Exactly one month ago one of my travel fantasies was finally coming true and, like most fantasies, it was even better in reality. In my fantasy, Lisbon would be fabulous. In reality, it was love at first sight. Not the irrational, life-changing love story I had with Warsaw but rather the kind of intense summer fling which you assume will be over come fall. And then, by the end of summer, you realize you've been blown to pieces and it's the only thing on your mind. I can only hope there is not a limited amount of love when it comes to cities, otherwise I think I might have spent mine on Warsaw and Lisbon.
The city is relaxed and joyful like a perpetual vacation, cheerful without being annoying and user-friendly without being too organized, filled with small, family-owned restaurants and bars where after half an hour you feel like home, cakes are decadent and fruit tastes like real fruit, the shops are still open after midnight and so are some of the art galleries, men are incredibly cute and incredibly friendly, a world of adventures opens here and an amazing sailing history is there to prove it, yet there's a sweet sadness to it, a kind of resignation from something I couldn't really grasp, much like a woman who's aged gracefully but lost her beauty, walking barefoot in the narrow streets of Bairro Alto and singing her heartbreaking fado.
I've had a thing for Portuguese writers a long time before having a thing for Lisbon or for the language. And so this trip was the perfect opportunity to have lunch with one of my favorite characters in the history of literature. Needless to say, all of his heteronyms were there.
On my way back from the Fernando Pessoa Memorial House, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this in a station of the metro:
And a few days later, at the train station in Porto:
But the most amazing thing happened one lazy afternoon near the monument celebrating Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral and other navigators who played an essential role in Portuguese maritime discoveries.
In a city filled with the presence of some of the men I admire most, in the place where adventures and discoveries started, I realized just how much I missed home, and just how at home I felt in Warsaw. It was the first time ever that I was in a new city which I happened to be fascinated with and still had the feeling there was something missing. I also believe it was the first time I missed home, a feeling so new and strange it was almost shocking. I've always missed people, I've missed places, too, but I've never missed home. I think I've become faithful without even noticing it. Acknowledging this change is one thing, dealing with it is something I'm not ready for, at least not until I've sailed my very own, fictional seven seas.