Cityfinity

Homage to cities that make you feel infinite

24 hours in Paris

I've recently spent 24 hours in Paris, but most of that time I was busy, so my actual "tourist time" equaled 3 hours. Do 3 hours in one of the world's major cities mean anything?

Paris

Paris is exactly like the songs, books and movies that sing it praises. Prior to this trip I'd been there only once, when I was 9, so I had little memory of it. It was like starting anew.

I studied French in high school, the time when everyone falls hopelessly in love with either Paris or London or both. We're young and very prone to idealizations (some of us still haven't grown out of it). How could you not idealize Paris and France when you were constantly exposed to Joe Dassin's uplifting and carefree music and stylish French New Wave films? Riding your bicycle in Paris, speaking French, having breakfast at a corner café with your best friend. In that sense, Paris was always a dream.

The only touristy thing I did in Paris was this: I took a walk from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde on the Champs-Elysées and I understood there was so much of Paris beyond that for me to see, but it also felt very real because it actually was Paris, albeit commercial, touristy etc. I waited at Ladurée for 30 minutes to try the original macarons, only to discover they're not exactly the heavenly goodness everyone makes them out to be, and I regretted having lost so much time there (or at least not getting some of their chocolate instead).

Paris is like London, only much more beautiful (both of them don't stand a chance compared to New York). When I say beautiful, I mean it. The architecture is to die for, which had somehow vanished from my childhood memory and I didn't expect it. It makes you feel lucky just to be there, as if you're in a museum.

My 24 hours in Paris wouldn't be complete without a short night walk around the 8th district. Cities are always more magic at night. At 11PM, Paris was calmer than I'd expected. Calmer, but definitely not calm. If it were calm, it wouldn't be Paris.

P.S. Updates on Cityfinity have been sporadic not due to lack of time but lack of material. I haven't been traveling much lately and needed some new inspiration.

Barcelona on polaroid

Barcelona postcard

My first visit to Barcelona showed me that it has colors that would look great on polaroid. The second time I went there I wanted to bring my polaroid camera, but I didn't. It was my high school class' graduation trip and in the midst of messy packing infused with mild fear that airport scanners would damage polaroid film, the camera didn't end up in my luggage. So "shoot Barcelona on polaroid" remains on my to-do list. Until then, when I want to visually illustrate how Barcelona feels like, I have to use other people's photos just like with Belgrade (although Belgrade isn't about polaroid or non-polaroid, it's that in my photos it always looks completely different from what it really is). The photo above is a scan of one of the postcards I bought there. Those postcards remind me of Madrid and Almodóvar's films, although Barcelona doesn't want to be Spanish; it's Catalan. Maybe it's a Mediterranean thing.

When I first came to Barcelona, I was surprised at how un-Spanish it really was. It began with the language: I'd learned Castellano in elementary school for 2 years, so Catalan was both familiar and strange to me when I was exposed to it. Initially I didn't like anything about it, but it's one of my favorite languages now, probably also because of my connection with Barcelona. It didn't take me long to figure out it would be pretty cool to live there, at least for a while. That whole "get up at 10:00, have dinner at 22:00, go out, go to bed at 03:00" scenario is universally appealing, but it doesn't work in many countries. Everyone I know who did an Erasmus exchange in Barcelona had mini reverse culture shock adjusting to the schedule back home.

I've been thinking about Barcelona lately a lot, although I'm not planning to go there in the near future. Most likely it's because of its high temperatures in the time of the year when I just want the winter to be over.

This is not a 2010 recap

Dubrovnik

The end of 2010 rolled out so quickly (and hazily in the way only ends of the year can be hazy) that I had no time for introspections and retrospections. Therefore, I didn't determine which was my favorite city of the past year, nor my favorite travel. Can I say everything was my favorite?

- There's one thing I really yearned for this winter, but didn't make it happen: a trip to someplace warm. Before last December, winters in Ljubljana were always unpleasant, but not in an unbearable way like now.

- I took surprisingly few trains in 2010. Strange because taking trains was something I partly identified with (and enjoyed as long as the rides were not too dull).

- We didn't go to Venice in December either, but thankfully I know what Venice in December looks and feels like, so I'm not too sad.

- Dubrovnik (photo above) is where I'd like to be on January 1st 2011. It might have to do with the fact that I missed Venice - I think of Dubrovnik and Venice as sister cities because of their similar historical development (they were both independent states for the longest time, and it still shows).

- In regards to fashion: the place is really the best accessory there is.

- In regards to my "hometown": I'm as clueless as ever.

- I write considerably less in my moleskine than ever before, which means I keep most thoughts in my head. If I did New Year's resolutions, one of them would be to start writing things down more again.

Imaginary landscapes

1. A while ago my mom mentioned that I'm always searching for an ideal city that doesn't exist [as a form of escapism]. For someone who lives in Ljubljana in 2010 and has a functioning brain, I don't think that's so unusual. It doesn't mean, however, that I particularly revel in such thoughts, especially considering that I think I live in the best possible time. Escapism for me is never just that, it's a sign that something's wrong and I don't like it. I wish I could be more content with this place.

2. Late-night note from my cell phone: "This person keeps reappearing in my life and creates chaos every time."

3. I've been going through a period when I don't want to talk (or write) about myself because I don't know how. It might have everything to do with the fact that I've been burdening myself with other people's problems (that they don't even acknowledge, oh the hilarity of it all!), which leaves me little time and rationale for introspection. I feel very out of touch with myself. In the past that would've been a very valid reason to pack my stuff and hop on a train, but this time I've decided out of spite that I'm not going anywhere until I'm "normal" again.

4. I'll be in New York next October. It'll be a 3-year anniversary since I first came there. I know it'll be different, but how much different?