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A little too late Christmas post.

I have noticed that in the past months, I have become too lazy. Could it be old age? Mid-life crisis catching up on me? Or perhaps, just my family’s warmth and comfort making me feel too cozy inside my cocoon to create a little stir. Whatever it is, I know I am happy. Today is no different from the past days, still the old, lazy me,but I could not sleep, so might as well go back to blogging.

November was a month of European destinations in my calendar. Most importantly, I set my heeled booties in Sweden for the first time. It was chilly in Stockholm during that time of the year, perfect to feel the Scandinavian Christmas cheer.

During Christmas season, flight attendants just love to visit Christmas markets in Europe, and that was exactly what I did. Put on my heeled boots, which were not really meant to tread on cobblestones. Had my glittery jacket on, which was a little too thin for the weather but I had not worn it for a long time so I packed it in my suitcase. We have this saying or phrase back home “tiis-ganda” which sort of translates to “to suffer for beauty.” That explains my unreasonable choice of outfit. Hahahah! At least I had a piping hot takeaway cup of coffee which made my long and cold solitary walk much more enjoyable.

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Such a beautiful piece of currency.

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I headed for the Old Town of Stockholm called Gamla Stan. Gamla Town is a very charming little square that dates back to the 13th century adorned with cobblestones, kinky alleys, merchant stores and tiny restaurants that could be much older than my great great great grandmother.

I have developed this penchant of taking a shoe selfie with the canal covers. 😛

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A very long time ago, Stockholm used to be just the area of Gamla Stan. Through the years, its square area also expanded as the town grew into a major city. Many parts of the old Gamla Stan still remains, which is what makes it very interesting. Also, Gamla Stan architecture reminds me so much of Prague which was like a history book talking to me.

Here is my stroll to the Christmas market in the Old Town. Could not help but stop at the shops every few meters for touristy stuff and loads of sweets. 🙂

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I have photos of the Christmas market somewhere but I cannot find them anymore. All I got left was a photo of the glogg wine that I brought back in Dubai. At least I still remember enjoying my dinner of pasta with pork chunks in that restaurant facing the market. Never imagined that pork could go so well with pasta until that day.

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The secret recipe for a warm winter night is that little Santa bottle which cost me almost nothing. Glogg wine is a mulled red wine served hot. Here is a traditional glogg recipe.

kokblog.johannak.com

kokblog.johannak.com

Here was how the Christmas market would look like if I had not lost my photos. It was just a tiny market but its location at Stortorget was perfect. This was the same location of the infamous Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520 where the Danish-Swedish king hanged and beheaded 90 Swedish noblemen. It could not get any more medieval than that, eh?

catrinr.typepad.com

catrinr.typepad.com

Something surprising that I learned during this brief trip to Stockholm was the number of islands that Sweden has. Just take a look of what I saw from the office window. Those are only a tiny part of the total 221 800 islands in Sweden. Never really thought of Scandinavian Europe to be an archipelago, but it is.

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I sure had a pleasure spending quality time with myself in Stockholm. Then, I went home to this:

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Our borrowed dog wrecked havoc at our throw pillows.

Hey there, Ice. We miss you!

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The Little Horsemen

JULY 24, 2013
GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE, MILAN

I had three hours to spare before my schedule for the Last Supper painting viewing. Getting lost in this grand mall that is grander than its high end goods was not such a bad idea. Finally found something new from the Bangladeshi toy vendors. Those indestructible smiling faces of gel balls were getting old.

I would have definitely bought them if my son can keep his toys in working condition after a day of playing with them.

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Not a good day in Moscow.

Moscow.

Got lost.

Cold.

Very cold.

Tried best to stay alive.

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Location: Moscow, Russia.

Date: A very cold month.

We were offered free shuttle from the hotel. All we had to do was check the schedule and the shuttle stops. Guess what? We still got on the wrong bus. The plan was to see the Red Square and the snow capped St. Basil’s. Ended up freezing our asses in a Sunday market across a knee-deep snow.

My warm, cozy bed.

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Not so warm outside at -28 degrees celcius..

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My four layers of clothings. Two more layers to go.

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A little walk around the hotel while waiting for the shuttle bus.

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During the bus ride. The world was on a standstill amidst these loads of snow. The whole city was hushed under an endless white blanket.

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When we believed we have arrived at the right destination.

Looked like fun with all the crunchy sounds in every step. It was…for about twenty seconds. Afterwards, even my mind was trying to separate from my body to find a warmer place.

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Too late to find out that there was no Red Square in this area. We found ourselves in a weekend market littered with Russian furs and Matryoshka dolls of every sizes and colors.

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Goods at the Izmailovsky market.

travbuddy.com

travbuddy.com

discovery.cathaypacific.com

discovery.cathaypacific.com

cntraveller.com

cntraveller.com

Ten minutes later, we were rushing to get inside a coffee house for shelter. We could no longer feel our faces, fingers were as cold as popsicles and our toes were stuck together inside our shoes.

Just imagine how these animals were feeling. I wonder how much cold can these poor creatures withstand?

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This gray cat was trying to keep its little paws warm inside a shoe box.

This gray cat was trying to keep its little paws warm inside a shoe box.

As for the humans, there were a few standing by this roadside, braving the harsh wind, protected only with minimum coats and hoping to sell some fridge magnets and post cards for less than a dollar a piece. Life is tough everywhere.

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Waiting for the shuttle bus that seemed like forever.

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The darlings of Moscow. The few lucky ones who probably wait for winter every single year to get the opportunity to don the most precious objects in their cabinets—their expensive fur coats. I heard of horror stories from a colleague about women who were too happy to have saved their furs during a fire that they forgot about their children still stuck inside the house.

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Another Catholic church.

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Finally, our ride home had arrived.

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A sight of a factory smoke had never felt this comforting.

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BLISS!!! Hallelujah!

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Back to the road again.

Keeping warm in our winter uniform.

Keeping warm in our winter uniform.

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Following Maricel.

What a stunning photograph of the London sunset by an old friend, Maricel. This makes me look forward to another trip to the land of my most beloved royal goddess, the Duchess Catherine of Cambridge. I should write a fashion post about her because I just love this woman like fat-free marshmallows!

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I had enough of the city’s touristy pit stops. All of them are worth visiting, though. And like I did, you might just walk in on two girls in one toilet cubicle with one of them bending over the sink with her bum exposed. Hmmm… And I have a bag too many of London key chains, fridge magnets, snow globes and what-nots.

Next time is the time for shopping. Not anymore at Primark, woman!

There goes the Primark queen, circa 2000.

There goes the Primark queen, circa 2000.

I have my eyes fixed on London’s reigning best vintage thrift store. What you will find in thrifts stores might surprise you in a nice way. My best find so far is a pre-loved pink Gucci bag from a Sunday market in Zurich. 🙂

Where all the action happens.

Where all the action happens.

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blogazine..com

blogazine..com

When feminity was desired and chivalry was alive.

When feminity was desired and chivalry was alive.

That's several decades in your fingertips.

That’s several decades in your fingertips.

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Following Uno.

I am trying to finish a painting. It is in watercolor and the last time I made one was when I was a freshman in college and still a virgin. Hahah! I really hope this would turn out the way I wanted to because this is a suprise for someone who I love.

This is my excuse for not posting my travels for many days. I have not even posted my trip to Mahe Island and the day after tomorrow I will be flying back there again. Tsktsk. At least I managed to finish something this week. I finally finished the latest installment of the Percy Jackson series while I locked myself up in my very cozy room in London while feathery light snowflakes fall on trees, some of them landed on my window pane.

For the meantime, this would do.

This is my drama queen of a friend, Uno. My patient companion who showed me the best view of the Eiffel Tower.

The Bridge of Sighs, Venice.

So many legends about this bridge, most include the miserable fates of prisoners that were locked up in the prison cells by this bridge. But seriously, when you are in Venice the last you would want to plant in your mind is misery and misfortunes. Without contest, my favorite is the story that includes romance. Legend has it that lovers will have everlasting love and happiness if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs. So if love potions and other tricks won’t work on your man, it won’t hurt to try this one. 😉

UNO