This entry covers 10 days.
It started on the 12th, when I was so excited to leave on vacation to Berlin. However, a gloomy piece of news dampened my sunny disposition. My beloved Terry Pratchett left us for good.
Suddenly this planet is not so jolly any more. I wept and sobbed until late in the evening. I promised myself my first meal in Berlin shall be sushi, in his memory, as he loved this dish so much.
The next day I left with my bestie to the airport, where we parted for a while, as she wanted to eat and I wanted to smoke. You shall see that smoking is a leitmotif of this entry.
It was fun that we started dialoguing on FB, so people were confused: “why do you speak here, aren’t you together?!”
We looked like idiots, not that we’re not used to it.
Moving on, we traveled to Berlin. Yes, the first meal was sushi, honoring my beloved departed Sir Terry.
The trip was a complete success in every aspect. This time, my feet weren’t swelling like balloons, the weather was welcoming and everything was great: food, shopping, walks…
In one of the days we visited Charlottenburg, a castle where Sophie Charlotte lived a short but full life.
She collected china and fascinating people like Leibnitz or Corelli. She convinced her husband to support an Academy of Science. She played the
harpsichord and she held music in high regard. I’m sorry I didn’t write down her quote on music, which reminded me of the lyrics of a Marilyn song: “Men grow cold as girls grow old and we all lose our charms in the end.”, though it was about the power of music. I’m trying to approximate from memory: “lovers grow cold, friends become lukewarm, but music never lets you down.”
Both me and my friend shook our heads vigorously in approval of this statement.
Moving on, we lived in a rented apartment that allowed smoking inside, quite a rare gem these days. Well, surprise, surprise! I didn’t like it at all! I’m not used to the lingering smell of cigarettes inside anymore. I stopped smoking in my house since 2012, when I was on holiday in Stockholm, visiting friends and nobody is smoking inside there. Coming back home, I brought the good practice along, mostly because my beloved ALF was slightly asthmatic and I wanted to protect him. Though he’s gone, the habit stayed. Anyway, Joop can’t stand the smoke, she runs from the kitchen the moment I light a cigarette.
So now, though I’m a chain smoker, I HATE houses that stink with burned tobacco.
You’ll see I’m getting somewhere with this smoking thing.
Getting back to our trip, the apotheosis of the holiday was a mesmerizing Sting & Paul Simon concert. We sang our hearts out, we charged from Sting’s positive energy that radiates wide enough to cover the O2 Hall and we were happy as kids on Christmas morning.
OK, so we got back in Bucharest, only to attend two more concerts. One at my favorite concert hall in town – Ateneul Român, the other in a very unconventional space – a villa where there’s an art gallery, a minute concert hall and a space to enjoy delicious food. There I met a very special lady. At first, I thought she’s a Chef, but she started telling me about her projects and her foundation that preserves local traditions and values. I was wondering while talking to her how many special people are in this country that are trying to save our treasures of the past?! They have my entire veneration.
Oh, getting back to the leitmotif, it was interesting that in this location, though there were ash trays on the tables, nobody lit a cigarette until the host lighted one. After that, at least half of the audience started smoking. But in moderation, though the wine was pouring generously.
And we arrive on this Saturday when a friend of mine posted an article about banning smoking in bars. Bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, whatever. The law that is applied already in US since the 90s and in Europe since the 00s. The reason my friend posted the article wasn’t the actual content, but just one thought: “guys, we have more important things to fix in this country, this shouldn’t be top priority.”
I read the article because, as a smoker, I’m curious to find some solid evidence supporting smoking, because until now I couldn’t find valid reasons. I WANT to support smoking, but I can’t find the right arguments to support it.
Anyway, when my friend posted the article, he was flooded with comments. I’ve never seen such a demented debate, even during elections or any other local subject. To my surprise, the argument continued for almost two days, from reasonable pros and cons to personal abuse, invectives, accuses, offenses, and curses. I couldn’t believe my eyes people would spend such an amount of time and energy for such a trivial matter. I mean, for Christ sake, I haven’t seen such a war when animals or people were killed or abused, when flagrant illegalities were committed… Such anger, such hate…
You know what’s funny? The smokers were the balanced ones and the non smokers were aggressive! So smoking keeps you calm and level headed after all! OK, I’m joking, kids, don’t smoke.
Anyway, I’m done with the smoking trip. Getting back to my experiences, I bought a book I love. I heard about this character years ago, but now I’m reading the story and it’s amazing. It goes like this: a homeless recovering drug addict gets saved by a CAT. A ginger wise Tom that saves his life every day since the day they met.
I highly recommend this inspirational story, it warmed my heart beyond words.
Especially as I’m a firm believer in being saved by animals, especially a ginger Tom.
The very dogs respect German grass; no German dog would dream of putting a paw on it. If you see a dog scampering across the grass in Germany, you may know for certain that it is the dog of some unholy foreigner. In England, when we want to keep dogs out of places, we put up wire netting, six feet high, supported by buttresses, and defended on the top by spikes. In Germany, they put a notice-board in the middle of the place, “Hunden verboten,” and a dog that has German blood in its veins looks at that notice-board and walks away. In a German park I have seen a gardener step gingerly with felt boots on to grass-plot, and removing therefrom a beetle, place it gravely but firmly on the gravel; which done, he stood sternly watching the beetle, to see that it did not try to get back on the grass; and the beetle, looking utterly ashamed of itself, walked hurriedly down the gutter, and turned up the path marked “Ausgang.”
By all means, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in my life and I highly recommend it to anyone. However: how DARE you, Mr. Jerome?!!!
You come from a nation which beats Germany hand down! You wrote the book on what’s “proper”, what is unconceivable and so forth.
You dare make fun of the German dog and the German beetle?!
Well allow me to tell you a few things about:
The British tree
The British hedge
The British cat
The British spider
The British fuckin’ cold.
First, I need to explain, I was in the heart of England, in Shropshire, in a tiny place named Oswestry.
We were accommodated in a charming inn, a lovely house from the 16th century. We were entertained by a British elderly couple and we lived the entire range of clichés from movies and books: tea time, never ending conversations about the weather, the English roses wallpapers, the small and large cat shaped trinkets in the entire house and outside, the English impeccable garden and so on…
Well. Back to the list.
The British tree.
It dared to shed about three leaves in the garden of the neighbor. So our host excused himself graciously so he would go next door to apologize for this unbecoming behavior! We thought we didn’t understand. So the wind blew three leaves, honest to God, THREE leaves. But this was a mess, so he was supposed to apologize.
The British hedge
I asked how often they trim their hedge so it looks so perfect all the time. In a sad tone, he answered he’s supposed to attend to it as it was neglected for a long time. I stared in disbelief. The hedge was impeccably manicured. All of them were. I believe the British hedges don’t dare to grow, or they grow perfectly square, as it’s expected of them.
The British cat
He knew how tacky and ordinary it would be to have black whiskers when you have a dark complexion, or how mundane would be to match pink cushions to white paws, like ANY CAT IN THE WORLD.
He wouldn’t touch food that’s not from a can of cat food. We lured him with brisket and code – both fresh and tasty. He royally rejected the offers. I thought about Alf who would eat exclusively from my plate, just for the sake of it.
He NEVER jumped the fence to the next garden or cross the street. It’s unconceivable to trespass other’s cat territory. I don’t think anyone told him so. He just KNEW this is preposterous behavior.
So “curiosity killed the cat” doesn’t apply to British cats. They are not curious. It’s unbecoming.
The British spider
At some point we had an absurd conversation. We dropped soon. It was like that:
– He’s afraid there might be spiders in the bedroom…
– What do you mean “spiders in the bedroom”?
– I mean crawling on the floor or on the walls, fall in his bed…
– But spiders don’t enter the bedroom!
Well, I’m sorry, Romanian spiders don’t know they are not allowed in the bedroom, they didn’t receive the memo!!!
The British fuckin’ cold.
Least but not last, don’t expect the Brits to comprehend you’re cold. They don’t have the notion. The wind was literally blowing in the room and they didn’t find it odd. Or add some clothes. Or increase the heat. You had walls and a roof, it should be enough. Why so much fuss?! Well because it’s bloody COLD. I know it’s not proper to sense cold, but I’m sorry, I’m a warm blooded mammal that needs heat for comfort. For survival I might add.
I’m still in love with this country, in spite of all these oddities. I was reminded of yet another great novel, “War with the Newts” by Karel Čapek, where he makes fun of the Brits big time.
Well, in spite of all these Britishness – I know it’s not a word – it’s my favorite place on Earth and I still hope I shall retire somewhere in the English countryside.
I promise to own well behaved trees and cats, I promise to punish my hedge for growing, to have tea and scones and become an expert in weather conversations.
I’m in for the roses wallpaper too!
I finished arranging my new apartment, I fought the cockroaches and I won, I began my new job with a fast forward trip to Prague.
I haven’t visited Prague – I want to be clear on that.
I moved my ass to and from the hotel 150m down the street to work.
One evening, I dared some shopping in the Shopping Palladium, and what a lovely shopping that was 🙂 .
The little conclusions I could draw from such a brief experience are:
– Though I’m a wine person, the best beer I ever drank is Pilsner Urquell. I would take it over wine when offered the chance
– The best food anywhere, no disappointments.
– Clean, VERY clean streets
– Completely hectic traffic lights – you have to run like a cheetah from one side of the street to the other. It’s almost impossible not to be surprised by the light turning red while you’re still crossing.
– The worst services – it’s the first time I feel my country is not as bad as other former communist countries. I haven’t seen such laziness, self sufficiency, lack of will to please the client, rudeness ultimately anywhere else.
– Camaieu brand is value for money – lovely designs for affordable prices.
– One restaurant decorated especially for me with hundreds of cats – paintings, sculptures, lamps, chairs… EVERYTHING. It was a pancake place where you could choose from a wide variety of salted or sweet fillings. Exceptional.
– Another restaurant based on the insight that people can’t decide what to eat. So you could eat a little of everything. And you had a lot to choose from.
Four days of work that felt like a never ending inferno. I missed the challenge to size my skills against my equals from other countries and charm anyone.
I missed the Babylon that is a worldwide agency, where you’re not from Paris or Kiev, you’re a copy or an art. You have common insights, same sense of humor, same joie de vivre.
People with whom you can click instantly, find common interests, same favorite author or shoe brand.
Oh, how I’ve missed that for so long. Once again, I’m back, though it wasn’t a good idea to climb on my highest heels today, as I’m not too steady on my feet…
hot raspberry & vanilla icecream – of course
I would like to share the most mind blowing experience I had in London: the musical We Will Rock You.
The music (no need to describe), the setup, the story, the audience…
I really felt ALIVE like rarely before.
Such happiness is hard to encounter but I’m so eager to try to repeat it.
If you ever get to London, PLEASE don’t leave without seeing this unique performance.
The plot – right up my alley – is set in the near future.
Teens look and behave like avatars, they don’t have names, but mess IDs.
The music is solely computer generated, the musical instruments are forbidden.
Another dystopia, as gloomy as Orwell’s 1984 in my view.
But, there are two rebels – a boy & a girl – that leave on a quest for Queen’s instruments, that are hidden and protected by charms under the stadium of champions.
Believe me, there’s MAGIC in this tale. It’s like a spell to keep Freddie’s memory alive, a pious tribute to the late God.
In the musical, when referring to his death, the characters explain that he flew too close to the sun. I think this is the most beautiful metaphor for the tragic loss we all suffered.
Also the English humor and sarcasm hitting the American pop culture & consumerism, the bad music that brain washes youth, the praise of Brit culture… such immense satisfaction!
I think this is the best way to travel – to enrich your soul with such… religious extasy.
There were two moments this year when I thanked God for the intensity of my feelings: when I stepped in Sagrada Familia and when the artists encouraged the audience to help them conjure the magic instruments to appear, by stomping their feet in the “we will rock you” famous beat…
Trying to adjust to home, work, mud, dirt, gloomy people.
Mozart @ Covent Garden, Extreme @ Astoria, We Will Rock You @ Dominion.
Sushi bar, sea food posh restaurant,
Portobello Market, Apple Market, Regent Street, Oxford Street, Noting Hill, Chelsea,
book stores filled with treasures, HMV, cashmere, beautiful smiling people.
NO SMOKING, clean streets, fresh crisp air, rain, wind, cozy, warm, tasty, full, hospitable…
This is the shape of Paradise.
I wanted 2 write on so many subjects…
I wanted to write my perspective on the crisis paranoia
I wanted to write about the Old Centre and how it’s renovated street by street
I wanted to write about good food, good music, good living
Fuck it all 4 now, I’ll be in LONDON in less than 24hrs.
& I’m so high I could get there without an airplane!
What’s my favorite place in the world? Heathrow Airport – arrivals.
As much as my favorite day is Friday, or my favorite season is spring.
It’s the expectancy of wonderful things to happen.
The hunt for the treasure, the night on the beach waiting for the sunrise, the final duel in the movie where Good indisputably defeats Evil.
You get the drill…
And that’s where I’ll be on Saturday. I shall visit my beloved London, I shall walk the streets from morning till night, imbibing myself with the unique charm of this spectacular place.
I’m so overwhelmed with joy. Christmas is coming for me on November, 22 and it will last for 4 days.
Till I’ll gather my own, here’s some London flavor: