Her name is Lilou I

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Paris, March 2nd, 9 a.m

She wakes up without the alarm, like always. She doesn’t remember much about  what happened last night, though she recalls some wine glasses on the floor and few empty bottles of  some fancy french wine with weird name. But why is she alone? Her clothes are nicely folded on the mahogany trunk at the end of the bed and there’s a big glass of water with some pills on the bedside and a note:

“I thought you might need these when you’re up. Sorry we didn’t manage to say proper good-bye. My plane leaves at 7 a.m and I have to go. Thank you for last night! I had no idea spying on people from a balcony would be so much fun. À bientôt, Lilou!

P.S. We didn’t go on the ‘wooden roller coaster’, don’t you worry! Your stomach didn’t feel like going on a ride. Also, you might want to call your friend Véronique and apologize. Bisous! Luca. “

More images from the night before are coming back to her. “What did you do, Nora?” keeps asking herself, holding her head under the pillow. 45 minutes later, she’s out of the shower in her silky dressing-gown she got as a Christmas present from her mum and types in a number on her scratched old phone. No one picks up and, embarrassed, decides to leave a voice-mail:

-Morning, Ave! -5 seconds pause- Right, I have no clear idea on what in the world happened last night, but I need youuuuuuuu- plays a silly song trying to be funny. Ahem!  Please come to mine! There’s gonna be croissants and caramel latte and crepes with jam, just how you like it.  I’ll even get you jelly beans and macaroons. All waiting for you”

Giving up on the hope that Ave will come over, she finally gets a text: “10 macaroons just for me and, for god’s sake, woman, make me a full Irish breakfast with a glass of black stuff!”

On the balcony of a 5th floor studio, Nora and Ave are enjoying breakfast, laughing and gossiping about the night before, cursing alcohol while drinking a glass of Guinness.

– I tell you, Nora! One day, these 2 french bitches, Lilou and Véronique, are gonna get us in big trouble!

To be continued…

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Couch surfing FTW

We have finally joined the Couch Surfing community and I must admit I’m pretty hooked right now. For those who’ve never heard about it, Couch surfing is a kick ass website where people offer their sofa/ guest room/house floor/garden AT NO COST to complete strangers who need accommodation for few nights (as a host myself, I’d say no more than 3, but this is debatable) Everyone, host or ‘surfer’ must have a full profile ( the more information, the better) and there are no other main rules. Having said that, common sense is a powerful ‘passport’ when you travel via hitchhiking and couch surfing. From what I have heard and read so far, guests usually cook a traditional meal for the hosts to ‘pay back’ for the hospitality or maybe get some good wine, chocolate or similar stuff, depending on the sort of person the host is (weed to a 70 year old couple might be a little inappropriate)

Not as bad as it sounds, I stalk people’s profiles and I’m dying of envy every day a little bit more – people who have set foot on all 7 continents, who have listened to a million stories from strangers, who have spent hundreds of nights in houses whose owners they’ve just met in a bar a couple of hours before (that sounds naughty, I know, but you get the real meaning). All this sounds pretty scary for some and I totally get why. However, recently I’ve got into this risk-it-all mood and I have no regrets. These past 2 days we’ve been  hosting our first ‘surfer’ guests: one Italian guy, a Romanian girl and another Polish one and we couldn’t have asked for a better first experience of this type. We enjoyed a great meal, discussed about the difference between romani (gypsies) and români (Romanian), flamenco and fado, Polish/Italian/Romanian traditions and we shared great hitchhiking experiences while drinking the famous Porto wine. Next week we’re welcoming two more guys (an American raised in Africa and a British/Australian who have traveled to over 100 countries combined) and we’re very excited about this whole experiences which, in my opinion, is a great way to educate ourselves in regards to the world around us.

I dream of calling myself a globetrotter one day, knowing much more about different cultures, breaking stereotypes, getting lost in places I’ve only seen in front of the computer and, one day, luckily finding HOME  in one of these corners of the world.

How to be annoyingly happy!

 In December 2011 I fell into my first, and hopefully last, depression. I was skipping university classes, I wasn’t doing anything productive, I was crying every hour over ridiculous things and because I had very few friends, I mainly stayed at home in front of my beloved laptop watching stuff on YouTube and feeling sorry for myself. I decided to go to a psychologist hoping this will change something. After 7 meetings of intensive crying in front of a stranger and after my best girl kept telling me off every day for being weak and silly, I realized I had to do something with my pathetic life. This annoying period lasted almost 4 months and in April 2012, Larisa and I had a cheeky trip to London as we were celebrating Easter. From that day on, everything changed as I opened my eyes only to great things (must have been the wine we drank as well, but hey..) Today, I’m writing this post on a sunny balcony in Porto and all I have in my head is how genuinely happy and fulfilled I am. So here you go – how to reach happiness! (my way)  

  • Be kind and help: your deaf neighbor who can’t open the building door and who doesn’t speak your language, the guy who dropped all his papers on the university hall, your flatmate who doesn’t know much about cooking (you can always get an Italian to live with you), the person who can’t reach the box of condoms in the supermarket and so on. I know there are many comments on homeless people, stray dogs etc., but you have no idea how much of a difference it makes a warm cup of tea or some simple croissants/ bread. Yes, there are many who ask for money and they’re pretty pushy, but some of them will really appreciate a “Have a good day!”
  • Don’t be arrogant, but believe in yourself!
  • Read! I cannot go enough about the importance of reading. I used to stutter when I was younger and I was afraid to talk about more difficult subjects because I had a limited vocabulary. Read anything– books, newspapers, blogs, magazines- about topics you are interested in. No one says you have to read only Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Camus etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you find yourself in a tricky situation. Hard to believe, I know, but there are many people who are willing to give you a hand.
  • Have real hobbies! (Watching porn and video-games don’t count)
  • Learn something new every day! Whether it is surfing, dancing Argentinian tango or the basics of German language, everything new will make you feel useful.
  • Don’t be an alcoholic, but do get tipsy or even drunk once in a while! It’s a great way to forget about that big project due in a couple of days, to dance until your feet hurt, to laugh and to have fun like no one’s watching.
  • Travel! I’ve only been to few countries due to limited budget, but I have just discovered hitchhiking and couch surfing which can help you visit many places with the minimum cost. Risk! Meet new people! Open your mind to new experiences and new cultures! You have no idea how fulfilling that is!
  • Be true to your roots! I’m Romanian, I come from a very small village in a very poor region and I’m aware of all the stereotypes surrounding MY country, but I’m always trying to show people that we’re not all the same, that Romania has valuable people, intelligent, creative, hard-working, funny and with plenty of common sense. If you don’t believe me, please let me introduce you to some of my Romanian friends and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
  • Learn to cook and discover international cuisines! It might be time consuming, but it’s 100% worth the hassle. Personally, I recommend to try the recipe for brigadeiros.  Hmm… YUM!
  • Learn to forgive and keep in your heart only the good memories! Many bad experiences have shaped me into what I am today and you’ll notice that one of the best ways to feel positive and happy is to let go of grudges and bitterness of the past. For example, I forgave that son of a bitch who threw rubbish out of his window in my balcony – he has some issues. I hope he reads my blog! 
  • Be grateful for everything you have! Even for those 2 non-matching socks! 
  • Call your parents/your family as often as you can! You have probably been through this –when you think parents are too pushy and they want to talk to you too often, they want too many details about your everything, they want to know if you had dinner and what dessert you had, they still treat you like a kid. I know all this. I also know I would give up everything to have my dad call me again. Nowadays, it’s our turn to look after our parents and I’m constantly trying to make my mum and stepdad proud of me.  Make your parents happy with a simple call- you’ll always be their baby!
  • ‘Whatever you are, be a good one!’ said Abraham Lincoln. If you finished Medical School, IT or any of the ‘difficult’ universities and you can’t find work, don’t sit around waiting for a well-paid job to fall from the sky just because you think you’re too good to work in a coffee place. You don’t have to settle working in a shop or making coffee for your boss, but you do have to eat and your parents won’t be able to cover your ass and pay for your drinks all your existence  so get a job – ANYWHERE (there are always people in need of someone cleaning their house)
  • Stop complaining, stop being lazy and start doing something about your life! Sometimes we think that if we complain, someone will just sort our life out for us. I’ve been there. It’s not like that at all. You’ll just sink into having a miserable life with people only feeling sorry for you. Ask for help and get things done! Procrastination is one dangerous bitch.
  • Smile more often and don’t be a Grinch! When I moved to England, most of the taboo topics made me blush and I was always having the impression people don’t like me when they were taking the mickey out of me. My uncle taught me sarcasm and how to not take myself too seriously. Have a laugh, dare to joke about life!
  • Be spontaneous! Wake up, take a shower (!!!!!!), get ready and leave the house! Where? Doesn’t matter! Just go! Take your friends with you!
  • The Ex-Factor: don’t be stupid thinking everyone is the same after your ex(es) let you down! Go meet people, let them know who you really are, don’t start being a bastard/bitch to new ones just to make sure you’re never going to be hurt again. You’re going to have shitty times, but you’re also going to miss on the good ones if you don’t risk.
  • Keep in touch with your old friends! Regardless how much time has passed since you last talked, send them a message and let them know you’re ok and you miss them. Your good friends will always understand that life gets in the way and they’ll be happy for you. 
  • Don’t be rude or mean to people who are nice to you! Start a conversation with strangers no matter their nationality, age, race or sexuality! I’m not saying you’ll only meet amazing people, but it’s a good experience. 
  • Don’t ask around what you can do in regards to your failed relationships (boyfriend/girlfriend, workmates, classmates). In the past, I’ve done stupid things like this and I almost lost some of my good friends. Talk to the person with whom you have problems! Be honest and say exactly what’s bothering you! If he/she doesn’t understand, call their mother! 
  • Don’t stay in a relationship that gives you more sadness, frustration and tears than happy moments! Never settle for second best! You deserve much more.  
  • Eat sweets! Happiness guaranteed!
  • Say ‘Good morning!’, ‘Thank you!’, ‘Please!’, ‘You’re welcome!’ and ‘Have a nice day!’
  • Never apologize for being happy!