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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Green Taipei

It was fairly cold when I landed in Taipei, one night in March 2016.

From the bus window, only darkness and dim lights from apartments and lamp posts. What that gloomy night was hiding me was the perfect green colours all over the city, on hills, parks and gardens.

A luxury to wake up the next morning to, buzzin’ to explore everything.

Parklife has always been a beloved topic of mine, and I apologise for creating boredom with yet another blog post about Val visiting a park but really… what’s best than nature? Humans can try to excel with art/creativity/design/architecture and then just stop reflecting under the shadow of a tree, a friendly refuge for every soul.

When I visited Singapore’s Gardens I was struck by how that tropical composition was an essential part of the city. Taipei’s gardens were more part of daily life of its citizens. I saw people resting, praying, exercising, living. The only difference from a normal park in Europe is the hills, that firmly hug the metropolis and provide challenging walks and breath-taking views. Something quite magical, if I may add.

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E28 Tram Lisbon: tourist jam

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If you do the most touristy thing ever, chances are there won’t be any place to sit.. or to look outside and take the most charming pictures of the day. I took tram line 28 in a sweaty afternoon of July and I found myself fighting to stand, in such a cramped space that reminded me of a New York subway afterwork.

Bar the annoyance of the first minutes, I started enjoying the fact I could not see the beauty and uniqueness outside and started taking pictures of my fellow tourists lucky enough to look outside.

The result is this photo album, enjoy.

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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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Postcards from Bruxelles

I really wanted to vent about Bruxelles, city I didn’t like and could not wait to leave, but in the end I found out I had few nice shots of the capital.

So here’s a selection of the snaps taken by my trusted LX100, dedicated to Fabio.

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