June 25, 2010


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.

June 22, 2010

Glimpses of the weekend

On the way back from London I got to thinking about relationships. Mainly because a lot of things have changed lately, but also because I've come to terms with the thought that sometimes it's a good idea to let go. And then I found a quote that's rather embarrassing and tacky, yet highly appropriate, so I have to mention it:
There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore and who always will. So don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future. I'm not convinced I could tell, at this point, who won't matter anymore or who always will, this is all very relative. But the sad truth is that no matter how much I cared about some people, they seem to not fit in the picture anymore. And even though I'll always think of them fondly, I realized I don't have the energy to lie to myself that common memories, no matter how wonderful, are enough. On the other hand, there's always the excitement of discovering new people or rediscovering some of the old ones and that has got to be one of the best things I've ever experienced.
Back to my short and intense London trip, here's a few highlights:
  • a non-touristic tour of a very touristic part of London with one of my new friends, replacing pictures and maps with coffee and chats about books, couch surfing, movie scripts and horse races
  • cherry flavored beer at Tate Modern and a great discovery, Juliao Sarmento, an artist so amazing I'm actually planning a trip to Portugal in autumn to see his exhibition. Tate was twice the fun because I was there with one of my best friends ever, who I suspect knows everything about modern & contemporary art. Needless to say, it felt like taking a private tour spiced up with inside jokes and harmless gossip
  • Thames Clippers at dawn
  • living in Shepherd's Bush, just like the characters of the first novel I translated
  • Hello Kitty temporary tattoos
  • meeting one of my older friends, who has always been an inspiration to me due to his energy and unbelievably positive outlook upon life and who has always encouraged me to carry on with my plans, no matter how silly or implausible, because they're great
  • overdosing on Reese's Pieces, thus ending the gummy bears episode, hopefully for good

June 18, 2010

London calling

I was about to finally write the story of my perfect Portuguese vacation, although it feels like it's been ages, not three weeks, since I was happily discovering Lisbon, when I noticed something very disturbing.
I'm meeting Big Brother for the weekend in London and as usual everything was planned a long time ago in the tiniest detail. I did, however, mix some details up (this happens a lot lately, I wonder if it's age related) and so half an hour ago it dawned on me I booked my flight to London from Poznan and not from Warsaw (my return ticket is from London to Warsaw). Which means I'm already out of time and I still have about one million things to take care of at the office, a train to catch and hopefully make it to the airport.
Which makes me wonder: am I tired and in desperate need for a vacation or the fact that I've been taking small vacations / long weekends lately has made me so relaxed that I can't even keep track of my own agenda?

June 9, 2010


I was too late to tell my Gran all those things that were left unsaid. I didn't even make it in time to say goodbye. But later that evening, she found the perfect way to say it, a sunset so amazing, so beautiful and calm it made all words unnecessary. As always, she knew how to be there for me, warm and loving and wonderful, and I can only hope she knew I wished I could have been there for her.

June 2, 2010

Cinderella @ Casa Gogol

My fabulous trip to Lisbon started in Milan, not exactly my favorite city in Europe, but a perfect location for a Gogol Bordello concert, as it turned out later on. Having seen Gogol perform in Bucharest and in Warsaw and being madly in love with them, I thought I was prepared for another night spent in the front rows. But I had no idea what was coming to me.
Italians are insane, no doubt about it. It took them about 15 seconds to get in the mood for punk rock parranda and after the first two songs half of the audience was shirtless and I was shoeless. And the one thing you don't want to try is barefoot pogo. Turns out I should have taken other things into account when putting my outfit together. Sure, it was colorful and gypsy and looked great, but next time I'm so not wearing slingbacks. If I ever decide to see Gogol in Italy, which is highly possible, I think I might have to wear military boots. Luckily, I was rescued just in time by a very nice Italian and recovered my shoe as well, and the whole thing could have been quite sweet if it hadn't been hilarious and idiotic before anything else. The fact that Eugene was screaming something about revolutions and his dick didn't help either, but once I reached a safer spot the night went on without any noticeable incidents.
Another thing I love about their concerts is that you're never alone, even if you are alone, that's why I'm not even slightly worried about not having someone with me to join the fun. Once again, Italians proved to be more friendly than the average, loud and joyful and inexhaustible, sharing drinks, joints, chocolate and chewing gum with anybody who happened to be around.
And as I can't seem to get enough of Gogol Bordello, I'm planning to see them in the UK and in Germany, not just for their wonderful and energizing music, but also because I'm really curious about their audience, wondering if it can get any better than in Italy.
In the morning, tired and bruised and happy as can be, I was on my way to Lisbon, where an epiphany was waiting round the corner.