Cristina's Library

Joie de livres

Tag: Happy New Year

10 countries. 33 cities.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve is always a time for reflection. As I get ready for tonight’s festivities, I look back on 2014 and feel only gratitude, joy, and, truthfully, a shred of disbelief – in 12 months, I visited 10 countries and 33 cities on 2 continents.

florence

Florence, Italy – one of my favourite places

I crossed the English Channel from the White Cliffs of Dover to Calais, France. I toured these gorgeous bodies of water: Lake Lucerne in Switzerland on a foggy, rainy, summer evening (all the more magical), the river Seine in Paris (for the third time), the Rhine River Valley in Germany, Miami’s South Beach, and the Amstel river in Amsterdam. I swam in the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean seas in southern Italy and the Amalfi Coast, and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

capp

Cappuccino at my favourite café, Bar Le Logge

As I wrote back in September upon my return, I sampled delicacies from different places, danced all night, read by rivers, boarded boats and trains and tiny little cars on tiny little roads, went to the tops of mountains and bobsledded down them, traversed valleys, strolled cities and small, cobblestone alleys, drank cappuccinos, drank (a lot of) fantastic wine, discussed current affairs with people from around the world, sat on cafe patios, read books that made a difference in my life, made lasting friendships, expanded my knowledge, lived and thrived in the countryside, counted stars, learned, embraced. And I did it all with complete strangers, or completely alone.

Venice

Me in Venice, Italy – a city whose inimitable charm is only discovered through exploration

I had the immense pleasure of visiting four of the most beautiful, celebrated, and renowned wine regions in the world – Napa Valley, California, USA; Chianti, Tuscany, Italy; Niagara, Ontario, Canada; and the Rhine River Valley, Germany. Each experience is special, for entirely different reasons. I toured California from north to south throughout (a much less-crowded) January with my love; lived in Chianti for two months at a writing residence, where I finished a future manuscript, with international artists that I am fortunate to call my friends (Tommy Graham, Ellen and Patrick Coffey, Kristin Man, and Alli Rath); regularly visit the breathtaking Niagara region; and spent a couple of memorable Riesling-and-bier-filled days in Germany. For more pictures of my summer vacation, check out my September post here.

Each place is saturated in my memory. They are vivid and colourful and inspiring and alive. I feel so privileged to not only have truly experienced life, but to have participated in the art of fine living. I’m thankful for everything.

I wish you all a very healthy, happy, prosperous new year.

Here’s to more adventure in 2015!

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Two thousand (and eleven) memories

Today, I opened a Baci chocolate that said, on the little slip of paper wrapped snugly around it, “Love can hope where reason would despair.” Heckle me all you want, but I love to indulge in fortune cookies, horoscopes, messages from sidewalk graffiti, ghostly superstition, and the mysterious shapes of clouds at opportune moments. And because of these guilty pleasures, I believe that little Baci chocolate is a startlingly accurate summary of the past year, and a good projection of what’s to come. 2011 has shown me that logic, reality, finance, and reason take a backseat when passion is driving you. This is the mentality that I always want to carry with me.

With the close of 2011 comes a feeling of relief and anticipation. This year has felt like what I often refer to as a “buffer” book in a series – the one needed to explain backstories, flesh out ideas or plans, tie up loose ends, and set up the drama for the final book. Think Half-Blood Prince, or Catching Fire. So much has happened this year! There were many downs, but many more ups.

The good points shine out in my memory, vivid and sharp, a slow-motion mélange of images – graduating from university, completing a post-grad program and a publishing internship, living downtown, midnight dinners, friendships made, plans laid, good nights, new sights, New York City. It all feels so long ago, and just like yesterday, at the same time.

My friend, Ikhlas, wrote a precise and beautiful blog post on the question many of us hate to answer — “What is it that you do?” She lists seamstress, artist, and magician. I’ll add another of my own to the list: dreamer. All of my dreams come true in my imagination…and on paper. The most concrete things I learned this past year, in school and in life, have been about myself. I want to write. I want to travel more.

I’m looking forward to 2012…something tells me it’s going to be a fantastic, scary year. But all things beautiful are equally terrifying. When I asked my dad if he thought the world would end next year, he replied, “It already has. Everyone’s living for the wrong reasons.” How right he is. I feel little worry about Nostradamus/Mayan predictions – that’s one prophechy I don’t subscribe to. The Earth is stronger than any of us. Though our own society may be crumbling, the world is just fine. It’s the people that need to change. It’s us that need to understand the universe we live in, and all the ones that we create. Here’s to life, love, happiness, and doing it all for the right reasons.

Happy New Year, everyone.

CR