My current city

I moved to Aberdeen, Scotland a year ago to stay here for four years at least while I study at a university to get my Bachelor’s degree. I had visited this city before, in the process of applying for the universities so that I could check them out and see where I would like to study the most. It’s the third largest city in Scotland, after Glasgow and Edinburgh. I was also accepted to two universities in/near Glasgow and one in Dundee, but I thought that the university where I ended up going to obviously was the best option. So here I am, in the North East of Scotland, in a city that a lot of people that live here don’t like. 😀 That’s the opinion of other young people at least (not all of them though), and they just keep saying that they can’t wait to get away from Aberdeen. At first I didn’t get it, I didn’t know what was so wrong with the city. And to be honest, now a year later I understand what they’re talking about. It’s just not very exciting, at least compared to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Not that many things are happening here, almost no musicians come here as a part of their tours, there are only grey buildings so it looks pretty miserable, and it has only one main street which isn’t even that good. And the night life isn’t that great either unless you like crowded clubs, drunk people and terrible music haha (I went once and it was enough for me 😀 ).

I’m sure it’s nice if you just come to visit it, but I wouldn’t choose this city to be my home for the rest of my life. On the other hand there are some really nice things about it, the thing is that there aren’t that many of them. Aberdeen has a really nice sandy beach (it’s too cold for swimming though because it’s the North Sea), there are beautiful forests and lots of castles all around, and some impressive buildings (though grey).

I do try to travel a lot while I’m here, even if it’s just a neigbouring town so that I get to see other parts of Aberdeenshire and Scotland as well. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of Aberdeen though, so you can decide how you like it. 🙂

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Union Street

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Marischal College
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St Machar Cathedral

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Castle Street
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Fishermen village

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Do you know what I mean by ‘grey city’? 😀
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Hazlehead Park

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Duthie Park winter garden
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King’s College

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Victoria Park
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My university

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St Nicholas Kirk

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Rebranding of introverts

I grew up with the idea that extroverts are better than us introverts because they are so outgoing, they make themselves heard and they love being in the centre of attention. Even in my German textbook there was an exercise where we were supposed to divide adjectives into positives or negatives, and the answer for extroverted was positive and for introverted it was negative.

Only after I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, my eyes opened to the fact that introverts definitely aren’t worse and in a number of aspects they have the advantages. She describes introverts as people who have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk. Introverts think more, are less reckless and focus on what really matters—relationships and meaningful work. On the other hand, extroverts are energised by social situations and tend to be assertive multi-taskers who think out loud and on their feet. She says that between one-third and one-half of Americans may be classified as introverts, though individuals fall at different places along an introvert-extrovert spectrum. People falling near the middle of the spectrum are called ambiverts.

I used to think that being introverted also meant feeling shy and anti-social, which are the stigmas that many people carry in their minds when they think about introverts. Shyness is a fear of negative judgement which anybody can have whereas introversion is just a preference for a quiet environment.

All my life I was told to speak up and to come out of my shell as if everyone needs to be the same – after all we live in an extrovert-oriented world. That’s what it’s like in the West at least, in the East they aren’t against soft-spoken people and leaders, they value them the same way. Susan Cain doesn’t seek introvert domination in her book but a better balance and inclusion of different work styles, acknowledging that big ideas and great leadership can come from either personality type. She cites studies showing that introverts are better at leading proactive employees because they listen to and let them run with their ideas, while extroverts are better at leading passive employees because they have a knack for motivation and inspiration. She emphasised that the key to maximising talents is to put yourself into the zone of stimulation that’s right for you.

Some psychologists actually suggest that the most creative people in many fields are usually introverts. This is probably because introverts are comfortable spending time alone, and solitude is a crucial (and underrated) ingredient for creativity. Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Rosa Parks, Sir Isaac Newton and lots of other important people who did amazing things were introverts. Many people though feel like they should change their behaviour and try to pass off as extroverts, which they probably find exhausting. Many of us just want to spend time after work or school in solitude to re-energise after being with other people all day, and to spend an evening with a few good friends rather than at a crowded party.

If you want to learn more about both introverts and extroverts I’d very highly recommend you to read Susan Cain’s book, I read it a few years ago but I still think about it and it completely changed my view of introverts and of myself. I have found out that the author of the book also recorded several podcast episodes about this topic so I’m looking forward to listening to them.

Would you consider yourself to be an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert? Do you agree with what Susan says in her book? 🙂

Loch Ness trip

I wanted to see Loch Ness basically from the first time I came to Scotland because it’s so well known obviously and I wanted to see what it’s all about, and last month I finally got to visit it. 🙂 To be honest I wasn’t expecting too much from it, I thought it was going to be just a lake like any other but I was wrong, it really is as beautiful as everyone says it is. It was so pretty with the mountains all around it, I had to keep reminding myself that it’s real and that it’s not just a picture. 😀

It was a two day trip, on the first day we went to Inverness to have a look around in the centre of the town and we walked along the river Ness towards the Ness Islands.

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View from a bridge towards Ness Islands
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View towards the centre of Inverness
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Inverness Castle

Then it was time for us to check into our Airbnb which was just outside of Inverness. I booked a forest cabin which was very cute and minimalistic and the owner of the cabin was really fun to talk to. He also recommended us a pub to go to which was on the bank of Loch Ness, so of course we went there for dinner!

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For the next day we had booked canoeing on Loch Ness but it was from Fort Augustus so we drove there for about an hour. We had a stop on the way though to visit a castle that we saw on the bank of Loch Ness. It was the Urquhart Castle which is a ruined castle and there were many other tourists (there were loads of them all around Loch Ness I should say).

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After that we went on canoe and it was so much fun! It was the first time for me but it wasn’t very difficult to figure it out and I didn’t fall into the lake so that’s a good sign haha. We had a really nice instructor who showed us around one side of the lake. I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery, it was absolutely beautiful but my pictures probably don’t do it justice.

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On the way back through the Cairngorms National Park – which was just stunning and it was like typical Scotland to me with the high hills, green pastures and rain haha – I finally got to see Highland cows! They were so cute, I had to get out of the car to take some pictures. 😀

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Baby Highland cows

It was such a good trip! I’d definitely recommend you to visit Loch Ness and the Cairngorms National Park if you get the chance. Now I understand why so many tourists come to this part of Scotland and I hope to join them again sometime soon. 🙂

Cosy recipes for the autumn

When the weather gets colder I start to crave creamy warm soups, my favourites are a pumpkin soup and a carrot and red lentil soup – for which I’ll show you a very easy recipe. They are also great because you don’t need a lot of ingredients for them and the whole process is fairly simple. The second recipe is for aubergines, I got an inspiration for it from my mother because when I was at home over the summer we tried a lot of aubergine recipes together. Again this one is very easy and it will make you feel warmer when you’ll eat it straight out of the oven.

Carrot and red lentil soup

For this soup you’ll only need olive oil, chopped carrots, red lentils (don’t need to be soaked beforehand), turmeric, and salt. You could also add chopped onions, garlic and curry spice.

Put the carrots into olive oil and let them simmer for a few minutes with turmeric.

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Then add the red lentils (I don’t measure it so you can add as much as you prefer, the more you’ll add the creamier the soup will be) and salt. Pour boiling water into the pot and let it cook until the carrots are soft.

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Then just mix it with a blender until smooth, add more salt if it’s needed and enjoy! 🙂

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Aubergines baked with cheese and tomato sauce

For this recipe you will need aubergines, olive oil, salt, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. I used two aubergines and I chopped them into slices and covered the slices with salt on both sides. To be honest I’m not sure why this step is important but that’s what my mother does so I just copied her haha. Because of the salt the aubergines will let out water drops (osmosis!) and you can just pat them will a kitchen towel to dry them.

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Then you’ll put some olive oil on them and bake them on 180 degrees Celsius for about 20-30 minutes, until they start getting brown on both sides.

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After this you will alternate the different layers, so aubergines – tomato sauce – sliced mozzarella – grated parmesan – aubergines again and so on.

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Bake on 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.

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Let me know if you’ll try these recipes. 🙂 What’s your favourite food to have in the autumn?

 

About Slovakia

Before moving to Scotland to study at a university at the age of 20 I always lived in Bratislava, Slovakia. And I couldn’t wait to move abroad. It’s not because Slovakia is a horrible place, I just needed a change and to meet new people and to discover new places. Lots of young people do the same thing, they go to study abroad for at least a semester or they study there entirely. Everyone says that it’s because the schools and schooling systems are not as good in Slovakia, which I can confirm unfortunately. There are still many things that need to be improved in the Slovak schools, so a lot of students use the opportunity to study at better schools in the meantime.

It’s like this with a lot of things in this country – the schools, hospitals, politics, service in general: it’s okay currently but there’s lots of space for improvement. And I’m not sure if things are moving towards the direction of the improvement.

I didn’t pay much attention to this as a kid, you notice these things through stories that people around you tell you that happened to them. For the most part I was happy growing up in Bratislava, mainly because it’s the capitol city so everything is easily accessible. You also have lots of parks and there are mountains very nearby so you can go on hikes or go skiing in the winter, although most people jut go skiing to the area of the Tatra mountains where the slopes are a lot bigger. An advantage of Bratislava is its location because it’s close to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. It got very easy to travel throughout Europe once we joined the Schengen Area in 2007, and in 2009 our currency changed from Slovak crown to euro.

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Bratislava Main Square

It seems like we get more and more tourists each year but as Bratislava is a smaller city than Vienna for example, people don’t spend here as much time or they go to the Tatra mountains which really are beautiful. There are lots of caves, tarns and hiking trails, I really like going there too.

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View from the tarn Štrbské pleso

There are still some villages where you can find traditional houses such as in one village called Čičmany:

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And if you come to Slovakia you must try some of our food, like our cheese, bean soup, dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon, or dumplings filled with fruit and topped with poppy seeds.

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Bryndzové halušky

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Slovakia is a small country with a lot of traditions though (we have a very wild Easter haha, the tradition is that boys should splash girls with water and gently whip them with whips made of willow so that the girls are pretty and healthy for the rest of the year, and girls in return give the boys painted eggs. This probably sounds weird but I swear it’s true 😀 ), national parks and great food (and apparently very cheap beer). It’s not a perfect country but at least we know which direction we should be moving in, and hopefully someday we will catch up to our neighbour Austria for example, haha.

Would you ever want to visit Slovakia? 🙂

Fave books I read over the summer

I’ve had the longest holiday over this summer, almost four months which is unbelievable so I had plenty of time for reading. I love love reading books so much, it doesn’t matter which genre it is but it just has to draw me into its universe so that I don’t want to stop reading it until I finish it. I’m going to share some books that I enjoyed with you and let me know if you’ve read any of these. 🙂

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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This was such a fascinating, mind-blowing read. If you like fantasy and the idea of parallel universes then this is a good choice for you. It’s about a man who can’t stop questioning himself about what his life would be like if he made a different choice some years back, and even though he is happy with his family he has now there is still something kind of missing. I was getting schocked throughout reading this book because of its amazing plot. It also makes you realise how precious what we already have is and that we shouldn’t take it for granted. Jut read this book and you’ll see haha, I don’t want to give any spoilers because I liked how it surprised me.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

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This was about a family that emmigrated from Greece to America, it’s about how they were adjusting to the change and about their relationships between each other, but we mainly followed the character of Cal and how he realises that he wants to become a boy instead of being a girl. Apart from some of the more serious topics there were some really funny stories and the writing was really good – it made you feel like you were there in a Greek village or on a boat to America, and you really connected with the characters. It showed the importance of family and how important it is to love others no matter who they are.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

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This one is non-fiction and it’s about how public shaming was banned in 1800s because of how cruel it was but now with the social media it has come back as anyone can call other people out and shame them. The author discusses several cases where this happened and how it affected the people that were shamed and their future. We are reminded that everything stays on the internet and that people like to act as internet police sometimes to get the “bad guy”, but in this book we looked at the perspective of that bad guy so it was very interesting.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Oh my God this book, I literally couldn’t put it down and I read it in one day haha. It was so gripping and I just had to find out who did the thing and why, basically in the beginning we know that a murder investigation is happening and it was one of the parents at this school in Australia. We get to know all the characters and you just can’t imagine that a murder would even happen there, but then it begins to unfold and you create your own theories about how it could have happened and why. It’s written in such a good way, the book had me smiling and laughing but then also crying, I highly recommend this.

Lullabies by Lang Leav

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Really sweet and poignant poems about love mostly – who doesn’t like that? This is the author’s second collection of poems and I really enjoyed it. 🙂

Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You by Kunal Nayyar

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This is a memoir of one of the actors from The Big Bang Theory, Kunal Nayyar. I decided to read it because I’ve been a big fan of the show and of Kunal, and because it seemed like it would be a very funny book with hilarious stories in it, and that’s exactly what it was. I laughed out loud a lot while reading this and among other things I learnt about what it was like for him to grow up in India, and what Indian weddings are like which was very fascinating haha. The Big Bang Theory isn’t mentioned there a lot so even if you’re not a fan of the show I’d recommend you to pick this book up if you want to have a good laugh. 🙂

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

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This is a very short book but it’s very funny, it’s basically just a collection of dialouges that people overheard in bookshops. It shows people as they are, whether it’s sweet, innocent, confused or just straight up weird haha. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll like it.

These were some of the books I read over this summer, that I thought were worth mentioning. I definitely don’t have as much time to read when I go to classes at uni but I’ll try to keep it up and find some more time for it. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed and I love discovering new great books, so write in the comments some books you’d recommend. 🙂

 

 

Georgia in 7 days, part II

Third day: After the two days spent in Tbilisi and Kakheti we set out on a journey towards the west coast to enjoy the Black Sea for the first time. Everywhere you go in Georgia you are surrounded by mountains which is an amazing sight, and that’s why Georgia is popular for skiing during the winter season.

On the way to Batumi we had a few stops so that we could do some more exploration of the country, and at first we stopped in a city called Mtskheta which used to be the capitol city of Georgia before Tbilisi. It has a beautiful historical centre with an important cathedral.

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Our next stop was a town called Gori which was a birthplace of Stalin. They have a museum dedicated to him in the centre of the town, and we did go inside but I didn’t find it very good. I would have appreciated more English texts and explanations rather than just looking at pictures of him and the things he used to own. What was really cool though was that they have Stalin’s personal train wagon in which he used to go everywhere, and you could walk inside it and see what it’s like.

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A replica of a house Stalin grew up in
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This is what a typical block of flats looks like in Georgia

Next up was Uplistsikhe, a stone city from a century BC. It was really worth seeing it even though it was too hot outside and we felt like we were about to melt haha, but we never before saw a city literally carved into stone.

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Fourth day: This was a resting day for us because driving for about six hours with stops on the way was very tiring. We arrived into our apartment (with which we had some problems and it definitely wasn’t as good as the one in Tbilisi) very late at night the previous day so we decided to just go to the beach and do nothing else. The nearest beach to us was with pebbles instead of sand so it wasn’t as comfortable but the sea was so warm and the waves so nice you could just be there for hours.

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View of Batumi

Fifth day: We wanted to try a sandy beach too so we drove up a bit to a town called Ureki becuase it seemed like it was the only part of the Georgian shore that has sand instead of pebbles. It was a very popular beach because it was packed with people and deckchairs but it didn’t matter to us as most of the time we were just in the water. And the waves were so huge! It was so fun swimming in them and trying not to get drowned by them 😀 I don’t mean actually drowned because it wasn’t dangerous but it did give you a bit of adrenaline as the waves were still strong.

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As we were by the sea we couldn’t resist having fresh fish

Sixth day: My parents and I spent the day in Batumi, a big modern seaside city with lots of attractions and tourists. It was a chilled day, first we went into a small aquarium, then we had lunch and did some shopping too. This is when my parents bought a lot of cognac bottles and we started worrying it wouldn’t all fit inside of a suitcase – but it did!

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6 May park
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Baklava House

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Seventh day: Our flight back to Budapest was in the early morning of the next day so we still had a full day left. Before we started packing we went to the beach for the last time but it was so warm we got sunburnt haha.

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Those were amazing black olives

At night we started heading for the airport and guess what – another sleepless night haha. Everything went well though and we arrived at home before noon the next day. The time zone difference was only two hours so it wasn’t even noticeable that much. I’d recommend you going to visit Georgia if you want to see something different than the usual holiday by the sea, this feels more exotic and adventurous I’d say. We enjoyed all the food too and my favourite was the fresh fruit, we had some amazing figs, peaches and nectarines. Then the salads with loads of parsley and coriander were great and also the fresh fish.

Would you ever want to visit Georgia? 🙂

Georgia in 7 days, part I

My mother always likes to go on a holiday to unusual countries (the usual for Slovaks is to go to Croatia or Italy), we’ve been to China and Montenegro for example, and this time she thought we could go to Georgia (in Europe, not the US state haha). In January she noticed that the flight tickets to Kutaisi were on offer so she decided to go for it. I don’t really like going to the same place every summer so of course I was excited to go and explore a new country.

We went there just for a week and we spent two days in the capitol city, Tbilisi, and we spent the rest by the seaside near Batumi. My parents were also excited to go wine tasting because Georgia is famous for their wine (and cognac) and at the end they brought quite a lot of bottles of the wine and cognac home haha, not just for themselves though but as presents for friends and family.

As Georgia was under the Russian influence for many years a lot of the people there speak Russian, so this was the first holiday where I didn’t have to translate everything to my parents from English as they were taught Russian at school and they still remembered enough to be able to communicate, in fact sometimes I was the one who had no idea what was going on haha.

First day: We arrived in Kutaisi very early in the morning so we were absolutely exhausted because we only got minimum sleep during the flight, which was two and a half hours long. We had to try to keep being awake though because there was a more than a three hour car drive to Tbilisi in front of us. My parents rented a car at the airport and it was very expensive actually, and we didn’t even get the car we were supposed to get when my parents were arranging it months before.

When you walk out of the airport you are greeted by several stray dogs (which can be seen throughout Georgia) and taxi drivers offering you their expensive service.

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Kutaisi airport

On the way to the capitol we saw many people selling stuff by the road and it’s funny because they sell only the same thing in the same section, so there was a watermelon road where everyone was selling watermelons and nothing else, a bread road, a ceramics road, a hammock road etc. We also wanted to stop somewhere for breakfast but as Georgian letters are different from the Latin and Russian alphabet we weren’t really sure what was a shop or a restaurant (only in bigger towns there is an English translation as well). We managed to find a little place though and we got to try some Georgian food, like their cheese and khachapuri which is bread with cheese inside and an egg on top (I don’t have a good picture of it unfortunately). Later we saw that they eat khachapuri with everything haha.

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When we finally got to Tbilisi the weather was really hot, about 35 degrees Celsius so we were even more tired because of it. There was still some time left before we could check into our Airbnb so we went to the centre of the city to book a tour to Kakheti for the next day to go wine tasting, and to exchange more money because the rate at the airport wasn’t very good.

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Liberty Square in the centre of Tbilisi

I also have to mention the driving in Georgia – the drivers are crazy 😀 They don’t really follow the rules so you have to be prepared for everything and they drive really fast. They will honk at you if you’re a little slower than them (which we were because we were trying to be careful with our rented car), but towards the end of our holiday my dad got used to their driving and was becoming a bit crazy like them haha.

We were very satisfied with our apartment in Tbilisi, it was very modern and it had everything we needed. It was pretty close to the centre so sometimes we’d just use the underground instead of driving. I can you give you the details of the accommodation in case you want to visit Tbilisi. 🙂

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View of Tbilisi from the Narikala fortress

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Narikala fortress
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Kartlis Deda
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Bridge of Peace

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After some exploring of the city we went to a restaurant called Samikitno Georgian Cuisine where we tried very tasty Georgian dishes like aubergine and spinach with walnuts, chicken and beef barbecue with a salad, and khinkali which are big dumplings with various stuffing.

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Second day: For the whole day we went on a tour to Kakheti mainly to go wine tasting and also to see some sights. There was only five of us on the tour and our tour guide was really nice, she was actually my age and we got on very well. She spoke Russian to everyone and in English to me haha. She showed us two famous wineries, a cathedral and a very old fortress.

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This is where they put their traditional dry Georgian wine
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Unusually shaped grapes

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We found puppies!

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They put the Georgian wine undergound for an optimum temperature
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Fortress of the city Signagi

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Churchkhela – Georgian candy made of walnuts covered in grape juice (looks questionable but tastes really good)

This has been a lot of pictures so I’ll leave the rest for the second part 😀 I hope that this has given you a little taste of Georgia, it’s a very beautiful country with an Asian charm to it as it’s between Europe and Asia. And all the food looks really tasty doesn’t it? 🙂

What we saw in Budapest

Recently my parents and I went on a holiday to Georgia for a week (I’ll write about that experience later on) and we flew there from the Budapest airport. Our flight was late at night so we thought we could use some time to have a look around in the city before getting to the airport. I’d been to Budapest a couple of times before but both times it was just for one or two days so I’d never really seen all the sights.

Our first stop was the Heroes Square where you can see statues of people that were important in the Hungarian history and the Millenium Memorial in the centre of the square. It was really hot that day, like veery hot so we didn’t stay long in the sun and then we went to a nearby park.

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A gallery at the Heroes Square

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Millenium Memorial

There is a large stone cenotaph at the front of the memorial that reads: “To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.”

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Vajdahunyad Castle near the Heroes Square

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The Church of Jak in a Romanesque style
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A baroque palace

Also in that area is an entrance to the first underground system in the continental Europe and the metro is still fully functioning. It’s also the second-oldest electrically operated railway in the world. In 2002 it was declared a World Heritage Site. We did go on the line to get to another part of Budapest, the stations were very nicely decorated with tiled walls and the metro wasn’t very deep down in the ground compared to their newest underground system in other parts of the city.

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One of the many bridges on the river Danube
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The Hungarian Parliament in the Lajos Kossuth Square on the bank of Danube

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The Parliament is the tallest building in Budapest
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Kossuth Memorial

As the evening rolled around we started looking for a good restaurant where we could have dinner – my mother does it by seeing in which place there’s most people. It worked this time too and we found a place called M. Restaurant, and the food there was truly amazing. The menu is quite short but everything sounded very tasty and they had some traditional Hungarian dishes too such as goulash and paprikash. We already know these so we wanted to try something else – I had a grilled trout with a cellery risotto (which was so good I’m still dreaming about it haha) with berries. Yum!

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The Heroes Square at night

I really enjoyed our afternoon in Budapest, there’s still much more to see but next time I’d prefer to go there in spring or autumn because in summer the temperature is too high and not ideal for walking around. You could spend there a week or two and you would still easily find some sights to see, and even just random walking in the city is great because everywhere you can find lovely historical buildings and cute cafés and lots of parks and markets, and also with the festivals over the summer you just couldn’t get bored in Budapest. What do you think is worth visitng there? 🙂

Everyone should be bilingual

I haven’t been bilingual my whole life, it’s been gradual and I noticed that I understood English very well when I was about 16 years old. My first language is Slovak and at school I was taught English from the first grade. The English they taught us was kind of all over the place because we had several English teachers so after the nine years of primary school I knew some English but I still couldn’t read books in English or watch movies without subtitles.

That changed though when I started attending a bilingual secondary school, so obviously my level of English improved very quickly. In the first year we had ten hours of English a week and we had native English speakers too, and this was all so that later on we could have most of our subjects in English. Soon all of us were fluent in the language and we only occassionally made small mistakes.

I’m very glad that I went to the bilingual school because wihout it I don’t think that my English would be as good – it prepared me well for an English language certificate and for a university in the UK as well. Before that I was always self-conscious about going abroad because I knew I wouldn’t be able to understand the people there very well, and now I don’t even think about it and also translate everything to my parents when we’re on a holiday. I mostly only read books in English and I generally don’t need to use subtitles when I watch something (unless the actors speak in a very strong accent of some sort and it’s more difficult to understand them). I do still make some mistakes but I normally spot them and correct myself. My boyfriend is from the UK so that definitely helped me in this aspect as well, mostly to expand my vocabulary and to become more at ease when I speak in English.

When I was in the secondary school I also had German classes but unfortunately I’m not fluent in German. I was able to write easier essays in German and to read texts, but when I listen to German for example I seem to understand only a few words, haha. This past year some of my flatmates were from Germany but we only spoke in English, my German isn’t good enough to have a conversation especially as I haven’t had the German classes for over a year now.

There are only benefits to being bilingual, whether you’re taught two (or more) languages from when you’re a baby or from learning an additional language at school. It’s really good for the brain – bilinguals can more easily multitask, solve problems and focus on tasks because they have more grey matter in their anterior cingulate cortex. It can also delay the effects of dementia for about four years and protect the brain after injury – the cognitive recovery after a stroke is twice as likely for bilinguals. The bilinguals also tend to have a much better memory. Other benefits are that it can open up new career opportunities, it can improve your competitiveness in the job market, and it can increase your salary. It can give you interesting cultural and social opportunities and give you a different perspective which can make you more empathetic.

If I ever have children I’d definitely like them to be bilingual as I know how much it’s helped me, I never used to think that I could attend a university in a different country or have a boyfriend who doesn’t speak my native language. It can open up so many doors for you and make you more open-minded.

Do you consider yourself to be bilingual? How many languages do you speak? 🙂