Those 20 days passed like a dream, the kind they say never do come true because it's too good. The same one you don't want to wake up from. It was as if some Divine Being decided it was time for a treat and gave me a reward. Here, Sans! She said, I am giving you 20 days of some of the best things in Life! Enjoy!
And did I enjoy? I hesitate to say only because that word does not even begin to scratch the surface of all the magical, unforgettable, incredible moments and all the hyperbole you can think of to describe beautiful, wonderful and plain amazing care and kindness I have had experienced in that 20 days.
Many of you have shared some of those experiences through the posts here and on the blogs of our friends. Those were but fractions. Tonight, I am giving you the best of them.
Eva @ Barcino Temple, Barcelona, 15/3/2012
Eva with her emphatic YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS (Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii)! My reason for choosing Barcelona as the beginning and the end.
Alex @ The El Glop, showing me how to eat calcot- 17/3/2012
Alex who planned his days off work to coincide with my arrival, the designated driver when we hung out with the family and when Arnau was ill, who stayed home to look after him so Eva could take me out.
He also made almost all the meals we had at home.
Unforgettable moments were when I was listening to his choice of music including "Hey Soul Sisters" in the car to Barcelona, Talamanca or Stiges and feasting on his fabulous librettos and chicken cutlets for dinner.
Me and Arnau @ Casa Battlo 17/3/2012
Arnau, gifted with the best from both his parents and who gave me his bed when I stayed at their home. GAUPO (handsome in Catalan) was the word I learnt because of him.
Me and Eva @ Talamanca- 16/3/2012
Unforgettable Moments- being at Stiges with Eva where we chanced upon a Quilt Fair, had lunch by the sea and then saw parrots on a palm tree. More importantly, I witnessed the special bond and commitment between loved ones....
Eva and Alex @ Talamanca, 16/3/2012
Eva and Arnau @ Casa Battlo 17/3/2012
On the guest book at Casa Battlo, 17/3/2012
Jazz Festival @ Terassa, 18/3/2012
Unforgettable was also that brilliant Spring Sunday before I left for Genoa where we attended an outdoor jazz festival in the park near Eva's home.
Ro, wearing the table runner I brought her as a shawl, Genoa 21/3/2012
Rosanna and the reason why I was in Europe this year. An incredible long distance relationship that actually lasted and can only become stronger.
Although we haven't seen each other for 2 years, we wrote one another frequently. Still, I was not prepared when the door at the airport opened and I saw Rosanna, Walter and Matteo waiting and Rosanna jumping up and down when she saw me.
Unforgettable moment: hearing Matteo said don't cry when he could tell I was going to as I hugged Ro.
Ro engaging in her favourite activity, walking-Portofino, 20/3/2012
Rosanna who promised me we would walk and walk and walk and that we did sometimes up to seven hours a day. Needless to say, I love those walks and am missing them in a big way.
Rosanna, looking crazy fresh even after a hike through the hills in Portofino, 20/3/2012
Me and Ro on a boat to Portofino-20/3/2012
That day Ro took me to Liguria and Portofino was peppered with the word special. From the centuries old architecture and their trompe loeil to the lone heron prancing for us on a speedboat culminating to the dancing dolphins in the sea paths of our humble ferry. Both of us didn't think all that could happen just because we decided to take the boat instead of walk and I don't care if I might have missed watching a lion mate with a tiger just because we didn't walk. That day will forever be imprinted in my mind as the one I first met wild dolphins.
Rosanna soaking in the sun just before we had our packed lunch,
after trekking a few hours-Portofino,20/3/2012
Lunch with Rosanna here with a million dollar view of the Portofino harbour nevertheless held the top spot for most unforgettable moment of that day.
Papa Rolla who loves Rosanna's food and who wouldn't?-Genoa, 20/3/2012
All the meals at Ro's home was prepared by her. She even made me an artichoke pie on the night I arrived in case I got hungry. And on the 3rd day, we had the pesto pasta I had been craving since 2 years ago.
Unforgettable too was the Father's Day fritto dinner Ro made for Papa Rolla, the same day we went to Liguria and Portofino. Heaven was to eat everything deep fried in the company where love abound and kisses flew freely, where laughter was aplenty because Papa Rolla was mimicking a burlesque dancer throwing her breasts over the shoulder, one at a time.
Ro, an Audrey Hepburn moment, Zaanse Schans, 23/3/2012
Rosanna who undertook the Herculean task of getting a week off work so we could travel Holland and Germany together. She who accorded me such honour, by telling me on the last night of our travels and just before our heads hit the pillows, that I was a truly truly decent person (I laughed then and I am laughing now as I type) and how it was a privilege for her to have travelled with me, when the privilege, my dear Ro, was all mine.
Roberta at work and with her Chase Away Bad Luck Broom-21/3/2012
Then there is Roberta whom I met again for the 2nd time for a large coffee the size of an espresso, on the last day in Genoa. The funny, endearing and bubbly Roberta who I swear is The Good Witch of Genoa, especially when she excitedly took out her new mini broom and promptly started dusting the space in front of her, to chase away evil, she said.
Sylvia with Ro, on the train from Amsetrdam to Almere, 22/3/2012
Sylvia, the multi-talented and much admired Sylvia, who's earthiness, experiences and extreme courage made her a giant of a human being, in my eyes.
Sylvia at home Almere, 22/3/2012
Despite her talents, this star has neither airs or pretenses. Unassuming and generous, she made us a delicious dinner although she disliked and hardly cooked and she brought us to all the shops even when she was not into shopping at all. Then to top it all, she suffered the early morning sun in her eyes to sleep in the hall so Ro and I could have her bed and the bedroom.
Sylvia's living room with huge black and white prints on the wall-Almere, 22/3/2012
Sylvia at 16
Inspiring even when she least expect to, can you tell where I got the idea for this post from?
Seeing us off at the train station, 23/3/2012
That very evening we arrived, Sylvia told us that friends had been following our journey through blogland. I knew some of you were reading about my trip but only on my blog and when it dawned on me that you knew when we arrived at Amsterdam and when we were expected in Arnhem, even when I was not posting, I was overwhelmed.
Ro and I opening Margriet's presents-photo by Sylvia bashed by me, Almere, 22/3/2012
Like how I was overwhelmed when we met Margriet through her gifts which she made sure to send in time for our arrival at Sylvia's home.
Alex at Arnhem, 24/3/2012
Then Alex really made our day at Arnhem by coming up to Rosanna and me and saying you must be Rosanna and Sans! I recognise you from Sylvia's blog. Another talented miniaturist with beautiful blogs, what a pleasure it was to have met you, Alex. Thank you for coming up to say hi and to have lunch and then coffee because I won't deny it, it is such a thrill to have someone we have never met know who we are. By the way, that happened to us twice!
All it took for us was to stay with a famous blogger. Seriously though, it never fails to amaze me how we all connect in such a special way through our shared passion and blogs !
And what a day it was at Arnhem!
Sabiha looking at Ro's gift, Arnhem, 24/3/2012
To have met the really talented Sabiha, as pretty as I have expected and better than that, also genuine, humourous and very sweet. But don't be deceived, she can be mischievous too. Just like Sylvia. I believe they were the ones who came up with the survival kit , Rosanna, and it was Sabiha's handwriting and smiley face on that packet.
Josje -Arnhem 2012
And then Josje, who doesn't look a year older than 29, when she has just celebrated her 50th. Her beautiful world filled with immense and bewildering wonders, many of which she created by setting uncompromising standards. Yet, there was nothing unapproachable about her.
Unforgettable was having the best fish lunch with Josje, her friend, Sylvia, Alexandra, Rosanna and I sharing tips on skinny clothes and youthful looks as if we have been girlfriends for ages.
Lisette, Arnhem 2012
The biggest surprise at Arnhem for me has to be the legendary Lisette. I have heard of this mega talent way back in 2009. Her work was described as insane and mind-blowing even back then. I visit her blog all the time but we hardly conversed and because of that, she appeared inaccessible to me. I could not be further from wrong when I met this delightful lady. She walked the last round of the fair with me and astounded me further with her creativity, resourcefulness and imagination. She showed me how a spindle post could be used to make at least 10 new things on a 1:144 scale, from a yo yo to a mannequin.
I salute these ladies from The Netherlands who all had beautiful blogs, creative minds and over the top talent. I am so happy to know you, not just as master miniaturists but also as sharing, brave and amazing women.