I’ve been practicing Chinese calligraphy. Valentine’s Day is coming and I’m making cards.
At the end of 2018, we went on a family trip in Italy. In a week and a half, we went to Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Florence and Milan. To my surprise, it was much more relaxing than I expected.
I’ve been to Rome before, and had the impression that Italian dining culture was very different from what I’m used to. Sometimes I walk into a restaurant and no one would come to show me where to sit. Before this trip though, I asked my Italian friend. It turns out that you can just walk to an empty table in that case. China has the same culture and I remembered how strange it was to wait for a table when I first arrived in America.
It’s kind of like a reversed culture shock that I’m more used to the US/UK culture…
After the a few weeks of temporary housing, I moved to an area called Finsbury Park. It’s located north of central London, about 15 minutes tube ride from King’s Cross Station. I chose there because it’s easy to get to by tube or train, and the rent is cheaper than other popular areas in London. I found a nice and small flat on the high street in the area. My flatmate, Nick, is a lawyer in the city, who kept the flat extremely clean and neat. The style is modern and simple, and could be a show room for John Lewis, a British department store known for its quality goods.
I consider myself a very neat and organised person, but my flatmate Nick is in another level in terms of cleanness. The surfaces are always empty and clean. Even the cabinets are organised. I love the neatness of the house, but later I realised it’s not the best setup for my creativity. I was always hesitant to use the shared dining table to draw or paint, because I don’t want him to see that I’m making a mess in the shared space.
Helsinki is the third Scandinavian city I visited, after Copenhagen and Stockholm. They have a very similar feeling with grey skies and the sea, but I had a different experience in Helsinki because I took a sauna bath there.
The last time I had sauna was in elementary school, there was a small sauna room at the swimming pool we used to go to. I didn’t expect I will go to sauna in Finland, but Sauna is actually a very important part of the Finnish culture. It’s a tradition to take hot sauna and jump into the snow to finish, as I learned it in the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki.
I booked a cool-looking sauna place called Löyly. It is a very modern architecture designed with clear lines and is made of wooden slates. It’s just off the city centre and facing the Baltic Sea, so you can have a dip there after the steamy sauna.
One of the two sauna rooms here is made of dark smoky wood. As soon as you walk in, you can smell the smoky air. The Finnish people are all pros and were constantly adding water to make it hotter and more steamy, but I had to close my eyes to protect my eyeballs from the heat.
After a few rounds of sauna bath, I was ready to soak in the Baltic Sea. Although it was only end of August, the water felt very icy and I only ended up dipping my feet.