My new blog!

Hi everyone..long time no see! I started a  new blog, about fun,non-touristy things to do in Newcastle Upon Tyne:

http://thingstodoinnewcastle.wordpress.com/.

Check it out an show it some love! :) My first post if for all tea lovers, as I go on discovering  the perfect place to enjoy a  tasty cuppa. Here’s a little sneak peek:

Tea Sutra Teahouse, 1st Floor 2 Leazes Park Rd

I’m really excited about this place because I “discovered” it only a few days ago and I fell in love! Here’s why…

Tea Sutra  is the ultimate tea heaven – with an ‘Oriental’ twist! It’s a tea house, so expect an amazing choice of tea –  they serve over 100 teas and infusions (plus a selection of vegeterian, gluten-free snacks to go with it)! Interestingly, Tea Sutra also offers wellness therapies such as acupuncture, hot and cold stone massage and reiki, so it’s a bit like a spa and tea house in one!

Even though Tea Sutra is in a central location, I felt like I left the everyday hustle and bustle behind the moment I walked through their door. Everything about this place is relaxing and soothing – the light, specious, Japan-inspired decor; the subtle music, comfortable cushions…and the amazing smell of tea filling up the entire floor! It might sound like a weird comparison, but the peaceful, almost meditative atmosphere remained me  a bit of a yoga studio.

tea house Newcastle

tea house Newcastle

tea house Newcastle

It took me a while to decide, but I eventually ordered Persian tea (£2.70) – which is black tea with flowers and spices.  Tea Sutra has a nice selections of books and magazines, so I was sipping my tea while reading haiku – how relaxing!

tea house Newcastle

All Saints Day in Warsaw

In Poland, it’s a tradition to visit the graves and ligth candles as a symbol of remembering the dead on All Soul’s Day,which falls on 1st November. You may think it’s creepy, but I think there’s something beautiful and mystical about wandering around the cemetery as the soft candle lights are glistering in the night :)

I took the photos at Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw’s most famous, and probably oldest, cemetery.

“What is life? Oh, it’s just a moment.”

Rediscovering Newcastle

Here are some snaps I took today – I bought a new Nikon D3100 so I had to try it out! :)

Newcastle  is famous (or infamous, depending how you look at it!) for wild nights out involving a flurry of fake tan,  skimpy outfits and cheap drinks, and it’s pretty much considered the drinking capital of the UK. To be honest, I don’t think many people outside of the North East  realise that the city has much more to offer than bargain booze and fancy dress nights out. One of my favourite things about it is the architecture – Newcastle, especially the city centre and the Quayside (riverside), is a lovely mixture of 15th-19th century houses, crooked  Medieval-style streets and modern  buildings.  PERFECT for taking photos! :

Quayside [click photo to enlarge]

Quayside in colour :)

Grainger Town, Newcastle City Centre

Just a few photo-memories..

Being back in England has its good points- I’ve missed Sunday lunches in Durham, going to the seaside for fish & chips, and it’s nice to be surrounded by people who appreciate the difference between Lady Grey and Earl Grey ;) .

What I definitely haven’t missed is the cold, rain and the dreary gloominess outside (the price I have to pay for living up North!). On days like this, I really miss travelling and can’t wait to hit the road again. I’ve been browsing through photos I took just a couple of months back…They really inspire me to plan more trips! Here are a few of them: (I noticed photos look a bit blurry when I post them on here – if you want to see them in the original size, just click image to enlarge:)

KL, Malaysia

KL, Malaysia

Vientiane , Laos

Vieng Xai, Laos

more Laos…

Sri Lanka, on the train to Colombo

Coconuts sold outside Mahalakshmi Temple in Mysore

South Goa paradise :)

India dreaming..

It’s been a while since my last post…I left NYC over a month ago and I’m now back in England which has been my home for nearly 5 years. This past year has had a great influence on how I  see my life and my place in it. As cliche as it sounds, travelling really opens your mind to new possibilities and helps you learn a lot about yourself. Now that I think about it, my travels around Asia and America have quite possibly taught me more about myself than about the places I visited! New experiences that come with traveling are like a prism through which you get to see your life from an entirely different perspective. Thanks to them,  you get to know your limits and then break them; your learn to be patient when you’re in a situation you’d normally dread to even think about; they give you the freedom to be carefree and joyful while helping you realise what’s lacking in your life.

Travelling around India has been such a prism to me. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it… Sitting on the rooftop overlooking Taj Mahal, sipping masala chai as the sun was about the set and the Call to Prayer was echoing through the city…Midnight swims in the Arabian Sea, glistering in the moonlight… Camping in the middle of Thar Desert, falling asleep as the Milky Way was shining bright..Endless hours spent on the train, talking to strangers who, within one journey, would become my friends…It almost seems like a dream! I realise how much it changed me and the way I see my life especially now, when I’m back home (although, knowing myself, I won’t be back for long;).  I thought I would share a few photos from my journey across India – they are mainly portraits because I’ve always believed that the best way to learn about a culture is though people  – after all, it’s them who create it!

Shop keeper, Varkala, South India

Local fishermen in Varkala. I took this photo early in the morning, after a sunrise boat ride.

Another photo from Varkala..I love the colours and the composition.

On the way to Jodhpur fort..This man was really friendly and asked me to take photos of his son!:)

One thing that always struck me about Indian women was how incredibly graceful and feminine  they are. I think this photo managed to capture that. It was taken in Hampi, one of my favourite Indian cities -it’s absolutely magical.

Temple in Hampi. I couldn’t get over the amazing detailing and the vibrant colours!

On the Ooty toy train. Taking this train was such a fantastic experience – the views were breathtaking!

Lady in orange.

This was taken on my first day in India,right in the middle of Paharganj, Delhi. I must say, out of all the cities I’ve visited in India, Delhi’s definitely my least favourite. The dirt and pollution was just too much!

Street vednor in Kanyakumari, South India. The city’s on India’s southernmost tip, it’s also where 3 seas meet.

Top of The Rock view

Apparently,  a picture speaks more than a thousand words, so I will let my photos do the talking ;)


NYC, you are amazing!!

Queens after the hurricane Irene

I figured that with the Internet finally back after the ‘hurricane’ (or, in NYC’s case – a big storm), it’s time to upload some overdue post-hurricane photos! American media blew the hurricane situation out of proportions, but then again, I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry…The whole city was paralysed on Saturday when New York’s lifeline – the subway and bus system got shut down; practically all supermarkets in my area ran out of water supplies and there was a whole lot of people running around hectically, trying to buy batteries and flashlights. I almost felt like I was taking part in some sort of an apocalyptic film,haha!

The storm started on Saturday evening , just as I joined my friend on a ride to Brooklyn ;) It was raining so much that the streets practically turned into rivers and we almost got stuck. The usually glistering Manhattan skyline was almost dark and only a few lights were on, it was so weird to see. The storm got worse throughout the night – the wind was so strong it actually woke me up – but  everything was fine by the early afternoon! Here are some photos I took on Sunday afternoon, when me and my friend went for a quick drive to see what’s been happening in Queens (excuse the photo quality, I took them with a regular compact camera):

Flooded street in Jamaica, Queens.

Evacuation Centre in Jamaica, Queens. There was still a lot of people inside when we got there on Sunday – some of them were hospital patients! Subway and buses still weren’t working so people had to wait to be picked up.

Emergency drinking water at the Evacuation Centre!

Ready meal served at the centre – it has over 1000 calories to keep you full for long. I ate only half of the meal and it  felt very heavy on my stomach. Apparently, this is what the soldiers eat when they are in the field!

Here’s what’s inside.

This was quite possibly the most complicated ready meal I’ve ever had!

Flower District & West 25th Street

Flower District occupies a small block of West 28th St between 7th Ave and Avenue of Americas. The area might be small, but once you’re there you feel like you’ve entered a colorful, lush garden – palm trees and exotic plants together with  roses, tulips and lillies are lined up along the pavement; and there are even more beautiful plants to be admired once you walk into any of the floral stores.  Whenever I’m in the area, I love walking through the Flower District, it’s just so lovely and relaxing (and it smells nice too!) :

Palm trees in the concrete jungle :)

Walking just three streets down from the Flower District, towards 23rd Street will take you to West 25th Street – which is one of my favourite, random NYC finds. As you can probably tell from my previous posts, I love antique and vintage stores – and W 25th street is full of them! In fact, this is where the Antiques Garage - a big vintage street market, takes place every weekend (I was told the place will be relocated as of next month but I don’t know where to). One of my favourite shops is Flea Market on 120 West 25th Street – it’s really is fun for browsing – I like the mix of old books, crystal decanters, 1960s hats and vintage jewellery, but don’t expect actual antiques  ;)

This is what I bought there today..a cute pocket watch necklece from the 50s/60s…it was only $19! This is how it looks from the back:

Another nice shop is This’n’That Jewelry and Collectables, right next to Flea Market  on 124 West 25th. Walking around the store feels a bit like entering your grandmas closet..most of the vintage items are on the back – try not to be freaked out by some of them, like this mink scarf, with little furry legs dangling off it!

Manhattan in Summer Rain

Bewitching Salem

I’ve been to Salem, MA twice – the first time was on a gloomy, rainy day when I had to fight the wind to keep my umbrella from breaking, and the other on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Given Salem’s history (the 1692-1693 Witch trials!), it’s definitely better to come visit when it’s a bit rainy and misty to add to the city’s  mysterious atmosphere ;)

Out of all American cities I’ve been to , Salem’s the only place whose history remains a core element of its present-day identity. But even in Salem, the history demonstrates itself in a true capitalistic fashion –  mainly through ‘witch shops’ strategically located on almost every main street corner, selling tongue-in-cheek reminders of the trials – crystal balls, broomsticks, talismans, Pagan jewellery – you name it! Essex St., one of the main shopping streets in Downtown Salem,  is full of them – some of them look (and smell!) suspiciously like second-hand shops turned ‘witch stores’ with a help of a few creepy mannequins, witch dolls and magic wands. There’s also a lot of tarot readings centres – I haven’t seen so many of them in one place since I left LA back in May!

However, If you get slightly off the main street  you’ll find some really  interesting places, like HEX: Old World Witchery. This Witchcraft store has a bit of a dark feel to it, and looks like something from a film! They sell everything from books on herbalism and voodoo to ritual tools, spell kits and wolf hair (!). So if you happen to dabble on the darker side, this place is definitely for you ;)

Another store I really liked was Crow Haven Corner – the oldest witch shop in Salem (which makes you wonder why it’s only 30 years old…you’d think someone would come up with this idea sooner!). The place is owned by a very friendly local lady Lorelei, who also offers Spiritual Readings.

Witch stores aside, I really enjoyed wandering around the town looking at the beautiful historical buildings – there’s a lot of  pretty Georgian and Victorian residences, and quite a few houses are directly linked to the Witch trials, for example  Sarah Osborne’s house (Sarah was one of the first three women accussed of witchcraft).

But what I found most interesting was that the ‘witch thing’ seems to go beyond the tacky souvenir stores – many locals are genuinely interested and fascinated by the witchcraft and have a very open-minded attitude to religion. I met quite a few people who were practicing  Wiccans, and the were all happy to talk about their believes and Salem’s history. There are so many facinating things you can learn just by walking around a city and talking to people, it’s what makes visiting a new place really worthwhile :).

Ps. I almost forgot to mention that if you want to learn a bit more about the Witch Trials, you should visit The Salem Witch Museum!