Saigon – and thoughts on insignificance

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So after the two weeks spent in Barcelona I took a flight and landed in Saigon, or formally known as Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Everybody here calls it Saigon ‘though.

The flight was surprisingly cheap. I booked it through Etihad Airways, and it was a total of 420€, from Barcelona to Saigon. It took me around 24h since I entered the airport in Barcelona ’till the moment I exited the airport in Vietnam. I flew from Barcelona to Rome and from Rome to Abu Dhabi in Air Italia. Then with Etihad from Abu Dhabi to HCMC.

I must say that Etihad is really an impressive experience regarding flight. They even have access to internet in case you want it. The attention was amazing. I actually felt like I hadn’t paid enough for all that I was getting.

I had to ask for a pre-aproval letter for my VISA before embarking. There are a few websites you can use, but I did it through http://www.hotels-in-vietnam.com – It worked just fine, in about 72h from my application on-line I had the approval letter to print in my e-mail. The pre-approval was 35$ plus the fee at the airport that was – if I’m not mistaken – 45$. All this for a 3 month single-entry VISA.

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Barcelona – food and big data

Back to this lovely city. I’ve been here twice before, almost 2 weeks the first time, during xmas two years ago, again almost 2 weeks in the beginning of my journey through Europe, in April, and now 2 complete weeks again. I bought the flight in a bad timing and it cost me about 140€, with everything included. I had my big backpack, plus my small ones, and I needed flexibility in case I changed my mind. If you’re traveling just with a small backpack and a hand bag you can get it much cheaper – the same flight would have been 80€.

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It has been three months and a few days in Prague. So some last information about prices in Prague, in case you’re thinking of visiting for longer periods of time:

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Prague & Freelancing

Hi?

Ok, I know, it has been a long time without any news from me right? I know, I know, you missed me so much you were at the verge of committing suicide, but you need not worry, I’m back, more stupid and currently on the other side of the world (Vietnam). So what’s not to celebrate?

I had promised a new post about Berlin and freelancing online. Forget about Berlin, I mean, I can’t recall most of it at all – let’s say – about things that could interest you vaguely. About freelancing online though, I have a bit to say, since in Prague that was mostly what I did.

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With walking and public transportations and all that I’m pretty sure the count had already exceeded the 5.000km’s

I won’t speak much about Prague sincerely. It’s a beautiful city packed with tourists in the centre, due to the beautiful old buildings and neighbourhoods. It’s also an important country in the overall politics of Europe/Western world due to its geographic position. They have great beer and are known for many things, including Czech Streets. I personally did not feel it to be warm in any sense, I’m definitively more at peace with latin countries.

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Turim

Hi all,

it’s been a long time since the last post, which means this one will be gigantic!

So after my long stay in Switzerland I traveled to Torino, in Italy. There I would have a place to stay in the house of Catarina, sister of a long time friend from Portugal, Gonçalo Almeida. He’s currently finishing a degree in London Film School and she’s doing an erasmus studying medicine in Turin.

3.350km ! ohhhh god!

3.350km ! ohhhh god!

I know Catarina since she was a small child, really. From the times I went to hang around Gonçalo’s house when we were kids. She’s four years younger than me. She lives with other 2 medicine students. Elena and Joana, italian and portuguese respectively. This was my second time in Italy, which is a country I really like. I had been there 2 years ago, doing a Leonardo DaVinci internship at the studio of Luca Masarà, working on retouching with him and Georgina. If you need photographic services near Padua, look them up! They do some amazing work and I learned quite a bit while there, besides being treated in a very pleasant way. I was never in Turin before, I had been to Padua, Venice, Bologna, Verona and Parma.  I was there through Check-in, a Lisbon based interchange association providing young people with opportunities to go abroad and do voluntary services or internships in creative areas. They in hand coordinated with XENA, the italian association headquartered in Padua.

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Switzerland

So after being in Paris for 4 nights I took an Euroline bus and headed back to Lyon, as it was easier to go to Switzerland from there, besides that I also had a Regus office right near the train station, which made it easier to work and then hop into the train. Also, I did the trip during the night so it eventually gave me one more day free of the hassle of finding a place to sleep. I arrived quite early in the morning and since I knew my way around from the previous stay at Lyon I just took a walk and then a bus and got into the office.

Montreux

Montreux

The trip from Paris to Lyon was 35€ and the train from Lyon to Lausanne was 44€, with 3 changes. I was going to stay at a longtime friend’s house and he was going to pick me up at Lausanne, from where we would go to St. Croix, where he lived.

3.050km so far

3.050km so far

Switzerland is rainy and most of the time grey, even though I actually caught a few days of shiny sun. I wasn’t counting on staying as much as I did, about 2 weeks, but due to some problems I did. It was great that André was there otherwise I would have been screwed. Besides being with someone I enjoy he made my stay very pleasant and helped a lot. I cooked a few times but mostly it was he who took care of that. He has worked for the past 5 years as a cook and he’s a great one. Besides that, he’s very talented regarding music, not that he has any kind of formal education on it, it’s just something natural I guess. You can check a music he wrote (and he is singing as well) for which I made a small videoclip. It’s dark, but in a way I like it, it’s raw and it certainly convenes the ambience of Switzerland with its rainy and cloudy days. It also reminds me of some of Thom Yorke’s solo work – which is good.

It’s a shame that once again I didn’t photograph what we ate, but in a way that looks kinda instagramish for me and also, it would make you envious and drool over your keyboard, so who would want that.

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Barcelona

1.250km more or less

1.250km more or less

So I stayed in Madrid from the 8th till the 11th of April. I got a flight from Lisbon to Madrid, because it made a lot of sense but to fly to Barcelona was too expensive for me so I searched other ways of doing it. One of the things I also wanted to try was blablacar.com . This ride sharing platform is great and has many people enrolled. I found a ride that went from Madrid to Barcelona for 30€ with Jose Antonio. Jose is originally from the South of Spain, now lives in a small town near Barcelona, although he works for 3 days in Madrid each week.

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Sousa’s walk through Lisbon

Ok, so this isn’t easy. I’m trying to travel, work, spend time with people  and write and it’s been difficult up till now. I know I have to start to schedule it much better. So I have already started writing the following ones. I’ll try to get them up during this weekend. I’m already in Barcelona, but in the meanwhile I’ve been through Lisbon until the 8th of April and then in Madrid until today. The next posts will have more of my thoughts in them and be less descriptive. Just keep in mind I’m doing this for the first time and learning as I go.

 

So let’s go back to the 5th of April. The following text is a mix between a text written by João Sousa and some of my own thoughts.

Portrait of João Sousa, reflected.

Portrait of João Sousa, reflected.

 

João Sousa took me on a walk through Lisbon, we went to places that aren’t much of touristic destinations but that somehow had some kind of interest, either regarding the architecture or city planning. He said that it’s man that occupies the city and creates spaces and places due to his use of those same places or his intent in using those places.

We started in St. António square, in Alvalade, where we saw a group of 4 buildings designed by Ruy d’Athouguia.

Ruy D'Athouguia

 

 

Ruy D'Athouguia

They all share the same aesthetic.  João Sousa says these building distinguish themselves due to their volumetric form. After that we went to a neighbourhood designed by Ruy D’Athouguia, because even though it dates back to 1930 it already implements many contemporary ideas, like having a lot of green spaces with benches and spots where you can actually sit and remain comfortable. It wasn’t thought only as a place to go home and rest. It’s designed so that you can pass from each block and area to the contiguous one without having to go around, while enjoying the green spaces. The style remains very contemporary even if in some blocks you can perceive the passage of time. I enjoyed being there, because I think it somehow mimics the ideas of circulatory systems, and not only as a “dormitory”.

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D'Athouguia - Entrance of one of the blocks - detail

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D’Athouguia – Entrance of one of the blocks – detail

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D'Athouguia

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D’Athouguia

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D'Athouguia

Bairro das Estacas, projected by Ruy D’Athouguia

After spending sometime there we went to have a beer in a place called Casa de Pasto, and had a beer for .45 cents, which is really cheap. It’s a spot where many students go by night but I dunno if it was due to the beer or something I totally forgot to take a picture of it from the outside. We then saw the headquarters of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, the project dates back to the 80’s (but I think it somehow has many remnants of the dictatorship government that was in place before 1974). This building is huge, and you can see by looking at it many fascist traits. It’s designed to impress, you can see the supposed strength of this bank institution in every trait, in every corner of it. We were talking about it and we came to agree that architecture also has a very political role, although sometimes people seem unaware of it. It transmits ideas and this building is all about fascism, security and strength. We weren’t there for much time.

 

 

Caixa Geral Headquarters

 

Caixa Geral Headquarters

 

Caixa Geral Headquarters

 

We then went to one of my favourite places in Lisbon. Calouste Gulbenkian headquarters, gardens and museum. This architectonic complex is made from the vision of several architects, once again Ruy d’Athouguia, Alberto Pessoa, Pedro Cid, Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles e António Viana Barreto. Even though it’s in the middle of the city it sets itself apart. I may say, without being wrong, that it has a very special aura, a feeling and a particular ambient. You feel it when you walk through the gardens, it’s fresh and they’re beautiful. Even the garage of the headquarters is beautiful. The passage of time instead of making it look old makes the buildings look more organic. It’s made of many individual parts that are placed throughout the gardens which makes it a pleasure to spend time there.

Calouste Gulbenkian's Foundation Headquarters entrance

Calouste Gulbenkian’s Foundation Headquarters entrance

Gulbenkian's Garden Gulbenkian's Garden Gulbenkian's Garden Gulbenkian's Garden Gulbenkian's Garden

Gulbenkian's Musem

 

 

The last place of our walk was the Palace of Justice, by architects Januário Godinho and João Andresen (1962), it’s a magnificent building and it should represent justice, although I have an idea that somehow it’s rotten inside. I mean with so many corruption going on in Portugal it can’t be ok. And some people say it’s the same everywhere, but I don’t think that’s what we should be saying. Portugal is the country where I lived, where I grew up, where I became what I am and I love it in many ways (although some things annoy me in a very particular way). And we really have to ask if such cases, that have come clear, shouldn’t be having a different ending. Now, I understand that it’s a net with many ramifications hence the difficulty in bringing it to terms with Justice, because if some people fall, the remaining will as well, so we just live in a state of continuous hypocrisy, where so many people talk about how “wrong” it is, how “unfair”, how it shows how rotten our democratic system is and subsequently the branches that allow it to work, but in the end many of these voices are in it as well, so we remain in that state of inertia.

 

Palace of Justice Palace of Justice madrid-secondo_MIC0719 Palace of Justice

 

Thanks for reading!