Monday, 30 May 2011

Banská Bystrica and beyond

Leaving Poland at the crack of dawn, four coachloads of musicians and instruments embarked on an epic voyage spanning seven countries in five days, with three concerts thrown in for good measure.

First stop was beautiful Banská Bystrica, where we stopped for one night...

...before heading off to Budapest to play the closing concert of the Budapest Spring Festival in the amazing National Concert Hall.

Next stop Belgrade, stopping for lunch on the way at a dubious-sounding 'tourist farm' that turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. Strangely enough, it reminded me of quaint English tearooms.

Our concert in Belgrade was in a huge complex filled with shops selling ridiculously expensive handbags, shoes and dresses. We can but dream.

From there we went to Zagreb and enjoyed a brief tour around the city the morning after our concert, walking past market stands selling gorgeous flowers and fruits and marvelling at the beautiful architecture.

On our way to Ravenna we stopped for lunch in beautiful Slovenian surroundings.

If only the same could be said for the hearty fare on offer, which was slightly less pleasing to the eye (and stomach...):

Fortunately our next stop was Ravenna, where the copious pizza, pasta, wine and gelato more than made up for the slightly less inspiring culinary delights proffered by the Balkan states!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Łótch out Łódź!

During the Easter holidays I spent an absolutely incredible five weeks touring with the European Union Youth Orchestra as an intern. The tour began with a two-week residency in Łódz, Poland - not exactly the height of eastern European tourist destinations, but nonetheless full of amazing things to discover.

Free time during the day was spent eating dumplings, shopping at the colossal Manufaktura, visiting what's left of the Jewish ghetto, enjoying spectacular views from the top floor pool of Andel's hotel, perusing kitsch boutiques and being pampered at the stunning Le Grand Salon.

ms² at Manufaktura, a modern art gallery where we played an amazing chamber concert spanning the full four floors of the gallery.

The swimming pool at Andel's hotel, which is a beautifully converted textile mill.

Impossibly cute nick-nacks at Pan tu nie stał

Holocaust memorial and Radegast station

Fabulous haircut at Le Grand Salon
Evenings were spent performing incredible concerts at the Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic Concert Hall followed by experiencing Łódź's incredible nightlife - from a bar full of old black-and-white porn photos, to the chilled-out Owoce i Warzywa ('Fruit and Vegetables'), and dancing at Czekolada and Gossip.

View from my hotel room

Naughty decor at Łódź Kaliska

EUYO in concert at the Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic Concert Hall, with its amazing mirrored ceiling, followed by a fabulous post-concert reception

I had the terrifying task of negotiating Polish roads (replete with trams and rather fierce motorists) on the EUYO office bicycle in order to run various errands - and despite my apprehension, I am now officially a 'chic cyclist', having appeared on the Łódź cycle chic blog!

Admittedly, there's definitely still a hint of trepidation on my face, but I'm still rather proud of the accolade!

Monday, 2 May 2011

happy easter!

Lent is over, which means that I can (FINALLY!) eat chocolate again! Yaaaaaaay!

Before: utter devastation at the sight of the cakes I made (but couldn't eat) for my Mummy's birthday...

...after: Lindt bunny/Nutella-induced heaven.

Also, how cool is this guy?! Found him in a Swiss supermarket and it was love at first sight...