Lissabon Wuppertal Lisboa

Music

When I travel, I look at things with the naivety of a child‘ – this is one of the most inspirational quotes I’ve lately read when visiting the exhibition dedicated to Pina Bausch at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau museum. I would love to share my thoughts about my relationship with dancing and travelling, and how I think they walk hand in hand as a self-reflective experience.

I came back to exploring my passion of the contemporary dance since I’ve moved to Berlin, given my early background in ballet, and Pina Bausch has been always a great choreographer and dancer I’ve been looking up to. Creative, fierce and explorative – these are the characteristics of my perception of her pieces, which I could by now only look up on Youtube. However, I am more than thrilled that tomorrow I will see the legendary ‘Palermo, Palermo’ by the Tanztheater Wupperthal Pina Bausch which continues the work of this artist after her death in 2007.

What brings me to the Portuguese influences, is the piece that has been prepared specifically for the Expo 1998, which took place in Lisbon. Pina Bausch often referred the discovery of the world and own body as a similar experience and that’s why her theatre benefited a lot from the international cooperation (to name Sicily, Hong-Kong, Japan and Portugal as a few).

To me the plethora of the local and universal symbols combined with her excellent choreography bridges dance almost as a travel experience. That’s why in the darkest, coldest seasons I resort to the passion and strength that I can force through dancing. This kind of escape through travelling without moving has obviously not much to do with the dance theatre, but originates in the same need of discovery, rejecting the boundaries and limitations. This is why I can’t probably stop watching various versions of ‘The Rite of Spring’ while waiting for the sun to come up and change the season, as these are my usual thoughts around second half of December.

 

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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.

Nôs Terra

Travel

Lisbon is especially interesting place for those who would like to discover not only Portuguese, but also Afrolusobrazilian culture.

It is a perfect place if you go to different Portuguese-speaking destinations, either as a stopover location or a final destination. To me Lisbon served as both for the past couple of years. After a brief episode of living in Portugal, I always felt certain nostalgia (cliche term of saudade is definitely relevant here) after this place and longing to travel to Portuguese-speaking destinations.

So last Christmas I gave my heart to the archipelago of Cabo Verde and of course, made a stopover in Lisbon. Apart from some very interesting animation show at the Praca de Comercio, there were some other highlights of that short stay, such as joining capoeiristas by the sunset.
This is where a friend of mine, who is very influenced by afrolusobrasilian culture, introduced me to some cultural associations and places where typically descendants of Portuguese-speaking African countries organize their concerts, events or festas.
I was also lucky to try the typical food from Cabo Verde: cachupa, before actually reaching my final destination. Be it Cabo Verde, Sao Tome e Principe, Moçambique, Angola or Guiné-Bissau, or even further in the world: Timor Leste, Goa or Macau – you will find all the places inside Lisbon, like travelling without moving.
Obviously, this has to do a lot with the history, and multiculturalism of Lisbon is an effect of post-colonialism processes. Upon my arrival from Cabo Verde I started digging deeper the topic of the descendants of the African countries living in Lisbon. ‘Nôs Terra’ shows the day-to-day specificities and also struggles of the Caboverdean community in Lisbon. It shows processes familiar to everyone who ever relocated, the in-between state of not belonging anywhere (the country of origin and current location).
I hope though that the unique multiculturality of Lisbon will stay a value itself. Music industry has already spotted Lisbon as one of the most interesting places in the world and so is becoming with art in general. There is no place like Lisbon, colourful, diverse and full of inspiration.

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.

Do Chiado ao Bairro Alto

Travel

My friends asked me several times which bairro of Lisbon is my favourite. And I had quite a dilemma to choose… The title of this post ‘From Chiado to Bairro Alto’ is nothing more than taken from a popular fado song, but actually it links a story about two bordering neighbourhoods of Lisbon which I happen to like a lot!

Chiado, nowadays ‘a posh face’ of Lisbon, with plenty of designers stores, elegant cafes and, all-time present Fernando Pessoa. He is actually sitting 24/7 in the famous ‘A Brasileira’ café. It is worth visiting yet I have to make a remark that wherever in Portugal, coffee is just exceptionally good and cheap. Be aware though when using the original Portuguese nomenclature for asking a waiter for the great variety of coffees. A simple espresso will be called here bica and not bico (please look it up in http://www.urbandictionary.com, for the sake of not getting Portuguese spam I will remain silent about the meaning and usage of this word).

Meanwhile Bairro Alto is a Mecca for the party people, (Erasmus) students and/or those who enjoy the busy atmosphere of barzinhos. There is pretty much every musical style to be met in this tiny but crowded place, from indie rock through Brazilian live music to Berliner minimal tech. Not much recommended for those who actually like to sleep during the night, but for those who like bohemian wandering around 4 am it will probably be a perfect destination.

Wiki:

Bairro – neighbourhood

Barzinho – little bar (same word in Portuguese)

On the other side of the Bridge: Costa Caparica

Music, Travel

The quantity of quality beaches nearby Lisbon, not to mention in Portugal, is overwhelming. You can have a glimpse of how it is like to wander around the country beach tasting/testing but the sites I will present here will maybe cover 1% of the total number.

Costa Caparica is probably the hippest beach in the Lisbon’s surrounding. The fact is, it is pretty much accessible, either by car, or by bus taken from the centre of Lisbon. Be aware if travelling during rush hours: the beach is situated on the other side of the Tejo river, and the famous Ponte de 25 de Abril at that times become rather a parking lot than an artery.

Once you get there, you will notice various beach bars and restaurants, varying from very posh to quite affordable ones. But what actually is my favourite remark of the Caparica beach is the quantity of surfing schools and little, wooden houses which endured wind, sun and high tides.

There is pretty much everything to be found on this wide beach: also a nudist and gay zone aka Praia 19. However, if you are looking for a rocky beach where to hide from the all-time present sun and humanity, Caparica may not be the best choice.

My personal fave is to sit nearby the wooden houses, listening to bossa nova classics overlooking the sunset and think about what memories I have left on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I think that what Principezinho meant by ‘looking at the sunsets’ while being melancholic, the Portuguese put nicely in one keyword: saudade.

Wiki:

Ponte de 25 de Abril – 25th of April Bridge, connecting the city of Lisbon with the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tejo river. The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution.

Principezinho – The Little Prince of Saint-Exupery

Indian Summer on Praia do Guincho

Personal, Travel

Moving on with the Lisbon-related delights… I need to present you the beach I fell in love with at a first sight and which remains in my top 5 until now. Moreover, which is within 1 hour drive reach from the Portuguese capital’s centre!

I have to travel back to very difficult 2011 when Lisbon has been my departure and arrival point throughout the year. Eventually, when my first Brazilian/South American travel came to an end in the mid-September, Lisbon was my welcoming port in Europe after a few months of absence. I had a very emotional meeting with my Mom and my cousin Piotr who decided to fly over from Berlin to join me and spend a couple of days in the Cidade da Luz.

Tired after all-night travel, I proposed we should chill out at the most peaceful place I know by the Oceanside: Praia do Guincho. It was not so easy to get there, taking train to Cascais and then a bus, but impossible was nothing on that very special day for us, weary travelers.

And then, the path between the dunes and green Atlantic forest led us to a wide, sandy beach limited by the most-Western rocks within the continental Europe: Cabo da Roca tip. The air was so clear, the waves – high and long and the breeze was making wonders to my jet-lagged body and soul. We were so happy there, we could not even realize that the tide went up very quickly, gathering back to the ocean our camera, sunscreen and what not. No quality photos were left from this lovely Indian Summer get away, but the memories will definitely remain. And this Brazilian-origined song can tell how glorious can it be when you live by the sea.

Wiki:

Cidade da Luz – City of Light, Lisbon’s nickname

Cabo da Roca – ‘Rocky tip’, the most Western tip of the continental Europe

Praia – beach

Nascimento em Lisboa

Music, Personal

The idea behind this post lays partially in my current state of mind: being extremely busy, somewhere in between the unfinished stuff and the forthcoming events which will pretty much decide on how the next months/years of my life will look like. Partially, in one particular request for posting something related to Milton Nascimento’s work. Last but not least, in recent requests for writing something about Lisbon, as one of my friends currently is living there, working as a guide showing the city’s deepest secrets (Polish speakers are much welcome to visit her www.sekrety-lizbony.pl or Facebook Fan Page where she posts some hilarious photos from her favourite neighbourhood Alfama!), and another one is planning shortly a weekend get-away.

To create an amalgamate of these three topics I decided to show you some of my favourite Lisbon’s murals. The quote ‘Para nascer Portugal; para morrer o mundo’ is authored by Antonio Vieira, a Jesuit who shared his life between Portugal and Brazil and can be found written on a mural closely to Sé de Lisboa. Nowadays this quote has definitely another meaning. Given not only difficult economic circumstances, but also insatiated curiosity, there are millions of Portuguese spread all over the world. To me, this might be a reflection on a globalised reality, just as illustrating one’s craving to discover the world.

Milton Nascimento’s ‘Tudo o que você podia ser’ is an anthem for those, who are not afraid to change, to go beyond mainstream or to take difficult decisions. He underlines that the only obstacle on our way to become who we would love to be is fear. Recapitulating with another famous quote: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Wiki:

Nascimento – birth (also, a surname of a famous Brazilian musician, Milton Nascimento)

‘Para nascer Portugal; para morrer o mundo’ – To be born in Portugal; to die in the world

Sé de Lisboa – Cathedral of Lisbon

‘Tudo o que você podia ser’ – ‘All you could become’ (a title of a famous Milton Nascimento’s song)

Desfado

Music, Personal

‘I already knew you were a big fan of Portugal and Brazil but I never thought it was mostly language- and sound-related. It’s really nice to hear that Portuguese as this kind of power. I guess that fado it’s not your type of music but it seems unusual to talk about saudade without mentioning it’.

Well, hearing this kind of feedback I just cannot remain unresponsive! The author of the feedback is Joana with whom I had a pleasure to collaborate at my previous workplace last year in Barcelona. Even though it was always quite stressful and very fast-pace back there, we managed to create a very inspirational (and still, productive!) ambience on our ‘Fox Island team’ (don’t ask for a meaning) within the open space ocean. So, speaking a weird mixture of Spanish – English – French – Catalan – Polish – Lithuanian (!) and Russian we could not obviously miss Portuguese. And despite the fact that we are all in very different places now, I guess (?) we all feel this special kind of saudade when we remind those crazy times.

So, it is true, I have not started off with fado, as it is not really my cup of tea. However, it is something a Portugal-loving person cannot just leave behind. Promise there will appear some classic content (for which my Portuguese-aficionado Maezinha is longing, too!), sometime soonish.

For now I would love to present my fave out of Joana’s selection: Ana Moura’s Desfado which represents a powerful trend in fado music nowadays: remaking, experimenting with the form, musical styles and language. Desfado reminds me also of our multilingual team we used to be, desfalando all the afore-mentioned languages and simply, having fun!

Wiki:

Fado – a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life in the neighbourhood, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia (loosely captured by the keyword saudade – longing). Desfado is a neologism meaning the opposite of it.

Falar – to speak (desfalando is the opposite gerund of it)

Maezinha – (diminuitive) mom