Frankly the best stopover of my life: Lisbon

If you take in consideration the amount of times I mention my melancholic soul, or when it clearly shows up in my words, you might understand how much I was longing to visit Lisbon. But then money, time, flight routes didn’t align. Until recently. I had my little slice of Lisbon, on my way to Spain, and it felt like I was finally reunited with myself.

It might have been the many houses crowded in the hills facing the sea, the churches and palaces popping up like flowers at every corner.

It might have been how the black and white stones on the pavements, the arches and main squares interact with the wind.

It might have been the sun peeking through the window of its trams, or the shadow created under the gigantic bridge in Alcantara.

It might have been, maybe,  the city talking to me, while I thought I was spending the day only with my very own inner voice, bad jokes included.

In less than 24h I kept moving, so did my mind. I came up with new stories, galvanised by the constant ocean breeze. I didn’t see much, mainly because I didn’t plan on a stopover-experience overkill, anyhow I felt a lot and that mattered.

I can’t wait to come back for more, Lisbon, wait for me.

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The Palermo Affair…

As I self-describe myself, I’m a Nordic creature. I am very used, and much in love, with the peace given by following the rules, getting all tucked up in layers, and being surrounded by green and blu sceneries, especially if gifted, from time to time, by white snowflakes.

I know, I sound like a broken record and every time I travel south I start blabbering about it, but desert somehow makes me uncomfortable. I have, anyhow, found the perfect balance when I travel during autumn and winter time to southern locations, such as I did with Palermo.

It turned out to be a delightful weekend, marked in my memories to come “The Palermo Affair”.

So much to tell. First, people are vocal, loud and generally happier than the people I met in northern Italy. How come, since the city is, in fact, a tropical mess? The walks ups and downs the city center made me believe that it’s a mix of factors, such as the sun – less aggressive this time of the year – and the food that make the difference.

Hey, it’s for sure not roses and unicorns, lots of houses and streets are just broken and decadent, you can tell the majority doesn’t live a pretty rich life, and some parts leaves you with a sense of unsafeness, but for some aspects, it looked a nice place to spend holiday, maybe also to live for a bit.

Second thing, the landing was in one of the most impressive set ever, between a mountain and the sea. So peculiar, so lovely.

Another thing I noticed was the unusually high number of shops for male clothing, that you can combine with the fact that men are quite attentive – and again vocal -to women, you get the idea that Sicily is still pretty much a male-based community… I can hear Trump cheering.

On the bad note, I spoke with some of them, especially at the restaurants where I had incredibly-good-but-overpriced fresh fish, and they all told me I do not look Italian. So they were applying the price for foreigners.

Anyhow, I spent two days roaming around the streets, visiting the x wonderful baroque churches, visiting the street markets, eating yummy fish and soaking up under the sun at the harbour. It was a positive getaway weekend, indeed.

Remember me to go more often to a seaside city. The sea is food for soul.

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The real Devil’s Bridge

Back in June I wrote an essay about my first 6 months spent in glory 2016. I wrote about my journeys, physical and emotional ones, from winter to early summer, and this summer -let me tell you- has been quite a ride too, that I’ll write down soon (very soon, promise).

One of the best moments was when I rented a car and drove with two old friends somewhere in Germany, at the border with Poland, to see a bridge. Now, it may sounds strange that three individuals go to see a bridge, none of them super particularly interested -nor expert- in architecture. But believe me, this daily trip to a random town was special. That small town has a park, in it there’s one of the weirdest bridges ever built.

Its German name is Rakotzbrücke.

What makes people want to go there is its reflection, more than its construction. The bridge can create a perfect circle when it is reflected in the waters beneath it, and believe me, it’s magic to look at. Yes, it’s an illusion, I am aware of it, but having to walk around made me appreciate the moment so much, and it wasn’t an illusion, it was a connection.

Was it the Devil’s outcome, then?

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Everybody is wondering and wandering in life. Us three wandered around the park, and wondered. I kinda feel like we all three walked that bridge, somehow. Three completely different stories, yet all poignant. Being there together was such an unique moment to share, and I humbly felt happy to rekindle our friendship with that road trip. Devil’s trick, for sure.

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From behind

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One side

Of course, that bridge was too yummy to not filter it

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Special thanks to…

ale

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And by the way… “OH MY GOD this is my favourite song ever!” 🙂

A photo session in Turin

Turin is the first big Italian city coming from West.

I came from East, from the soulless, business-oriented region of Milan. The good thing to reach from one city to the other is to see the continuous groups of rice fields between them, separating their distant personalities. The trip gets a bit cathartic, like a silent, natural cleansing of your mind.

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Looking outside the window

Turin was the first capital in Italy, the first in many things. Was. Somewhere roaming around you can still feel it, in some other parts it still holds the crown of being the capital of local, even of lost.

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I remember my first time in Turin, maybe 15 years ago. I found it sad and kinda empty. I’ve changed my mind during the years… Turin has had a sort of newborn vitality, all around events, museums and arts. There’s one thing I’ve always loved loads of Turin though: la Mole.

For me, one of the most magical building men could ever create.

Perfection, anthropology and mythology together.

 

Well, I was in Turin for a reason: to learn about an artist. What I learnt from that day was much more, especially from his sons’ eyes and story telling. And while I was listening to them, I started remembering little things. The dynamics of a family, the smell of an Italian house, a wall by no reason left white, but filled with paintings, the little gardens with wild flowers, kids eating gelato, couples looking at the shop windows on a Saturday afternoon. Everything frankly so much more than my lonely life.

That day I also tried to switch camera, and left my beloved Titty to my friend. The pictures along this posts are actually his. Enjoy.

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Singapore, the Heat and the Haze

So here I am, waiting in line to get a stamp from immigration, hoping the employee uses a brand new page of my pretty-big-yet-pretty-empty passport. I am quite fussy about it. I hate in equal measure controllers who:

  1. open a random page in the middle and stamp it there;
  2. cramp page 1 because there is still 3mm left;
  3. think the stamp MUST go close to the nearest country.

I would like to talk to them, and not only staring at the camera or leaving my fingerprints, and tell them that I do care about my passport, moreover that the legacy of a passport lies in the space-time continuum, and grows within the ten years of validity, not within the wimp of a human decision. Let my passport be the timeline of my travel diary, not just bureaucracy. But it doesn’t go like that, and I’m left to reluctantly thank for the stamp. Time to collect the luggage, and get out of the airport, we’ve arrived to Singapore.

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We watch getting dark so early, so quickly that we decide to hit town. Little India, our home base for the stay, straight down to the Marina. From a colourful noisy neighbourhood to a colourful triumph of metal, glass and style. Hidden by the skyscrapers, colonial houses, or what remains of it.

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As time passed by, I try to win over my new camera, and I can’t tell if it’s inexperience, heat exhaustion, or simply jet-lag. Everything I capture looks blurry. I blame myself and carry on walking around some of the most magnificent constructions the man has ever made. Then there is a weird sculpture/fountain half a lion half a fish? “Half a mermaid” tells my cousin. I get a bit weirded out by that and its spitting water into the lagoon. Maybe it’s the heat, it must be the heat and tomorrow it will look magnificent (it didn’t, to be honest).

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As we walk through architecture and artificial lights, the show starts. I decide to jump on board of “I love time-lapses” club and make a ridiculous shaky video. It’s hot now, and we have no water. Eyes are burning too. It definitely must be the heat, I’m not used to it.

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I am spinning into lights and colours. I even take few blurry pics, because art. “It’s so beautiful in here”, I keep thinking, “it’s so freaking beautiful”. In that moment I decide to start writing down every aphorism I can come up during the trip, at least one for every city. The one about Marina came watching around and getting blinded by Christmas lights everywhere “Men are really the most intelligent yet most stupid creatures in this world”.

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Only at home I realise about the haze alarm, the main cause of the blurriness. Thanks Zeus my new camera is not broken (or worse me…).

HAZE =

it is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. (wiki)

My utter dislike goes for days to Indonesia and their constant burning toxins. People, what’s wrong with you? Get a grip! I keep thinking that in Europe this could not happen, and then it hits me that this beautiful, squared, clean city lies – despite some of its appearance – in Asia.

So we call it a night, time to sleep, that tomorrow we are going to explore what’s Asian in Singapore. Good night S’pore, and remember to switch off the lights.

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One subtitled heretic movie in the afternoon

I studied arts during uni, but not the kind of talented arts you’re thinking. I am no artist, but I liked and still do history and words and knowledge, so when it was time to pick classes, I took an Arts and Media direction. During the course of three years I studied many interesting things, I still remember a three month immersion in the world of jazz music for example, but I also found out during that time that for living I could watch every movie possible, every one I wanted, with no limitation. I actually found out there that most of the times the limitations that I thought I had were coming from the inside, from myself.

For the first time I saw that the potential was infinite, if the willing would have started from me.

So I watched as many movies as possible, and at least twice per week, I used to skip class and head to the cinema for the first screenings, at 3 or 4pm, with a very cheap student ticket. There are few people going to the cinema so early, especially in a relatively small city in Italy. I remember the pleasure of having an entire room and screening by myself, changing seat whenever I felt to. It was inebriating. I remember also when I watched Brokeback Mountain, until the last second I thought I was alone in an empty cinema. Then two aged ladies came in. For my surprise one of them was blind. You can imagine how the screening went. From drama the movie turned in kind of comedy, at times into a boring voiced-off documentary. Every scene, every action was carefully explained with a slow, loud voice to the blind lady by her trusty friend. The blind lady conveniently answered every description with a comment, because of course people, opinions matter. I believe they had no idea what the movie was about, because I hardly hold myself to not burst in laughters when the two protagonists started getting closer and closer. The talking lady at a certain point described a scene in the tent as “they are starting doing impure stuff”, with the other one “ oh no, oh no, that’s disgraceful”. That was the best moment of the movie indeed, from my seat and liberal point of view. Those two catholic ladies made my day, in a certain way. I watched a movie tonight and the last song on the soundtrack reminded me of that verbally-subtitled Brokeback Mountain’s movie. I hope I cracked a smile with this story. Go listen to the song, think of the infinite possibilities and potential you can get from this strange life and from yourself. And listen to the song here below.

Winter 2015 – Favourites

Winter

Hello lovely people.

I’m back to talk about my seasonal favourites, spanning through music, film, radio and much more.

For this 2015 I decided to explore the topic “Playlist” on a different level, not anymore on a monthly basis, but based on the seasons, on each colours, weather and events that happen along the way. This winter has been unusual, cold and grey, but snow lacked, for my disappointment. Spring came with a windy week of clear sky and sun, here in Berlin. Quite a blessing, culminated with the solar eclipse on March 20th, equinox day, what a show.

Well, let’s start with the favourites, let me know what you think.

Enjoy and bring joy with you, always. 

Val

 

Music

In this playlist you can find:

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Flowers

You can tell it’s January in Berlin when you can find the first narcissuses and tulips and more in every supermarket. I love them! such a colourful presence in my flat. I personally like to buy myself a nice posy, to display in my bedroom. It’s a lovely feeling to wake up and see flowers, indeed!

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Film

I watched Song One because of the beautiful presence of singer songwriter Johnny Flynn and a great soundtrack. Despite the music, the movie itself is meh, I must admit, so maybe skip the movie and go listen to the OST.

I also watched Birdman since it won the Oscars, and I can tell that it’s an excellent movie, but I simply can’t explain how Boyhood didn’t bring the statue home. Seriously I can’t wrap my head around it.

I ended up watching Still Alice a Saturday night that I was home alone. I generally liked the idea, and Julianne Moore really studied the pathology before playing the role, but what a weird way to roll the narrative, highlighting things that would not necessarily be highlighted (Husband cheating? Kids’ daily drama?)…Dunno. Not impressed in the end. I have also to say I really dislike the choice of letting a saltless actress like Kristen Stewart such an important character?

Whiplash wowed me. What a great, cruel movie about music and jazz. It reminded me of a past boyfriend practising jazz until his hands bleed. It’s true that that kind of practice makes you a fierce human being. Sometimes a bit of a superior asshole too. And then, well, there’s my homie Miles Teller. I always watch and support him, he’s finally starting to move forward shitty blockbusters and work with his talent for nicer, more meaningful scripts.

Book

The beast is back.

And it’s scary.

And intense.

And simply great.

Radio

I want to suggest you StartUp, from Gimlet Media. At the beginning I thought that the podcast was a spin-off like Serial of TAL (I spoke about my devotion for this podcast and host Ira Glass last year) bur it’s something different. I really liked the story telling and the genuine enthusiasm and tender naivety to the business world, while he is approaching to start his own business.

If you want to give it a go listen here to the first episode and download the rest of the podcast from http://feeds.gimletmedia.com/hearstartup

Tv series

Pretty good stuff during the past months!

The last man on Earth premiered in early March and it’s a nice mix of comedy and drama. Rather enjoyable!

I’m a big fan of The Americans, something that has been growing slowly but steady on me. Season 3 is delightful, very recommended!

Broadchurch, series 2, was something not to miss. The big flaw is to last only few episodes. Can’t wait for season 3.

I am also following Suits and The Good Wife, and of course I watched season 3 of House of Cards.

So much to watch!

Photo

It must be a photo from my recent trip to wonderful Kop.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

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