Photo-diary from Israel and Palestine

We’re back from 10 wonderful days exploring Israel and the West Bank (where we unfortunately only spent one day due to security concerns in the region). Here is a collection of some of the photos I took.

Let’s start with Tel Aviv, the first city we visited. We were based in the Jaffa neighborhood, a mixed place where you will find Arab, Jewish and Christian people and businesses. I would definitely go back there on my next trip to TLV.

Tel Aviv has a VERY laid back atmosphere. To me it is the ultimate place for a sun&sea holiday! Beautiful beaches, good surfing waves, great shops, great food and really not that many tourists….which is always a bonus, anywhere. I have noticed that there is also a great street art scene in town. We spent just a couple of days there, because our priority was to spend more time in Jerusalem and explore nearby areas.

For the whole duration of our holidays we stayed at private apartments with AirBnB. It was our first time using the service and, as a friend of us said, it’s gonna be hard to go back to hotels :) Here are some photos from the AirBnB we stayed at in Jaffa-Tel Aviv:

After Tel Aviv we went to Jerusalem, a very interesting city with endless things to see. You definitely feel overwhelmed with places to visit and new things to learn. Here some photos:

One thing I didn’t like in Jerusalem is that you can definitely feel the social tension. It is right by the West Bank, and during the period we were there Israel launched a major military operation in both the West Bank and Gaza. Gaza was shooting rockets to Israel. You can read more about it on Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper published in English – which we read every day in order to plan our itinerary in the safest way.

The other thing I didn’t like is the fact that I had to cover my body most of the time in the Old City, for religious reasons, and it was really hot – sometimes 34-36 degrees celsius.

We managed to spend one day in the West Bank, and it was a beautiful and peaceful experience. We went to Bethlehem, where we visited the market, had a coffee at Star&Buck coffee and visited the beautiful Church of the Nativity.

The situation of the Palestinian Territories is worsening right now (see Haaretz link above). It’s really sad. Reading about what is going on in Gaza right now is very depressing. It is good to travel down there (I mean to the West Bank, Gaza is completely off limits) and see that there are still successful businesses, restaurants, art initiatives and people who hope to see a brighter future. Both in Israel and Palestine there are people who believe that peace is possible.

We also went for a day trip to the Dead Sea, in the middle of the desert and facing Jordan – so breathtakingly beautiful, but very touristic. Due to high temperatures during the day we got on the first bus from Jerusalem so that we could be there at 9 am, and we started by hiking at the beautiful Ein Gedi nature reserve, where we dipped under fresh waterfalls and saw lots of strange animals. After that we dipped in the Dead Sea, we floated, we covered ourselves in black mud and did all those touristic things you should do while there (buying overpriced food and drinks included).

What ruined the trip on our way back was the terrible bus service! We were stranded in the sweltering hot desert waiting for a bus for two hours, all this because the bus company has a totally insane system. DO NOT GO TO THE DEAD SEA BY BUS.

Now I understand why, the day before our trip, a British couple we met told us that we were “very adventurous” for taking the public bus to the Dead Sea.

Lastly, two more photos from the beach in Jaffa – hope you enjoyed this mini holiday photo reportage :) I wished we spent more time in the West Bank and generally in the Northern Part of Israel (Haifa in particular), but we can always go back…and we may.

Recycle in Copenhagen: how to rent clothes, re-use windows and more…

Photo from Twitter (debuggirl)

Photo from Twitter (debuggirl) Bag by Tiger

There is a restaurant in Copenhagen where cooks make food with leftovers from supermarkets, manufacturers and other companies in the food business. It’s Spisehuset Rub&Stub, the first concept of this kind in Europe. Why waste food that is still perfectly edible when you can recycle it?

The whole staff works on a volunteer basis and the revenue goes to humanitarian development projects. What is not to like about it? Oh, and there is always a vegetarian course on the menu (photos below from their website – you can see the interior of the restaurant).

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Before going out to eat some fancy recycled food surplus you should wear something nice…recycled as well. Pick up a nice dress from Copenhagen’s “shared walk-in closets”. I know at least two of them. Resecond is a membership based “shop” that allows members to rent nice dresses from a curated eclectic selection – how many times do we really wear our dresses? The idea behind Resecond is that women share their dresses with other women – they are invited to write some words about the dress on a label, too. So that memories are shared as well (photo from Information.dk).

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The other shared closet in Copenhagen is Chare, started by the Danish Refugee Council as a way to raise funds and at the same time raise awareness about clothes waste. Chare is based on a monthly membership too, and offers beautiful dresses.

Another genius initiative in town is Genbyg, a huge shop selling reclaimed (or recycled) construction materials. You can find doors, old windows, floors, electric supplies – and they also have an online shop. On top of that they have a lab producing beautiful furniture made with recycled material (see below).

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Christiania has also a very nice shop selling used construction materials (and clothes, and furniture, etc.), the Christiania’s Byggemarked.

Last by not least…since to paraphrase Shakespeare we are all going to end, ahem, as compost, the ultimate recycling idea is definitely the Bios Urn, a biodegradable urn to bury people in a more eco-friendly way. A tree will germinate in the Bio Urn (Pine, Ginko, Maple, Oak, Ash or Beech), turning us into a plant after our death. They are also available for pets. I saw some biodegradable urns in a really cool exhibit at the museum inside Copenhagen’s Assistens Cemetery a while ago. They are brilliant! As their slogan goes, there’s life after life. From their website:

beech-h1This post was inspired by a movie that Raffaella sent me: WASTE = FOOD, a documentary about recycling, waste production and cradle-to-cradle. You can watch the whole thing for free here.

And if you know of other interesting recycling ideas/concepts in Copenhagen – or in your part of the world – don’t be shy and leave us a message!

(by clicking on the RECYCLE category below you’ll find more posts about this topic)

 

South African Diary – a week in Cape Town

This week I decided to go back to the original language of this blog, English. I have been thinking about switching back for a while, and right now I feel like it’s the best solution – I live abroad and most of my friends are international and don’t speak or read Italian. I hope that the Italian readers of Chasing Hygge will bear with me despite the language switch!

I have exciting news – I just came back for a week in Cape Town, South Africa. I have organized a workshop at a really cool seminar, so I had relatively little time to explore my surroundings….but here are some of the photos I took of this truly amazing African city.

I went to Cape Town knowing very little about South Africa and about the city, I didn’t bring any travel guide. The only knowledge I had was from a really cool documentary shot by my friend Diana Manfredi, District Six, the story of a cosmopolitan neighborhood of Cape Town whose residents were forcibly removed during the apartheid. I went to District Six (below) and I really loved the District Six museumI enjoyed hearing the stories of a former resident, now 80 years old, who was my guide at the museum.

He told us how, at the beginning of the apartheid regime, signs on benches usually read “Europeans Only”. But, when the White Americans and Canadians and Australians came to visit, such sign would formally prohibit them to sit with the other “Europeans”. This is when all the signs were switched to “White Only” or “For Use by White Persons”.

During the seminar I met several activists from South Africa, and I learned a lot of interesting things about the place, the current struggles and about the socio-political situation. I also met a lot of really cool people working at NGOs and grassroots organizations all over Africa, but I will talk about it in another post. One of the ladies who made the strongest impression on me is pictured in the photo below, her name is Glanis and she works for the Institute of Young Women Development in Zimbabwe.

It was a great experience and – despite time constraints – I managed to do some shopping, only books! I went to the excellent Clarke’s Bookstore, on 199 Long Street, and I got some Capetonian literature: Zoë Wicomb, Imraan Coovadia, Meg Vandermerwe and the new magazine of writing Prufrock (lovely, check out their website).

I can recommend at least two restaurants in Cape Town: one is the Ethiopian restaurant at the Pan African building on Long Street (cheap and de-li-cious), the other one is the fancy (but cheap) European inspired cafè Jason, on Bree Street: one of the best burgers I have ever had. Both places are on pretty interesting roads – Long Street is more touristic and there are tons of shops and vintage stores, Bree Street is hip and you can find many design and interior decoration shops (like the really cute Skinny laMinx).

I hope to go back soon and hike on Table Mountain, apparently that is a must. Oh well, next time!

See you very soon :)

Scrittura creativa: Wild Mind di Natalie Goldberg

Nonostante ultimamente io non brilli in fatto di scrittura creativa (questo blog è stato aggiornato molto sporadicamente!) sto leggendo molti libri sul tema. Wild Mind – Living the Writer’s Life è decisamente uno dei miei preferiti, tant’è che lo sto leggendo per la seconda volta. L’idea è semplice e affascinante: l’autrice considera la scrittura come una pratica Zen, e propone una serie di capitoletti brevi, a metà tra il memoir e un manuale di scrittura, ciascuno corredato da uno o due esercizi. Geniale.

La Goldberg è una che di Zen se ne intende, avendolo studiato per anni con il maestro Katagiri Roshi (di cui parla spesso in Wild Mind). E’ un’autrice prolifica che crede nel “far andare la mano” sul foglio senza fermarsi. Per dieci minuti al giorno, per quindici, per due ore. Possibilmente in compagnia di un compagno di scrittura, magari in un caffè, per fare della scrittura una pratica piacevole e non necessariamente solitaria. La Goldberg dice al lettore di prendere la scrittura un po’ come la meditazione. Oppure come una pratica sportiva, che richiede esercizio costante. Da un’intervista con l’autrice:

I consider writing an athletic activity: the more you practice, the better you get at it. The reason you keep your hand moving is because there’s often a conflict between the editor and the creator. The editor is always on our shoulder saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t write that. It’s no good.” But when you have to keep the hand moving, it’s an opportunity for the creator to have a say. All the other rules of writing practice support that primary rule of keeping your hand moving. The goal is to allow the written word to connect with your original mind, to write down the first thought you flash on, before the second and third thoughts come in.

(The Sun Magazine, Keep the Hand Moving)

Wild Mind spiega la differenza tra la scrittura diaristica e la pratica di scrittura stile Zen: nel diario pensiamo, riflettiamo su avvenimenti e emozioni, nella scrittura Zen non pensiamo – esattamente come nella meditazione. L’autrice propone anche alcuni esercizi un po’ diversi dal solito, come esercizi di scrittura “orale”, una sorta di spoken word o poesia improvvisata per rilassare la mente.

Non so quanto sia facile reperire il libro…io l’ho trovato in una libreria hippy di seconda mano a nord di San Francisco. La Goldberg ha un seguito di culto, quindi spero che gli interessati riescano a trovarne una copia!

A prestissimo – cercherò di aver più costanza nel muovere la mano sulla tastiera del computer per riempire le pagine virtuali di questo blog.

P.S. sempre a proposito di scrittura, ieri ho letto questo bellissimo pezzo dell’autrice Antonella Bukovaz. Fa parte della serie “La formazione della scrittrice” sul meraviglioso blog vibrisse, bollettino (di Giulio Mozzi).

& the pioneer life: ritratto di famiglia in mezzo ai boschi della Svezia

Tempo fa leggevo di una donna danese che ha deciso di abbandonare la vita di città e si è trasferita col marito e 4 figli in mezzo ad una foresta nel nord della Svezia. A chilometri di distanza dal paesino più vicino. La casa se la sono costruiti abbattendo degli alberi nel terreno su cui vivono gratuitamente. Da un paio di anni abitano lì, tuttora senza elettricità o acqua calda ma con un pannello solare per connettersi a internet. Questa donna si chiama Andrea Hejlskov e ha appena pubblicato un libro sulla sua esperienza, in danese. Però se vi interessa conoscere la sua storia ha anche un blog in inglese: & THE PIONEER LIFE.

Sul suo blog posta ricette – fantastica quella dei kiwi secchi da usare sullo yogurth, o quella del tè agli aghi di pino – riflessioni sulla vita off-the-grid nell’inverno svedese a -30 gradi (il marito dorme di fronte alla stufa per tenere continuamente vivo il fuoco in inverno) e riflessioni sulla società in generale.

Se volete conoscere la sua storia vi consiglio di iniziare da questo post, in cui presenta la sua famiglia. Buona lettura!

P.S. Ho ordinato il suo libro dalla biblioteca e sono molto curiosa di leggerlo

P.S.2 Se conoscete blog simili in italiano scrivete il link nei commenti!

Get better / Be good: l’ansia di essere perfetti ha un rimedio

Almeno secondo la ricercatrice Heidi Grant Halvorson. In una presentazione dal titolo “The incredible benefits of a ‘Get better’ mindset” (nel video qui sotto) sostiene che le persone che affrontano la vita tentando costantemente di migliorare e fare progressi – anziché di voler essere perfetti – hanno una maggiore autostima, meno problemi di depressione, meno stress e dimostrano statisticamente un rendimento intellettuale migliore.

La teoria è molto affascinante, e i suoi consigli sono in fondo facili da seguire – basta provare a cambiare mentalità. Partendo anche dalle parole. Se ci proponiamo degli obiettivi – tipica cosa che si fa a inizio anno e poi si abbandona quasi sempre – Halvorson consiglia di usare questi termini: migliorare a…..; fare progressi in….; sviluppare……; diventare…..; crescere.

Così se uno dei nostri obiettivi è “voglio amministrare il mio tempo in modo produttivo” dovremmo riformularlo in “voglio migliorare la mia capacità di amministrare il tempo in modo produttivo.”

Altra cosa interessante è la sua riflessione sul modo in cui le persone tendono a lodare o a criticare. Per favorire nelle persone la mentalità tesa al miglioramento (get better mindset) si dovrebbe criticare o lodare il processo e NON la persona. Dunque criticare o lodare gli sforzi o l’impegno, la strategia, l’attitudine di una persona. Psicologicamente questo metodo crea meno pressione. Il video offre degli spunti di riflessione interessanti, eccolo qui:

Heidi Grant Halvorson: The Incredible Benefits of a “Get Better” Mindset from 99U on Vimeo.

Diario fotografico – Marzo

Eccomi di ritorno sul blog, con un post quasi primaverile. Dico quasi perché qui siamo ancora al freddo, ma almeno il sole si sta facendo vedere. Qui sopra vedete alcune immagini scattate durante una gita a Vestamager, un parco a sud di Copenaghen. Lo amiamo perché pedalare fino a lì è un modo veloce per sentirsi in campagna, anche se circondati da edifici ultramoderni. Queste pecore avevano una lana spessa e soffice, ed erano molto curiose.

Prima di fermarci a Vestamager siamo passati dalla biblioteca di Ørestad, un quartiere a sud di Copenhagen che è stato recentemente…costruito. Nel senso che prima era un campo immenso.

Ecco un dettaglio di questa torre-libreria-gioco per bambini:

E la sala per leggere le riviste:

Come molte biblioteche a Copenaghen, anche questa è specializzata in un settore – è una biblioteca appositamente studiata per bambini e ragazzi, con un settore di non-fiction e ricerca molto sviluppato. La biblioteca sotto casa nostra invece è specializzata in fumetti, graphic novel, libri science-fiction e fantasy. Il fatto che le biblioteche siano specializzate non significa che non vi possiate trovare libri di cucina o religione o pesca. Hanno tutto questo ma cercano di potenziare un settore (o una fascia d’età) in particolare. Un’idea molto intelligente.

E dato che ora che scrivo è l’ora dell’aperitivo voglio condividere uno dei nostri snack preferiti dell’ultimo periodo – o se non altro una foto :) Conoscete i papad (o papadum) indiani? Sono molto meglio delle patatine perché sono ultra piccanti. Io li scaldo in padella con un po’ di olio – questa è la marca che compro dal fruttivendolo afghano sotto casa, un pacchetto costa un euro!

Buona serata e a presto! Scusate l’assenza – anche dai vostri blog – ma con WordPress a volte va così :) Ora dovrei riuscire a seguire questo sito un po’ di più. E dato che sto leggendo libri a raffica penso proprio di tornare con un libro.