Every journey conceals another journey within its lines: the path not taken and the forgotten angle.

Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry

Koseški bajer, Ljubljana.

You are that broken body in twilight, smelling of fire since it has never been tamed.

– Dimitris Angelis

Everybody tells you that you will never come back the same, nobody tells you how easy it is to fall back into the same old traps and patterns. Continue reading “”

… this happy white woman who is constantly shoved under our noses, this woman we are all supposed to work hard to resemble – never mind that she seems to be running herself ragged for not much reward – I for one have never met her, not anywhere. My hunch is that she doesn’t exist.

Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part X

Yes, I’m not lying, I discovered these while still living in Paris, I’m just showing them a little late… (insert angel emoji)

Yseult: One comment on youtube says she is French Lizzo. I love them both and would gladly attribute such awesomeness to this French lady, but I must say I find her too different to actually say that myself, her voice, the way she sings, the open dark note to most of the songs… Anyway, decide for yourselves. I will always appreciate an urban take on la chanson française, to whichever side of the spectrum she takes it. I discovered her with the song below, right now though I’m all into Corps and 5H (hint to the song of the week widget on my blog).

la réalité me rattrape au réveil je suis dans tous mes états il n’y a pas de place pour les regrets

Hollydays: This one song was on repeat after I left Paris, actually, altough it is not new. It’s just so soothing. Like, you can dance, but you can also just lay down on the couch and do nothing but listen.

tu peux peux tu peux éteindre la lumière

Bagarre: These guys are something. I remember reading an article about them with all those superlatives on how different they are, in their sound, but also in their approach to pretty much everything, it almost made me not listen to them, because, you know, when reactions are exaggerated, they often lose me. I still did, I’ve come to trust the label they’re at for unique acts and their name means fight in French, so … ok  …  Anyway, they still intrigue me and they wrote a couple of songs I could sometimes (more often than I would admit) decorate with the #currentmood hashtag. I never saw them live, so here’s to one more reason to go back to Paris. For more, just listen. And, bye bye!

au revoir à toi la fin du monde au revoir à toi la fin du mois

I’ve just finished watching the French pop show on Netflix which I never should have watched…. bad idea, Ivona, bad idea. It’s happening in Paris of course and too many scenes take place near my old home. So, for reasons totally obscure I now love this song, joining the second one above for to dance or not to dance dilemma.

The title is lying now and don’t care. (insert devil emoji)

Ptuj.

The hopes will gather

Like kids around

A pot of stew.

Ilija Trojanow, Straddle

I think I found one way to live in an ideal world for a few days.

It was my first time being in the backstage of a festival ever, at the end of August in a charming little Slovenian town. I only had a distant childhood memory of this medieval cuteness called Ptuj and it didn’t fail the reality of its completely not pretentious, but will-win-you-over streets. And when most of them are devoted to poetry and wine, well, what else do you want? Continue reading “Ptuj.”

One has a moral obligation to take responsibility for one’s actions, and that includes one’s words and silences, yes, one’s silences, because silences rise to heaven too, and God hears them, and only God understands and judges them, so one must be very careful with one’s silences.

Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile

The whole rainbow of grey

Saint Malo.

If it was my last trip in France this year, it sure was the best possible. (I do still hope for another week or two of what would be the first actual holidays after a while in this country – there are at least some perks to not living there.) Not just that the walks were simply magnificient, it reminded even more than Strasbourg a few weeks before what a difference a couple of days of escape can make, just 48 little hours, the sun and the flowers… all that. Continue reading “The whole rainbow of grey”

This isn’t goodbye.

So, it’s done. I left Paris. After four and a half years of hell and wonderfulness combined (hint to the postcard below) and two weeks of intense stress. A few days ago I moved back home, sort of, at least for this year. I say sort of because I still don’t feel that way in my own head, although everyone around me seem to be certain of it. And I moved for the funniest of reasons if you know me, me who never in her life made a decent career decision. For a job. (Yeah I know not funny, probably another purely internal thing.) Maybe, that is why it’s one of the hardest heartbreaks, too, the hardest decision I ever took because it’s the first with actual consequences I have to bear. Some sort of sacrifice I had to rationally convince myself into. It hurt so fucking much I really doubt I made the right choice and miss my old what-is-a-career-anyway me. I need to remind myself of why I took this job and why all the old ones were (partly) wrong, often transforming me into a brain-dead zombie. I don’t really care about all that now, though. I can only miss. Till now, I didn’t know grieving over a place is just as hard as over people. You’d say, like everyone around me, ”But Paris is still there, a two-hour flight away, you can go whenever you want!”. But I think that what I’m grieving is far more complex and not repairable with just a vacation. It’s the life I built, the relationship to a home I finally found and then tore myself from. I know it wasn’t perfect and that I’ve been preparing for this for a while, yet it still doesn’t make it easy. I’ll live, I’ll give this a try, because maybe I have to give myself a real try, and then maybe France will have me back soon. Now, just give me some time to digest everything.

Leaving Paris is never easy. Sadness shows you it meant something, that every bit of it was worth it.

Saint Malo.

Is it a consolation to feel there are so many places in this world where you could easily live, even though you know quite well you never will? The consolation in seeing the richness of this world, I guess, feeling like home is a moving concept, even for those of us who aren’t constantly moving. Why so many of those seem to be in France for me?

First, I fell in love with Paris, of course, then came its Mediterranean coast, but in the last three years I’ve discovered a whole new territory on the Atlantic. Normandy is my regular getaway, La Rochelle was a sweet haven, and now there is Bretagne. Maybe, it’s the magic of the tide that has something to do with it : so weird for an Adriatic girl like me to see an island in the morning and walk to it in the afternoon, the subtle danger it implies. Or the wind, stronger here, so much every thought flies right out of your head, and even reading seems impressively challenging. If the delicious galettes de blé noir and cider weren’t enough, perhaps I could be fed by those views, the long promenades and hidden beaches, the nature whose character is somewhat rebellious and wild here, in a heavier sense than in the South (it suits the drama queen part of me).

So, the old town itself was the last thing I did here, although I appreciated its streets immensely, because the surroundings were calling loudly. I’m not sure I broke my record of kilometres walked per day, but I think I came quite close the first day. Aren’t those the best – lovely little towns, beautiful in themselves, where there is an awesome walk waiting for you, no matter the direction you choose, or almost? That’s where I would want to live.

To another life, perhaps.

Blue is the colour.

Saint Malo.

Looking through photos of my recent trip (first and definitely not last!) to Bretagne, I realized those of blue doors were among my favourites. First, I wondered why, then I remembered blue is the colour of the sea and of the sky. And that is exactly the sight I was looking for on my short escapade to another French region I can now be in love with, for love at first sight it was.

Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes,
Entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes ;
Midi le juste y compose de feux
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée !
O récompense après une pensée
Qu’un long regard sur le calme des dieux !

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame —
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!

Paul Valery, Le cimetière marin (The Graveyard By The Sea)*

 

*Not this one, but a writer was born and has a grave by the sea here (a spot all for himself on a little island with the best possible view) that made me think of this poem. (Hint hint to the last door.)

An evening walk in Paris is always a good idea.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow.

”… and Paris is always right where you left it.” (E. Jong, Fear of Flying)

This is something I should remember, but keep forgetting. And when I do it, one late March late afternoon, motivating myself with a lack of English books on my shelf (I mean those I haven’t read yet), making a familiar circle around Saint Michel, Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts that never fails to take me back to home-like feelings I first experienced when this wasn’t even my home yet – gosh it seems weird it’s now been more than ten years ago – so, when I do it, I’m most gently reminded by these magnificent views in the most beautiful light (which is for my amateur phone camera very hard to translate into photos). And I honestly don’t care a single bit they are a Paris cliché and I end up looking like a tourist again, stopping and admiring them.

Thank you, Snow, for another challenge that allows me to share photos I would otherwise keep for myself … oh and my Instagram I guess 😀

 

Strasbourg.

Flâner. Maybe one of the most important words I’ve ever learned in French. It must have made a lightbulb effect in the moment, the discovery of that territory beyond just marcher or se promener. This floating feeling to it that makes it sound so free – and that’s exactly what it is. The space it leaves in your spirit for it to really roam.

It was in Strasbourg I realized how little I actually do it lately, though, always walking around with a purpose, the modern-day woman that I’m supposed to be. Even when I’m strolling I always do it at least with a bookshop as a destination in mind. But that smoothly clear early Spring day when I left Paris for a day, I wasn’t. And it felt so good. Just walking, even if it’s in circles after a while, until your feet get sore, letting things pop up in your mind and let them go with the next step. Finally feeling the anxiety and the sadness for some really particular reason and let it melt in the joy of wandering. I only once looked at a map and almost immediately closed it because it just messed up my intuitive orientation. The one relying on the high cathedral’s towers and — well those circles I kept on making and which soon started resembling spirals and those eternal 8s, turning into a beautiful flower pattern.

I don’t have the slightest idea what one has to see in this charming but not overwhelmingly beautiful town, but I believe the really important stuff is hard to miss. The cathedral, that is. The absolutely stunningly magnificent one that, as my colleague warned me and I now must sadly agree, is a very serious (winning) competition to Notre-Dame.

The rest was up to the sunlit banks, beer and spätzle. Oh and the friendly dog owners and flirtatious waiters.

 

Even without fascism, I was dishonest. Even without fascism, I censored myself. I refused to let myself write about what really moved me … Even without fascism, honesty was damned hard to come by. Even without fascism, I had pasted imaginary oak-tag patches over certain areas of my life and steadfastly refused to look at them.

Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part IX

I need to share some music, before a whole year goes by without it on my blog! So, I’m taking advantage of the recent Victoires de la musique where a few of my favourite discoveries performed and – what would be the newest expression for it – smashed it.

Eddy de Pretto : Probably my last year’s favourite discovery of them all. His music and his lyrics and his videos and his personality and his style couldn’t get more direct and unapologetically him and “poetically violent” as one of the comments says. He has this weird way of making you identify with his lyrics even when your story has so little to do with his. Universality in particularity, isn’t that art?

P.S.: He’s the one writing the song for homophobes, and a song about (toxic) virility.

Angèle : The Belgian girl who wrote the perfect song about Murphy law, then about money and then jealousy and then — happiness, of course. I can’t be bothered by its too evident pop qualities, when at least there is some intelligence in it and the melodies that let you dance to the ironies, or whatever you call it, of life. And then, her brother brings in a new groove and I swing and try to forget – well – everything… except that for me, for now, spleen is still fashionable, damn it.

Camélia Jordana : I’ve known her for a long time, but never shared her music here. With this song, it seems perfect, a beautiful reminder that as much as we like to think of ourselves as enlightened, it’s all just a ridiculous puppet show if we don’t clean up our act and make no exception for our supposed values. There is honestly still a lot I don’t know about French history, or European or in general really, but the first thing we all have to do is educate ourselves. And what I love about music is this ability that shows in the performance below – to remind us just as harshly as any other form of criticism, yet addressing that human part of us we all share.

A Dreamy Road Ahead

Ilha Deserta, Faro.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Snow Melts Somewhere.

There are two kinds of dreamy in our lives, aren’t there? The one we can see in our everyday, simple, but meaningful scenes, like that pinkish sky sunset paints for us after a long day at work, almost making us feel grateful we had to stay there till so late, because otherwise we wouldn’t see this view. Beauty is always dreamy for me, even when it grounds me in the present.

And then, there is the other one, the one making us dream about the future, about the open road ahead we might walk someday, even if we already rambled on some of them, even if some of them are circles, bringing us back to where we started. There are still countless possibilities of what might happen in-between the taken steps.

And I need one just as much as the other.

 

 

Revisiting the views

Corsica.

For Friendly Friday Challenge, hosted by Something to Ponder About.

There was a truck driving by the exit door at work today with a huge CORSICA tag on it and yet again I fell back to reminiscing. Must be some kind of a torture device, this vehicle passing our Parisian winter frowns, reminding us of these magnificent open horizons on such a gray day as today. Nah, it’s actually quite pleasant to think some day soon maybe I might go back to this little paradise-like island and revisit its fresh air and pure sea and starry sky. Hell, it’s soothing to revisit all that just in mind, too. To look at some pictures and think about all the good stuff, existing in this world. Do you know I can’t help myself – thinking about food every time I think about this place… It’s an automatic reaction, an associative thought I can’t escape: ”And my oh my we ate so well there!” And that always brings a smile to my face, the grimaces I was making, digging into the refreshing desserts and pizzas with all of my favorite ingredients and grilled aubergine and … ah enough.

”une femme moderne, quoi”

ramblings on whatever really

During a job interview some time last year, discussing my hobbies and interests, the lady across the table defined me as a ”modern woman” or in her own words une femme moderne, quoi … In the moment, I wasn’t sure if one part of me should be flattered by the implications or rather offended to be so easily put into a cliché, ticking off the box I belong to. Later, I couldn’t stop laughing about the notion, though. I mean, what does it really mean, to be a ”modern woman”? In my opinion, it’s not my cultural, literary, travel, or whichever interests that define it, I mean where would that make any sense? Continue reading “”une femme moderne, quoi””

Deserted Island.

Ilha Deserta, Faro.

I’m not ashamed to admit there always comes a point in my travels when despite all the awesome people I might meet I need to get myself some alone time. I was lucky enough to spend one of those on my last day in Portugal in a nice little place that is appropriately enough called ”deserted” . As coincidentally it was the last day of my last year’s summer, some beach time was most welcome, too. And what a beach, nothing else but sand and sea and sun and wind, nothing more than my towel, hat, sunglasses, the last pages of a good book and the sound of waves. Exactly the kind of day you think about while looking at forecasts of snow, putting on your long coat and an additional sweater or two underneath… No, we need to see the beauty in all seasons, right! Still, thinking about this island now, I must say it (most joyfully) surprised me. Sitting on the ferry, departing from Faro, it could seem its name sounded a bit ironic now, all these tourists flooding it every day. But once I was there, letting myself go further and further away from the only restaurant on the island, the beaches didn’t seem to be that crowded at all (the season was slowing down at that point, true, plus I just came back from the ones in Lagos!). After a short walk on the hot sand I could easily find my own nice little spot, with a most amazingly magnificent view, nothing but the blue sky and the never-ending sea before me. I somehow managed to bring myself to tear my ass away from it to take the path all around the island’s flora, and again the impression of being alone in the midst of beautiful nature won me over. Sometimes, the top-things-to-do-lists are there for a reason and we might just be lucky enough to have the perfect timing.

Getting goodbye to Algarve in style, indeed. Quite in love, too…

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

Le Penseur, Musée Rodin, Paris.

For Friendly Friday Challenge. (First!)

The Snow Melts Somewhere evoked in her prompt post lack of inspiration bloggers experience and the least I can say is – I relate. I had been on a blogging hiatus for two months at the end of last year which was weird because I had loads to talk about. But when a general lack of inspiration about life strikes, well what is one to do then?

My best friend said to me once last month I was lucky to be able to read even when I felt as low as I did at that moment. I answered (out loud or not, I can’t remember) I didn’t really have a choice. It’s either that or I’m dead. No, not a suicidal thought. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned there is only one thing that can get me out of my numbness. Letting myself re-discover there are (it’s mostly were, but fine) truthful people out there who wrote down or sang what they felt constituted the essence of life, sincerely let out what they were feeling, so that today I can share a sense of humanity with them, drawing inspiration from them, and even a kind of subtle friendship, fellowship maybe. A possibility that I might have something to say to someone, too. Because believe it or not, through all my sentimentality, it’s this truthfulness I aim for.

I’ve been sitting in the company of this funny guy most of my breaks, and only recently learnt it is supposed to be Dante and was initially called The Poet. It’s not just a thinker, which most of my university colleagues would rename philosopher, but an artist! And that’s what I feel mostly, musing there with him, over my instant coffee, an apple and cereal biscuits (a girl’s gotta save money somewhere here!): words that aren’t only thoughts, but feelings, words impregnated with a sense of life and all those moments that make it up and make us up and sometimes make art.

How lucky so many people before me decided to try to express them somehow… Some even in a way that feels so close to mine.

Life is in the streets.

Bonifacio, Corsica.

What I love about summer and miss dearly in winter is the liveliness of the streets, how half of our lives seem to move outside with first warm sun rays. Even in the biggest cities we search for every possible opportunity to drink our coffees outdoors, spend our post-work hours in parks, maybe even walk a part of the way home (yes, our lazy asses sometimes actually think of that semi-replacement for fitness). But as my co-worker joyfully reminded me today, with the new year we can solace ourselves we might have only two harsh months of winter left to survive, if we’re lucky! Fingers crossed for nice early-springish weather in March. Till then, I’ll try to keep up with my autumn resolution of going off the metro two stations before my stop and walk the rest of the way – the lovely playful atmosphere at République, there thanks to the regular skaters and children’s corner or just someone always doing something, reminds me of those summery moments that always (can’t help it and won’t) take me back South somewhere. (I get so dreamy I become a serious threat to the taxi drivers’ nerves, like a child I’m re-learning to check twice before crossing the road.) So, I’m leaving you with two photos of one of my favourite places I discovered last year and let you dream with me a little.

Oh and happy new year – let’s make it a beautiful one! 😉

 

 

Tavira.

On a day trip to this charming town, in-between cups of coffee, glasses of rosé (just because it was too hot for red wine), a delicious cheese and figs tart, ice-cream, browsing through mini cork backpacks, chatting with polyglot waiters and benches with a chilling view, I found some pretty doors, too, the favourite, life-worn ones, before taking the bus back and wondering what it is about those rides I appreciate so much. The pause? The feel of moving? The sense of purpose? Just all the flashes of the world, unraveling like a movie before my eyes, as the best instant music video for the sounds coming from my headphones? I always experience a pinch of regret when I step off it again and onto the stable ground, no matter the destination. At least until the feel of moving gets deep into my feet and the streets open up their theatre for me, I guess. Off we go, again.

Faro.

in three separate days

28.8.18 : The first taste of this town is sweet. Because it’s kind and discreet, warm and agreeable. The South which always pleases. The white houses and strong sun switching with strong wind once in a while, mediterranean food, the oranges and the figs, perky birds, the soothing sea and sunsets at the pier. I can’t get out of the clichés because I appreciate them too much, need them too much right now maybe. They might get me through the blues.

I feel I turn in weird circles in little towns, walking through them quick, checking out all the streets, views, bistros and benches in the shade, round and round, going a bit further every time, but not too far, so I can get back on foot if tired (forgetting this isn’t Paris). Done within an hour, and giving up at some point and just sit down somewhere, ordering coffee or a glass of wine (depends on the time). Maybe, that’s the point. To sit down and watch. Absorb the spirit, and not just rush through it.

30.8.18 : This region suits me so well. All the good wine, all the good food, all the cheap coffee, all the good music (a music festival was waiting for me here), all the beautiful people, nice people. (Half of them are French, too, so I’m not even missing out on speaking in my favourite language.) So many of them, I started missing spending time on my own, the inspiration and the spontaneity of alone-ness, the freedom of getting lost, but never losing time, and taking trips on your own schedule.

5.9.18 : Another randomly awesome day, before I leave. Oh the joy. Chilling on the desert island, reading on the sand, turning pages with the help of the wind, a walk in the middle of nothing, talking with complete strangers (really, how could I guess they were French?). Then, finishing up my stay with a late jam session, so I can get my stolen hat back. This country has a positive effect on me, with its ease and randomness, the good life I somehow have to translate into my every-day. There is nothing dramatic about endings, nothing final, nothing hopeless in uncertainty, I wrote. Just let random things happen outside the bubble, too.

Lagos.

Sometimes, the town you’re in loses all importance and allure the very first night, and that is a good thing. It takes care of the necessary bed in an awesome hostel, watery morning coffee, food in one of those too many restaurants of the crowded touristy streets, late night sangria and a shower, and lets the essence of your stay to its surroundings. Oh the beaches around Lagos, the path along the cliffs enchanted me quite enough for a couple of days, making me feel lazy about any trips to the nearby towns for the famous caves… No, didn’t make it.

I let myself be charmed by the little nude beaches where you have to climb slippery slopes of sand to get to their rocky embrace, by the never-ending waves inviting you to use your own body as a surf and just let yourself play with them or them with you, by the free feet massage every time you decide to take a walk you somehow end with a bottle of (cheap!) white wine, sharing it with straws because glasses were redundant.

The little things that create the ultimate bubble of ease I just didn’t want to burst until reality inevitably had to kick in and I was left with the pictures of the solitary sunset that greeted my arrival and the sun-lit clouds at the lighthouse that closed up my stay, the animated conversations, juggling between English and French, and the improvised dinners and the very much approved combination of red wine and chocolate, and the laughs, the long, uncontrolled, loud laughs on the hostel rooftop.

I’ll come back every time you’ll have me.

The most ravishing autumn moments

This October’s weather has been a bitter-sweet candy that I most gladly take advantage of. I know that these spring-like sunny days, with temperatures above 25°C during the day aren’t supposed to be here anymore, that they coincide too suspiciously with the report just published about our climate, that sometimes I feel even my body being a bit confused because of the still so strong sun that my skin burns under the jeans… But but but – I savour each one of them like it was the last one, hell it soon really will be.

I look forward to work just because I’ll get to sit in a most charming garden during my lunch break or go to the near-by park to have a mid-day picnic, consisting of a fresh baguette sandwich, eclair and an espresso from a neighbouring boulangerie. Yes, for those of you who are familiar with my rant posts: I have a new job whose surroundings are so much more alluring to all of my senses at least one of my anxieties will calm down for a month. For the second time, a job made me discover an area I hadn’t paid too much attention to before, always walked through a bit too hastily, posted a single adjective on it and moved on (here, it was posh), bored somehow. I might not agree with the prices and will insist in the future to bring my own snacks, yet the morning sun rays enveloping empty esplanade‘s trees get me every time (Invalides). I even fall for the cliché tower again, seeing it so rarely recently, so early in the day probably just once before, appreciating it better from a far in the foreground of green.

All of this almost takes me back to my favourite October ever, that autumn spent in the South of France. And that says a lot.

7th arrondissement.

Enter the green, the red and the blue

Faro.

I’m sharing my love for Algarve drop by drop. I can’t believe it’s been a month since I came back from Portugal and my Parisian life has already gifted me with new turns. I still sigh when I remember these streets, though, their sun bathed, time-worn stones and… the loveliest colourful doors! The best part of my collection is from a nearby town, but let’s start at the beginning, in this town where airplanes keep flying low over your head, fish joyously jump out of the water, with their bellies towards the sky (yes, they do), and where you definitely don’t get away from French … I mean, you know I love you, mon vieux peuple, but do you have to be so omni-present on my vacation? Well I guess I don’t mind as much as I whine about it.

Sagres.

I might as well start at the end. Quite close to it, at least. This is the nearest I’ve come to the end of the world (ok, our old continent), even made a walk, a little tour around its edges, but left the peak of it for next time. And it’s not even scary. Nope. Mighty it is, though, awe-inspiring and beautifully so. I think we’re going to be alright. Still, I did have the feeling there was nothing else to do than just observe and let it be, leaving any survival-mode items I might have in my backpack in there, only letting myself to snap a few photos, then absorbing what we’ve all come to realize is my favourite setting. Cliffs, edges, these boundaries I might any second now slip through.

There is something so poetic about it and while I was sitting on the rocks with the most magnificent view, dewy-eyed in the setting of inspirational music of the waves, crushing in, and the wind, whooshing by, I kept thinking about this song with its name as the title. When I listened to it back at the hostel it just seemed so appropriate for an almost-the-last day in a region, in a country that yet again got my heart. (Portugal, why it’s always you catching me in crucial moments of my life? I’m gonna stop believing it’s a coincidence…)

little screams into the wonder
and a wild set of rides… *

You bet it was.

 

* Tallest Man On Earth, Sagres (from the album : Dark Bird Is Home, 2015)

Piece by piece

What is it about that bubble we create when we get to another place? The combination of the distance from the familiar and the newness of circumstances, conditions that make grow different aspects of ourselves. Some we knew existed silently, some we ignored. During every trip, longer than a single weekend, something in me moves towards a certain direction, builds up another foundation in me, brick by brick, an understanding enriches its effects. Yet, I find it hard to pinpoint what exactly that means. Continue reading “Piece by piece”

Dieppe.

Normandy.

Nothing like Normandy, to escape Paris for a day. This little town doesn’t disappoint with its charm, perfect for a crêpe or a gelato if sea food is not your thing. I will always choose Etretat for the cliffs, though, these here don’t have enough of a display to appreciate them fully. Still, sea air always does. Plus, I captured a few lovely doors.

The Wisdom of Montmartre

Always refreshing to find those witty or not little wisdoms while taking a walk through Parisian streets. It makes me wonder who and why decided to tag them along the walls. Determined to stop our steps for a moment and make us give it a few seconds attention, a few seconds reflection we would otherwise maybe give to those insta/pin-quotes. Stroll over scroll.

How I see myself after 3 years in Paris

Three years in the middle of your twenties mean a whole lot of growing up, in a bitter-sweet mix of disenchantment and empowerment. When you spend them away from home, the mixture gains new dimensions, wide and deep. There is no reality check that makes you face yourself in a more radical way, than that of cutting off the familiar. Feeling like those little birds you watched on animal shows, or young wild cats, deciding it’s time to leave the nest and take the maturity test, make your own initiation into whatever life you chose, hunt down the necessities with the four limbs and one head you were born with, making out little by little what your gut feeling is like. Perhaps, trading surviving and living more often than you expected, only now realizing how stubborn you are. Stubborn, stupid, who knows. Continue reading “How I see myself after 3 years in Paris”

Bonifacio.

Corsica, the beloved.

Besides the occasional (delicious!) dinner and ice-cream at Porto Vecchio, this was the only Corsican town I can honestly say I visited. I mean, storm-drenched Zonza only half-counts, it seemed to rush us out with all the hard rain and made for the first picnic in the car (the view wasn’t bad at all, though). But, Bonifacio, oh Bonifacio, graced us with the loveliest of days. We decided to take the road because the weather was supposed to be not-beach-appropriate that day, yet the winds of the sea cleared the skies enough even before we got there. As they so often do, here, capriciously and good-heartedly. I preciously guarded the parking spot at the top when we finally found it, since we hadn’t follow everyone stopping at the marina and climbing up from there. We had soon understood why we should have, waiting too long and not being able to turn back, yet only regretted it for the first couple of minutes, our own parking being so close to town. Instead of smart, we got lucky.

And off we went (after a couple of laughs with the fellow French strangers that made me wonder again why we foreigners find them so cold and distant sometimes, while in fact they are the most charming people), starting our trip at the fortress and slowly, one view at the time, making our way inwards. What is so amazing about visiting a place like this, is that the streets themselves are nice and worth the walk, and sitting in cafés and taking the narrow alleys, and getting to the end of them to see the perfectly extending sea, still what’s the best of it all is just outside of its walls. Or under them. Taking the notorious hundred steps to be under the cliffs was literally breathtaking and legs-aching on the way back up, but young and in shape as we are we soon took another long path along the coast, breathing in the friendly sea and the fierce wind, exchanging silent ohs and ahs. Because every time we turned around, the view was just getting more and more fabulous. So, we continued, pretty much until it was time to head back to our temporary home, chatting joyfully, now.

Three days in our vacation and it was already our favourite day.

Music for re-falling in love with Paris and France

… and French as a language that still feels like it makes the simplest thing sound enchanting, literally.

And this scene that is in a way even richer than I imagined. And culture that loves words, loves life, loves poetry, loves literature, loves music, loves art, loves culture, period. And the sadness and the joy that dance together here. If I could feel at home in a feeling, it could just as well be the one I sense while listening French music, even though I can’t really explain why. These songs are just a minor drop in a massive wave, of course.

(Hint: The favourite, the one the most inspiring the mentioned feeling, is the last one, which you could easily guess if you knew me – it’s not just pure, but actual poetry put into music.)

Grand Blanc – Belleville: Finally, my almost-home has a pop song with the bestest video for my teenage self.

Nevché – Decibel: To listen late at night, lights out, while thinking about moving to Marseille, his town. (And to not forget, and wonder about over and over, the obsession of French people with their dearest – sadly departed and much missed – Johnny … Hallyday, of course.)

Clara Luciani – Les fleurs: For the Parisian blues.

Babx – Gaston Miron: Just ❤

La Corse.

Maybe, the reason why I needed so much time to sit down and write a post about Corsica, besides basic procrastination, is a certain kind of feeling I admit I don’t get often. If I did, I surely wouldn’t start a blog. A feeling of wanting to keep a place to myself. Sounds ridiculous for a place, crowded with tourists in summer months, but I wanted to keep it as my little secret, my little haven. The weary unreasonable ways of our brain. Truth is I visited it at the best possible moment, probably, not yet high season, without unbearable heat and sea of people, certain stretches of beaches with only you gracing them with your presence, but already warm and sunny weather, appropriate for a swim, everything green as can be, enough shops and restaurants open to keep you yumming.

All French must feel that way, though. It’s the place everyone dreams about, and it certainly doesn’t need extra advertising. With its position of being disconnected from the continent, yet still not far, it understands well its benefits of an island, soaks in its pride. Ask the Corsican people and they will talk about it as a country of its own, about French as if it wasn’t their own nation, laugh hardest and most heartedly at stories of those French coming here, buying their land, being all righteous about it, but eventually being hunted right out. Not literally, though you sometimes wonder. Yet, what touched me is that this pride shows real appreciation, and more than that, genuine care for their own little paradise. They know what they have on their hands and don’t squash it inattentively. Try trash it and you’ll get their anger on your back. I wish Croatian coast would be as clean as theirs, remembering whole stashes of cans, bottles and cheap plastic bags on one of the Southern islands of our Mediterranean neighbour.

So, what you do here first is breathe in the air, salty, clean, oxygen full and smog free, air, then you watch green flashing in different colour palettes with the wind and the sun, immerse in it completely, watch the blueness of the sky that can only compare with that of the sea, although they are not really comparable, the sea with its turquoise and the sky with its azure. And then the night comes, and your friend calls you while you’re brushing your teeth ”Come out for a minute!” and you do after and he only points to the sky with its finger and your jaw drops. When was the last time you saw these many stars, finally seeing they’re not as lonely as they seem in Paris? It was surely in the middle of the desert. Little by little, your whole body starts opening up, making you suspect the city you call your home is a jail cell, suffocating it, and it seriously needed this injection of nature.

No, I won’t do a list of top things to do here. I mean, if you need it, you already missed the point. Just take a ride or two on the stomach-not-friendly roads, admiring the view, find your own favourite beach, and be sure to go inland, too, to see the more mountainous landscape and capricious weather. You’ll learn to trust them soon, the always changing, usually for the better, clouds, and the winding, never-ending roads.

Only Drops

”I don’t know the code, never learnt the basics…” the song kept repeating, letting me sink deeper every second into its groove, into the truth of the words, echoing endlessly now. No escaping the hard, harsh longing they thrust in my face, rubbing in the acid-like texture into my heavy chest. Longing for the answers, longing for simplicity, longing for a flowing life, life getting its way across the landscape like a river, embracing the rocks like a sea, freely letting go like a waterfall, enveloping being like an ocean. No, there’s violence in there I’m ignoring, storms and clashes and carvings. Maybe, I am like water already, rushing into the land, again and again, hitting it straight on, for years, just without the patience of the millenia. I want to see that cave, that refuge, now, breathe in its humid refreshing soothing air, lay down in its calm fortress, at ease, half-, not really sleeping, -resting, half-enjoying its timid vivacity, catching splashes and drops, hearing out for a rhythm of waves, my melodic guarding brothers now. Yet, they’re not. I’m still drowning, beating my head into the cliffs of knowledge and beauty and truth, floating, dancing numbly in their twisted arms, broken in half.

Twisted paths

Tenerife.

I could write a sentence or two about how these twisted steps and roads we took at Tenerife, and which later on Corsica almost made me forget I am not a ten-year-old with a quickly-to-be-upset stomach, is a metaphor for life, really. But I don’t feel like it, to be honest.

Especially, after hearing these are probably the last photos I’m publishing under the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. I’ll miss it, as many others, because they so often made me see my photos and hence memories from a different angle, made sure I didn’t miss out on tiny treasures, hidden deep in my library, learning to share those moments and go out for the search of the new – not just my own, but those of other participants, some I might not discover otherwise. So long, then, it was a good one, and now, I feel like we all have to grow up as bloggers and find our own ways to keep up with it. I think we’re up for it.

For WPC: Twisted.

Tenerife.

What struck me on Tenerife was the contrast between the North and the South.

Soon after you land at the Tenerife Sur, you realize two things: the bareness of the landscape and the multitude of hotels. There is no way around it. Twenty years ago, they say, there was nothing here, now, buildings spread like vultures. Hotels, resorts, apartments, shopping centres, restaurants, fake charming markets. I never saw a place designed solely for tourists before and the feeling is, least to say, bizarre. Of course, the beaches are lovely, sandy, but not white due to the volcanic nature, with the beautifully blue sea, though cold and mostly agitated. Even some hotels are looking quite finely attractive as buildings (ours was quite fabulous actually with a lovely room view and almost uncomfortably kind staff), yet there is literally nothing substantial here. When we asked for a nearest town to stroll around, they just advised us : ”You better rent a car and head North.”

If we hadn’t, our perception of the island would sure be more than a little distorted. Luckily, we are at least a semi-adventurous family.

Two days to explore the island is a minimum. But hey – the week was still supposed to be a vacation. When it comes to towns, there are two that stayed most in my mind. San Cristóbal de La Laguna, which really seems like nothing special, relaxed and residential, but somehow super lovely. Although we only took a quick walk and lunch there (accompanied with live music, always a plus), I could see myself venturing around its streets through the afternoon. La Orotava, on the other hand, seemed to be the historical or the cultural one, not that it looks super old, but you feel its roots and its individual story more strongly on its hilly streets. The thing I loved the most, though, was the small, super bushy botanical garden we almost didn’t see the entrance of.

Yet, it is not the towns that enchant you here. First, there is the almost desert-like landscape of the South, the dark tanned stones, cliffs and beaches, the thirsty plants, then you start to climb your way up to the volcano and you gradually surround yourself with luscious green and the reddish soil, cruise on the winding roads, aligned by trees, until you turn onto the lava dominated territory and it transforms again.

Yet, the favourites… For that, you have to go to the actual North, to the even more winding roads among a different green and a different kind of magic taken you over the views. Right down to the beaches that have nothing to do with the ones at your hotel. Brave driving’s worth it – not that I, licence-free, would know. We were so much more delightfully enchanted, because we hadn’t known this had been waiting for us all along. It made me wonder if there are people coming to the island and only staying in their hotels or (a bit fake) comfort of the South and what on Earth are they thinking?! I very much appreciated the chill moments at my hotel, the effortless fun and smiles and all the cocktails, the priceless family time in a calm, lazy-like, environment, but not seeing the magnificient nature outside of it would seem like such a waste of a week. I somehow took that contrast and its reflection with me on my next trip, but more on that later…

The over-flowing magic

Palombaggia, Corsica.

It was quite ridiculous how little I read during the week on Corsica, not even 150 pages (flights, however short, included)! I mean, I usually even read more during my work weeks. And I managed to finish two books during my stay on Tenerife. How could I reach my bottom record ever? I know why. Mostly, I didn’t feel like doing anything else than just watch, listen, taste the sea, the perfect turquoise sea, or just stand in it for long periods of time, cooling me while the sun was painting my skin to a perfect tan and the wind was opening up my stuffed Parisian nostrils (no, it’ll take more than just a couple of posts for me to get over the air pollution, the contrast I experienced on my return)… The sea is something that hits you most when you arrive on the beach for the first time or take the first curvy ride on its roads overseeing the coast, its clarity, its truly amazing colours that can’t be translated into a photo.

So, I realized again and again, like so many probably during this week’s challenge, the healing power of water, that special magic of the sea and its waves, the waves that had already enchanted me two weeks before on the sandy beaches of Tenerife.

For WPC: Liquid.

Tenerife (Sur).

In the search of it

Bonifacio, Corsica.

For WPC: Place in the World.

Several years ago, the choice for this post would have been so easy, some Seine riverside photo or other, Pont Neuf, or a random Parisian street. Today, though, my place in the world seems to be transforming constantly. Home is a feeling, not a place, anyway. Not that I don’t feel like belonging to my favorite city anymore, I still very much do, I still adore its streets and its banks as much as always, I still get the sweet aching sting in my chest every time I leave it. Yet, the older(?) I get, the more I feel like the stuffy city air, the absence of true green colour, the noise, are getting to me … and the more I feel at home at the Southern part of France. The more I appreciate that special easy charm, worn out and lively, the clearing wind rushing through. And the closeness of salty air, hitting your stuffed nostrils, those narrow paths among the bushes and the flowers, with such stunning views on the majesty of the world you have to actually catch your breath again.

In the words of my friend, on our last day on this magnificent island, a country of its own, really : ”What are we waiting for?” – to change our homes into a place where we can breathe and walk freely, where there is everything you need to build your own little paradise.

Would I last here, though, wouldn’t I miss the other side? Maybe, there is never just one place where we belong, there always have to be more, complementing each other in their contrasts.

Puertas puertas puertas

Before I officially gather together the impressions of my family vacation on Tenerife, here’s a quick one, a specific selection from a bunch of photos, the focused attention in the town streets — the doors, again!

La Orotava.

Candelaria. & San Cristóbal de La Laguna.

The poetics of the streets

Montpellier.

I rarely search for art in the streets. But, I guess that’s because I never have to. The best moments, those pleasant surprises, happen when you don’t look or expect much, anyway. I sincerely didn’t in Montpellier. Still, I found the best kind, I found poetry beneath my footsteps… Oh so poetic in itself, combining random wandering with my other favourite art. Reminded me of how the first time I fell for street art, that altered, rebelled life of a simple wall, was in France, although London followed soon after and the city that later won the game for now was on the other side of the globe. (I truly miss you, Valparaiso. I never quite got the pieces of my heart I had lost there back. No worries, I’m already thinking of coming back to lose some more.)

Doesn’t just mentioning South, either of France or of America, automatically bring a smile on our faces, regardless of pretty images and lovely words on its charming narrow streets? Maybe, it’s only this long winter and timid spring… Yet, truth be told, we’re going to escape there in the summer, too, let’s just admit it and hope it’s coming soon…

For WPC: Smile.

Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part VIII

Once in a while, I can make an exception. Because none of these artists is really new to me. They are too big of a star not to know them once you are in France for a while, a part of the obliged cultural background you adopt willingly or not. Yet, what they all have in common is they have only recently grown on me… I guess I’m not that resistant to media after all.

Orelsan : This guy brings up memories of my second job in Paris, in one of those English food chains where my boss kept putting on his music during our early morning kitchen hours. I must have listened to some of his songs a thousand times in one week. Still, soon after I forgot the melodic refrain about why the Earth is round and round or whatever … Then, last year he released a new album and a new single called Basique with quite a bad-ass video, followed by another, Tout va bien (I guess I could be grateful for a minute that at least my friends and my – new – boss always keep the TV on, since I don’t have one, grateful even for that impossibly annoying music chain that makes you believe France and the World generally posses only 5-10 worthy artists). I was hooked. Why? Who can ignore the guy who openly says in his song: ”Ok, I’m putting out a new album, but first we need to go through the basics, I’m gonna make a simple video to say simple things because you’re too stupid…” And then, he does. Yet, doesn’t stop there. Every single new song I hear gets the whole of my attention, which, I’m sorry to admit, doesn’t happen often with rap, and makes me appreciate the fact I understand the lyrics, now. Below is his performance at Victoires de la Musique.

Je craquerai pas.

Julien Doré : I’m sure you all know the refrain baby I love you less and less because of what you’ve done to me, right? Well I had before dreaming of Paris became a reality, ignoring the name of the singer completely. Coming here his stardom surprised me a bit, so I half-intentionally committed to continue to ignore his music. But you know, that TV which is always on at work succeeded in making his voice an essential part of the background and one YouTube suggestion could then make me appreciate it further… Still, the verdict is staying in-between. I’m not succumbing quite yet. Except to his hair which remind me of an old friend. And this song. This song!

Benjamin Biolay : Then, there is this man, a singing actor or acting singer. Ever since I first heard of him, he had that allure of an important figure of the scene, infinitely loved by some, yet thoroughly misunderstood, or rather just not understood at all, by others. I’m still not sure I really get him. His esthetic seems personal, mostly laid-back and somehow slightly non-conformist without being too pretentious, or maybe just a bit. As much as his name is all over the media place, his songs aren’t, so much so, in contrast to the two above, I had to decide on my own to go listen to his music and see what it is about. One song quickly found her place in the jungle-like atmosphere of the moment in my life, gently affirming ”so, yeah, I’m taking my time, all the time, super-relaxed” as if to say so what, I’m cool… in various layers of it. Now, I’m cool with him.

Till next time, where I’m back again with some actual new names.