to try. I definitely recommend visiting her place – Antica Bottega A.D. 1264.

View from the Tower
Antica Bottega A.D. 1264

It’s funny how the first two days I only walked through the flat part of the city and then left the last day for all the climbing. πŸ™‚

Sometimes I don’t think things through. πŸ˜‰ But at least I have fun. I loved my time in Florence. πŸ™‚

When you can’t run, walk

Or crawl as that was what I almost did this Saturday.

You all know how much I loved running and was a bit depressed upon learning that I couldn’t anymore. Well, it turns out there is this thing called trail running/trekking (I know it’s not exactly the same but as I walk in both cases it’s pretty much the same to me) which comes close to the same thing as running.

I decided to try trail running and see if my back could support it. So far I only did one training where I actually did some running, the rest was fast walking or just walking uphill.

Which brings me to last Saturday.

There was a B2B trail in Croatia and my company decided to participate, so 20 of us went to the island of Krk to try our best in trail running.

Not to keep you in suspense, I did no running at all. πŸ˜€ The path was rocky and steep and at one point I moved at a snail’s pace. I wanted to say literally at a snail’s pace but it wasn’t, turtle would be more appropriate. In my defense, it was extremely steep and everyone in my category of ‘only being able to walk’, was slow getting up that part.

It won’t be an exaggeration when I say this was one of the most difficult races I ever finished and I only walked. But getting up on a rocky mountain and then climbing down those steep hills is actually quite difficult. It’s a rather sharp uphill battle when you start climbing. Turns out getting down that kind of mountain is not as fast as one might think.

And since I made it in the time allotted I am very happy with myself. It is a bit painful walking these last two days but I don’t mind. It just means it will be less difficult next time. Although next time I’ll carefully checkΒ in advance what the trail looks like. πŸ˜‰

Saturday was an amazingly sunny and beautiful day so I’ll leave you with some of the pictures we took that day, and show off my colleagues that were as enthusiastic to participate as was I.

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P.S. Forgot to say. The air on Krk was amazingly fragrant! The spring was in the sea air.

Ragazze in Bologna

Some of you might have seen on Tara’s blog the mention of an upcoming trip to Bologna. The idea came from Natalie and then she and Tara teamed up to invite Asali and myself. All I can say to that is that it was some brilliant thinking on their part. I don’t remember the last time I had so much leisurely, unhurried fun with such wonderful people.

I’ve met Natalie 4 years ago when she was traveling through Croatia with her husband and it’s known that Asali and I have been friends for a while now. The person I was so eager to finally meet was Tara. I don’t want to gush now about how the perfume world has given me a chance to meet amazing people, but it has. I always imagined Tara as a strong but kind woman and the reality was very much like that. You might not be aware of her strength when you see her waify form but when you hear her voice, there is no mistaking the strength there.

Anyway, to get on to the actual trip. πŸ™‚ We all met in Bologna, arriving one after the other and the six of us did some true Italian holidaying. If you are wondering who is number 6, well, a friend of Natalie’s husband also arrived from New York so we were truly an international band of tourists. Which actually turned out to be great because we did different things to make everyone happy and we shared stories from our particular backgrounds – making us get to know each other better and learn more about cultural differences. This was all underscored by sightseeing (churches and museums mostly), having lazy Italian lunches and dinners, and gelato and aperitivo in the meantime. Honestly, Italians know how to enjoy life. πŸ™‚

And I miss the espresso now. I got quite used to it. And the fact that Italian guys don’t mind some causal flirting – hence the title of the post. We loved being called “ragazze”. πŸ˜€

So, in no particular order, here are some photos from the trip.

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One of many beautiful buildings in Bologna

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I love churches so I enjoyed visiting them but no longer remember which is which πŸ™‚

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Basilica di San Petronio

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The Neptune sculpture that’s supposed to be on the fountain but is actually in Archeological museum as the fountain is undergoing reconstruction

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A canal running through Bologna

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Turns out there is no river in the river Po

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The most amazing theatre I’ve ever seen (in Parma) – Teatro Farnese

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Part of the Farnese palace is the library (HUGE!) – I want to live there

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Parma cathedral

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Baptistry in Parma

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Basilica di San Luca

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View from the San Luca basilica (it’s on top of a hill)

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Asali doesn’t give up so we finally had a good enough selfie πŸ˜‰

Yoga retreat in Istria

For the May 1st weekend I decided to see what a yoga retreat looks like and went to one with a friend. It was organized by Slovenians who seem to have more free days around May 1st so the long weekend turned out to actually be 5 days.

And let me warn you for future reference – if you want to participate in a retreat organized by Slovenians, you better be in really good shape because they seem to be able to exercise all day long and continue that days on end (it turned out I can’t). πŸ™‚

The retreat we went to was an acro yoga retreat that Danijela (friend I went with) and I practice occasionally. I actually thought we were doing fine until this retreat. πŸ˜€ The people who came practice acro yoga for much longer (and most of them are actually yoga teachers who have daily practices) so it turned out us beginners had some problems following the more advanced poses. Still, we did our best and I’m quite happy with that.

Even though it was an acro yoga retreat, we would start each day with a yoga session – the sessions were organized by the elements so we went through earth, water, fire and air. I found it really interesting that the hardest one for me was water because when I look at my natal chart (astrological) water is the one element missing in it.

And as if yoga wasn’t enough, we did some rock climbing as well. πŸ™‚ Well, they did. πŸ˜€ I tried one day, realized it’s not the thing for me and when the next day they went for more, I enjoyed the sun and the beach and went for a really short swim (the sea is still very cold!).

To sum up my experience – I loved it! I ached all over for days but had the greatest time and met some wonderful people. I also realized I’m in terrible shape. πŸ˜€ At least compared to everyone else who was there. My body still feels weak, like all the energy went out of my muscles and is very slowly finding its way back. Still, wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Here are some pictures of what it all looked like:

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Did not climb far πŸ˜€

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One of the best Istrian sunsets

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What acro yoga looks like

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Swimming at 14 degrees Celsius (not for long though) πŸ˜‰

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