Estonia, once again!
With affordable Ryanair flights all around, it becomes incredibly easy to just hop on a plane and spend a few days somewhere else. Dublin was the chosen destination, as to smell the scents of an unknown territory. The scent of roasted barley, mostly.
Our trip began in great haste. The boarding closed at 9 a.m. and we made it to the airport just 5 minutes before. We hurried through the security screening and soon we made it to the gate. If the flight had not been a few minutes delayed, we wouldn’t have made it. A great rush of adrenaline even before we set foot in Dublin!
That’s the way you pronounce it. But you should write it as “craic”.
Let’s go have some crack! said every Irish once weekend comes. Not to worry, the Irish are not on the verge of having to check-in to a detox clinic. Craic is an Irish word, with no exact English translation. The closest meaning to it is fun.
“Having craic” is having a good time or a laugh. However, due to an unfortunate similarity in pronunciation with a well-known and illegal narcotic substance, not everyone gets the right idea about it… So if you are in Dublin and want to have some craic, head to Temple Bar and have a good time.
If you happen to be in Dublin for a few days, I highly recommend hopping on a train (or bus, or whatever transport suits you better) and go immerse yourself in the nature. We chose Howth, a seaside village merely 20 minutes away from Dublin by train. Set out for a walk along the cliff paths and soak in all the misty and damp beauty of the place. Make it extra worth and bring with you some light sandwiches for an invigorating picnic.
Do you know what Guinness and Ryanair have in common? Take a look at their logos… You’ll notice something: the harp! Only when in Dublin I came to such realisation. Silly me.
But why the harp?
Both Ryanair and Guinness were born in the leprechaun island.
Is is known that the harp as history dating as far as 1000 years. Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland (death: 1014), is said to have been an accomplished harp player, but little evidence remains to sustain this fact. However, 12th century historical records refer to the Celtic harp being the only music played during the Crusades.
At this time, the Gaelic harp was hold in high regard in Celtic culture (and all over Europe). Scottish and Irish kings had their own resident harper who, in turn, enjoyed high status and special privileges.
In 1531, when the English monarch Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland, the country’s harp was taken into high regard, being chosen as the official symbol of Ireland and stamped on every coin issued during Henry’s realm.
What not to forget!
- Bring with you a power plug adapter! Ireland uses the same standard as the UK…
- If it’s in your plans to go out of the city to explore the nature, bear in mind the shoes you take. It can get quite muddy.
Heading to somewhere pretty soon!
Athens? Dublin? Paris? Madrid? Cherokee?
THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
Netflix is a well-oiled marketing machine. Almost everything that is under its umbrella is highly scrutinised by the media and usually met with great receptiveness. The End of the F***ing World is not different.
A TV series premiered on the British broadcaster Channel 4 in October 2017 and it only gained international momentum once Netflix bought the rights to be aired beyond the Brexit Kingdom.
Short and thriving, The End of the F***ing World follows the story of James, a 17-year-old who believes to be a psychopath and kills animals for his own pleasure. Grown tired of such endeavours, he seeks for an upgrade: killing a human being.
Enters Alyssa, a cocky and grumpy girl who brings a breath of fresh air into James’ life. Mutual interest leads them to cut loose with their past and embark on a dark and indie (yeah, something) adventure through midland England. Blood, swears and tears and complete this package.
You get involved in the story from the get-go, and eight episodes of roughly 20 minutes each seemed too short. I was craving for more and the ending, albeit perfectly suiting the show, left many things without an answer. One way to unravel what might be in for a future season (unclear if that is going to happen… with Netflix, who knows?) is by reading the comic book by Charles Forsman, with the same name, in which the TV series is based.
Also worth noting the excellent photography and soundtrack.
Georgia came unexpectedly into my life.
No, I’m not talking about a girl, neither about the north-american state.
This is Georgia, a country located in between Europe and Asia, in the Caucasus region. Its capital and biggest city is Tbilisi.
Georgia came with a purpose: to participate in an Erasmus+ Training Course named “Sharing Stories, Building Bridges”, supported by European Commission’s Erasmus+ program. The main goal of the project is to teach youngsters how to use the method of digital storytelling, in order to express their personal stories using digital media.
Georgia came at the last minute: only a week ahead of the beginning of the training course I got my acceptance letter.
Backpack ready with my winter gear (thanks to my time in Lithuania!), two Turkish Airlines’ flights later and four time zones ahead of Portugal, I arrived in Tbilisi. A cool, wintry breeze welcomed me in Georgia. I was actually looking forward to that.
Soon I ended up meeting some of the fellow colleagues that would accompany me through this storytelling journey. In total, I met 26 participants from the following countries: Armenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Ukraine.
As usual with training courses, the first day was meant for participants to get to know each other better through a series of ice-breaking and team building activities. After all, we were going to spend almost a whole week together, both during the actual work hours as well as during leisure time. We also had the chance to explore the village of Bakuriani, where we were settled, and meet with some locals.
Over the next 7 days we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the methodology known as digital storytelling, with the help of Signe, Dorthe and Kasia, our facilitators. The first handful of days were dedicated to the creation of our own individual stories, where we had to put our skills and imagination to work.
“To be a person is to have a story to tell”
The sentence above sums up what storytelling means. At least for me. We can just be normal people (what is normal anyways?), living the normal life, and still having amazing stories to tell. Even if sharing the stories with the outside world can be important, the storytelling process allows us to reflect on personal moments of change.
The concept of digital storytelling is subdivided in the following components:
- Script writing
- Voice recording
- Media gathering (visuals)
- Video editing
Stories are meant to be authentic and personal, so before we plunged on the script writing part, we were offered some creative writing exercises to (you guessed it!) exercise our brains.
Once we had an idea of the story we wanted to tell, we followed to the scrip writing part, in which the only guidelines we had was not to make it longer than 250 words.
One might think that this is a very lonesome method, but the truth is that along the way, we gather in small groups, aka story-circles, where we have a safe space to share our writings and the problems we might be facing during the process. Moreover, we are assigned a buddy, with whom we can further discuss and collaborate. All in all, we are not meant to be left in the wilderness alone.
When I came to Georgia I had zero ideas on the story I wanted to tell. I just tried not to create any expectations and go with the flow. The idea came organically has conversations took place with my fellow colleagues. Script writing was a breeze, unlike the voice recording part. Eventually I managed to succeed, not without a huge help from Signe, who lend me her quiet room. Visuals soon followed and before I knew it, time was running so fast that for some moment I thought I would not be able to finish my film in time for the screening!
I wanted to pay homage to those people I had met in Lithuania, especially the ones who took their time to knit such a beautiful, warm and cosy scarf. I wish I had more opportunities to wear it however, cause you know… Portugal is a bit too warm for that.
Once we finished our screening session, not without getting a bit emotional, we were rewarded with an afternoon trip to one of the most famous castles in Georgia: the Rabati Castle. A Georgian traditional dinner was also one of the perks we got afterwards. With endless toasts.
Back to the mountains, for the second part of the project, we went through various sessions aimed at preparing us, the participants, to become digital storytelling facilitators back in our countries. We also had the opportunity to better understand the method behind the digital storytelling.
In my opinion it was very smart to first have the opportunity of creating our own stories and only afterwards explores the theoretical side of it, as not to overwhelm us with rigid ideas and workflows. We were able to discover the process mostly by ourselves, subtly guided by our facilitators.
And the time in Bakuriani could not be complete without some horse-riding time. For as little as 5 Lari.
Now is the time to replicate what we learned! Soon a workshop on storytelling will take place in Portugal!
When we were back in the capital, I still had two full days to enjoy myself and discover this city. Together with some of the people I had met during the training course.
Being in Georgia would incomplete if I would not talk (or write, in this case) about Ana, my Georgian psychologist/ballerina & friend, who was an EVS volunteer in Lithuania too! I have heard that “Love at first sight” happens, but in this case I’d reformulate the cliché to something like “Friendship at first sight”.
Being toured by a local, Ana, allowed me to go off the beaten path. Yes, I crossed the Bridge of Peace and went up the hill by cable-car to the Narikala fortress and Mother Of Georgia. But I also wandered around an historical area which, albeit in ruins, was incredibly charismatic.
I was also presented with the opportunity to go with Ana to the school where she works as a psychologist to talk with some students about the opportunities of mobility that the European Commission offers and how it can have a positive impact in the lives of those who take part in these.
Time to say goodbye. And a promise to return.
On a sunny yet cool Sunday afternoon at my grandparents’, I decided to take my sister for a little stroll around our homeland. What’s the point in venturing around the world when there are so many hidden gems to discover right under your nose?
We began with a visit to the main church of an unassuming town not far way, named Válega. It would be an ordinary church, just like hundreds scattered around the country if it wasn’t for its gorgeous facade! Covered in bright colourful tiles, it depicts various religious scenes and floral motifs.
The sightseeing did not end here though.
Soon we reached Avanca, my father’s hometown. No, we were not going to pick up oranges from my dad’s house backyard. Instead we drove to find ourselves in someone else’s house. The one who once belonged to Egas Moniz.
- Egas Moniz, born as António Caetano de Abreu Freire de Resende on 29th of November 1874 in the town of Avanca, was a doctor, professor, politician, writer and best regarded as a neurologist – he developed the technique of cerebral angiography and his continuous interest in the brain lead him to develop the surgical procedure known as leucotomy (lobotomy in current days).
- His uncle and father-in-law, Caetano Sá Freire, insisted on him adopting the surname Egas Moniz because he was convinced that the family Resende had a direct lineage to Egas Moniz, the tutor of Afonso Henriques (who became the first King of the Kingdom of Portugal).
We were guided through the house by a woman who was quite passionate about the legacy left by Egas Moniz. She talked with great enthusiasm of his achievements as a doctor, as well as how the house got to be built in this particular location. She also mentioned a curious, yet dire episode of Egas’ life as a physician: in 1939 a schizophrenic patient came into his office and shot Egas 8 times and one of the bullets, housed in his spine was never removed.
Fun fact: the manor house has 154 chairs! A lot of cleaning needs to be done…
As we walked around Egas’ home, we could find some unusual artefacts, such as an elephant paw (used as storage space, I guess) or a set of dinner plates, hollow inside where hot water could be poured into, that could keep the food warm. Ingenious.
Such an inconspicuous building, lost in the countryside, that houses some beautiful and intriguing stories of a man that undoubtedly became one of the greatest in Portugal’s recent history.
This is the overall plan for this Summer. A draft, with a few places of interest here and there that is subject to change along the way. Two things are certain: we begin on the 25th of July in Geneva and have our flight back to Portugal, from Budapest, on the 3rd of September.