Saturday, 22 September 2012

Oh London,

Where have you been all this time? Gods from the Olympia came down to watch what you had to display. Their athletes, their fans, their opposites. Such exuberant, lively city that seems to have room for everyone willing to adapt to the impositions this city makes to the ones that endure here. But where where you?

You have a bit of everything here. A little more than 7 million people living in the same city... I think it is normal to feel the rush and pressure of such amount of wonders and wishful thoughts.

Things can be rough, but also cheerful; You to decide, no matter where.
For now, I'll stay here. A few travels are waiting for me and I for them.
But for now, I stay here.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The city of Knowledge

The other day I left home to pay a visit to my grandma. We went three days and although short, it was very well enjoyed time seeing and knowing everyone's whereabouts and health. Though older and troubles apart, we still often see many smiles and warmth from them. Isn't this better than money?

As a gift to you, I show you know the place of my birth. The city of Knowledge, Coimbra.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Looking for Spain - The last journey

The next morning was dedicated to look around to some of very interesting things that Coruña has. One of those is probably the most ancient, still working lighthouse in the whole world: Hercule's Tower. Unfortunately, after a restoration, I look at the tower and feel like it lost part of its history. Not saying that the Tower is bad, that is not where I want to get. I'm just stating that, by looking at this reconstructed tower, built on 2 century A.D., all polished and even re-designed, I feel like the stories of such ancient lighthouse were somehow lost with its legends. The story, that gets engraved in their walls, like scars in our bodies, are covered to make you look at something that is not Hercule's Tower anymore but something brand new; a whole new Tower, not Hercule's anymore...

Anyhow, it felt funny to go inside such old foundations and having to walk all the way up, to the balcony, imagining how could it have been to see, through the same balcony, fleets of ships, sailing to distant lands; guiding the course of incoming boats, through the misty, tempestuous night to get to shore; and the way this same place around looked like before… how many more rivers did it had? how few houses, and how much landscape... it seems that some views over the tower still look like unchanged, apart from a little path leading to the very edge of the hill, leading to a solar watch, gaining control over the time, without the need of a wrist to hold such weight.

Because of some arguments we had with the GPS to see a prime spot at Bilbao, I managed to persuade all to go to the hill over Coruña, to have a grasp over the city and the surrounding sea, and enjoy of the comfort of the grass, the freshness of the wind, the smoothness of the clouds and the happiness of a very nice time.

But yet we had to move on, like gaining conscience of becoming close and closer from your home; this sense of feeling that we are more than half way through. That home is nearer.
Anyhow, we carried on. Towards the end of the world, it was. It's name, Finisterre, literally says the end of the world. And it was believed that Finisterre was associated with the edge of the world, according to Pre-Christian beliefs. Also, it is a very special location for pilgrims, for it is the place where, after the pilgrimage, there is this sense of re-birth and the place where one physically burns his one-self. Such place as Finisterre.

Being no pilgrims nor rubber tramps, although apparently making similar routes with them, we journeyed on, back to Santiago de Compostela, to see the wonder that the city brings to the people from there. As we got in, after the middle of the day and walked about, what I felt about the city, despite all its beauty and history and sublimeness was the reason why people go to Santiago. More than half of the people we where crossing paths with or along where there because of the cathedral; because of the pilgrimage; because of their beliefs. The epicentre of the city was the cathedral and, the larger amount of people were gathered around it. The mass was still on so what we saw could not be photographed, for respect over the ones praying inside.

We all knew that this was gonna be our last day. That after this day we would get to the comfort of our house but yet so many places were kept away from us... so much more we could have seen...! And yet, we were still moving on; this time towards the beautiful city of Vigo, following the increasingly descending trajectory of the sun.

Arriving in Vigo was somehow like arriving at Porto. So many similarities between both cities, despite the divergences on the landscape. What I am trying to say is that the ambience of the city is very alike Porto's, which can kind of enhance this amiableness that we often see between the north of Portugal and the very North West of Spain.
Adding to that, there was an event being held in Vigo at that time. It was sponsored by Red Bull and everyone was able to use the platforms and toys they had in display for the one that felt like doing it, could give it a go. This gathering made the city so much alive, with music dancing around the long avenues near the river, the massive amounts of people gathered around the rings where one could see break dancers performing many times better than what you usually would, many kids trying to do and learn some new tricks on the boards and a crowd, happy and pleased to be able to see such event.

But more intense and beautiful to witness was not the event being held, but the view of Vigo. The light had been going down beautifully and it was promising to be astonishing; One great enough to be remembered for days to come! Hence, at the established time, I set out and started doing this panorama, telling a small tale of a city, that being covered with darkness of the night, gets illuminated, and clouds change their colour to that of fire, while the rest of them are slowly, step by step darkened more and more until we see them no more and all that's left is of the city.

After a well deserved dinner, as farewelling such great journey, we set course to the warmth of our house, where we would get in about 3 hours, from Vigo.
We were tired, grumpy and not willing to store all we had brought with us. We hence went to bed and left the next day to rest and start establishing to the new pace, for as little as possible, before the very next travel of Eoin.

And for now, we stay here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Looking for Spain - How long until we get there?

The sun rose up early in the summer of Spain. And so were we. Before having to leave the city of lions, we took the time to wander about a little more. The first stop was the beautiful St Marcos church. Although it looked simple-looking from the outside, I got surprised about what was inside of it. Likewise the facade, the interior was romanic, with a touch of baroque on the junctions of the church, making it a rather undressed, yet beautiful to see church. But the main hall was not the only surprise for us. As we walked in, soon we realised of the "hidden" rooms and exhibitions that the St. Marco's had to show us. From sculptures to pieces of porcelain to whole rooms, this was a rather encounter!

Yet, we couldn't afford to remain more time in the church, nor in Leon, as other lands were waiting for us. Thus, after a quick snack, we departed again to lands beyond our grasp. 

Our initial idea was that of setting course to Coruña but, the country surprised us with two unknown marvels. The first one, which was what convinced us to leave the road… was Astorga's cathedral. It's grandness can be compared with the one of Leon, yet less known. What we didn't know was that this cathedral would blow my head away. Such detailed, accurate work on stone; such dimensions and elaborate refinements; the light and colour cast inside it; it's incredibly large, tall pillars that sustain such presentation… no wonder that when christianism was spreading around, building like this would have an immense part on the convincing of the non-believers!

Astorga's cathedral was not the only surprise that Astorga brought to us. Oh no! Right around the corner, another building stood up for us to enter in. It was nothing but Gaudi's Palace. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take pictures and even if I tried to sneak some frames, few were the places where a CCTV camera wouldn't caught me doing it. Anyway, just to introduce you a bit about it, this palace was initially built by the hand of Gaudi to be a residential house for the clerk people travelling to Astorga. But the palace never did it's job and now what we see is a fully prepared palace, adorned in the same fashion as the Sacred Family's House, in Barcelona. Nonetheless, the palace itself is already taken out from a fantasy book from the outside and the interior of it only push it upper, to the realm of Heaven (thinking of this as a work to God's shepherds).

Being a bit frustrated for not having been able to explore Gaudi's palace more, and seeing the sun going ever more to west, we left and got back to our first set route. Having nothing to complain about, apart from the photograph issue at Gaudi's, and full of memories and stories to think about, I fell asleep.
When my eyes opened again, I was at the outskirts of La Coruña, seeing from the window the urbanised immensity of the city: the noise, traffic, agglomeration of people and the never stopping sound that a big city always makes. Yet, I was a awe, for memories of previous trips to Coruña had just came to my mind. Hence, not yet we had a place to stay, already was I talking about bits and deeds to see and do.

Our accommodation was arranged on the south side of Coruña. Even though we were a bit off the centre, this location was ideal to leave early in the morning, avoiding all the just waken up metropolitan peak-time. It was not much of a deal for us though, for we'd rather spend less and travel more over being closer to everything and pay double or tripple. Let those who have condition to restrain their wander to the best of comforts take such places. Let us walk, drive, sweat and feel, at the end of the day, somehow like our bodies are reaching it's limits, only to realize the next day that there are still strengths to carry on, for when the fire of will still burns, we shall always more forth.

Many things are yet to be seen here, but that will stay for tomorrow.
Because now, we stay here.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Looking for Spain - The Spanish Lion

A small, fast night took us hold, though more that what we needed, and we set loose again. The magnificence of Picos was still on my mind; yet I could not stay longer there. The call of the wild was not strong enough… no worries though, as it will be not long the next call.
Tiredness was amongst us, but we carried on. Even though our backs, constrained for a majority of the time, stuck to the shape of the seat, shouted for a long walk, we carried on.

The sun was having his tea break when we go to the city of the lion. Open, wide and ancient were my first impressions about Leon, a city with more than a lot of history. Even before talking about Leon, as a city, I want to tell you a story.
When I was 17, on my second year of high school we planned a trip, alongside Philosophy. This school trip was meant for us to come, spend 2 days having a good time with our mates and, at the same time, discover a little more about Leon and the arts that there exists. There was a bit of a controversy when not all of the people where able to go to Leon but in the end I got chosen to be part of that experience.
However, something big came that made it impossible for me to attend it. My alarm didn't rang and when supposed to be at school, my body still rested on the comfort of the bed. I was awaken by a friend and, when realized about the circumstanced, make my way as fast as possible to try to make it. Unfortunately, the teachers were too impatient and started the way without me. You now may think of what I am about to say as it karma maybe but, because there was a scheduled program and they wanted to arrive early at Leon to visit MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon) and the coach left at the arranged, without me, when at Leon, everyone had to wait one hour for the museum to open, more than enough time to join them.
Anyway, I am not here to talk about the amazing trip friends of mine had and I didn't because even though I wanted to have been there with them, I knew someday I would come here. And the time has come.

The colours of the city: warm and vibrant. Happy, emotional casts that made me feel very comfortable there. Plus, the stories of the past trip gave an extra punch, as I tried to recreate and imagine whereabouts and how they were, either through the pictures, histories or videos that came to me.
Enough story, though. As we got inside Leon's cathedral, after the first staggering impression about the delicacy and detailed ornamentation of it, it was the people, and how they fancied looking up. Almost every people was starring up, as if trying to find something. And as you may have noticed already, they had some unusually big phones. There were nothing more, nothing less, than audio guides, like the ones you get on museums (sometimes) to help you understanding what was and why was made that way. Funny to see, educative to listen. I just hoped that the voice of the phone was one of an old, story telling man... Oh, how lovely would be to walk around and listen to the many tales behind such amazing architectural constructions!

From the back of the cathedral, a 5 minute walk separated us from the hostel we stayed at. Although in the very heart of Leon, this one revealed itself very cosy, warm (like the city) and cheap! After this first walk about, we picked up our things and head to the rooms. First, to confirm a room and avoid hours of search. Secondly, to take a nice, cold summer shower, the thing to do when the heat rises up. And being in the city of the spanish lion, how could such city not be warm?

Because we didn't adventure ourselves on these lands to stay at the hostels, we left again, before sunset to see the warmest colour cast shinning on an indeed warm city. People look friendly, smooth and vibrant, yet very to themselves, making it a rather comfortable city to walk around for, and get lost.

Right before the sun faded away, we were at the very point where the river breaks through the city. Here, I looked at a statue that, hand held up in the hair, points towards the light; also to the way we are meant to go next.

And for now, we stay her...