I’m like the road, just going on – Taipei version

3 days in Taipei, all by myself.

What happens naturally, when alone, is excitement. No schedules, no waiting, plenty of time for thinking and for photography. There is also, however, a small component of loneliness and a bit of fear, especially at night. Maybe a pre-concept of my parents’ predicaments when I was a child, maybe a bit of melancholy thinking that I could have brought someone with me. I guess these thoughts are part of what travelling solo for a woman means. So I embraced it.

I took lots of pictures. I shared my loneliness with fellow lonely commuters in the MRT, fantasising if they were feeling a bit like me. Just going on.

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Under secular trees, I explored empty streets. Just going on.

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I took photos, loads of photos, and enjoyed the colours and images of advertisements in the shops. Just going on.

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I spend an entire day without phone and camera, only a paper map as a friend. I got lost more times I’ll ever admit. I had yummy food at food stalls, restaurants and street markets. I don’t usually take picture of my food, because I simply eat it. Not enough Millennial, I know.

I contemplate stuff, I contemplate not judging things I could not understand, like this dadaist mirror, for example:

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I saw incredible temples, then I spent Easter in a Chinese-Buddhist temple with hundreds of people leaving useless non-spiritual stuff as offers. Again, I pushed myself to check only the aesthetics of it, leaving comments behind, because “You know nothing, Jon Snow” can be applied to every tourist. Just going on.

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I fairly enjoyed the shopping, the music in the street, happy faces of youngsters walking the lanes. Just going on.File0717

I kept going on, street after street, station after station. I explored, witnessed and silently reacted to everything.

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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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I went for Bruges, I found Ghent.

I was reading a novel on the plane, there was a love story involved. I knew it would have ended well, so I was keeping reading it to soak in the energy, and get the best of the trip, planned during – I would dare to say – the most uncertain time of my life, my trip to Belgium.

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Bruges when the sun decides to come out

 

Talking about uncertainty, the Belgium weather was the worst frenemy ever. It was like that adorable friend of yours who is also a total jerk. The result is a constant change of light, fear of water getting into my precious camera and a never-ending struggle adjusting the lens for pictures. Yet, there is an adorable part, and it’s called Ghent.

Bruges is a gem, but Ghent is the real deal. Especially at night, the all those beautiful white and brick houses reflects on the canals. So dreamy.

So, in the end, what matters if it rained all day? Those 30 minutes of sun and the evenings were just perfect. A perfect travel love story.

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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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Salzkammergut: Hallstatt

“The alpine region of Hallstatt – Dachstein / Salzkammergut is an unusual example of a natural landscape with unique beauty and exceptional scientific significance. [ . . .] This cultural landscape combines aspects of nature and culture in a manner which is both harmonious and mutually complimentary.”

– UNESCO World Heritage Committee –

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I don’t really think I have to add a text about Hallstatt, because this time pictures can speak better by themselves.

Despite the stormy weather this little town is a gem for photographers and tourists.

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Now…

….WANT TO SEE MORE PICTURES? I HAVE A BIGGER COLLECTION IN Flickr: LINK

Enjoy.

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