Saturday, 31 March 2012

Vienna, a marathon

The days were long. Even longer were the nights spent at the sound and company of those who love music and folk dancing. A calm intensity hovers in the air that marks the beat of our hearts, feeling the joy and wonders of a family gathering. For it is this magic the reason why we, from so far of on the globe, travelled such distances to be here... now... in Vienna, for the Folk Marathon, held from the 28th of December until the 2nd of January, 2012.

Changing in venues around the city, genres of folk music, what made this event special and intim was the fact that there were no 'official' bands: all the people playing at this gathering were mere music lovers who offered to the directors of the Marathon either workshops of a particular kind of dance, music workshop, themselves for the night gigs or even the three of them. Thus, this happening is the consequence of enthusiasts that want to give and share what they know with whoever might come. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Noo! This is real; I can feel it in my bones, see it with my eyes, listen it with my hears... and they are not playing around with me!

Like any other's new year's eve, we also had ours, Vienna Folk Marathon way. A bit before midnight, after already plenty of dancing, everyone stopped and started heading to the river. On the way there we started to see some firework. Apparently, from what I was told, it's legal for people to buy their own firework. Thus, rather than having a single, massive assembly's firework, Vienna is ran by local firework that runs all night long!

Despite not having firework of our own, we celebrated the new year the best way possible: with folk music and, of course, dancing. What better and more magical way of making the first step into 2012 than being with such a group of magical people, next to the river, playing and dancing at our heart's content...!

It was, so far, one of the most incredible scenes I've ever witnessed. One that I shall repeat, if time and opportunity come to it! If not, I only wish that people get involved in it more and more, to allow it to grow more, and more, and more!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Vienna, the walk around

Vienna, a city that never stopped surprising me. From its history, folklore and museums; the little markets along the canal; their people... this is a city that everyone should breathe.

So it all started on the 28th of December. I was already settled at Cat's house and, between the folk brakes (barely nonexistent), but more after the folky marathon, a city was waiting to be visited.
From the lust of the Palaces that now hold some of the most famous Austrian artists, such as Gustav Klimt; the surreal world of Magritte; to be lost in awe on the streets of the 18th century, once four-occupied city, I went around and around, seeing as much as the time allowed me, considering that the main purpose was the folk marathon, that took almost two thirds of the time I had reserved to be there. I want to focus a section only to the folk marathon, so let's not loose track of things.

One of the highlights in Vienna had nothing to do with the city, nor arts, but it's gastronomy. I was proposed by Manu to see how a proper Apple Strudel is made. We made a shop list and thus walked to the market, to get local apples, to get that Viennese strudel like flavour to it. Even though there are no pictures of it, and no recipe - yet -, I can tell you it was a very funny experience!


Moreover, only the ancient architecture, the german-like influenced structure and soviet palette give the city a very blend, yet unique style. We pass by history and in some parts of Viena, this feeling is very sharp and present.

From ancient churches, cathedrals, palaces, it's music, food, their people, the markets, gardens, views, smells... a world of things to see, do and fell that will for sure let one be astonished by it's magnificent humbleness.

A city that will keep impress many, for as many time time allows it.

PS:. Coming up next, the folk in Vienna :D

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Vienna, not there yet

Last December, I hit the road to Vienna.
Why? Very simple. During Skint, Cat Dowle, one of the organizers of  the event, invited us all to join her and her two friends (organizers) on a folk marathon in Vienna, for 6 days non-stop. By the time of Skint, being the first folk gathering, one could say, in England (I had never been that north in England before as well) I was damn excited! Plus, when the sound of being to Vienna for new year's eve reached my ears, I almost cried in happiness! hehe

From that moment on, I set myself to find the cheapest way to travel to Vienna and, almost one week before going there; my mum and my brother were supposed to join me but she delayed and put so much issues on the time flight, where to sleep (it was already settled), apart from having said at one point that she couldn't afford to go, that I ended up buying it on my own, although all her points where valid and it's understandable that she wasn't sure about everything on this trip, thus making all this fuss.

I bought the tickets, not from Porto (flew there for Christmas) to Vienna, rather to Memmingen, in Germany. The reason? Saving money, of course! And I don't regret a thing about that. Got on the flight one day before the beginning of the marathon; it was already night time when I left the smallest airport I've ever been (it's smaller that a big Sainsbury's :D). However, things didn't quite work out the way I had in mind. I thought, before arriving there that I would spend my night in the airport, the same way I usually stay in Stansted Airport, and when the time comes, get on the train to Vienna. Despite doing that, I soon discovered that the airport shuts its doors at 9.30 p.m, which made me go straight to the station, praying to have a cosy place to  be and wait. Rather, it was a small, open Rail station. Damn! What can I do now?

Not wanting to stay 7 hours on the windy cold, void night, I bought a ticket for a train leaving earlier, with the downside or not of having to change trains 3 times. Because I was in an open space, I had nothing to loose by getting on this train and see how the next station is. And thus I hop in, with a portuguese girl who flew on the same plane as I did. And how small the world is... during the journey to Munchen, I found out that she is friends of people that studied on the same school as me! When the train warned us of the arrival at Munchen, I farewell'd her and saw how open air this station was as well...

Without nothing else to do but wait for the train (still 5 hours) I sat on the bench, took out my sleeping bag and started reading my book. In a matter of a couple of chapters, the weather changed from clear to foggy. It was surreal how focused I was on my reading that didn't let me realize of this change until I stopped for a second, to rest my eyes and see if there was anyone around me. Not much after this, a woman left a parked train, a couple of steps away from me and headed towards me, in the middle of the mist. When realized of this, I started to wonder how could we communicate, as I don't speak or understand german at all! It was indeed a shot taken from a movie scene, for sure.

As she came closer and closer, I started to notice with more detail how and/or who she was: an average middle age chinese woman, with a mop on one hand; a bucket on the other. She stopped, looked to me and talked. Ashamed of not knowing german, I asked if she knew how to speak german. Know she looked to me in a "what are you saying?" way and solved this communication issue with sign language. She pointed to the train, pointed to me, and put both her hands together next to her face and leaned her head. My eyes sparkled, with the vision of a chinese german angel, who just had given permission to sleep, or rather spend the next hours inside a train, protected from the cold of the night!

 How funny can this be, just existing in the void, surrounded my the mist, in a country you've never been, with a native language you don't understand and still, stumble upon such as amazing scene as this.

Eu, todo cego, no comboio em Munchen

A cosy, warm - the heating was on - and empty train to anyone but me for 5 hours. What an experience! What better way to start a journey!?