Monday, 19 November 2012

Amsterdam, the Post-CaDansa

CaDansa is over. Mostly everyone got back to their homes. But not for me, yet. Having still another day to carry one, I choose to head north and spend my day in Amsterdam, to see the not only the capital of the Flat Lands, but also to see how different and why the majority of the Dutch don't fancy Amsterdam that much.
We could say that being Amsterdam the capital of the country, just for this reason, the amount of tourism happening there is far superior to the rest of Netherlands and this can cause, in a medium/long term a shift in the way the city works, to be more capable of satisfying the tourist's needs hence making it loose part of its identity. Not that tourists change the way of things, but they have an impact and the locals change their atitude to make more out of what they make for a living, and that is what shapes it's identity.
But let's not carry on through ideas that would take too long to process. Let's keep it more simple, for now.

The morning started blindfolded, as the mist only allowed us to glimpse only the first meters of the low lands, giving it a more mysterious, catching look. It felt like walking in the void and as you walk more and more, new houses, people, bicycles get lost in the midst but other yet unseen surprises come along.
When at the rail station, I farewelled Ricardo whom I came with from Eva's, and each took it's separate path - he back to Lisbon; I to Amsterdam.

A little more than half an hour rail journey separate Utrecht from Amsterdam. And as agreed on the first night, I met up with Kirsten in the morning, to see the city through the perspective of an Amsterdamer. Taking me through the places she enjoyed the most, avoiding the most touristy places, which for her don't really make stamp for what the city is, we went did quite a nice walk about, with ease enough to appreciate the organisation of the canals, the continuous massive use of bicycles, the stillness movement of the city; laughs and characters walking around, making funny noises and silly expressions.

We then head to the back of the Central Station, to get on the ferry which, for those that don't know, it's free of charge to take you across the river. Still misty, which would prolong throughout the whole day, we faced the void and saw only an impression of how Amsterdam was like through the riverside. Once we head back again to the station, Kirsten had to leave me be to go to her university, leaving to me the job of driving around with a better notion of what, for an Amsterdamer has more importance.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the ridiculousness of beautifully boat houses. They are everywhere! Big, small, in need of reparation, taken out from the architecture magazine, you name it. You see of all kinds and types, for every sort of tastes. No wonder the Dutch are so tranquil and easy going, when the place they live in is right next to the water, movable to one's like, the same way snails are: home carriers.

When looking along the river seemed too much already, I turned left and went down, and down I went, to be lost in Amsterdam. There was a place I didn't visited. That place was the red light district. I have curiosity to see how it is displayed and how people react to that but to be honest, this trip was meant not to include the red light district. It just didn't crossed my mind during my long walk through the districts.

More lively and noisy, as the day went on so did the people in the city and foreigners. Lights began to lid; the sun, hidden in the white silk pillow, faded away and day gave more and more room for the evening to come. And at that point, I took Kirsten's invitation to go and have a dinner at her place, right before heading back to London.

Amazing food, that's what I ate at her's. A delicious, tender risotto leftover (enough to made want to try it again) accommodated my tummy for hours to come. A lot of talking to the mix filled the rest of the time I spent with her and Jordy, her boyfriend and around one hour before my departure, I thanked them all for the kindness and left, with Kirsten as she was heading for her waterpolo class. Two kisses, a hug and wishes of good luck was all I could say before I faced the horrifying eleven hour journey back to London. Despite the cheap fare, I might say it doesn't make worth the time you spend on the coach, also giving the fact that the seats on Megabus are not particularly the most comfortable in the world. 

Anyhow, I arrived London at the same time sun rose up in the sky. Went home, left my rucksack down, took a nice warm shower and grabbed my material to attend the morning classes at uni. Though the fatigue, my soul is fully happy, but with the desire for a few more adventures...!

And for now, we stay here.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cadansa - final round

Last day of CaDansa... like in every other festival, the last day is always the most demanding. Not because of being the last, but the accumulation of tiredness can be so much that even making a simple step could demand a lot more than usual. And there's of course the big small detail that is saying farewell to the whole family.

The sun came out sunny and bright, making us fell terribly happy to have the opportunity to see sun in the flat lands. Less bright was the fact that we woke up rather late, thus late that we missed pretty much the entire first concert of the day, which would last until dinner time.
The emotion was in the air, people were a bit nostalgic, despite the smiles, tiredness and spinnings around - they wouldn't stop until the very end - but we had bands that made us move, move enough to hold and dance the very last compass.

Also, we had offerings from Santa Claus, who gave some surprises to the ones that decided to leave their shoe behind at CaDansa. I didn't left mine because of the uncomfortableness of cycling back on the midst, but Eva, who had a broken feet, offered to share her shoes and let me use one of hers hence having gotten from him the most diverse christmassy biscuits and a pin, that I know keep safe as one of the many memories of this festival.

Music went on, and on; and we followed it, dancing and running and spinning, and talking and massaging our crying legs, or backs, or just relaxing, with our eyes closed, enjoying the purity and melody of the tunes played by the most amazing folk musicians.
Still, the cloak room started to be emptied out, and the first people started to leave the halls, to make their journey back home. At this point, music almost stopped and everyone got envolved, hugging and saying a few last words, making sure contact wouldn't be lost, nor the people forgotten.
It is odd to think how much this moment meant to me... I felt almost like I was leaving a big, broad family, made of everyone there: the organisers, volunteers, musicians, dancers... everyone got, one way or another, connected by the magic of these three days we spent at Utrecht, moved by the music announced. Many friends were discovered, others maybe something more than that (who knows?), but anyhow, seeing everyone getting ready to get back to their daily lives made me feel rather sad, but with a smile on the face.

Because I know that, even though countries might separate most of us apart, we all have folk music in our hearts, and we need just another event like this to get the family back again together. To see that look in the eyes, the shiver that runs you down at the first blow of that tune that you love so much; the wildness of those bourrées, the intimacy of that mazurka... the cheerfulness of those cercles. 

Give me just another change, and we'll be together again very, very soon.

And for now, we stay here.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cadansa - first round

The night was short, and the rest little. It was around 10 a.m when we were woken up by Eva, for a gourmet breakfast. A breakfast like this is something I didn't experienced in a very long time: delicious and vast, enough to fill a whole CaDansa group of people. And we needed it, even though we had no appetite for more than just the necessary. This was going to be a very long day so, we decided to take it very slowly and calm.
No of us portuguese people staying at Eva's had booked any workshop - out of 10, seven were portuguese! - hence giving us room to rest a bit more, if needed, talk, play the piano, which of the morning, was indeed the nicest thing we did, until everyone was awake, fresh and alive, ready for a very looong day.

Even though we could have had straight to the ball, we found clever to visit the centre first. Also because Tatiana needed an elastic wrist and Ana was looking for some Stroopwafels, a two large flat waffle cookie, with caramel in the middle, from a specific vending stall in the market, indicated to her to be one of the best to have in Utrecht. Though short, our ride to the centre (always on bicycle), we were yet able to have a good impression of it. Very simple, small flats displayed in a very organised, clean city, filled with bicycles in every corner of the city, with a grand, old tower of a cathedral, rising to the top at the very center of the city, to see and be seen from every spot around the city. Quite magnificent Dom Tower is. Biggest church tower in the whole of the flat lands and marks the very point from which the city began to expand, since around 2000 years; gothic in style.

As the day turned into night, we look at our interpretations of time and cycled back to the ball, were magic would be made. And my guess wasn't wrong.
Batteries recharged, mind set and mood on the right spot. Still, I was many times surprised for what I was witnessing... simpleness and beauty. I think the beauty of those two words can describe what I lived during this time. And because word miss me to fully tell you what I've seen, let photographs explain you the rest...

It was around 3.00 a.m when the official ball ended. And tiredness was the look on everyone's faces. Happy, but tired. Despite the time though, the jam session was still coming, with a game right before it. This game was more of a chalenge for the musicians rather than the dancers. It was called Battle Mazurka. In this game, the musicians playing had to play any music they liked, that not a mazurka and, after the end of it, play that same song, as a mazurka. A funny game to relax and enjoy transit from the heath of the ball to the peacefulness of the jam.

At the end of it, the few remaining dancers helped cleaning and making the hall tidy again for the incoming sessions and workshops of the last day of what was being so far the right place to be.

And for now, we stay here.