Lisboa does not love?

Personal, Travel

First of all: this post is all about love. My everlasting love for Lisbon.

Secondly, it is about sustainable tourism, gentrification and all the negative things that make me think if I should continue writing this blog ever more.

Lastly, it is about the sadness about losing the authentic touch for which I initially fell for when I decided to move to that city, and re-visit almost each year.

So what happen this month? I had a chance to travel to Oporto where not so much changed and then spend a couple of days in Lisbon for the Lisb:On festival and visiting my friends and favourite places.

While I’m very interested to see the rising number of people talking about Lisbon’s unique atmosphere, as well as observing the interest of the investors in the start up scene out there that make the city a living entity attracting expats and creative workforce, I am very worried about Lisbon’s entering solely commercial path.

I’m tired about being bothered by street selling, exactly the same like in Rome, Barcelona or Venice, being approached by tuk-tuk drivers (what does it have to do with Lisbon anyway?!) or being treated like a tourist anywhere I go. Even if I know the city well and speak Portuguese. And don’t act out like a prototype tourist. Website Lisboa-Does-Not-Love.com lists the reasons why massive tourism is destroying the city and its morale and acts as the code of conduct while in Lisbon, but will it stop the massive tourism craziness?
I had to spit out my frustrations about the changing landscape of one of my beloved cities, and pose an open question: should we advertise for places we think are unique? Of course the sole act of visiting will not destroy the well-kept secret, but the scale of reach out via travel/lifestyle blogs may actually lead to it.
That’s why with mixed feelings, I’d like to leave you thinking about which direction can Lisbon take to prevent from becoming another tourist-fuelled city like London, Barcelona or Venice? I care too much about Lisbon to simply never visit again, as this replicates the scheme for which I moved out from Barcelona and hope never be forced to relocate from Berlin.
I love all Lisbon, much as I do love Barcelona and can’t keep falling in love with Berlin. What I’m just pretty sure about is that they don’t love massive tourism.

Women Who Travel

Personal, Travel

This post is not dedicated to any particular journey I’ve made. This post is about women who travel: independently, in a creative and respectful way. Just the way they live their lives. They are no abstract protagonists, they are represented by women I know in my family (starting from my awesome Mother), my friends and colleagues, and finally: myself. However, the happenings from last week in Ecuador proved how fragile our freedom for travel is. I want to dedicate my own personal Women’s Day tribute for the memory of all the female travellers who lost their lives because of sexism, misogyny and fundamentalism.

There is so much anger in me, although initially there was simply immense sadness when I heard about the unbelievably brutal and pointless murder of two Argentinean women travelling in Ecuador. Sadness gave way to anger when I analysed the language of the press coverage: initially putting the blame on the travellers to be behave reckless, inappropriate, and visiting the dangerous places. Calling out to parents, why the hell they let them travel alone. In 2016, really?!

This could be me. I travelled alone (not even with the other friend!) thousands of miles in my life, simply because I like discovering things at my own pace. Other times, I travelled ‘only’ with my Mother, or my female friend(s), and I met so many great, like-minded women on my way! I always try to inform myself about the place I’m travelling to, the customs and things to take into consideration, and I never seek out the dangers for the sake of adrenaline rush. Still, I was mugged only once, the luggage that got lost, got back to me through the seven mountains and jungle, and I never had problems with unwanted sexual attention, as I knew how to handle such situations within clean communication and in a respectful way, if needed.

Still, I have to consider myself luck, as this shit is still happening, at a very creepy scale. Unnamed authorities calling us to cover our bodies, be accompanied by men or family or stay at home at night, as if we were an object to carry. I am very frightened to see this conservative trend taking over in many countries around the world and I want to voice my scream against the freedom of women around the world, the explorers, the curious, the mindful and the half of this beautiful world!

Don’t let us scare off, close at home, force into relationships for the only sake of protection (disclaimer: I don’t have anything against the great couples, I’m just putting a broader context!) which ultimately leads into manipulating us more easily. At no other times women had a better financial situation and travelling was considered easier than nowadays, in general. I would like to embrace all my experiences that made me a person that I am now: open for changes, diversity and uncertainty in life, able to risk and step out of my comfort zone to deep dive into something new. And I would like to thank to all the amazing people I met on my way that acknowledged the fact I love travelling alone, and making it an unforgettable story of its own.

RIP Maria José and Marina.

Relaxa – how to get through the cold and dark days

Music, Personal

This very laid-back and relaxing post should help to wipe out all the Brazilian-homesickness feelings. Especially in the winter months in Europe.

I personally first escaped the Central European winter a few years ago with relocating to the South of the continent (with a short but life-changing period of living in Brazil), and last year came back to the same four-season pattern in Berlin. I find it physically challenging to get through until end of March or so, but have found my ways. German way of saying “it’s not cold, you’re only dressed inappropriately” helps to shift the focus too. I have to say that having survived summer in Arctic, helped me too.

So, having gathered warm clothes, bought 20 types of tea and mate, I can say I’m prepared. But the crucial thing to survive the dark and cold days is to… listen to Brazilian music!

So let me share you my top 3 tracks that have magically spelled out flu, sore throat, but also depression, loneliness and other side effects of the European winter:

“Relaxa” – the message is clear either if you want to chill out after a tough week, if you’re feeling weak, or contrary – in a party mood. Painel de controle will get you in this upbeat and alegre mood.

“Na Boca do Sol” – reminds me of my Cidade Interior, Brasilia, I used to live for a while. This place, apart from being an architectural and social phenomenon, has shown me the most beautiful and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets.

“Chegou de Bahia” – of course, who wouldn’t be happier if visiting Bahia

Here I’d like to mention that next month I’ll be travelling to Africa to relax, unwind on the Cape Verde, while listening to mornas. The featured picture comes from Azores though, where, enchanted by its remoteness and beauty, I decided to discover more of the Atlantic archipelagos.

Morna – “Ocean blues”, Cape Verdian emblematic dance and music genre, recognised worldwide mostly by Cesaria Evora’s and Maria Andrade’s works

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…

Uruguay: Paz e Tranquilidade no Cabo Polonio

Personal, Travel

Two years ago I was on the road in the Southern Brazil. This was when, by default, I decided to visit some parts of Uruguay and Argentina. I always wanted to visit the ‘Southern Cone’ as they call the region of the southernmost countries of America, given the magical realism literature I was into, people I met in Barcelona coming from there and simply: curiosity to discover the most distant and remote places of this continent. This post gathers some memories full of sun, ocean breeze and laughter of a few days I spent with my friend Jimena in the Eastern Uruguay.

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I met Jimena years ago in Barcelona and she was one of these people I instantly felt that I can get along with easily, so I was very sad when I learnt she was leaving town. I promised her the visit in her home country Uruguay though and – sooner than expected: I kept it. I was lucky enough to visit Jimena in a very remote, and charming location some 300 km east from Montevideo: Paloma, near Cabo Polonio.

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Cabo Polonio is a peninsula where the colourful, wooden architecture is preserved, and you can’t get there by the land road, only via natural park and beach, where access is limited. People live there in peaceful surrounding of the Atlantic Ocean, endless remote beaches famous for spotting whales passing by this latitude regularly. In the wintertime sea lions and seals are also quite often seen guests.

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I would like to dedicate this post to Jimena thanks to whom I could live the perfect ‘local authentic’ experience of a few days so close to the nature, living in a settlement which looked like a moon valley (see above), eat delicious fresh & sea food, and most importantly share precious moments together. As Jimena loves Portuguese much as I do, I’ll only say: muito obrigada, amiga!

Bem-vindas em Lisboa

Personal, Travel

In June I re-visited Lisbon on my way to Azores and spend there two weekends. I was lucky enough to live the last days of the Santo Antonio festivities and visit my favourite beaches: Guincho and Caparica. The city shined in the light of the sun, or yellow lanterns during the night.

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It changed greatly as well. The infrastructure is much better since the airport connects the city centre with a metro line. The Tagus river bank has now a boulevard to enjoy the sunsets while listening to the urban beat (often: Brazilian, Angolan combo of sounds – so good…). There are, however, more tourists than before. Lisbon became one of the ‘hottest European destinations’, and it is perfectly understandable. Fascinating history, quirky architecture, sunny weather, best beaches in Europe within 1 hour drive reach, great cuisine, English-speaking services and affordable prices. Sounds great, but too familiar for someone who lived 4 years in Barcelona, where ‘normal life’ has become unbearable due to the massive tourism.

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That’s why I am worried that the authenticity of Lisbon is at risk. My Lisbon friends no longer visit Alfama, as it is mostly invaded by tourists on segways, or worse: tuk-tuks creating serious traffic jams (!) on the little cobblestone streets.

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I don’t want to rant about tourism in general. This is what we all do if we want to discover new places, don’t we? But then let’s call it travelling. Lisbon is one of its kind, special location and I always love to come back there, but when I do, I try to respect the locals, and their everyday lives and customs.

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I always feel so welcome on the tiny streets, bars and pastelerias where time stopped years ago. I look at the faces that have seen different times, and now staring at the unconscious or intoxicated tourists passing by with the same indifference. Yet if you try to live the spirit of the traveller living the night and day of Lisbon, you will notice the difference.

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Bem-vinda seja, Lisbon seems to tell me anytime I land there. And soon I’ll be there again, on a my way to a very interesting art conference!

Portugalove

Personal, Travel
Just a quick heads up: I will be back again in Lisbon already this Saturday. I am more than happy to re-visit one of the cities that made great impact on my life and stayed always very close to my heart and soul. I am even happier that I will be able to participate in the Santo António celebrations which take place in the month of June all around different neighbourhoods.
I always enjoy the landing in Lisbon, as the plane normally takes a round around the Tejo river, the massive port entrance and flies just above the picturesque city centre. It wasn’t so much fun when I was living in Entrecampos neighbourhood for a while, as the air traffic is quite heavy and every couple of minutes a plane lands or takes off.
But that’s not the end of this year’s adventure. I am heading to the mid-Atlantic located Sao Miguel, the island from the Azores Archipelago. It was one of the dreams I had, to visit this remote, and still not too touristic place, full of natural wonders and amazing heritage. I will keep you posted about my stay there sometime in July, when I am back.
I dedicate this, perhaps a little bit naive, but how lovely, summery track to my long-awaited holidays, and to my beloved Portugal.

BRIC in the wall, in a sharp lense

Personal, Travel

Call it food for thought for a Monday evening. I got recently inspired by the political science research collective to share an impactful photo taken in one of the BRIC countries. They are starting a campaign called Rising and Declining Global Powers and they took the urbanization, relative poverty and mass transformation of the BRIC regions as a good start of the dialogue about the major issues in 2015.

So Brazil in my lense is, sadly, not only beaches, stunning landscapes and happy people. There is rage, poverty, and unpredictable growth of the mutant cities (aka politically correct cidade satelita).

This image was taken one morning when I was doing the daily 5 km run, on a very popular trail surrounding one of the neighbouring cidade satelita of Brasilia, Aguas Claras. With my European mentality I could not tell where the borders between the safe and totally uncontrolable neighbourhoods (aka favelas) begin. There are often none, and different groups live next to each other. I decided not to care too much about it, regardless of noticing the 5m high electric fences in front of the households.

And there he was, on a 8-lane-drive, surrounded by different kind of cars, a man riding a horse-drawn vehicle. He looked so surreal with among these skyscrapers and 4x4s, as if he was one of the few underprivileged remaining. Especially that I’m talking about the Brazilian capital, the richest place in the country, if not the whole South American continent. Also, as I later learnt, the capital of inequalities.

Looking at this crazy Brazilian dynamics during my travels in 2011 and 2013, be it Brasilia, Recife, Natal or SP, I thought about the possible crisis and what it may entail in the future. Having previously seen the dramatic real estate bubble in the Southern Europe I was somewhat cautious. Not that I am a nature-born pessimist, I just know that leaving the capital in hands of 1% of the richest won’t lead to nowhere. Well, possibly to world’s widest roads ridden by men on horse-driven vehicles.

A minha vida em português

Personal

There is no other language that makes my soul happy as much as Portuguese does. Even that nowadays I discover the beauty (ja!) and funny particularities in German and meet amazing people here, I feel that a part of me belongs still somewhere else. But it’s no longer just an empty feeling of longing aka saudade, it’s rather enriching and empowering on various occasions.

In other words, it motivates me a lot to understand and be understood till some extentent in the language I once thought impossible to learn (German) but still think and feel in Portuguese when it comes to certain things, even though I am not a native speaker. Just as friends can become our family of choice, I believe strongly that for linguistic freaks foreign languages can play a similar role!

Also, I caught myself speaking with my Brazilian colleague passing to English ‘when it comes to business’ and leaving Portuguese for purely fun times. I unconsciously bump into the Brazilians and speak about piadas and bagunças long hours. Same goes for Spanish, but that’s another story.

Well, I am not alone, and finally I discovered a documentary film which connects the most interesting aspects of this language: Lingua – Vidas em Português.

Multilayered, spoken over different parts in Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa, Portuguese is now not only a language that came from the colonial ancestry, but that has merged different races, roots, tribes and geographical locations.

My father used to tell me long time ago that both the Southern hemisphere and the Portuguese language are the future of our globe. He was a visionary and extremely wise person with a capacity to predict different economical processes long before. He was thus always pushing me towards learning this niche language back in a day, as he believed that I will  succeed somewhere in this big world.

It was a great revelation to see how Portuguese language has shaped the lives of others, but most importantly, to know that I am not the only one to feel the multicultural and ethnical particularity which probably no other widely-spoken language of nowadays has.

Nostalgia de la Luz

Personal, Travel

This is one of the guest posts dedicated to the thinest, yet the longest country on our planet – Chile. A fascinating and remote country which is surrounded with natural frontiers: be it Cordillera de los Andes from the East, Pacific Ocean from the West, the driest desert on Earth – Atacama from the North or the most hostile sailing route from the South – Drake’s Passage separating the South American mainland from the Antarctica. Oh, and the Easter Island, the most secluded place on Earth.

I was lucky enough to travel around the Mid- and Northern part of Chile during a couple of weeks in 2011, thanks to my very close friend who is currently dedicating a great deal of his time to the community project in Patagonia.

My memories and the necessity to put my experience in writing were triggered though by assisting lately in the world’s premiere of the Chilean movie – ‘El Botón de Nácar’, a second part of the documentary covering the geographic and historic complexities and ambiguities of this country. I was not surprised when the movie won the Silver Bear prize at the Berlinale for the script, as I was amazed by the sheer beauty of its poetic narrative.

Since then, I followed up with the first documentary called ‘Nostalgia de la Luz’, picturing the Atacama desert from two perspectives. One of them is a search for discovering the past of the galaxies through the astronomic observatories located on the Atacama Desert due to its clarity of the sky. The second one is seen through the lense of the group of elderly women still looking for remaining human body parts of their relatives, who were imprisoned, tortured and ultimately killed and thrown all over the desert during the military regime in the 70s.

I remember my amazement by the clarity of the starry constellations, the light of the desert sun, but also the inexplicable melancholy that could be read in people’s faces. I reconnected with this familiar feeling which I often got when had lived in Poland, surprisingly in the most far-off country in the world. And I still keep the grains of Atacama’s salt and soil with me wherever I live, to keep this moment present.