Category Archives: Joie de vivre


Split was the perfect place to get some rest after a very busy week in Belgrade. I was supposed to stay there just one day, I liked it s much that I stayed three days, and would have stayed more if it wasn’t for the fact that I had things to do in Belgrade. Still, three days were enough to give me a nice sun tan, and sun tan is essential for my personal identity.

…I am too lazy to keep writing and I prefer not to write than writing just for the sake of writing because words are to precious to be wasted, so here are some photos that I took there.

Early in the morning, not long after my bus arrived from Belgrade. I usually prefer to travel during the day to see the views and talk to normal people, but it happens that this time I made so many kilometres that I had to use the nights to travel, otherwise, I would have lost four days…Sleeping on the bus is not exactly my ideal of comfort, but arriving at dawn is very pleasant, because it allows me to observe the cities as they wake up.

In Dalmatia we can still eat ‘jaquinzinhos’. Giving up small fish was the price that we Portuguese had to pay for EU assession. A heavy price for our national identity it was. I just love small fried fish, although I understand that fisheries must be sustainable.

Split is definitivelly a place where I know I shall return. As much as I love the portuguese coast, the Adriatic does have its charm, and it also provides a very nice sun tan!


Filed under Croatia, Delicious food, Joie de vivre

Etre authentique ou ne pas l’etre

This is a guest post by Anais Pirlot.

Anais is my oldest niece. She joined me in Split some days ago, and since then we have been travelling throughout the countries of Former Yugoslavia. Anais is half portuguese half french. She was raised in France, and, as she was growing up, she used to spent almost all her holidays in Portugal with me and the rest of the family. She currently spends most of her time in the United States, so this has been a precious occasion to enjoy her company that I love so much. She has proved to be the perfect travelling companion. Not only she is sweet and funny, but, above all, she is an acute observer, acquainted as she is to live with people of different cultural origins. The questions she makes me about the region, its peoples and its problems are helping me find the best way to make my perspective accessible to people with no previous knowledge on the region.

She wrote it in french and we decided to keep it in french. I apologise to the non-french readers.

“Voilà enfin des gens AUTHENTIQUES” me dit ironiquement Sarah dans le bus qui nous mène au centre de Sarajevo. Je rigole car elle fait référence à une anecdote que je lui ai raconté à propos de certains clichés.

En partant pour l’Europe de l’Est, j’appelle mon père une dernière fois depuis l’aéroport. Il me félicite de voyager tant et me fait cette remarque qui m’est restée en travers de la gorge comme une arrête de poisson: “Ah, bah là au moins tu vas rencontrer des gens authentiques” (c’est à peu près ce qu’il m’a dit). Sachant que ces 6 derniers mois j’ai passé le plus clair de mon temps à voyager à travers les États-Unis, il faisait allusion à ces américains tellement globalisés, consommants, consommés et industrialisés qu’on se demande s’ils sont encore humains.

Mais quel stéréotype ignorant! De tout ce que j’aime des États-Unis, ce que je préfère ce sont justement les gens; leur enthousiasme, leur convivialité, leur liberté qui leur permet cette informalité si chaleureuse. Sans parler de leur respect du travail.

Que c’est drôle alors de constater la difficulté d’obtenir rien qu’un sourire ou un bonjour d’un serbe ou d’un croate, ces gens si authentiques*… Mais voilà qu’a Sarajevo, oú les gens ont tant souffert, tout le monde sourit et est heureux de voir que l’on apprécie leur ville. Les gens sont enthousiastes et aiment vivre ici. C’est sans doute ce qui fait que leur ville est si belle aujourd’hui. Quant à savoir si cela fait d’eux des gens authentiques, j’en laisse le soin à d’autres, moi ça ne m’intéresse pas.

Photos: Above, an ‘authentic’ kid playing hiding with Anais on the bus from Belgrade to the suburb of Sarajevo called ‘East Sarajevo’. Bellow, an ‘authentic’ old man riding his bike in the centre of Sarajevo.


Filed under Bosnia, Joie de vivre

LEONARD COHEN IN LISBON: thank you for such a wounderful concert!

Yesterday was one of those days that make me thank my parents for not having stopped at their ninth child.

20 years ago, Leonard Cohen gave a concert in Cascais. I didn’t go, but my brother did. After that, he couldn’t stop himself from listening to Leonard Cohen. I listened too. I had no choice. I am not deaf, and unlike our eyes that we can shut, there is no way not to ear, when your older brother (actually my 6th older brother) is the one who owns the tape recorder. Being the 10th of 12 children has its advantages. Of course I am not expecting those who have small families to understand that. It doesn’t matter, thanks to my brothers and sisters and my mother and father, I grew up listening to lots of music that my own generation didn’t have the chance to appreciate.

Yesterday I had the chance to listen to Leonard Cohen live in Lisbon. It was a wonderful evening. The night fell smoothly as Leonard Cohen and his band gifted the audience with almost 3 hours of the best of his best music. I hope that one day, when I get old and my brain starts deteriorating, and that I loose my memory and my reason, my heart may still remember the joy I felt for being there and how light I was feeling afterwords.

I am posting a You tube with one of the musics from last night. This you tube video was recorded in May 2008, in one of the concerts of his current tour. I admire Leonard Cohen above all as a poet. For me he is above all a poet, a poet that also composes and sings. Leonard Cohen is one of the reasons why I love the English language. His lyrics inspire me, and those readers that happen to know me personally know that I frequently quote him.

However, I chose a song whose lyrics are not his. Take this Waltz is a tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca, a poet that left too many poems unwritten. He was assassinated by spanish fascists for the simple reason that they didn’t like him. He was too independent, too non-conformist and too cosmopolitan. They just couldn’t stand him so they took him, he lost his life and we lost the chance to admire his poems yet to be written. Thanks to Leonard Cohen many people who would otherwise never come across into Lorca’s poetry had the chance to get to know him. A beautiful way to honour his memory.

Federico Garcia Lorca’s body was never recovered. An olive tree was planted in the place where he was shot.

Update: Here you can find some you tubes from the Lisbon Concert (and a link to my own blog).


Filed under Art, Joie de vivre, Lisbon, Non-conformism, Portugal, Spain