• Belgium
  • Throwback Thursday: Brussels

    Tiina Kivelä

    Three years ago I lived in Brussels for a while. Exciting, challenging, educative and fun period of my life, during which I learned to know in depth (and with debt I left the city after the poorly paid internships) both the loveliest and annoying parts of this city with so many faces. Nowadays I’m not sure if I’d like to move back there; so challenging it was, and not enough open water for my taste. But it would be nice to spend a week or two there again; to enjoy the loveliest parts, combined with a roadtrips to Champagne and Brasserie D’Achouffe. Preferably during spring, when the cherry trees and magnolias are blossoming and it’s warm enough to enjoy the drinks outside.

    We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.

    During the 9 months I lived in Brussels I changed my residence couple of times, and even though they all had their pros and cons, one neighborhood managed to stand out as especially lovely. And that’s Ixelles, the Paris of Brussels, about which I’ve written the following piece already year ago. Rerun (sorry!), but Ixelles is definitely worth it.


    Ixelles. A commune inside a commune. The commune in which Audrey Hepburn was born. A lovely community in which I once lived. La Parisienne of Brussels.

    And there, Place du Châtelain. On Wednesdays, after work. Ambience, international and exciting. Traditional food, delicatessen, flowers and drinks. Rosé with ice. Or beer. Beautiful women, handsome men, conversations, arguments, kisses and laughter. French, English, Arabic, Finnish, Swedish and many more. Trés chic!

    Flaneur Rue du Bailli. Eat Sushi at Makisu. Drink a beer at Supra Bailly; pretend you’re an artist or a writer. Make a date, talk to strangers, eat something delicious at the market (I always had Pad Thai) and buy your weekly vegetables.

    And smile; there’s wine!

    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    Foto: Place du Châtelain. Au printemps 2013

    *Repost from 20.2.2015

    ** Quotes © Ernest Hemingway – Moveable Feast

  • BLOG
  • I Don’t Know How To Holiday

    Tiina Kivelä

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know how to holiday properly.  At least not the way normal people holiday. My “handicap” came again clear couple of days ago, when I was talking with a friend who lives in Bogota, Colombia, and who’s been lobbying Colombia as the next “holiday” destination for me, for some time already. And lately, the lobbying and other nice things I’ve heard and seen about Colombia has paid off, and I’ve started thinking of going there in near future. But not for a typical holiday. Sticking to my habits, I started asking my friend if he knew any good language schools in Colombia, which offer intensive courses in Spanish. All this turned the holiday planning to planning a whole lifestyle change. Kind of which I do like and support also, but which I shouldn’t do all the time.

    A vacation or holiday is a leave of absence from a regular occupation, or a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism. – The concept of taking a vacation is a recent invention, and has developed through the last two centuries. Historically, the idea of travel for recreation was a luxury that only wealthy people could afford (see Grand Tour). In the Puritan culture of early America, taking a break from work for reasons other than weekly observance of the Sabbath was frowned upon. However, the modern concept of vacation was led by a later religious movement encouraging spiritual retreat and recreation.

    This “handicap” of mine must be a result of couple of things. First of all, I’ve rarely had the change for an holiday. When studying, the holidays, even some of the Christmases, were spend working and earning money for the rest of the year.  Moreover, when I’ve been working (like adults do) I’ve worked in short periods with short contracts, with almost no opportunities for weeks long holidays*. Sadly enough, and already too typical for us millennials, holidays have traditionally meant unemployment; lots of time but not enough money to spent for holidays of my taste. Although I have tried to learn to save, and despite the circumstances I’ve managed to do some amazing trips and shorter holiday kind of escapades. But generally speaking, I’ve never really lived and had that kind of life and occupation from which to take an holiday. I just have a way of life, which I move from place to place like a nomad. Which, apparently, is even conceptualized as location independence.

    Tiina Kivelä


    Another reason for my complicated relationship with holidaying is my tendency to want experience places to the fullest and use my time as wisely as possible. And this has resulted in tendency of moving to places rather than going there for just an holiday. In other words, it means renting an apartment and taking a full-time, part-time or summer job (exchange studies are also good idea) from somewhere, and living the life there like a local, not tourist. I’ve done that in Stockholm (Sweden), Villach (Austria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Trondheim (Norway) and Brussels (Belgium) already, and enjoyed almost every minute.

    Last but not least, my history with tourism studies may also be blamed for my handicap. All these theories and concepts and history of leisure, tourism and hospitality has left me with the same kind of problem as I’ve heard chefs have when it comes to cooking at home. When leisure and travel is your profession, you simply can’t escape from it to leisure and travel.

    Moreover, I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. Especially fellow millennials and digital nomads many times belong to a group of people whose life has no clear boundaries between occupation and holiday, home and travel. Whose lives are full of change, uncertainty and excitement; even so much that the need for typical holidaying decreases. We enjoy escapes and seeing new places, but we do it so naturally that a holiday for us would be the occupation from which the other people and previous generations take their holidays from.


    Faithful to myself, I don’t really dream about weeks long holidays in the traditional way. Quite the contrary almost. My dream, if I’d have that weeks long (paid) holiday, would be to use it so that I’d go somewhere to take part in an intensive language or  sports course / camp. I’d like to really learn new things, to develop my skills and character, and not just lay on a beach.  And even though I don’t now have the possibility for a paid holiday, I’ve started to wonder how even with a paid holiday I could spend my summer learning languages in foreign and inspiring environment (and maybe some surfing too). So I’ve been thinking of moving (hah like I said I don’t holiday, I live) to Vienna or Zurich, to learn some German, or finally take my friend’s invitation to visit him and his family in Bogota, to study some Spanish.

    So maybe, maybe I just move to Vienna or Bogota and start blogging in German or Spanish in the future? And btw, if you happen to know any good language schools and courses around the world (lasting from couple of weeks to couple of months), please share your experience and advice. Or if you’re more into recommending some mountain biking / surfing schools with additional yoga classes or so, you may say something about those too.

    I just want to travel and learn well. Under the sun.

    Tiina Kivelä

    * Yes these weeks long holidays are really common thing in Scandinavia and Finland especially. Or at least they have been. I’ve never had one, if and when the school holidays don’t count.