A Transpiring Between Two Lovers, Part V

5. Chilly Memories 
When you look back in time, you often recall memories that you desire to live it out vicariously a thousand times more. The emotions are that much more visceral, the sensations are just as palpable, and the gazes are just as intense. You still remember how you felt, what you sensed, how you looked at him, and stolen glances exchanged in secret. The recollection is so wonderful that you just want to relive over and over again.

Today was the day of the Winter Carnival. The university puts on this lavish carnival of sorts to celebrate the winter equinox. There are games with prizes, contents, hoards of food, but most importantly, an opulent dance. It is the most famous dance of the year because it is also the most expensive production. The place is decorated with expensive decorations and serves delicious hors d'oeuvres, it is usually lit up to evoke a magical winter night, and everyone dresses up in beautiful long gowns and handsome suits. This is the event the ladies have been waiting all year for and the chance for the guys to ask out that particular girl. Needless to say, it is truly a big deal. I was particularly excited since I actually had a reason to go and decided to get glammed up with hair, makeup, and shoes. I really didn't know what to expect, what I was going to do, or even what the protocol was. I was just so excited to go with the one person I desired to ask me. And he did. 
"So, are you excited to go?" my roommate asked me. I tossed her a strange look that implied that I was truly indeed excited and happy to go, but before I could, there was a knock at the door. My eyes quickly flashed to the door and this unexpected queasiness overwhelmed me. I was struck with a mixture of many emotions: happiness, excitement, contentment, and anxiousness. I didn't know how to react to this sudden rise of sentiment, so I remained in my tracks, frozen, immobile, unable to move. 
My roommate smiled to herself once she recognized my internal qualm and went to the door. Hearing her voice rise in excitement told me that he had arrived, my date was standing at the door, waiting for me. I could hear muffled chatter in the foyer followed by an excited exclamation. I was curious to find out what this was about, so I made my way to the foyer, facing him for the first time in days. I wasn't sure why I was so nervous. I talked to him a couple of days ago. We chatted about pizza, Thailand, and upcoming exams. It was nonchalant, relaxed, and pleasant. Right now, however, I was suddenly nervous to face him in my formal attire, with my hair done, and my natural beauty enhanced by cosmetics. 
The moment we locked gazes, the air in his lungs escaped, his eyes were intense, and he was unable to move. He smoothed a strand of hair and cleared his throat. He looked at me with an unreadable expression, his eyes warm and inviting, and with a wide grin, he said, "You look absolutely beautiful."
I could feel the temperature in my cheeks rising as he uttered those words. I barely mustered the words to reply. I still felt his gaze on me. "Here," he said, extending his arm towards me, "this is for you." I moved closer towards him and the object became more clear. It was a a clip with fake pearls and an ornate flower. I was puzzled and he registered my thought when I looked at him. "Corsets are so cliche," he said to me, slightly exasperated at the cheesiness of the gesture. "So, I got you a flower pin instead." "How did you know that it matched my dress?" I asked him, a smirk slowly building. His cheeks turned beet red. "I, um...I asked your roommate." I gently squeezed his arm, touched by his thoughtfulness. With a slightly jittery hand (at least to my perceptive observation), he placed the pin in my hair and kept his unwavering gaze on my face. He ran his finger down my cheek. With a warm expression in his eyes and his eyes locking with mine, this was a moment I didn't want to end. I just wanted to stay like this forever, him looking at me with such a warm and affectionate gaze. It took me a moment to recognize that I barely observed his attire. In a fitted suit with a striped cravat, nice Italian leather shoes, and a pin similar to mine placed above his pocket, it was quite clear that he was visually appealing. With his tall stature and his suit highlighting his lean body, it was difficult to remind myself that I was accompanying him, that he's my date. He was dressed so formally, so nicely. Returning my gaze to him, he whispered huskily, "I can't believe how beautiful my date is." I batted my eyelashes at the unexpected compliment and sensed a grin forming from the corners of my lips. I said the same to him. 
But in that moment, I felt something rising, something much bigger than myself, than us, than this particular night. 
"I am so glad you're mine."
"I am so glad to be yours," I said to him, looking directly in his warm and compassionate eyes. 


Summer Heat

It's warm and perhaps the one difficult thing with anyone who is cultivating a particular sense of style is adjusting to the unbearable summer heat. It is not satisfying to put on a pair of short and a top and hop out the door. Oh no. Should these shorts and top match the aforementioned particular fashion style, then it must also follow a similar trend in shoes, accessories, and even makeup. However, since I prefer not to prattle on about senseless matters, this is not a post about summer weather and the plight of accessorizing clothes in the midst of an outside inferno. This is about fashion in the summer.

It goes without saying but fashion is different all around the globe. Summer fashion differs between Los Angeles and Seoul. Likewise, the fashion is different between Europe and North America. Since I am spending my summer abroad in Europe, I have used my perception and observation skills to its best use: detecting trends in Europe. Given, this is something I would have done naturally, but I deliberately want to perceive cultural differences. After all, it is these striking differences that distinguish one culture from another and another why bloggers and fashionistas lust after designers in Europe and elsewhere. 

One of my favorite thing about European fashion is its simplicity. They are very fuss-free. There are two ends of the spectrum: simple, minimalist, and classique, whereas the other end is the opulent prints, mixing fabrics, daring trends, and lavish details all done tastefully. They are all about doing things well, even in clothes and style. I have seen so many people wear trench coats hitting right above the knee, especially with the weather being rather chilly when I first arrived. Yet, what I've noticed is that the style is vastly different (at least to me) between one country to the next.

In Germany, the style is very classic and fitted. Men and women wear fitted leather jackets, fitted jeans or trousers, a simple sweater underneath, sneakers, flats, flat ankle boots, or a pair of heels, with sunglasses and a bag, usually a satchel or a leather tote. Again, this is what I perceived from the clothing in sale in Munich airport, the men and women who strolled in the airport, and the people in the town we stayed at. They are very much about comfort and style while still appearing very chic. They are lean, stylish, and very unpretentious in their style. I really enjoy gauging German street style because of the simple coolness they emulate. Given, that is not everyone as a whole, but this is the look they give off from the people that I've noticed and they get high marks with me. In Vienna, Austria, it was a similar yet dissimilar story. It is evident that is a city that has a vibrant culture scene. It is also evident that it has a tourist and historic center, since many men and women who strolled downtown Vienna wore very simple and chic clothing. I would see women in a simple white blouse with meager detailing, skinny jeans or black fitted pants, and heels or classic flats a la Ferragamo with a trench coat and a messenger tote or some other professional bag, such as Louis Vuitton. There were so many women that I wish I could stop and ask to take their picture of their outfit. The more I thought about it, the more creepy it sounded, so I wager I would simply admire their outfit from afar and hope I would remember it later. The vibe I got while walking through Vienna is a very professional and trendy vibe, an interesting combination between businesslike professional and Vogue and Elle editorials. It was marvelous. So many women in muted pastels and neutrals with pops of vibrant colors and prints. (The men, on the other hand, are always so wonderfully dressed. They look as if they appear out of a brand advertisement. With perfectly coifed hair, nice shoes, fitted tailored pants and blazer and possibly a jacket as well, it was not difficult to admire mens fashion style in Vienna. I may elaborate on this in a different post in the near future, but it's not definite yet.) In Romania, the women are all about bright colors, fun prints, and modern simplicity. I would equate the style as a vintage-y hipster look, with maxi skirts, bralets, fun heels, and an American vibe. The women don't stick with one certain style; they mix it up when they head out in town, which is something I admire about Romanian street style. I will be walking down the same route in downtown Oradea two different days and I will see two different types of style. 

Before leaving back for North America, I hope that my style will emulate some of the picture I've compiled that captured the street style I've seen during my time in Europe (so far). 


Cafe Culture

Welcome to Europe, where the coffee is stronger, where cafes are ubiquitous, and the fashion is more desirable. I've always had a passionate fascination with European culture when I visited the continent six years ago. I was so struck at the vast differences about how the other half of the world lives that its effect still affects me. Perhaps one of the interesting things and the one thing I wish I could translate back to North America is the profound ubiquity of the cafe.

Cafes are not merely just a table at a bistro, bakery, coffee shop, or sandwich shop where you can sit and drink and eat and talk. No, my dear readers. It is a lifestyle. Most bistros have terraces, where you can eat, drink, and feast outside. They are seen all throughout Europe and perhaps one of the most iconic images tourists conjure when the continent comes up in conversation. It is a way of life, a simple lifestyle in which everyone stops at a cafe and simply talks. Cafes are to Europe as malls are to America. Near lunch hour, work stops and everyone steps outside and enjoys a coffee break with a croissant or a small pastry.

I like to believe that every chair, every table, every section has a story to tell. Perhaps a lost love is reunited with an affectionate embrace, old friends discuss past events with old boyfriends, a husband and wife enjoy a tender moment, and two work colleagues enjoy a nice break that could easily be the start of something fantastic. There is such an air of mystery and playfulness to cafes and yet, a profound connection, as a simple chair or table can become the image of a cherished memory.

The sound of croissants breaking, the clinking of cups on plates, the sipping of hot coffee, and the crinkling of bags that contain delicious pastries are the sounds that one hears when walking down any given street. The smells of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries fills the street. Taking a seat in any cafe is participating in daily life in Europe. That is something I can definitely get used to.



Vienna, Austria is such an enchanting city. It is filled with stories, humor, mystery, and culture. Every where you turn, every where you look, and every where you touch tells a story. There is so much life and vivacity in this beautifully historic city that I would return every year, simply to take part of a magical experience. Perhaps that is the best way to describe exploring Vienna--magical. The city is rich with history, what with Freud, Maria Theresa, and Princess Cissi, so one can only imagine what previous historical figures must have done in their leisure and if they viewed Vienna as enchanting as tourists and frequent visitors do. This visitor certainly was mystified and left wanting more.

The day began with riding the subway from the city to Schonbrunn, the lavish Palace where Maria Theresa lived. The palace is colossal with a bright yellow hue and a spacious entryway. My mind immediately ventured to the possible parties Theresa and her husband, Franz Joseph threw. The impeccable lights, entertainment, and scandal that must have ensued at such a party. The partygoers must have lusted to receive an invitation to Maria and Franz's parties. With tours to explore the opulent and extravagant rooms of the Palace lasting 2-3 hours, it would have been tiresome to entertain a 4-year-old, especially when she's bored and she's required to keep quiet. My sister has a set of lungs and she's not afraid to show. Thus, the tour guide probably would have shot her the evil eye while my mother or father set out to entertain her somehow. The backyard is just as spectacular, with an immense garden with roses, gardenias, and other vibrantly colored foliages. And that's just one side of the backyard, so to speak. A tasteful treat was that wedding photography was taking place at the time. Under a gazebo in the middle of the flower garden was a beautiful bride dressed in white perched meticulously on the marble floor while her groom gazes lovingly at his bride. Walking farther along is a backyard with multiple statues and an ornate middle section. Another cool fact is that the night before was a benefit event hosted by Elton John. That's pretty cool if I do say so myself. The setup was not taken done yet, so there was still a stage with lights and seating. Glancing above the setup is a steep hill with a huge monument--the Gloriette--at the hop of the hill. Once I reached the top of the hill, a beautiful view of Vienna. As far as the eye can see if the Schonbrunn in the foreground and all of Vienna in the background. It is such a spectacular view. The walk down is a quiet, relaxing troll down a shaded pathway. Again, my imagination wondered to how many clandestine meetings occurred, with secret lovers hiding away from the responsibility and expectations of everyday life. Clearly, visiting Schonbrunn Palace wasn't merely just walking through an era in history or admiring the architecture. It was an experience. 

Taking the subway back to downtown Vienna led to a pastry shop in the subway station just across the Vienna Opera House. Filled with croissants, dark chocolate filled croissants, cheese puffs, and a variety of hot sandwiches, the air was a mixture of tire and moist sweets baked during multiple times during the day. Climbing out of the subway station with bags filled with hot pastries, we took a brief break vis-a-vis the Opera House. From that point, we began venturing down the streets in downtown Vienna. Somehow, we stumbled upon the Hofburg Palace, the birthplace of Marie Antoinette. Situated in the middle of old Vienna, a grand Palace of grandeur and opulence, the face of official business, Hofburg emulates more of an official and political face of Viennese royalty. Walking through the entryway of the Hofburg Palace, we come across Roman walls. Then, we ventured through the corridors of downtown Vienna.


Downtown Vienna is a mixture of contemporary with luscious archaic. There are high-end designer brand houses juxtaposed with old architecture. H&M is placed in an old weathered building with vivid yet tarnished red, close to a rust hue, whereas Zara is housed in a modern and futuristic building. The blend of old and new is magical. Along with eating a delicious ice cream in the middle of town square, with a man playing the saxophone while another talented individual was playing the accordion near the fountain close to St. Stephen's Cathedral. Pausing to admire the Gothic style of St. Stephen's Cathedral, we dined for dinner at a classic stand in downtown Vienna and had the speciality known for its city--Viennese sausages. While feasting on the sausages, we enjoy the grandiose church while noticing a children's carousel, finding the juxtaposition fascinating. As we were making our way back to take the metro, taking in one last glance around the many building, statues, fountains, and delicacies of Vienna, one last surprise awaited us. A group of teenagers and young adults danced in the middle of the square, with curious individuals crowding around the dancers, having to find that they are raising money for UNICEF. What a delightful thing to do. From then, with the metro stop directly in front of the Vienna Opera House, I took in the last sights and sounds of Vienna before returning to the apartment. Needless to say, I plan on returning again. Very, very quickly. 


Neuschwanstein Castle

I had the privilege of visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Neuschwangau in the Bavarian region in Germany. In the beginning, I was not aware of where we were going. All I knew is that we were going somewhere renowned, it is famous, and it is a surprise. Many possibilities and probable answers surged through my mind, but it came empty. I really had no idea where we were going. Needless to say, it was truly a pleasant surprise.

This castle was built for Ludwig II, in Bavaria, a shy and introverted king who wanted a place of solace where he would retreat in the 19th century. The king regrettably did not rule for long since he died relatively shortly after building commenced. Only a handful of rooms were finished, along with a lavish throne room, bedroom, modern kitchen (for the 1800s, at least). The rooms were filled with opulent Renaissance era artwork all on the walls. The artwork was inspired by Richard Wagner's pieces, the favorite being the tale of Tristan Isolde. Since photography and filming was prohibited in the castle, with the entire castle an original work and not recreated to maintain longitivtiy, they wanted to preserve the beauty of the castle. 

To get to the castle, it is approximately a 30 minute walk up steep hills to reach the castle's entrance. On the particular day we visited this place, it happened to be 2 degrees. That's 34 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of May. With a light drizzle coming down, we began to climb the hill. By the time we reached the top, it started to snow 10 minutes later. With lush greenery spreading far beyond the horizon, the snow-tipped trees along the tree line with the snow falling down softly at a high elevation created an eerily calm and tranquil scene, so beautiful and serene, it almost didn't seem real. 

A cute and endearing feature of this expedition is that my youngest sister though that she was on an adventure rescuing Rapunzel from Mother Gothel. The reason for this is that Neuschwanstein Castle is actually where Walt Disney drew inspiration to build upon his entire empire. The castle bares similarities to Cinderella's castle at one angle and the Beast's castle in the Beauty and the Beast at another angle. It is sometimes called the Original Disney Castle. While one is the face of an empire, of a tycoon, of entire childhoods, the other is filled with profound history and a sad story. I'm glad to say I have visited both.