Branco e azul – impressions from Tel-Aviv

Travel

White city – or the city of light is the name we often hear when speaking about Lisbon. This time, however, I would like to travel back to the Middle East, to Tel-Aviv I visited just a week ago. Apart from the colours, the link between Lusofonetica and Tel-Aviv is not so obvious, but given the cosmopolitan nature of this city, I have heard Portuguese not once on the streets, as well as all sort of other languages.

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Tel-Aviv combines the flair of the Mediterranean cities like Barcelona (or better: Malaga), with the European influences. Established at the beginning of 20th century, Tel-Aviv was influenced greatly by the Bauhaus architects that fled from the Nazist wave. Hence the emblematic style is set in white, matching greatly the blue sky.

Opera House of Tel-Aviv Neve Tzedek neighbouhood

As my local friend put it, there is no checklist of places to see or things to do in Tel-Aviv. I was very happy to hear it, as I love just to wander around, sneak into bars, cafes, talk with the people and live the moment in the new places instead of rushing to tick the boxes on the sightseeing list.

Hotel Cinema - great Bauhaus example Tel-Aviv-Yafo beach

And there is probably no better place to experience the long days and nights than Tel-Aviv. Truth is, I did not choose the safest moment to visit this place on Earth, but in the end I felt pretty safe. Even though one could literally breathe the tension which lives within the society.

Tel-Aviv Opera Tel-Aviv centre... one of the numberless cafes

If tomorrow is uncertain, then why not simply enjoy the moment – I have heard about this mindset long before I came to Tel-Aviv, but living it on my own was a totally different thing. Strangers becoming this proverbial friends-of-a-lifetime, appearing in half-private parties just because you hear some great jazz music, eating out breakfast after sunset, finding urban art treasures on the least expected corners, or bathing in the warm sea, even though you can clearly hear the F-16 flying above your head.

Habima Square - conference centre Colourful fountain and Bauhaus buildings - the essence of Tel-Aviv

The mix of the exotic, and the cosmopolitan – the tiny bubble of Tel-Aviv has it all within a walking distance – makes this place very special. I was there very shortly, but I know I want to come back, and experience more with a bit less naive sight.

Habima Square Mobile Library  Neve Tzedek neighbourhood Neve Tzedek neighbourhood

Funnily enough, despite the sunshine weather, Tel-Aviv reminded me greatly of Berlin in some places, not only for Bauhaus influence, but also for the dramatic setting, laidback attitude, and last but not least: hipsters! So even though I was far away, on my own, I felt so much at home… Just like in this Karaoke Kalk records’ song, my lifetime nomad anthem.

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Chasing waterfalls

Travel

The first time I heard about Iguazu was neither in my geography class or by reading a travel magazine. My first memory of seeing enchanting scene shot on the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls, was in Wong Kar Wai’s legendary movie “Happy Together”. So my dream started, like it happens sometimes, because of the powerful art:

I finally visited Iguazu Falls in September 2013, as a part of my trip around Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.

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This magic land, striped between three countries separated by the natural border of the Parana river, is indeed a must-see for the nature-loving souls.

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While hiking, or swimming down the river one can notice a plenty of wild animals such as aligators, tucanos, araras and – last but not least: coatis. These cute-looking four-legged coons can be seen almost everywhere, and they are not scared of people at all (contrary to beautiful tucanos which have learnt not the best side of the humanity…). But watch out, they will not only beg you for food, they will simply steal it from you!

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I chose to stay on the Argentinean side simply because it offered more hotel opportunities, but visiting the neighbouring countries is not an issue. However, it is considered quite a dangerous border due to high volume of smugglers. They say that Ciudad del Este in Paraguay has a fame for being quite dodgy, but I would just say that it was the least interesting part of the journey. When on the Brazilian side though, I would say that visiting the Birds Park is a must: there are some wonderful species living under protection and yet not afraid of people. All of the above-listed pictures of araras and tucanos were taken there!

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Both sides offer spectacular views and wet experiences, but I would say that the Argentinian is better-suited for the hike, and Brazilian one: for photo-taking. It is also about broadening your perspective while chasing the waterfalls: either looking over the Garganta del Diablo from the highest highs in Argenting, or experiencing it’s powerful stream in Brazil. Or sticking to the river, following the ‘Waterfalls’ song’s logic: while in Paraguay.

Que bandeira

Music, Personal

“Faz um ano, faz, que eu tenho muita paz
Quase um ano tem, e tudo muito bem
E se eu não voltar, não vá se preocupar
Todo mundo tem direito de mudar

Que bandeira que você deu
Que bandeira, não me entendeu
Caretice tua chorar
De maneira aqui pra brigar (…)”

These lyrics, coming from Marcos Valle’s ‘Que bandeira’ classic tune are one of my all-time favourites. The essence for non-Portuguese speakers boils down to being free to live wherever you want, being the owner of your destiny, choosing your future regardless of your origin.

“(…) Eu não voltei
E eu não voltei porque agora eu sei
Naquele papel eu ia pro pinel
E se alguém disser que eu me desmontei
Sou dono de mim e faço o que quiser

Que bandeira que você deu
Que bandeira, não me entendeu
Caretice tua chorar
Caretice tua brigar (…)”

So it’s been almost one year in Berlin. It’s good to make a retrospective of what I planned to accomplish, and what I actually did. The most important thing is that I feel happy, although the fact is that I am very free to travel and re-visit my beloved places. I have also started gathering my learnings and thoughts on my paralel blog: Berlinering, where I describe my current experiences and soon will publish some sort of essence of my first year in Germany.

‘(…) Sigo te querendo, te cantando, procurando uma desculpa,
Te querendo mais.
Vou te cantando, te querendo, procurando uma desculpa,
Te cantando mais.
Sigo procurando uma desculpa, te querendo, te cantando,
Te querendo mais
Vou procurando uma cantada, te querendo, me desculpe,
Te cantando mais

Tou sabendo de você
Tou sabendo, podes crer!’

I still love the places I lived or been to (like this heavenly beach of Joaquina in Brazil pictured above), but I don’t long for them. I know that if I want to come back, I would, anytime. This is probably why I am so happy here, about the choice and opportunity, and not the necessity. Because everyone should be free to live wherever he/she wants to. I would love this to be valid for everyone, in this crazy world we live in…