вівторок, 3 січня 2017 р.

2016 in pictures

Hey, guys! Happy New Year! 

One of my favourite New Year morning traditions (besides eating leftover salads with a spoon while watching old movies) is to look back at the past year. Yes, I usually don’t do it before midnight (maybe I just want to make sure that the old year actually retired and will not get offended?). 

My last year’s post you can find here – 2015 in pictures

So, here we go. Many things had happened in 2016, good and bad, it was quite kind to me personally. I got to travel much more than I ever did, I got great opportunities, I worked hard and I’m quite happy with myself. I also got very aware of some of my limitations and started my own personal self-education – mostly on the topics of self-love, self-respect, not putting myself down and not letting anyone else do it.


I’ve met many wonderful people and sadly parted ways with some others. So let’s look into it month by month. 


January was a great month, mostly because I finally got to see some snow. I never thought that I will ever say this, but this winter is my third winter in the South of Italy and I cannot lie - I do miss snow. So in January we decided to fix it and went to Piano Battaglia. It was the best day ever and I blogged about it then - One-day trips around Sicily: Piano Battaglia.


Ski chic!

Also in January, I got involved in a wonderful project for local youngsters called BaddarHome and it became a very important thing for me for the next many months.


In February we went to Taormina - a beautiful town on the East coast of Sicily, that is an absolute must-see if you plan to visit Sicily. You can read more about it and my travel tips here - One-day trips around Sicily: Taormina.



In February I was also writing articles, doing a lot of work and became addicted to Anima Ballaro - a type of a block party that took place every month at the market in the historic centre of Palermo (where I live). Normally it includes live music, dancing, meeting friends and a social lunch - a pot-luck type of meal. I absolutely love it and I hope this tradition will continue this year too.   


In March one of my articles about life on Sicily was published on a Ukrainian website and thanks to it I got to know many nice people, living both in Ukraine and in Italy. My friend Laura graduated with Master's degree in psychology and moved to Turin (which is now one of my favourite cities ever).


I got to see Letizia Battaglia's exhibition (the legendary photographer that documented decades of the life of Sicily and is very famous for her works on Mafia).



I've had a great opportunity and got to visit many cool places - you can read corresponding posts by clicking on links:




- Sweden - Quiet beauty of the Swedish countryside and Beautiful Helsingborg

So March was one of my favourite months of the whole year - busy, full of celebrations, work opportunities and art, just as I love it. 


In April I moved out from the dorm (not for long though) and rented a room in the city centre, where I used to live when I was still an EVS volunteer. I was sharing that apartment with four guys and things were going very well, apart from one detail (that turned out to be a huge one) - our landlord. I've met many people with questionable ethics over the years, but this elderly Sicilian lady managed to beat them all. She completely neglected not only everything we agreed upon before but also everything a normal landlord has to do in general (like updating the things that were too dated, guaranteeing me that the room will be cleaned and disinfected etc.). So I only stayed there for one month and moved back to the dorm. I have no time or energy to deal with any of those things and if I'm paying my rent on time and respecting the property, I expect to be respected as a tenant.

On the brighter note - I went to Hungary for the second time, now to Debrecen (I've been to Budapest in 2014 on a wonderful study session on gender-based violence and fell in love with it). It was a very nice project where I got to meet great people, and you can read about it here - Fun times in Debrecen.


Speaking of local work and volunteering - together with BaddarHome we organised an urban gardening workshop, during which I successfully planted a strawberry plant, that sadly died in a few weeks. But on this photo it's still alive and kicking.


Also in April Palermo witnessed a despicable incident - a young guy from Gambia was a victim of a shooting and spent a few weeks in the hospital. The whole city centre was outraged by this accident, and on April 9 we had a huge manifestation - to say no to the violence of any kind. It was raining like crazy, but we no one got scared of the weather. I feel like this day was a very, very important step for the whole city. 



In the beginning of May, I finished my move back to the dorm (it was a great feeling btw) and went on a day trip to Erice and Trapani. I really wanted to write a One-day trips around Sicily type of a post about it, but it was raining almost all of the time, so I barely even took my camera out. I guess this means I really need to go there again because places like Erice need to be promoted worldwide - it's incredible.

Also, we went on a wonderful three day trip to Turin - as I said before it really became one of my favourite cities in Italy. You can read more about those wonderful days here - Turin - days 1 and 2 and Last day in Turin - shadows on via Garibaldi.



In June together with BaddarHome we drew a huge sun on the abandoned football field we were revitalising. It seems like a fun activity now, but in reality, those were two days of hard, hard work (during which I destroyed my black tennis shoes and I'm still feeling a bit sad about it, even though 10 euro can buy me an identical pair in H&M).


Palermo suffered the worst sirocco out of those I've ever experienced. For me, this really was one of the landmarks, because I don't think I've ever experienced temperatures this high (not in a sauna anyway!).

* Sirocco is the hot wind that comes from Sahara and turns everything into an over. In winter on sirocco days you can walk around in flip flops and a tee and feel very comfortable. In summer though it's really bad, and this year's one was the worst - the temperature went up to +46 and most of Sicily literally on fire.

Also, June is the Pride month in Palermo. This year I enjoyed it even more because I got a chance to go up on the platform, take lots of photos from above and just enjoy myself even more than usual.



In July I finally found a new apartment (ironically it's the same apartment where my friend Maria used to live two years ago and where we had many, many parties - including the famous in certain circles watermelon evening).

In July Palermo celebrates Santa Rosalia day. Santa Rosalia is a patron saint of Palermo, and every year the celebration is more and more impressive, with 40-minute firework shows and air gymnasts. So this year we went out with our closest friend and had an amazing night!

In July I went on top of the Cathedral of Palermo for the first time ever (better late than never, no?). - Up and about.


And the most important part - I got to go to Venice for the first time (Venice and revelations) and take part in a beautiful project in Slovenia (Ljubljana and Bled). This project taught me so much about working with people in vulnerable situations, photography and creating a full photo story - I wrote about this in my post Creating a photo story (and a photo exhibition). I also got to shoot the photo story I most proud of - Searching for equilibrium, that became a part of the exhibition in Slovenian Academy of Arts and Science during July-August.



The last days of July I spent in Sicily - outside of Palermo, enjoying the sea and magnificent sunsets with a glass of wine in my hand. Those were great times!   


In August I went to closer to the sea one more time (yes, Palermo is by the sea, but walking along the beach and walking in a port are two completely different activities) - to Partinico, Castellammare del Golfo and Scopello (which is not by the sea but is absolutely beautiful). I wrote a bit about the day we went to Castellammare - a day of sun, wind, striped linen and red tennis shoes, pane cunzato and ice-creams.


In the second part of August I found myself in need of being very busy, so started the #45daysofblogging challenge, went to Valdemone festival in Pollina (you can read the post, if you click on the link), had endless ice-creams with my flatmate Magda and got a full face of makeup done by my friend Sameh - that was a perfect girls reunion!



In September I started studying French, which was cool, but in the end absolutely useless - I didn't and still don't have enough of free time to repeat what I've learned so I cannot start the next course.

My friend participated in Tearto Massimo's premiere of Madame Butterfly, and I saw it twice - once in the theatre and the then, the next day, outside on the screens. 


In the end of September, we finished a four-months-long project and held a Human Library event. 


For five weekends of October, the historic centre of Palermo was very-very busy - it was the time of Le Vie dei Tesori. It's a wonderful project, during which you can buy a ticket for 1, 5 or 10 visits and see many buildings and palaces that normally are closed to the public. I actually got to see 7 or 8 places I've never been to before and basically won a cultural lottery - met a lady that was leaving in a few hours, so she gave me her ticket with 6 more visits.

With my friend Viviana

Then my friend Roberta graduated! Please, look at this photo - yes, this is how warm Sicily is in October.


Then my horribly pink suitcase and I went to Milan and had a few crazy days, rainy, cold, but very-very nice - October in Milan.


Then I came back to Palermo, where my long waiting was finally over. Life became quite nice and on October 26 I turned 32 years old and wrote about my plans for the 33rd year of my life - Happy birthday to me.


In November I was very busy and stressed out for many reasons. I barely had any time or energy to blog and if I had some free time I wanted to spend it with friends - cooking delicious things, enjoying some wine and watching documentaries about animals on Netflix.

Also in October one of my closest friends graduated with Master's diploma, finished his Erasmus Mundus project and left Palermo. It was very sad (as always), but what made it even sadder is that I've been to way too many goodbye parties in the last couple of months. I wrote so much about it I don't even want to link any posts apart from this one - Saying Goodbyes in November.



December passed so fast I barely had a chance to notice it. I love this pre-holiday month, with all the early decorations, Advent chocolates, planning out gifts, Saint Nicholas day (in Ukraine we celebrate it on December 19 and it's a very sweet and lovely holiday). This year I spent it in Alcamo with my friend Sasha (the one from Castellammare del Golfo post) - having great walks, trying out make-up brushes in shops, having coffee on a windy terrace, cooking lunch together and talking for hours. In the evening, when I was about to get on a bus back to Palermo, the sky turned almost back and the wind turned so strong it was actually a bit scary. So I distinctly remember that I spent that evening in a company of a bowl of hot soup, my beloved heater and three movies in a row.

Palermo turned very pretty and festive, people became happier and stopped replying my emails, I had a great "first" Christmas and a wonderful New Year in a great company and now this is how the year 2016 ended.


It was very eventful and very successful, I've done some great things and met some great people, and for this I'm forever grateful. 

Thank you for all the experiences and all the teddy-bears, 2016! And welcome, 2017! Let's work together!

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