Monday, June 30, 2008

Seal European tour 08: Tallinn Seal promises to return

Seal European Tour 08: Tallinn

Weekend delights

This weekend offered me 2 excellent experiences. SEAL concert on Saturday and Euro Cup 2008 final and Spain winning it.

Seal was just as good as i expected him to be. It is a bit tricky, going to a concert with high expectations, but luckily he's so good that he managed to fulfil my expectations. His voice is so powerful that even the sound of Saku Suurhall was okay this time. And of course, he's pure sex on stage, the way he can move his, well:) But, the best part was his way of communicating with the audience. One of his very few requirements for the concerts was to have the barriers in front of the stage removed so he could be closer to the people. Excellent!

The Euro Cup final was also as good as expected. Two excellent teams were playing and the better one won. I was cheering for Spain anyway, but even if i wasn't, they were so boviously better than the Germans, and they surely deserved the win after 44 years. Viva Espana!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lawrence Arabia - Talk About Good Times

I saw those guys performing as Feist's warm-up act and i found them to be quite good. They had good live sound and they were down-to-earth and funny. This song is somehow captivating, with the mellow tune and freaky lyrics.
Hope you like them too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


When it comes to decisionmaking i've established i get more indecisive once i start asking for advice. Maybe it's because other people do not want to take any responsibility whatsoever. Come on, people, i just need to know what you think, i've actually got a mind of my own and the final decision will still be my own...

Now that i think about it, several of the biggest decisions in my life i've made completely on my own and they've been good ones - like my job, my home and so on - beacause i've had a good feeling about them. Maybe i should just trust myself more.

Now, before you start thinking who knows what, i'm only talking about trying to buy a car:) I am hopeless in this, all the time i THINK i have to ask for advice because what do i know about cars, but maybe i should just go and get one that suits the shoe's i'm wearing or the colour of my eyes. I just don't have very strong feelings about cars, so my gut feeling's been kind of out of it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Portugal travel letter: finale

I head back to Lisbon for my last day, just to enjoy the city and the hostel some more. We watch Portugal winning 3:1 against the czechs and I even take the tram back to Belem to buy the pastries for my family. I have had a VERY good trip and I think doing it alone was actually the best idea.

What Portugal has given me:
- 5 new friends on facebook and loads more nice aqcuintances
- understanding that travelling alone is actually really fine
- lots and lots of good memories
- ass of steel and calves of iron from all the walking on the hills of Lisbon and Porto
- my first sunburn this year
- satisfaction

What Portugal has taken from me:
- piece of my heart
- 2 kg-s off my body weight
- all my money:) (not that I care – money comes and goes) and to be fair, loads of it was already spent in London and most of it was spent on me, myself and I

Feist - Secret Heart (live in Porto Jun 08)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Portugal travel letter: morto Porto

It’s Monday now, not that it matters what weekday it is, when travelling. But, suitably for a normal Monday, it doesn’t have to be pleasant. Most of my day is spent on a train from south to Lisbon to Porto – altogether it takes more than 7 hours. It’s not so bad though, I sleep and I’ve got my iPod and my new Nick Hornby book. But I still can’t say that “time just flies by”. I arrive allright and find the hostel allright, which is on a hill in the center. Surprise, surprise, Porto is even hillier than Lisbon. The hostel (Oporto Poets Hostel) is allright too, but not quite as nice as Traveller’s House. Their best asset is however the beautiful inyard with a hammock. It’s already evening but I decide to take a first look at the city but it’s not welcoming me. It’s Monday evening, which is like a resting day for Porto people and everyone stays at home or goes to the movies, since it’s cheaper on Mondays and so the town is quite dead – morto Porto. It’s the first time during this trip when I don’t feel so safe walking around on my own. Instead of the old ladies I got used to in Lisbon, there are some old guys commenting me as I walk buy and clacking their tongues very rudely. I head back to the hostel and decide to give Porto a fair chance the next morning.

It’s Tuesday morning and after a good night sleep I start my day early. The weather is stunning and Porto immediately seems nicer. I must say it’s a really gorgeous city. It’s a little dirty and ragged and very old and beautiful. If anything, Porto reminds me most of Marrakech, except that it’s more hilly and the houses are higher. I think Porto looks exactly as I thought Marrakech would look like before seeing it. I walk and walk and walk all through the city and enjoy the sights and the narrow streets and peeping into the lives of the locals through their open doors and windows. It’s a holiday and most of them are home – the children are playing on the streets, the men are watching football and the women are either just gossiping among themselves or cleaning up their homes, whilst listening to music and singing along to it. I get the feeling that it is important to them that their own homes and in front of their homes is really clean, especially when I see a woman religiously scrubbing the street right in front of her door. Even if there is dog shit and smell of pee 3 meters away, she can be sure her home is a clean sanctuary. It’s funny though, there’s definitely a lot of dog shit but I don’t really see dogs, all I see is cats everywhere, many meagre-looking cats, sitting on porches and stairs everywhere.
I have my lunch at the riverbank, eating some grilled sardines and having a glass of white wine. And then I walk some more, concentrating at the riverside ribeira. I buy a bottle of Port for my parents, I get a really good quality port, but it’s still only 7 euros. The port here is incredibly cheap. I would buy more, but I’m already over the capacity of my suitcase, what with all the stuff I’ve already bought from London and Lisbon.
In the evening I join a couple of Americans and a Dutch girl to go to Feist concert. I’m only hoping there’s some tickets left because the Lisbon concert was already sold out before I even started my trip. I’m in luck again and get to see Feist!! Her performance is (borrowing from Americans) awesome! She is superb live and the venue is great – like a small theatre – with great acoustic and just enough people. In addition to getting the audience sing along just beautifully, there’s also the whole visual part to her show as one girl is creating pictures and stories on a screen during the songs. It’s truly like watching a beautiful music video. After the concert me and the Dutch girl speak to a woman from Feist’s crew. The Dutch girl met her earlier that day at port tasting and she’d put her on the list and now she gets to thank her. I get a piece of it too as she gives us some really nice tour t-shirts.

Just a little sidenote – Porto is oozing a bit of gay vibe. I see many gay people around here, on the streets and at the concert and also in the hostel. Like, for instance, the receptionist guy is gay, for sure, and the receptionist girl seems to be as well, and there’s also a French lesbian couple staying at the hostel. The receptionist girl seems to be flirting with me before I go to Feist concert and when I come back from it and when I’m leaving the hostel and thanking them for my stay, she says: “It was nice having you….well, not quite;)”

Portugal travel letter: heading South

Today is my last day in Lisbon for now. I walk around town some more. I’ve gotten to the point which I really enjoy, where I sense that I’m feeling the city already a bit, know my way around and can already return to some places, rather than seeing them for the first time. I meet J for coffee and he shows me a couple of more hidden gems of Lisbon – nice views and funky shops. And then it’s time to gather my stuff and take the bus to South.

Everyone I’ve met during this trip seems to be heading to Lagos, when going south, but I have the privilege of avoiding the most touristic spots and stay in a little place near the beach of Senhora da Rocha. This is thanks to the nice coincidences that tend to happen when travelling. It was only in London that I discovered that J&Z’s friend P has a place here, well, his parents do, anyway. I’m in luck and the place is free and P is coming down for the weekend, too.

The next 2 days are very chill and relaxed. There’s not much to do in south anyway, but chill and relax. It’s got gorgeous beaches but other than that it’s as plastic and artificial as you’d expect from a place which has so many sunny days a year and has been turned into tourist attraction. We get some sun and I get a slight sunburn, my first one this year:) and we eat some really good fresh fish. You know it’s fresh when the waiter tells you he’s caught it the same day and it tastes really delicious. I’m not quite sure what are the traditional Portuguese dishes but when down here, fish is definitely something to go for. Oh, and sardines, fresh from the grill, they tend to eat them a lot and so do we.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Portugal travel letter: around Lisbon

My third day in Portugal starts very slowly. Today I’m gonna head off to discover the surroundings of Lisbon, but I can’t get out of the Traveller’s House before noon. I guess I should´ve slept more than 5 hours after last night’s bar crawl, which was good fun. I wasn’t as drunk as most of the group but I had the good company of Missy and Joao.

When I finally do get out of the house I head to the picturesque little town called Sintra. It reminds me of some of the small towns in southern France, especially the one I visited on my way from Cannes to Monaco…can’t remember its name though. Another guy from the hostel, Adriano, has advised on where to go and what do eat in Sintra and I do pretty much everything he’s told me to, which includes eating 2 very tasty and extremely sweet pastries – the pastries seem to be all I’m eating around here.

I also walk around Quinta da Regalia, a strange and mystical place with palaces, gardens, secret caves and wells and even tennis courts from olden times. They say it has symbols and elements of alchemy and freemasonry but I only find this out later However, it does get the mind running free. Take the well of initiation, for example, I can just imagine that at some point this could’ve been the sacrifice spot, with the sacrifice taking place at the bottom of it, with spectators standing on the stairs, looking down with their faces masked.

From Sintra I head to Cabo da Roca – now this is the westernmost point of continental Europe, one of my main soul searching destinations, so I try really hard to think about my life and if there’s anything I wanna change in it or do I like it the way it is…however, all I manage to think about is that I’m really-really tired and that I’m cold, because it’s extremely windy and I’m not dressed appropriately. Well, that much about soul searching then.

From Cabo da Roca I head to the seaside town Cascais. Ideally, had I left Lisbon earlier, I would’ve gone to the beach here, but since it’s rather late I just take the train back to town, where I join 5 American girls to dinner in a nice little place called …(have to look it up and add later). I have squid. I try to give Americans the benefit of doubt and during this trip I do meet several very intelligent and nice exceptions, but what am I to say if after talking about Estonia for quite a while and establishing that we do have our own language there, the girl next to me still goes: “That is amazing! I didn’t know Estonia was a country!” I mean, if you don’t know it, but have learned from the conversation already, you should know better to not say it out loud.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Portugal travel letter: Lisbon

I arrive in Lisbon on Tuesday evening after some more shopping in London and a tiring flight. I don't know what it is about travelling. You sit on a plane and do nothing but end up being knackered. Getting to the hostel is easy, because they've done a good job at explaining and it costs only 3 euros, which is a nice change after paying 17.90 pounds only to get from Victoria station to Gatwick Airport.

The hostel is called Traveller's House and is, in one word, amazing. It looks really cute - more like someone's home than a hostel, they have an excellent choice of background music (very important for me) and the people here go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. Make you feel at home. And it's a perfect place for solo travellers asthe whole communal area is so cozy that no one stays in their rooms. I stay in for the first night, because very conveniently there's a portuguese food tasting night.

On Wednesday i start my Lisbon day. One of the guys from the hostel - Joao, a slightly flirty and very attentive guy - gives me pointers of what he as a local suggests i should do in Lisbon. He really helps me with everything - where to go, which trams to take and where to buy the best pasteis. As it turns out, his information proves very helpful indeed.

I spend the whole morning wandering around Alfama, one of the oldest districts of Lisbon. They say Alfama has a slight North-African feeling to it so i keep comparing it to Marrakech. On one hand there are similarities, as the streets really are maze-like and seem to lead to nowhere and it's easy to get lost. On the other hand, it's cleaner and i think, newer, than Marrakech and what's oh so different is that when Marrakech it's all about zouks and it's loud and lively then here it's very-very quiet. I walk around the streets sometimes completely alone, occasionally spotting some lady hanging out the clothes to dry or just dreamily looking out of the window. Everyone says "Bom dia!" and i say it back or sometimes i just smile and it seems to break the ice nicely. I love Alfama, it's got a very good vibe.

I head to the other part of town for lunch. Joao has told me that the best place to get the famous pasties is a shop at Belem - Pasteis de Belem it's called. Those little cream custard tarts don't look like anything special but they totally live up to their reputation once you taste them. They melt on the tongue...heavenly! The rest of the afternoon i take a look at the Barrio Alto - an area which comes to life at night once all the bars and clubs open; and the Chiado district and also the "home neighbourhood" around the hostel, called Baixa.

I should also mention that all those districts - except for Baixa - are situated on hills, all of them on different ones, which means a lot of step aerobics up and down and up and down the hills. There are trams going but who am i to take the easy way out? However, at the end of the day you're boound to have calves of steel, but at least the lunch-time million calories from the pasteis have been spent.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Portugal travel letter: London interlude

On my way to Portugal i make a stopover in London. There are cheaper flights from London to Lisbon and oh so convienently S and J live in London, so my stopover lasts 4 days.

London, lovely London greets me with its regular busyness. Arriving at Victoria tube station it still surprises me how fast people walk here. It's as if they're running for a train, which they probably are. It doesn't matter if you have a suitcase to carry, you have to keep up with their tempo to not be in anyone's way. However, as i've mentioned already, the whole tube system is brilliant, once you get it, you'll find it's really simple and efficient.

I arrive at my host and hostess's place without any fuss and we have a quiet evening at home to gather strength for the weekend. The next day we decide to drive out of town. I think it's a great idea. Every time i come to visit, all i see is London, so this will be a nice change. We head for Cambridge. It's a nice town, a true student town with colleges all over the place. The centre of town is virtually car-free, so it's very layd back and quiet and perfect for a truly chill-out day. We eat and drink, learn how to make fudge (i'll add a video later), buy some jewellery from a lady who among other things makes glass beads from old Perrier and Bombay Sapphire bottles and relax by the river.

In the evening it's party time. Some of S&J's friends come over and we go out to have some drinks at Beach Blanket. I meet P, J's best mate. Whom, strangely enough, i haven't had a pleasure to meet during all those years i've known J and all thos numerous times i've been to London. Well, mistake corrected. The evening goes buy in a smooth continuous flow and we have a truly great time. There's an unexpected burlesque performance on the bar counter. The dancer's boobs initiate a dispute among us wheteher they're real or not. I think they're real because they're look too good to be fake. Later the same dancer sits next to us at the bar and during a conversation with her i find out that the performance was for her good friend's birthday and thet her own boyfriend doesn't mind and oh, the boobs aren't real, but she takes my opinion as a compliment.
The next day - Sunday - goes buy as lazyly as a hangover Sunday is supposed to pass. Me and S try to get some shopping done but since lack of time and true lack of efficiency this project is unfinished. Our prey ia only a bikini for me and a dress for S. In the afternoo we go to watch a Havana Rakatan dance show. It holds some cha-cha, rumba, flamenco and modern dancing but most of it is Salsa! yipijee! The show's really good, all the moves of the dancer's are so pure and finished and the male dancers are a class on their own - every muscle of their bodies is toned and the way they move on stage is just captivating. The girls do some high-class booty-shaking too but i think i'm forgiven for favoring the guys.