Not to put too fine a point on it, though this week, we challenge you to show us what “angular” means to you.

There are many angles to Vienna… 🙂



This week, show us an achievement.


From my  point of view, each and every new place I visit is a personal achievement, every new piece of foreign culture I get a chance to discover is a small victory, something to keep me going while tilting at those windmills embodied by quotidian problems, stress and routine 🙂 .

Seaside Blues (Daily Post Challenge)

Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?

A writer mentioned somewhere, sometime, how deeply touched he was by those mornings when the sea has no sky. So many ways to interpret such a thought…

Earlier this week I took advantage of what may very well have been the last beautiful days this autumn and I enjoyed the warm sun and light breeze while strolling on the beach. The sea regaled me with surprisingly bright shades of blue, especially for this time of year. Yes, I would miss those calming, reassuring seaside blues and the salty air if I ever had to move…

Dreamy (Weekly Photo Challenge)

This week, we’d like to see an image that looks dreamy to you. A photo of a place you often visit in dreams. A scene that looks a bit out-of-this world. Take us on a flight of fancy!

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I wasn’t completely sure what it was until it started to move. That was also when I noticed the man whose pedaling transformed the unusual looking contraption into an old-fashioned merry-go-round – does he not look like a character from a fairytale? I was amazed and happy to see the children so excited about this somewhat anachronistic ride. So they can enjoy something else but the wonders of technology, as long as they are provided with such a source of fun…  However, I couldn’t  help channeling the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel for a second 🙂 … And those of you who ever tried to have a pleasant dinner in a nice, romantic restaurant while a few children running amok were disturbing everybody but their parents, will probably understand what I mean. For a moment, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of these right next to the coat check?…”

Nighttime (Weekly Photo Challenge)

What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. Your shot can be outdoors or indoors, blurry or crisp, overexposed or ominously dark. As every owl (and night owl) knows, nighttime is when the real action starts.



I just discovered I have a surprising number of night photos – one worse than the other 🙂 . But this one appealed to me more than the rest, in spite of the fact that it was taken with what was – judging by today’s standards – quite a rudimentary phone. Maybe it’s the sentimental value it holds…

Adventure (Weekly Photo Challenge)

This week, share a photo that says “adventure.”

Ever since I was a child, I was particularly fond of heights. In fact, having the chance to take in the scenery from the top of a tall building or floating in the clouds has always been a treat for me. This is why I really need to focus on trying to be understanding when it comes to a good friend of mine who cringes at the mere sight of such photos. For him, travelling by plane or even a ride in a cable car are life-threatening adventures. But I still think everything looks nicer seen from above 🙂 .

Dialogue (Weekly Photo Challenge)

For this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue.

I mentioned earlier this year that I would like to visit Vienna again, perhaps even have some more of that great apple strudel I tried at Schonbrunn Palace. Without realizing it, that was the opening line in a very enjoyable dialogue on this topic, as somebody dear to me had paid attention to those slightly melancholic words. So you’d like to see Vienna again, he said to me a few days later. I took the spoiled brat approach and replied, I’d rather go to Paris first, if we’re to revisit places… I though the conversation died then and there, but somebody needs to have the last word every time, so in June I was very pleasantly surprised with a long weekend in Vienna. What can I say… given how nice our little getaway was, I think I can live with occasionally not having the last word 🙂 And the strudel was as great as I remembered it. One thing had changed though – the flowers in the Palace gardens were now different, a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time, whispering to me that spring and summer are never alike and years will leave a mark on anything and everything.

Let’s Judge the Book Cover

It happens every day, we all do it… We all judge the book by the cover – be it in a figurative or literal manner – at least on some occasions. But this highly disapproved habit does sometimes yield constructive results. I’m thinking of changing the book cover, so if you have a moment, please focus all your judgemental energy and tell me what you think. If you have already read some of the fragments, choose the one you think is the most suitable. If not, you can pick the one you find most appealing.

Cover 1
Cover 1
Cover 2
Cover 2


Thank you!

“Village Teacher” or a Different Kind of Book


Village Teacher was a surprisingly pleasant break from the books which generally fall into our hands these days. In fact, I could say it’s reminiscent of literature from another time and not only because the action takes place at the end of the 19th century in a politically torn, myth laden Vietnam, but due to the fact it creates an atmosphere often similar to that of an epic poem.

“The footprints never overlapped or touched one another, but there was no doubt that they were walking close together and going forward in the same general direction. They turned around once more and resumed their walk.”

The reader can guess early on how the story is going to end, but that doesn’t detract from the desire to follow the journey of those extraordinary main characters, who never betray their moral values, belief systems and feelings. Teacher Tam and Giang are the protagonists of a delicate, innocent, yet profound love story bringing together two worlds, two cultures, two completely different lifestyles. He is a poor, but erudite, honest, incorruptible village teacher, who values tradition, but keeps an open mind and is able to admit and accept progress, both when it comes to education and to mentality. She is the daughter of a highly influent, well-off, interracial family in the capital, encompassing the best traits of the two nations, French and Vietnamese. So you just know the adventure they have to survive in order to be together is going to be an interesting, entrancing one! As expected, they do manage to overcome social and political intrigues, selfishness and malevolence of their enemies. Their intelligence, selflessness and above all, their unconditional love both for each other and for others predicate their actions and lead them to a life together, in the spirit of their destiny.

Are such characters believable in the real world? Perhaps not, but I chose to see Teacher Tam and Giang as the embodiment of hope and dreams, the voices of aspiration for a better world. The task of establishing a connection with reality falls on the historical facts punctuating the love story, a task carried out in a clear, captivating fashion. Thus even a reader with few notions regarding Vietnamese history (such as I was) finds it easy to create a strong context and a cultural background, a veridical stage where the characters can perform. Some of the obstacles the protagonists face – such as prejudice, religious oppression and discrimination, gender bias – are also some of the plagues tormenting modern society, our own lives. Perhaps I’m not even too far from the truth if I say that the intertwinement of Vietnamese history and culture creates and entity to be metaphorically viewed as a third protagonist of the book, that’s  how much it affects the lives of Giang and Tam, often representing a challenging obstacle for the two young lovers from different worlds.

For me, reading a book has often been an escape from my own reality. And it is relaxing and gratifying to occasionally find escape in a world built on actual history, but populated with exceptional individuals, where the heroes eventually defeat the villains, even when they have to undergo their own personal dramas and emotional growth. Like I said, this book reminds me of another time – that of childhood and innocence, when everything was possible and the good always prevailed in every story. And the fact that the skeptical adult anchored in reality can grasp to the well-documented cultural and historical facts, thus learning something new and interesting, ads exactly the right twist to this exotic story, as far as I am concerned. So it certainly was time well spent accompanying Teacher Tam on the path to achieving his destiny.

This is where you can connect with the author, discover his world and find out more about the book:

On Top

Weekly Photo Challenge: On top can be a feeling, a perspective, or a physical location.

There are some rare moments when you feel on top of the world, when you feel the weight lift off your shoulders – suddenly, life becomes enjoyable and happiness takes over you as you forget all worries, fears and threats.

As you may have gathered, I find the sea to have a calming effect on me; travelling, seeing new places, is also something I thoroughly enjoy whenever I have the chance; and I never let my high heels to get in the way of climbing all those challenging heights. So when these three aspects merge, I can virtually say I’m on top of the world – from so many points of view…








The Sunshine Award


The second surprise the Easter Bunny had in store for me was the Sunshine Award. It was Linda that helped the Easter Bunny with this one. Thank you for your nomination, Linda! Visiting your blog is always a pleasant experience and your photos are lovely:

Those who have been nominated and decide to accept the award have to thank the person who nominated them (1), share ten things about themselves (2), and nominate ten other blogs they consider worthy of this honour. These are the rules, from what I can understand.

Here are ten things about me (I know I may have mentioned some of them before, but I am in a hurry today, I apologize):

1. I love travelling and I don’t think I will ever get to visit all the places I want to see.

2. I cannot survive without coffee; chocolate comes second, right after coffee.

3. I’d rather work ‘till late in the night than wake up early in the morning.

4. Objectively speaking, I have too many shoes; but I still don’t trust this ‘objective’ voice, as I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough.

5. Literature has always played an important part in my life.

6. I’m too stubborn for my own good.

7. I find cooking to be relaxing, unless somebody badgers me into doing it.

8. I love the sea, but I hate swimming.

9. I never give money to beggars, but I do give them food.

10. I cannot stand narrow-minded people.


These are only ten of the many beautiful blogs that deserve this award:











Once more, thank you, Linda! And I hope all of you enjoy your award and pass it on to other bloggers you appreciate.

The Liebster Award


Update – May 30th 2015

I need to take a moment to thank yet another wonderful blogger for nominating me for the Liebster Award. Thank you, Laura! Stop by and take a look at what she has to share with the world!

Liebster Award Update – April 22nd

I have to add another thank you note, as I just got nominated for the Liebster Award again. Thank you, , I appreciate it and I wish I had the time to write a separate post on this occasion! She and her beautiful blog have just won the award and they certainly deserve it, so pay her a visit! 🙂

The Easter Bunny has arrived early this year and he has left me two amazing surprises amongst all those beautifully coloured eggs: two nominations for two lovely awards! As any busy do-gooder, the Easter Bunny has trusty helpers and I would like to thank them for delivering these surprising gifts to me – in a chronological order, no favouritisms 🙂

The first pleasant surprise of the day was the Liebster Award and I would like to thank petermoulding for nominating me.

Now… there are a few rules that need taken into account when receiving such a nomination:

I. Thank the blogger who gives it.

II. Answer 11 questions he / she asks.

III. Nominate 11 more bloggers for the award.

IV. Ask these 11 bloggers 11 questions.

V. Let the bloggers know that you have nominated them.

I. The first one – thanking the person who nominated you – is common sense, as far as I’m concerned. Once more, thank you for your appreciation! It’s always a delight to stop by and browse through all the wonderful photos and more!

II. Here are my answers to the 11 questions I’ve been asked:

1. What was the inspiration behind your blog title?

I can’t say I have such an inspired, original blog title. I wanted to keep it simple, because I started this blog as a personal challenge. What was meant to be a brief presentation of a book has evolved into something else…

2. What is your favourite book and why?

It’s not easy to choose just one book, but if I must… Franz Kafka’s The Castle has always had a special place in my heart. Kafka is a good refuge whenever the daily nonsense of life becomes too hard to bear.

3. Name the happiest moment of your life so far…

Well… that’s not an easy one, is it? I would probably have to say it was that fresh start I managed to offer myself years and years ago. I know, it’s a bit cryptic, but the question is too personal for my taste J

4. How many times have you watched your favourite movie, and what is it?

Too many times to remember. Gone with the Wind has always been my feel-good movie.

5. If you had a choice to be in a different city tomorrow, what city would it be?

Another tough choice, but I think Paris would be my answer… at least for now.

6. A day trip to a big bustling city or a walk in the countryside?

It depends on my mood. Today… it would be the city.

7. Do you have any influences, who or what are they?

There are a couple of persons I know too well and I can say I loathe, so I strive to be nothing like them.

8. If you could travel back in time, where would you want to be?

I’d like to give those roaring twenties a try, see if they’re worthy of the legendary tales they inspired.

9. Pictures taken from an old camera or a modern digital camera?

I’m not fussy about this matter; pictures are mainly memories to me, I generally like them for what they mean to me and not for their quality, so whatever sort of camera I have access to is just fine.

10. Why travel?

Why not? There’s no better way to experience and discover different cultures and people. It makes me feel alive and it’s an opportunity to constantly learn new things, both about myself and others.

11. How long did it take for you to write up this post?

I didn’t really time it, it wasn’t one fluent effort; I guess it adds up to about half an hour or so.


III. Here are my 11 nominees:













IV. 11 questions for you (I’ll try not to be too intrusive):

1. What three places describe you best?

2. There must be an author or book close to your heart; would you like to share this information with us?

3. What is you dream destination, that mysterious place you always wanted to visit?

4. Where did you spend the nicest vacation?

5. What historical period would be best suited for your personality?

6. Do you identify yourself with any artist(s), and if so, with whom?

7. What nice memory from your childhood would you like to share with us?

8. What’s the greatest satisfaction you derive from blogging?

9. What are three of the most important principles you try to observe in life?

10. Do you like to plan everything or are you a spontaneous person?

11. What do you prefer: a good book or a good movie?

I’m looking forward to reading your answers and finding out what other bloggers you nominate for this award!

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile blogger award

I came home to quite a pleasant surprise this afternoon: apparently somebody not only enjoyed my ramblings on various topics, but they also found that I was worthy of being nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you, Frankie! You’re a kind soul! Incidentally, you can stop by his place anytime, he’s always hospitable, ready to share his thoughts and has a great sense of humor:

Now… if only I had known in advance… here I am, receiving this honor and no new outfit for the occasion! The horror! Oh well… I guess I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got… at least I had my hair done this afternoon; but if my purse doesn’t match my dress, it’s all your fault, Frankie!

It seems that the protocol requires me to share 7 random facts about myself. I guess I can take care of this aspect, now that I can’t do anything more to save my outfit for this award ceremony.

1. I cannot survive without coffee (clearly it must be important, since it’s the first thing that comes to my mind…); chocolate comes second, right after coffee.

2. Objectively speaking, I have too many shoes; but I still don’t trust this ‘objective’ voice, as I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough.

3. Literature has always played an important part in my life, especially when I was a child.

4. I find cooking to be relaxing, unless somebody badgers me into doing it (i.e. my mother, whenever she visits).

5. I love the sea, but I hate swimming.

6. I never give money to beggars, but I do give them food.

7. I cannot stand narrow-minded people.

Now… this is the difficult part: choosing more nominees for the award. First of all, I’m not entirely sure how many there should be; second of all, I still haven’t managed to get used to how many talented people there are around here. But here goes, I’m closing my eyes and picking some of my favourites in no particular order: – I often wonder how many hours there are in her days, since she manages to do so many wonderful things; – his photographs are beautiful and he always cheers us up with the funny videos he
shares. – lovely stories and photographs; – I admire the courage it takes to share certain personal matters; – interesting challenges and really nice photographs; – he is not afraid to state his opinions; – in case you can’t understand introverts, this is the place that clarifies everything (I hope this nomination isn’t too much of a social bother 😉 ); – the stories are hilarious; – book reviews and not only (what will The  Literary Girlfriend do next?); – a great place for book reviews.

I think I should stop here, not because these are all the great people and blogs, but simply because this award winning diva is starting to feel how exhausting her week has been. Have a nice weekend, all of you out there!

Age Illusions and Disillusions: Men and Women Turning Thirty (Weekly Writing Challenge)



Do you think you are old? How about them? Aging only made them more attractive…


There is a certain cocktail of fear, frustration and depression that only birthday milestones can inflict on a person. Reaching any of those multiple of ten birthdays is if not a trial, at least a contradictory, controversial moment for most of us. It starts early on, when you’re a child so happy and proud to have finally achieved a double digit birthday, it’s a time when you begin to feel so big and important, you have finally become somebody who matters. In what almost seems to be a blink of an eye, ten becomes twenty – the moment you’re not in your teens anymore is a bittersweet victory, you feel like there’s finally something to back up all your claims to be treated like an adult, but the pressure which comes with having that wish granted starts to reveal itself as a constant rather than an accidental consequence. By the time you’ve reached your mid-twenties, there’s already a gnawing thought tormenting you once in a while, especially when nothing seems to go according to plan – the dreaded, end-of-life-as-you-know-it thirty is the next big step and it’s not at all as far away in the future as you might like it to be.

I am no longer ashamed to admit it, I was one of those women fearing the ominous number whenever I had the feeling time had a mind of its own and a cruel way of passing too fast, preventing me from doing all that I wanted to do. Some things are inevitable and the illusion of a disillusion disseminating birthday eventually became reality, not only a mean allusion in the back of my mind. However, having a close male friend that turned thirty the same month I did put certain things in perspective, making me break out of my selfish shell for a moment or two and actually acknowledge that this isn’t a critical time only for women. I used to think men simply ignore this milestone and women are the ones most tortured by the ticking clock. As it turned out, the men I witnessed crossing their thirties threshold took it considerably worse than the women I had a chance to see experiencing the same ordeal.

I woke up and I immediately felt worried – worried that the new decade wasn’t actually making me feel any different, depression and despair hadn’t taken over me; in fact I was feeling quite pleased with myself, the way I normally do my birthday. There was no trace of the pain, sadness or frustration I used to think would accompany this frightful day, it was just a birthday like any other; it occurred to that the introspection was meant to find fault where there wasn’t any. I switched on the TV and focused my attention on a news channel while drinking my coffee. There hadn’t been any relevant cataclysms; no nuclear war had started; no meteor was on its course to collide with the planet; no signs of any pandemic. It was clear, I realized, settling more comfortably, cup of coffee in hand: the end of the world wasn’t scheduled for that day just because I was turning thirty. And why should that happen, since even my own little personal universe was calm and safe, surprisingly unaffected by the matter? Just to make sure, I subsided to my vanity and closely inspected my face in the mirror – I hadn’t turned into a crone over night, no wrinkles were menacing to scar my visage in the near future, I could still pass for somebody in her early twenties if I was well rested, everything was the same as before. I was the same as before, not feeling thirty, far from looking thirty; the only difference was that I was actually thirty, but that suddenly stopped meaning that much, because I liked who and where I was, I had managed to come to terms with my existence and accept myself quite a while before that day. I wasn’t twenty anymore, but was it really that bad? I looked around at my home –
everything was the way I wanted it to be, every item was my choice and there was no sign of the awful, shabby furniture that used to give me nightmares when I was twenty and still a student. A beautiful bouquet of roses which had been delivered early in the morning was sitting in a vase on my coffee table, soft, quiet reminder that my special someone knows just what I like and hadn’t forgotten the special day. And that messy pile of wrapping paper and cardboard in the corner – that was my own present for myself, the pair of boots I had ordered online arrived just at the right moment. Life was certainly no worse than at twenty!

Not only did I survive my thirtieth birthday, but I actually enjoyed it. So why had I been so unsure about the way I’d react even if I had already reached the point where I wasn’t too worried about turning thirty? Remember the close friend I was mentioning earlier? We are the same age, we grew up together and we even turned thirty together, only he did it several days before I did. We know each other so well, yet there are still times when his behaviour surprises me, and after having seen how much of a blow this birthday was for him, I started worrying about what it would do to me… All of the sudden, there was no more time for this guy who had always been somewhat naïve and idealistic in many of his beliefs, almost annoyingly able to always see the good in people and situations. Who would have thought that I, the vane woman, would be calm and rational about my age, whereas he, the serious male, would be the drama queen who has a meltdown? After being grumpy, bitchy and displeased with everything and everyone for no good reason on his birthday, I finally managed to get him to share his troubles on mine… Well, it was mostly a rant, half self-pity and the other half reproachful because I didn’t share his opinion and I would stubbornly not change my idea about my thirtieth birthday being a joyous occasions and not at all the doom and gloom he was describing.

Think of all the aspects single women in their thirties complain about on TV shows and now imagine a man doing just the same – that’s the gist of his turning thirty paranoia. He was single, and if he hadn’t managed to get married up to that point, what were the chances for that to ever happen? All his male friends who wanted to get married, had already done it (and most of them regretted it, I might add), so it must be him, there was something terribly wrong with him. And if there were no perspectives for him to get married, then what were the chances for him to have children? And he wanted children, and all his married friends already had children… But not him, no, not him, everything was over and hopeless for him. Then he moved on to his career, etc., with the occasional flashbacks about not having a wife and kids. And by the way, why the hell was I not feeling the same way, since we were the same age, how could I not see that all was lost and meaningless? There was no point in trying to explain that a man in his thirties is young and attractive, so he didn’t need to worry about finding his better half (or halves, who knows…); there was no point in enumerating all the positive things in his life; his self-pity and disappointment had to run their course before he could see clearly again. But by the end of the evening, I thought I’d have to stop him purchasing adjacent burial plots in the graveyard for both of us as a special birthday gift for me – we were thirty, therefore practically dead.

He isn’t the only man I know who panicked about this dreaded age. Another example is a twenty-nine year old guy who started talking about marriage on his first dates simply because he couldn’t picture himself thirty and not married, it was simply unacceptable. We weren’t close friends, so we lost touch at a point; but I know that he is still single and in his late thirties now, so I bet he’ll make for quite an interesting case study when he turns forty.

All joking aside, age is every so often a terrifying monster for all of us; and like the vane creature that I am, I do my best to if not avoid, at least diminish the tell-tale signs the passage of time leaves behind. But I refuse to obsess over the inevitable, I choose to focus on the matters I can change – life is hard enough as it is, why add unnecessary worry lines? But I often think of the revelation brought on by my friend’s thirtieth birthday – men fear aging as much as women do and we all have good reasons to feel this way. So is there a way of preventing the illusion of time from becoming the disillusion of a lifetime? Do let me know if you have the answer to this one…

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 15

“It’s not like that, you’d understand it if you knew her.”

“I’m sure I wouldn’t, but I’m also sure you actually believe that, so you just tell yourself whatever you need to hear in order to go on.”

The silence was drowning the countryside scenery. Nice, cosy and nightmarish, she thought, but that’s not his fault, that appears to be the vastly spread idea about marriage anyway, why would they be the exception? It’s probably never different, they just end up devouring each other’s soul and character in the nicely furnished confines of a home, burying all the frustration, ignorance and dissatisfaction deep under a sea of smiles and placid lies, all under the silent approval of socially accepted behaviour, most likely under the eyes of some child that doesn’t know any better and will probably just grow up to duplicate the parents’ example.

“How about Woollen Socks? Why do you keep him around and not chase him away, so he could find somebody right for him? Or why don’t you make him into more than that, why can’t he make it to the next level?”

“We met not that long after I moved here and he immediately became somewhat obsessed with me. It was pretty obvious and perhaps I should’ve chased him away from the very beginning, because I knew myself well enough to be aware that I didn’t want anything serious with or from him. But I’m selfish and I was a bit lonely at the time too, and the way he worshiped me was quite nice for my ego. He knew that he had no chance to be more than that, the pair of socks on a cold winter night, but he accepted it, or maybe he hoped things would change, that I might change, I don’t really know and I don’t really care. There are still times when I feel lonely and that’s when he’s just a speed dial away, he knows that total availability on his behalf is what I require and he is more than willing to provide that. Because, no matter how bad you think he has it, he still enjoys it a lot more than he would any typical relationship with somebody else but me. It’s me he wants and this is who I am, so that’s what he gets; no more than that though, because he is devoid of any personality, any ambition and intelligence. He may be a nice guy, but he’s no more than that and he never will be.”

For more sample fragments from Parallel Lives, see: