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  • Writer's pictureShNaajh

Memories: The Mad, the Mindful, the Moreish, the Magical and the Marvellous

Updated: Jan 15

Helsinki: You and Whose Army?

We were only hoping to have lovely hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, a nice little Nutella croissant for me, and cinnamon buns for my parents. What we ended up getting was a complete shock! You may be thinking there was something wrong with the food, but it was quite the contrary. The food at Cafe Regatta was amazing, and the hot chocolate, which came in the cafe's iconic red takeaway cup, was perfection!


However, as soon as we sat down at one of the many tables by the water to drink our hot chocolates peacefully while admiring the view, we noticed the sparrows. When the first sparrows made their move, jumping around at our feet, though we were annoyed, we carried on with our drinks. It was only when I opened the paper bag with my Nutella croissant that things escalated!


You may already know that a good croissant is soft on the inside but has a flaky exterior, which can make eating it a messy task. Unfortunately for us, the cafe had made a good croissant! The Nutella came separate, in a little tub, meaning I had to spread it on the croissant, causing even more flakes to fall to the ground and the sparrows to become more wild. My ornithophobe mum looked at the hoard of sparrows underneath the table with sheer panic on her face.


The three of us got up and decided to enjoy our food and drinks on the walk back to our Airbnb, but the sparrows were one step ahead! They had us outnumbered and planned an ambush! We fled the table in desperation, leaving behind the croissant as the sparrows swooped at it. Not only that - I could've sworn I saw a few dip their beaks in the Nutella!


We watched from a distance, not daring to interrupt the sparrow's feast. After a good two minutes, they had calmed down, so my dad and I decided to enter the enemy line with caution. It was yet another grave mistake. The sparrows quickly realised our intent and once again started to circle the table, which was enough to scare off my mum, who put her cinnamon bun in her bag and left the premises without any hesitation, abandoning her only child (and husband)!


The battle went on as my dad reached for the croissant. He got it, but the Nutella was still in the sparrows' possession. While my dad quickly hid the croissant in its paper bag, I took one of the greatest risks of my life - retrieving the tub of Nutella! The mission was a success and my dad and I ran as fast as we could.


Neither the croissant nor the Nutella could be eaten though after the sparrows had been at them so viciously. My dad put them in the bin as I watched sadly.


We started our walk back to the Airbnb, wishing that the sparrows' next victim would be able to at least salvage their food unharmed.


Tallinn: The Mindfulness of...

...marzipan!


The oldest cafe in Tallinn was on the same street as our Airbnb. Even if you miss the name of Cafe Maiasmokk written in fancy golden letters on a circular black sign hanging above you, you cannot miss the marzipan figurines on display behind the cafe window and especially the miniature Ferris wheel of cups and saucers glinting beautifully.


When we arrived for our marzipan painting workshop, we were led to the back part of the cafe, which was purely for marzipan and was called, unsurprisingly, the Marzipan Room. I remember seeing the empty tables, but instead of looking deserted, the cosy room felt peaceful. In the corner, Heli, the lady who would be teaching us, was leaning over something, squinting. As we walked closer, I saw that she was painting a shocked expression on a marzipan figurine. Seeing her paint so mindfully made me want to try painting my very own marzipan even more!


After finishing a final detail, Heli got up and took us to the table where we would paint. She sat us down and presented to us three agonisingly plain marzipan figurines - two cats and one rabbit - that had not a single drop of colour. She gave us each a cup and napkin, as well as a bunch of brushes and a paint palette. She explained that we should paint layer by layer and let us begin.


We started painting each of our marzipans mindfully. I was finishing the first layer of my marzipan figurine when I glanced at my parents'; we had all gone for the same yellow base layer - for the cats, as well as the rabbit! We painted away, diving further into the world of marzipan with each brushstroke.


The second layer divided us. My father laid down a coat of red on top of the yellow to give his rabbit a reddish-brown hue; my mother moved on to decorating her cat with delicate strokes of ginger that ran along the cat's body; and I chose to give my cat two large blue eyes along with a small mouth and nose. When we finished, the three marzipans looked completely different from each other (and not just because one was a rabbit), with each one's appearance defined by our decision for the second layer.


When Heli saw our three finished marzipans, she said her favourite was my mum's for the lines that ran down its body as she believed it added an artistic aspect to the marzipan. She then told us that we could come back to the cafe a couple of hours later to collect our dried, glazed and packed marzipans, which we did.


Stockholm: ...with a Chance of Meatballs

If there was one thing that made complete and utter sense to me during our short stay in the capital city of Sweden, it was Stockholm = good meatballs! We had already had frozen meatballs from the supermarket, and they were the best frozen food we ever had, but we wanted more! So we went to Meatballs for the People, a restaurant that, as the name might suggest, serves meatballs.


When we got there, I must admit I was a bit let down. We were led to an outdoor sitting area, not a patio or a veranda, but a wooden seat on the footpath. The seat was covered with what looked like faux reindeer fur, and there were two small bits of metal plates attached to it, each about a foot square, to keep the food. To add to this disappointment, the waiter who brought our food made snarky comments when we asked for cutlery. He probably thought he was being funny!


My mum and I had ordered the Swedish Classic with classic beef/pork meatballs, and my dad, being the adventurous sort he is, ordered something along the lines of Chef's Choice, which meant the choice of meatballs was in the chef's hands. There would be four types of meatballs and they could be boar, moose, deer, reindeer and even bear! We waited patiently for the big reveal!


When the food arrived, there was a problem. Our seat had two tray spaces, held up by iron stands, and we were three people. We tried to position the plates and drinks in a way that would fit them all on the small surfaces, but by the time everything was precariously placed in the available area, a bit of gravy had already spilt.


I will forgive them though because the meatballs were delicious. I devoured mine and didn't say no when my dad offered me a couple from his plate. The Chef's Choice had chicken, beef, pork and reindeer.



We left with our stomachs full of meatballs made with all types of meat.


Hvidovre: The BFG

Why would anyone go to Hvidovre? Because the accommodation was wildly cheaper than that in Copenhagen.


And when someone's there, what would they see? As my dad found out soon after booking our Airbnb, a must-see in Hvidovre would be a magical creature by Thomas Dambo, a Danish artist, made with scrapwood and recycled materials.


The day we arrived in Denmark, finding the sculpture was the only item on our agenda for the afternoon. We set out on our quest through the quiet streets of the cosy suburb. It reminded us all of home, of our evening walks in the neighbourhood. Perhaps because there was no rush to be anywhere. It was the sort of sunny day that filled your heart with warmth, and the clouds were an almost translucent silver.

We came across a vast field that had a narrow gravel path running through it. We took the path. Slowly it led us onto a hill. As we started climbing, we caught a glimpse of a rather twiggy bush! We got closer, and the twiggy bush became part of a profile and the profile part of a large body.


It was one of Thomas Dambo's magical creations: it was the forgotten giant called Hill Top Trine. With arms and legs made from long wooden planks and a messy head of hair, the giant sat leaning against the hill we'd climbed and looked off into the distance, his face the definition of serene and calm. His arms were outstretched with the hands cupped together, creating the perfect spot for sitting. There was not a single other person in sight, which left us with just each other for company. The details put into the giant's appearance were admirable, as were the measures that Thomas Dambo must've taken to create him. Time passed and we stood there quietly, unable to tear our eyes away as the giant sat peacefully, not moving a muscle, still looking off into the distance, still as tranquil and untroubled as he was when we arrived.


Leiden: Laid back

After rushing from one Dutch city to another for four days checking out as many landmarks and museums as we could, Leiden presented a nice change of pace through the city's naturally relaxed demeanor. It was our second last day in the Netherlands. From Leiden Central station, we walked along the canal and through the park to one of the timeless windmills, De Valk.



My first glimpse of the windmill almost instantly took me back to my kindergarten days, as it showed a lot of resemblance to the ones I would draw when I was in kinder. It was also much smaller than I'd expected, especially since I had imagined it to be similar in size to the wind turbines I saw in Australia.


Inside the windmill was a small museum featuring how people would live there in the olden days and how their daily lives would function. The staircase led to the 'balcony', which had a wide wooden base with a railing that ran along the edge, and was spread around the whole windmill, creating a 360° view.


Since arriving in the Netherlands, my parents and I had been looking for a place and a suitable time to try the iconic Dutch dish called Kapsalon, which is layers of chips, shawarma, salad, Gouda cheese and garlic sauce. We were finally hungry enough to give this calory-laden(/Leiden?) dish a go, and at 'Kebab Lovers', the shop at the city square selling it, you could get a smaller meal, which would be only 1,000 calories! My mum and I ordered two small Kapsalons, while my dad went for a large one. According to my parents, never before had I finished my food so quickly, and it was true - the food was amazing down to the last mouthful.


We headed back to the city square just in time for the canal cruise. We sat back and relaxed. The boat drifted through the canals creating gentle waves. I felt content as I watched the carefree city of Leiden glide by.



If I could relive one memory, it would be Leiden.

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3 Comments


Guest
Jan 28

Amazingly penned write up👍👍 read it at one go.Love to the budding writer ❤️❤️

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Guest
Jan 19

Dropped by your lovely page & enjoyed the tryst with flock of sparrows. Will go by phases to get the best out of it.

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Guest
Jan 14

I love the way some of details were given in this piece. I was nibbling like the other sparrows in the post with lots of endless curiosity of what's coming next.

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