this is the archive for the ‘traveling’ category:


fez

through the train window, the scenery stretches in waves of golden fields bordered by cactus fences. (later, in wooden carts, we’ll see calloused hands peel the cactus figs and hand each half over carefully on a toothpick, juice dripping on their hands.)

a stranger chats with us on the train to pass the time. the electrical plugs don’t work because someone once blew the wiring on a train with a faulty laptop charger. turns out, i could almost pass for moroccan (but not paulo, for some reason). he tells us there’s only one real medina in morocco, and that’s in fez — when we get there, it’s clear all of a sudden. everything is larger and yet narrower here, sprawling and tight at the same time. it’s the definition of intense — the heat, the light, the scents and flavours swirling all around us like the folds of the djellabas that brush our legs.

fez

as soon as we cross the gates of the medina, all hell breaks loose: a bull being led by a man down a busy alley suddenly decides to change course and rams into a few stalls, spilling nail varnish on the floor and eliciting shouts all around us (visions of a pamplona-style disaster dance in my head). the street vendors quickly mobilise to hold the beast from all sides and lead it step by step towards its intended path. (where? is there an abattoir within the city walls? somehow, that wouldn’t surprise me.) we wait their passing under an awning, while kids all around us run excitedly back and forth retelling the story, homework forgotten.

fez

we’re not in kansas europe anymore… and it’s scary and exciting in equal measures.

the new year’s get-together

organising a new year’s get-together for friends was on the new 101 list, and 2016 was the year it got done! new years are usually a bit of a dread for us… by the time the end of the year rolls around, we’re still recovering from the xmas family extravaganza, and craving peace and quiet. so this year, we poked a few friends spread around europe and decided to find a quiet place where we could all stay for a few days. we found a cozy airbnb in a tiny town in south germany which seemed perfect for our needs (somewhere central in europe, quiet, near cheap airports, dogs allowed)… so we put on our winter jackets, loaded the suitcases with board games, and off we went!

turns out, we lucked out big time! lienzingen is a charming little place, the kind that you imagine from brothers grimm’s fairy tales. it’s full of half-timbered houses hundreds of years old, carefully restored with love and german precision. we stayed in one of them, and boy, was it pretty!

img_6204

the weather was chilly but mostly dry, with soft rime on trees and even a bit of snow on the last days. together we chatted, cooked, played games, explored a unesco monastery, cuddled dogs, munched on warm laugenwecken, stoked the fireplace and discovered the local maultaschen.

it was the perfect start to the new year: low-key, unrushed and in great company. here’s hoping it’ll become a new tradition! :)

molten rock

having spent a couple of months going over daniela’s geology lessons in preparation for her national exams a few years ago, it all came rushing back to me in iceland. first, the black stones and sand that adorn residential gardens in reykjavik, and then later, out on the road.

the first lava field we drove by was a thrill of recognition, its spiky edges talking of semi-viscous, slow-moving a’a lava. then came the familiar slopes of old volcanos, the ropey waves of fluid pahoehoe lava, the neat geometrical columns formed by the quick cooling of basaltic lava…

all so familiar in theory, and yet, so foreign in practice.

volcanoes in iceland

volcanoes in iceland
volcanoes in iceland

volcanoes in iceland

volcanoes in iceland

volcanoes in iceland

volcanoes in iceland

in a different life, i think i could have been a geologist!

iceland, we meet at last

so… iceland. as we flew high above europe on our way back from 2 weeks there, i tried to gather the words to write about this place that so thoroughly charmed us. but how do you convey awe and speechlessness and magic, all wrapped into the same breath? the words i have keep coming up short of the quiet rush at every road turn, every snow-capped mountain peeking in the horizon, and at the sunset reflected on black pebbled beaches, crunching softly underneath our feet.

pebbles

it’s… magnificent. it feels as if you’re suddenly rendered insignificant, part of something much much bigger, a tiny speck on miles and miles of tundra without a single tree in sight. and so words fail me. iceland defies labels, it’s just breathtakingly beautiful.

the boy

going to iceland is also like finally seeing something you blindly believe in — a sort of secular confirmation of a geological faith, if that makes any sense. we spend years learning about vulcanos and tectonic plaques, geothermal energy and how rocks and mountains come to be… but for the most part, it’s all so slow as to give us the illusion of being static. but in iceland… well. if seeing is believing, a field trip there should be a required part of the school curricula.

volcanoes!

there are many little things to share about iceland, from the scenery to the food… and i do miss writing. now that our post-easter influx of visitors has ebbed, i’m hoping to catch up on my thoughts and have a little quiet time with the blog. so — more on iceland soon!

one second everyday — september 2015

september was a very exciting whirlwind of activity!

our month started in lovely prague, launching the czech postcrossing stamp. after that, we returned to portugal for a short week and then it was time to fly to berlin! the streets, the beautiful autumn days, all our friends and their babies… it’s all still so cozy and familiar, it felt as if we’d never left. the two weeks we spent there passed in the blink of an eye.

oh! and last but not least, the boy ran his first marathon, covering 42km in a super speedy 3 hours and 12 minutes!! not bad for a first-time, eh? :D