Home and Travel, Uncategorized

About Lignano and Las Vegas – the Past and the Future. The Stories, Pictures and Smells from the Journey.

From here to there and everywhere. How does that sound? If you have that little travel bug in you and the urge to see and feel as much of the diversity and saturation of the world as you possibly can in your limited time on this planet as a human, then that first sentence should kind of sound like a dream travel-plan. Or life-journey?

However you want to look at it, I love experiencing new countries, new food, culture, vibe, people, smells, the colour of the light and the intensity of the shadows on this side of the street and the other. We’ve seen quite a lot of new places this year, spent some amazing time exploring as a family and enjoying each others company in a variety of new locations. And I mean, every time I actually take the time and sit down to write about our comings and goings, I look back in awe and think to myself: “Oh wow it’s been so long since I last wrote anything in the blog!”. I’ve gotten over it though, as we go about our everyday life, I’m way more active in Instagram cause posting a picture is like  getting a Spritz Aperol at the town square – easy, fun, done and done. Writing a post here is more like hosting a dinner gathering – still fun but requires a little bit more preparation, I have to gather my thoughts more and it’s not as spontaneous as Instagram.  I like doing both though, I just don’t host dinner parties every day.

But I would like to take some time and write about our adventures. But instead of dissecting this subject chronologically, I’m going to cover our travels and doings reporting first things first. The last trip we took was to Lignano Sabbiadoro for my birthday. I have some charming photos on instant film that I’d like to share with you and that’s mainly what this post’s visual contribution will be.

For those of you not familiar with Northern-Italian summertime favourites, Lignano Sabbiadoro (sabbia d’oro meaning “golden sand” in Italian) is one of those sweets spots where Italians and non-Italians like to get into their bikinis and speedos, get their tan on and check all the boxes of a proper summer holiday or a weekend.  That includes bike rides along the coastline, enjoying gelato, pizza and seafood and a generous amount of prosecco, spritz, beer or whatever floats that boat! The weather was still too chilly for any real bikini or swim time but we did get a little bit of tan on, enjoying drinks and snacks at outdoor cafes. A big plus was having a room with a balcony overlooking the sea so the old folk could have their glass or two of Merlot in the evening while the little Princess had her beauty nap.

We stumbled across an amazing seafood place called Ristorante Agosti that had a very wide and impressive selection of wine and seafood of all kind. We liked it so much that we actually went there twice – for my birthday dinner and for lunch the next day before heading back home. Robin had her first taste of squid and cleansed her palette munching olives at cafes. Quite a refined taste for a one year old…

Another great find was Ristorantino Baby, we had pizza and pasta with wine and everything was just delicious! The service was exceptional and I loved just sitting outside in the sun in April, enjoying good food and wine and having to rush nowhere.

One of the perks of going in the spring or fall is that you can actually find places to eat and sit down and everything’s not fully booked. If you do go during the high season, be smart and look up restaurants and their phone numbers you’d like to try out and make reservations. We’re not big on calling ahead, I do like to just take a walk and hope we “get lucky” but when you’re starving and you don’t want to end up grabbing a pizza from the street corner (which, don’t get me wrong, can be one of the best food you’ve ever had), making a reservation is the smart, grown-up thing to do.

Lignano isn’t that far from us, takes about an hour to get there, considerably more during the summer though because of the toll booth at the highway causing pretty bad traffic jams. Hopefully we get to go more this year than last year, now that Robin’s older it’s a lovely destination to spend a sunny weekend on the beach, building sand castles and playing in the sea. We stayed there for two nights this time. And coming home we had another surprise, a perfect one, really. We knew we’re going to move at the end of October this year but we were waiting on further information about our new destination from Anthony’s work. The main thing we hoped for was a warm, sunny place that’s not too remote or in the middle of nowhere. Visiting Estonia in March, I got my yearly dose of the cold, rain and snow. Well, how about Las Vegas? Sure, we’ll take it! I must say it’s a perfect birthday gift, I’ve been so excited that I can’t even fall asleep at night, thinking about our new destination. And sure, any one of you that know me even just a little bit, know how I love Italia, the food, the coffee, the wine, the landscape, the architecture, the art, the streets and mood and feel of it all but I have to say, I can’t wait to try out Las Vegas now! I was very sad when we found out that we have to leave Italy for now but a few months have passed and now that we know our new destination, I’m so anxious and excited about trying out this new country, new climate, new continent that I can hardly wait to start this new adventure. Till then, though, we’re going to try to see the places we’ve still missed here in Italy and hopefully  pop by some of the  neighboring countries too. Morocco has been in my bucket list for a long time and Anthony’s very fond of Dubrovnik. The Amalfi coast, Sicily, Rome and Vatican and Naples, Sardinia, Greece – all of these sound pretty amazing before heading 9500 km to the west to get my desert/365-days-of-summer game on.

And I’ll take all the fabulousness of Italy with me in my memories. Remember that wine we had in that little cantina in Verona in October, how the air smelled like wind and prosciutto? Or those vivid pictures we took in Burano, the smell of hot sunshine in August and spaghetti al pomodoro? The eclectic craziness and nuanced face of Venice, the grandioseness and magical diversity of Florence, the narrow roads of Aviano with those white-washed walled homes and the smell of basil and onion lingering on the streets, remember? Remember all that? I hope I will. And then I’ll just get Memo’s Italian Leather, a perfume that has all that goodness in it with that little bit of extra spark to mark the non-recurring Italian spirit and I’m good to go wander in Mojave desert.






Home and Travel, Uncategorized

Winter Wander Land.

There is “nothing” in a winter landscape when it’s not masked and beautified by that frosty layer of snow. Or is there? We keep wishing and chanting for that snowy Christmas without even trying to find any charm in the nakedness of the nature. We rarely get snow here. Don’t get me wrong – you drive for an hour or two and you usually find snow but it’s not about that. It’s about the winter, excluding snow.

It’s bare, it’s raw. Sleeping and vulnerable. So quiet, on standby. Like that pause between inhalation and exhalation, that pause of deep meditation. It’s nature, taking a breath, slowly, regaining its strength to rise again.

I wanted to go out, prove to myself that there is everything in nothingness. I wanted to take that nothingness and turn it into the core of everything, the core of winter.  Forget about snow. It’s pretty, yes, we know. But there’s more to winter than snow. Just look, focus your attention on the emptiness, the decay and you shall find unforeseen beauty.

Like the fallen bundles of Magnolia leaves in the mud. Imagine them on pink.

Or the dried-up beige and brown Hydrangeas on turquoise. 

Last summer’s green turning into shades of tired green, young yellow.

Grayish-blue strands, like bloodvessels gleaming through  pale pink skin.

That odd one out that chose to bloom and whose juices are bitter with effort. 

My one side is brown and dead but the other one is safe, alive, beating.

They still cradle rays of sun from the days of burning hot summer.

They sleep to wake again.

To be the palm-trees under the Italian sun.

To swing lazily in the ocean wind.

To recite the poems of spring and summer. 

To be the hideout for bees and butterflies.

To grow, spread seeds and rest again.

To be the olive branch of life. To be peace and victory. 

Respect winter and what’s laying under the snow. Just because we don’t pay attention to something doesn’t mean it does not exist.

All pictures by Jane Kukk with an iPhone. 

Home and Travel, Uncategorized

Stills in Black and White

It’s peculiar how at certain points in my being, I reach for more and more colourless-ness. It has a weird effect on me, colour that is, colourfulness. I just feel it robs the view, the substance of something important. Maybe its stillness. Colour makes everything lively. “To lead a colourful life…” and all that. But what if  sometimes it’s just distracting the mind, the eye and the understanding of your surroundings? At art college in Colour Theory class the teacher banned us from using a b&w filter when photographing a colour circle because seeing it in black and white shows us the tonality of the circle, hence revealing if it is made properly or not. It was a way to cheat and get it right.

Oh yes I did cheat cause I didn’t care much about those 50 shades of yellows. Even now, I love the tuned down palette with maybe an occational accent here or there. A red lip, a green eye, a blue strip of sky. But black and white strips, literally. It draws out the textures, emphasizes the changes in tones, highlights and shadows, revealing the beauty in the flaws. The joy in sorrow, the warmth in abandonment and the stillness in life. The eye can find what it is searching for. 

All pictures taken in Aviano, Italy.

Home and Travel, Uncategorized

Italian summer #3 Home and Away

Summer. It has a something, something special about itself. Everybody always waits for it to arrive, everybody’s a bit sorrowful when it has to go. And I’ve always been that way too, I can’t wait for summer to get here already after a long cold winter and when the days are starting to cool off I feel a bit sad, a bit nostalgic. You know the feeling. But not too sad because my favourite season is and always will be autumn. But about that later. Summer, guys, summer. This summer has been unreal.

But. Yes, there’s a but. As you might have figured out by now, I don’t bother to take time and write about something if there isn’t a “but” hidden somewhere, a special effect or a remarkable nuance. This summer is different. And this fall is going to be oh so very different too!

We’ve spent a big part of this summer alone with Robin, our precious, almost 5 months old princess. My significant other had to be away from home for 6 weeks that, believe me,  felt like the longest 6 weeks of my life. Especially when you’re alone in a big house with two big fur-balls and a not-yet-so-big baby. We managed, I’m pretty freakin’ proud of myself but that’s another story. The story I want to write about and the story that matters is the tale of having a very special person close to you when you need her the most.

Try to imagine how good it feels to actually talk to your best friend in your native language for real (read: not via Skype) when you’ve spent most of the month speaking to two dogs and a baby, in both Estonian and English but let’s face it, without getting that many words out of any of those conversation partners. It’s weird and it’s beautiful what expressing yourself in your true, native language can mean, what emotions it can trigger when you’ve been lacking that close connection and what it means to have someone close by to reflect that communication, talk back, so to speak. Being Estonian, living in Italy and being married to an American, every day, if even for a second or two, I feel disconnected or misunderstood. And it’s not a complaint, I love that side of my story, I love the challenge of trying to communicate effortlessly and clearly with my American husband, my Estonian family and friends, my Italian friends and my soon-to-be-multi-languaged-kid.

But when my Estonian-Annika came over, talked, laughed, cooked, giggled, wandered and travelled around with us, thought and sat in silence, you know what, it was different and it was special, that feeling that there’s no barrier, no wall between us. Even when we had to tackle some problems or find solutions to our traveling and exploring issues, it was so FREAKIN’ easy and effortless to communicate and figure out the best way to do something because we speak the same language! I mean, literally. I think before today I have never really understood or appreciated it so much. It hit me this summer, that’s been full of brand new challenges, brand new experiences, insights and discoveries on a brand new level. Thank you, Annika. AitΓ€h, oled mulle vΓ€ga kallis! ❀

What’s ahead? My mom’s coming here in a couple of days and we can have one last Italian summer adventure before we head to (drum-roll) THE United States of America for the first chapter of autumn. A condo, a wedding to attend to, a big happy family gathering in Holden Beach will be our extended summer destination. And I’ll be sure to take plenty of notice and pictures when we make our way from D.C. to North Carolina. I love each and every one of you that keep an eye on these stories and our adventures. Cin cin, enjoy the happy days of summer that glisten in that calendar of yours!

To illustrate this story about our summer home and away, I am sharing some pictures taken right here, at home. And away, in a cafe, on a street or a pathway in Aviano or a bit further away around Lake Barcis. These glistening days of summer have been something else! 

Home and Travel, Uncategorized

Italian summer #2 Venezia, Burano

I adore Venice, every single time I get to visit this magnificent city I discover a new aspect of it, a new nuance of its presence. These discoverings are very personal and because Venice has created a treasure chest of lovely emotions and visual beauty in my soul it is very dear to my heart. These details, magnificent architecture and intricate chaos, liveliness of the place, the locals, the tourists, the food and smell of the lagoon and its canals, the heat, sun and dirty but charmingly fairy-tale-like mazes of streets, dead ends, weird corners and pathways all make up a vibe of Venice that is so appealing to me.

It was a given that when one of my best friends Annika came to Italy for a week I wanted to take her to Venice. That was the first thing on my list, to go there together. I felt it would suit her and hoped she would love it as much as I do. She did. 

But it wasn’t our usual Venice trip. Last time I was there, we visited Murano, the island famous for its artistic glass. We went there in June with Teet and Anthony and I loved the atmosphere. Since visiting Murano  added such a nice nuance to the whole Venetian experience for me, I was waiting to go back again and this time take a trip to this magical island of Burano where coulours are brought to life under the hot Italian sun.

Burano is amazing, this place is more than I ever could have dreamed! I have to say I was totally mesmerized by just the colours of the walls, the architectural mosaics they created and how amazingly therapeutic the whole place was. Imagine 30 degrees Celsius, a burning hot summer day, the occasional whiff of wind that brings the salty smell of the lagoon into your nostrils. Aah, a paradise on earth! And the best possible company a girl can ask for! “We’ll always have Venice” we said and opened a bottle of frizzantino when we got back home. Sitting on the patio, sipping the bubbly drink from Murano glass tumblers that we got from our last trip to Venice, the night sky poured shooting stars at us. A magical day with a magical ending. We’ll always have Venezia and so much more, cara mia! 

Pictures by me and Annika, snapped and shot with our phones.

Home and Travel, Uncategorized

Italian summer #1 Gemona, VenzoneΒ 

Annika was here for a week, one of my oldest and best friends and her time here was so amazing for both of us, spent walking around, taking trains to beautiful cities and having a spritz here, a plate of pasta al pomodoro there that I want to make a memory last by writing a little something here. Since we really managed to see a lot in that short week and there’s a huge pile of pictures in both of our phones (storage full – delete, delete, back up – you know the drill), I’m making three continuous posts on our travels in Northern Italy during this fabulously hot and amazing August. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post anything but hopefully that’ll change now. And oh, hey, I had a baby four months ago ;)!

So here comes the first one – let me introduce you to Gemona and Venzone. Both so gorgeous! The scenery with the Dolomites towering above the pretty little olive-green and pale pink townhouses is truly breathtaking. Venzone is known for its cute lilac lavender shops and the whole town smells like heaven! And of course we splurged a little in one of the shops, probably spent an hour selecting soaps and little scented bags for drawers, smelling essences, perfumed water and bath bombs. These shops smell so amazing that the time spent there felt like being in a nice little trans of tranquility. And well, the whole town of Venzone smells like a magical lavender-land! Add the magnificent scenery and medieval architecture and you’ve got yourself a winner. It was my first time in Venzone too and I have to say, Gemona and Venzone are true gems of northeastern Italy! 

PS! Thank you Michele and Davide for driving us around and taking us to train stations!

/all photos by me and Annika, snapped and shot with our phones.

Fashion and Inspiration, Style and Outfits, Uncategorized

Olives in January

Tuesdays are market days here in Aviano. When I lived in Kalamaja in Tallinn, the marketplace was just across the street from my home. Behind the tram stop, where all the squeaky wormlike machines paused and picked you up or dropped you off, lied the maze of Baltic Station Marketplace or “Balta turg” as the locals called it. Every once in a while, when I got myself out of the bed before noon on a day off, I’d go and get myself a bag of potatoes, a bundle of spinach and a good fatty piece of smoked salmon. A big part of the thrill was to go through the second-hand clothes boxes and racks in the hopes to find something old and nifty! And to get to practice some Russian and mingle with the cheerful salesmen.

Now, strolling the streets more than 2000 km away, in Italy, some things have changed and some have stayed the same. Firstly, I still love going to the marketplace but instead of Russian I get to practice Italian and instead of -20 C we only had one degree of frosty temperatures this morning. The sunshine does not seem to care that it’s January, shining every so bright and warm. But the faces at the market are as cheerful and the baskets and boxes of second-hand goods are at least as thrilling to dig into!

Last Tuesday I got my hands on this vintage Italian army coat made in the Cangioli woollen mill. There were still paper tags sewn on the lining, indicating the gorgeous olive-hued coat with golden buttons had not even been worn. I was a bit worried at first that the size is way too big (although I do love mens’ clothes and oversized styles), especially the shoulders since the woolen fabric on this one is very firm and heavy, making all the folds and cuts stand out prominently. But after rolling up the sleeves (which seems to be something I tend to do with all of my coats and blazers), leaving the buttons undone and adding a big warm scarf and a beige turtle-neck sweater to the ensemble, it all seemed to work together as a team quite well. Plus, after the first 15 minutes outside, I was indeed very glad my bottom (and the 30 weeks baby bump!) was being kept warm since the -1 C felt freezing! (Sorry, estonians! I know you’re laughing at this right now!)

So going back to the market today, the salesman was already smiling from far when he saw me approach the second-hand “treasure boxes”. And instead of him complimenting me on my coat, I should have complimented him on his kindness for selling this beauty to me for 2€! But, you see, I do need to go to the market more, just to practice my Italian more, to be able to compliment all the Italians for their cheerful nature and wide, warm smiles. Even on a chilly January morning, the lips of the ladies have been painted ruby-red, exclaiming greetings and salutations to the left and to the right, the sun is glistening back from their vintage Gucci sunnies and the coats, the grass and shiny leaves on trees are so pretty and olive green!