terça-feira, 21 de junho de 2011


Isso não é um post

Afinal, aquilo, aquilo não mereceu ser
Aquilo merece ser devaneio.

Mas a luz apagou rápido
Mas ficou meio fora de foco.

Teve a forma, a cor, a textura
Tava tudo tão ali
Me deixando tão

deslavado? deslevado? desligado? deslocado? deslumbrado?
despachado? desperdiçado? despirocado? desponderado? despudorado?
desassossegado, brigado, seu Fernando.

E de repente, o jogo inverte.
O que era pra ver, passou a
ser visto.

E pensar que era a primeira
Quiça a última.

Mas ah se não me deixou
com vontade
de quero mais.

sábado, 18 de junho de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 16 (second part)

Day 16-7 from hero to villain in just a wart

My host wanted to establish a conversation on the subway, and I noticed his French was perfect. I felt it would be impolite not to enter the game. As soon as we arrived, a bunch of seven or eight French people were waiting for us. I thought they would be talking French but they greeted me in English when they knew I was Brazilian. As we started walking, Lorenzo kept talking to his friend, Selim. And one of the guys started talking to me. His name was Louis. And he was an engineer. Any similarities? And yes, he was just as good-looking as the other Louis. He started asking me many questions and when I told him I was an English teacher I thought he would feel uncomfortable. He told all the other guys and they all reacted enthusiastically and I felt surprised. He told me I should correct him when he made a mistake and that it would be so nice to practice. I felt at home. And the conversation went on till we were in the apartment. There I could talk more to the other people from the group and we had drinks, some cake and a lot of laughter. I did not interact much with people from Austria there. There was a girl taking pictures and we exchanged some sentences.

We went to the roof since the party was in a penthouse. And it was almost midnight so we saw the fireworks almost in the middle of the fireworks. It was a beautiful scene, the cold, the fireworks almost hitting us and all the people saying happy New year in many languages. They asked how they could say that in Portuguese.

Back to the inner part of the apartment, I stepped on one of the French girl’s foot. I apologized but Martin, one of the guys, told me I should bow and give her a massage. It was obvious he was making a joke but I put myself in my knees and as we were barefoot I excused myself and took her foot and started rubbing it. She really liked the massage. I knew she would because I have some experience with that. It was so nice to see their faces as she said it was good and the other girls and Martin said they wanted it too. So I took everyone’s feet and spent some time rubbing them. The funny thing was that martin wanted to embarrass me all along and every time he tried, I gave him such answers he started to feel embarrassed instead of the other way around. Never challenge me to see who can be nastier. I am quite respect but when challenged...
It was funny anyway. I went to the other room where people were dancing and I danced a lot. First, I danced alone and after, one of the girls, the most beautiful one (in my opinion) accepted to dance with me. I had so much fun as we spun around the room and made some steps I was inventing but did so as she thought I was an acceptable dancer. Then, I went back to the dining room and it was when thing began to go downhill.
First there was the story of the pepper. One Austrian guy gave Martin a chilli and asked if he was brave to bite it. He bit first and then when I arrived the poor French boy was almost crying. He said it was too strong. He was drinking water, wine, anything, he started eating the cake, he was going crazy. He wanted to punch the guy and I had to use of a lot of patience to calm him down. He said I told him to calm down because it was not me who was burning so I took the rest of the chilli and ate so that he could see I was brave and he could hold it. It was the strongest I had ever had. I held strong and he started to calm down. And I learned one should never bite a chilli in a different country.
By this time my friendship with Louis had withered. As soon as we arrived there I discovered one of the girls was his girlfriend. I was very skeptical that his approach had second intentions but up to that moment they had not displayed any kind of public affection. But on the party she got a bit cross, and he just left to stick with her till the end. I was being very detached and respectful, what was surprising, but true. Anyway, he went away and never came back to the groups I was in. Pity because the talks were amazing. After that, I managed to hit on the two other guys, Martin and Selim. Maybe it was the drinks, though I was not drunk. Maybe it was the loneliness and the fact I was far from home. I had some courage to, during our nice talks, make sure they noticed my interest in them. But they politely declined and I felt very happy, because the trying was much more meaningful than the achieving.
Finally, the tragedy came. I was massaging Sabine’s (the dancer) back and she was loving it. Then Selim wanted to learn how to do it, but he was not impressing as much strength as he should to make it effectively. I asked him to try on “my girl” while another would volunteer to serve as a model. One of them did so, the one I had had less contact with. And while I rubbed her neck, I would give him some advice on how to move the fingers and all, Then I pressed one wart she had on her back. It started bleeding. Game was over. She got completely upset. An awkward atmosphere took over as the girls aided her and everyone was commenting. She deeply resented having volunteered and she looked at me with contempt. The boys were understanding and saw it had been an accident, but the girls openly hostilized me. So there I was, turned into a monster after making the princess bleed. She left without saying goodbye to anyone. I had already apologized, but I guess she never forgave me.
It was almost 3am, I was tired and so was Lorenzo, so as the guys left we took the chance to do the same. We took a cab, which seemed as miraculous as riding Santa’s sledge at that moment and went home telling each other stories and our impressions of the night. We were both very happy with everything. But tomorrow a new person would arrive? Who would that girl be?

quarta-feira, 15 de junho de 2011

The Promise

Ah, o menino pensou. Ele não entendia o que significava um ato performático, ele não entendia o que estava errado. Foi fuçando na memória, sua história pessoal, prescrutada. Interrogada.
Ele deu um passo na direção de Gê e sentiu o calor de sempre. A barba mal feita, faz o quê, um mês, e ela pinica. Os óculos escuros escudam olhares azulados, assim, no meio da fumaça e ele não diz não. Só diz que amanhã, amanhã talvez. Ele ri embaraçado, e ainda comenta dos cogumelos. Ele é cruel? Não sabe como articular não. Por que demora tanto? A promessa erguida há tempos que já se amarelam, mantém-se firme, ainda que castelo de cartas. Seria super bonder? Quem colou as cartinhas? Bate vento e nada. A casa não cai. Mas ela também não protege das intempéries do tempo.

O menino força mais um pouquinho e o Érre aparece como uma tela azul. Aqui não foi a promessa, mas as mil e umas pequenas esperanças, pequenas frases que se perdem no torvelinho e saem no banho com umas duas esfregadas de bucha. Tão fácil, descem pelo ralo e deixam um gosto amargo na boca e uma sensação gordurosa, daquelas que nem deter gente tira. Mas essas são ilusões, são borboletas que pousam na flor e morrem.

Daí, o menino se depara com a promessa mais recente, indecente. De um certo Dábliu, nas ondas da www. Mesmo em possibilidades remotas, em chances pequenas, a proposta feita, aceita, acertada. Porém, sempre os obstáculos e adia-se, um dia e dois e muitos. Ausência vira algo como uma confirmação da desistência. Ganhei por WO. Ou melhor, perdi. Mas não, eis que das cinzas retorna, e acende a chama. Pandora volta e ri, gargalha um pouquinho, botando a mão na caixa do menino e prometendo. Prometendo.

Não fica cego. Eu vou abrir. Mas hoje não, amanhã.

centro de são paulo

Hoje acabei indo andar
no centro.

Tanta gente, assim. Dando passo
depois de passo.

Tudo assim, dois a dois,

Tudo indo pro mesmo lado mas sem caminhar
na mesma direção.

Vários sonhos, eu vi.
Desejos e pensamentos e tanta canseira.

Vitrines, eu vi.
Tanta energia, expectativas e dor.

Tinha os terno e gravata.
E tinha os farrapos. Tudo assim, andando dois a dois.

daí, eu voltei pra minha casa,
pra ficar no computador.

porque a realidade é só sonho
e aqui eu existo.

Travel log - Europe - Day 16

Day 16 - “What a swell party this is

So, I look around the apartment and feel a mixture of pain and excitement as I listen to the click of the lock. I am leaving again. Alone. The pseudo-morning (as it is still dark) blows some wind and I remember it is as cold as hell. I drag the suitcase by the sidewalks and it makes a loud noise as if I was walking with a small stone crusher. I was even curious how someone would not open the window and throw a vase, some egg or whatever on me. I went faster so that the noise would bother less, but it got stronger. And there was nobody on the streets. I arrived at the bus station and the bus was already there. I checked if I could sit with someone who was alone, but as I had two tickets with me, I had the two seats to lie down and sleep. In the end, I barely took a picture on the way and sleep more than stayed awake. But the sun was shining and it was almost lunchtime when I got off the bus in Vienna soil. It seemed to be less cold there. I went to the subway, crossing the streets and thanked heaven for those elevators.
Soon I would get to the station near where my new host lived and I would be getting to know him.
By the way, a parenthesis. When I was in Prague, something funny happened. I was supposed to stay at a girl’s apartment. She had been so nice and welcoming. It would be the first time I would be hosted by a girl. Two days before leaving Prague, she sent a message in CS and told me she was sick and would not be able to host me. Despair. What could I do? Last minute couch? Probably. I felt helpless and I would have to find a solution fast. Some emails later, about ten minutes of despair, there was an email from a guy I had also requested a couch. He was telling me he would stay in Vienna and I could go there if I wanted. So convenient. As I said before, “God takes, God gives” was a sentence I would keep saying like a mantra when I had this unexpected experiences. So, he would be my host, not her.
I had already told my host I would arrive by lunchtime. So I expected he would go there to the station to pick me up, as he said he would. So I waited. And this was the beginning...
After waiting for half an hour or so, I decided to go upstairs, outside the station and call my host. I had the number. Then, I found a phone booth but it was a fight to enter there with my suitcase. When I managed to do it, I had to put some coins and call him. But no way it would work. After several failed attempts, I decided to look for another booth, checking if he was not there by the exit of the station. Another payphone and nothing. I decided to look for the place as I had the address and I set off. According to him, he lived very close to the station. I went along the big avenue and looked for the street name. Nothing. 20 minutes walking, I was far from the center. Maybe it was the other side. My internal GPS was defective. More 20 minutes to go back to the station and 10 more to the other side and no sign of the street. I panicked. Let’s ask for information? No one knew. A guy with a GPS in his cellphone told me I should go back and I did and still nothing. I was sweating, there was no snow on the sidewalks but a lot of small rocks they throw to prevent people from falling. But when there is no snow and only rocks, they just destroyed one of the wheels of my suitcase. I found one internet place and asked if they had skype. This would not fail. But it did. The call would not be completed. I wanted to go to the toilet, I needed to eat something but I had no food and I could not think of an alternative when I looked for the street in google maps. I drew it in my notebook and I finally found it. It was 4 minutes walking from the station, but the street had two different names each side of the avenue and I was on the other side so I hadn’t seen it. But I made it. Or not. He had given me the name of the street and the number, but it was a building. I felt lost again. What was his apartment? I sat on the curb and was ready to start crying. I wanted to go back to Brazil. Very adventurous guy, right? One who knows just how to solve problems.
I felt some courage coming from another dimension and I stood up and started ringing all the apartments bells and in one I would be lucky to find him. Or else, I would for him to leave or enter till nightfall. I would be camping there on the sidewalk. One, two, three, nothing. Some apartments were empty. No answer. Four, five, six, seven. I guess my idea was not so good. When I got to number 10, there was a man’s voice and he unlocked the door, but I tried pushing it and nothing happened. I gave up. A couple arrived and the newly acquired courage made me ask if they knew my host. I was in the process of describing him and they told me, there is someone coming. It was him, without the long hair and a bit annoyed I hadn’t called him. So I explained what had just happened and he was a bit suspicious. He tried calling himself in his skype and couldn’t. So he realized I was not inventing all that.
We sat and talked. Lorenzo was a nice guy, a real gentleman and very funny. His English was very good and his apartment very cozy. He told me there was a mattress for surfers but as his flatmate was not there, I could take his bed.
I had something to eat, I was starving as it was about 3pm. We talked a bit more about our lives, stories and I felt he was another person I would very likely miss a lot after leaving. He told me he had big plans for that night. First he would visit his father and brother, then we would go together to a dinner at a friend’s house and finally we would go to an international Silvester Party. It was the name they give to the New Year Party. That’s why we have St Silvester race! And nobody had ever told me that.
Then, I was ready for some rest and he got ready to leave. I would wait for him at the apartment while his visited his family.
We were ready to go. And it was the first chance I had of taking a picture of him.

At the first party, there were about 8 people. The hostess was a very friendly girl. She had a frank and wide smile. She seemed one person I would easily get on with soon. The menu started with a seafood soup and after that there were some vegetables and meat for us to put in a kind of grill and we would have them with some and dipping sauces.
But it was not only eating and having fun. The apartment was beautiful and the people seemed to nice but something happened. At a certain point, not long before we had arrived and he had introduced me to people, they started talking in German. I understand a little bit, cannot speak it at all, but they wouldn’t care about introducing me to the talk. They laughed and commented, spoke for one hour or more and I was there, trying to figure out what to do. Even Lorenzo and the other girl who had been cool to me were focused in the conversations and sometimes he would let me know what they were talking. Then I decided to focus on the food and I could not help thinking about my friends, who had arranged to spend New Year together. They would be there speaking Portuguese and laughing, but I decided to relax and enjoy the way I could.
Soon we left and headed for the station to go to the other party. Lorenzo explained to me that he had a friend who spoke French and he was with a group of friends there. Then I started imagining they would be speaking French and I just wanted to speak English to feel at home. And many things happened at this party. But this will be released in the following post.

sexta-feira, 10 de junho de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 15

Day 15 - or trying to reach the top

As usual I bravely fought the cold and the laziness which were constantly there to haunt me and got up and bought some supplies in the bakery near the apartment.
I got the subway and instead of getting off before the river, I got off just after the bridge, right into the Jewish district. The streets were very similar to the ones downtown, but there was a difference by the number of synagogues one could see. I entered one of them, as it said it was also a museum, but to have access to the inside of the place or the the museum, one had to pay an entrance fee which was more than what I had paid for lunch in a fancy restaurant the day before. As I was not so into religious stuff and I remembered a lot of jokes about Jews and money (no antisemitism intended), I decided to go to other parts of town. I walked and walked a bit, till I arrived at a bridge. Crossing it I could see a hill and there was something up there but I had no idea what. Could it be the castle? I got the feeling it was the castle.

But the only way I could get there was to go up a set of stairs which were a bit full of snow. I remembered Louis in Belgium telling us how dangerousit was to mix snow and stairs, that we should be double careful because a lot of people died climbing or going down stairs in the winter. I was afraid, I could see some people on the other side, they looked locals but they were having a hard time trying to go down the stairs to arrive where I was. But there was no one around to tell me it was not a good idea, so I started the journey upstairs.

The boots I was wearing were not the most appropriate ones. They were slippery, which made it more difficult for me to keep on. By the picture, you can see that the left side was a bit less full of snow, so it was the side I decided to try. I would constantly stop, look down to see if I should go back but the idea of going back seemed even worse than continuing. I was sweating despite the cold wind. I started grabbing the tree branches and the wall. Each step, a new possibility. Slips. I had less than 50 to go now. How long had I been doing that? Half an hour? Why was I being so suicidal? Whatever the answer was, I got up there and it was really worth it.
There was a belvedere from which I could see the whole city. And there was a park, empty at that time and maybe because it was so difficult to get up there. After some time I would discover it would have been easy if I had taken the tram, but not as exciting. I walked around the park and sat on a bench where I could see the city and take some of the most beautiful pictures, in regard to landscapes.

I started crossing the park to see where I would end up and I discovered that was the park just beside the Royal Garden. If that was the RG, the castle wold not be very far from me. So I was correct. By the way, that golden tower I had seen, similar to a lighthouse was a restaurant in the park. Following my directional instincts, there it was, I had finally made it. The castle.

After the peace and quiet of the park with almost no living soul, me and the landscape, the castle was swarming with tourists. The ticket was not so cheap again but it included the visit in more than 5 attractions. In fact, you could choose a more economic version, depending on your interest. The attractions I mean here are: the castle itself, the St. Vitus cathedral, the museum of history, the convent, St. George Basilica. There are all the attractions here. I spent a long time going through the castle and the museum of history. My luck I had read a lot about Prague history in my new guide, so I knew about the settlement of Prague, the wars and kings. So the museum served as an illustration of my studies. I didn’t want to purchase a headphone guide, but there were explanatory texts and all. It was possible to take pictures and I put two here as illustration.

In the cathedral

The convent

Because it took me so long to visit all the attractions, as I had paid for the combo with 5 (one would be open only after 3 pm, so I decided not to wait. I was hungry and I decided to go down trying to find a nice and cheap restaurant. I ended up eating a big sandwich at Subway. Eating Subway would always remind me of Carol, so it was a kind of homage to her. Then I decided to look for a store to buy some gifts and it was quite difficult to find one in the part of town I was. It was very cold, I believe that was the coldest day I got in Europe. I believe it was -10 or -12. My nose was so cold I was afraid it was going to break in my hand when I put both hands to heat it. I didn’t feel like walking so I went “home” by tram. I had not taken any and I took 3. I had no idea where I was going but I remembered number 12 would drop me near. Or was it number 19? Anyway, it was already dark when I got there.

Something bad that happened this day was that there was no friend of the day. Considering my host the first day and his flatmate and Marek in the second, it was the first day I met no one new. Well, it would not be the only day, but the mission was going well till then.

I started packing since my bus to Vienna the next day would be very early. My luck was that the international bus station was in Florenc, so I would be able to get there walking and it was 10 minutes away (so I didn’t have to wake up much ealier). We still had some time to talk, as it was not so late at night. There were the rituals of saying goodbye for Jiri: he keeps a guestbook, in which his guests can write any impressions they had. Also, a drawing book, but I didn’t have time for drawing. I wrote him a poem. A list of how to say toilet in my language. And a traditional picture.
We sat on the kitchen, talking, drinking tea, and a lot of drinks - specially a tasty rum made of sugar beet known as tuzemák - and we talked about the capitals of the world and Brazil and many other things. It was a lovely way to say goodbye.

quinta-feira, 9 de junho de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 14

Day 14 - My Brazilian face and no castle

Waking up. Ah, so delicious to see you are in a different place and you feel so eager to discover all the secrets of the place, but it can wait. They will be there at 9 in the morning, but also at noon. So, more half an hour of blankets and sleep.
Jiři had already left for work. So it took me almost an hour to get ready and go. I went to the subway station because I had already walked to the city before.
As I arrived close to the center, I got off in a different station and I would be able to see different streets. I had not established any plan of where I might be going. I was just going, after all, it was Prague and wherever you went there was something (or someone) interesting to see.
As I walked toward the main square direction, I started recognizing all the streets I had been the day before. It was a good impression, having been there before, a kind of deja vu feeling. Suddenly, what do I see? The restaurant I had spent hours looking for the previous afternoon. There they were, the windows, with the writing on them. So, I decided to check for the prices and be sure now I knew where it was. When I found the door, dear me, it was the restaurant I had entered the afternoon before! As I had come from the other side of the street, I hadn’t seen the windows, ten steps away from the door. In the end, I ate where I had wanted to, unaware. So I giggled and moved on.
Wandering, as any good flaneur would, through the tourist-filled streets I saw many places. There were many small museums, like the one about torture and terror, which called my attention, I wanted to go back there (but never found it again). So in one of the narrow streets I saw a sign of a museum about Kepler. I had heard about this scientist but I had no idea he had been Czech. One more to the list I could have used in the bar. As I didn’t want to miss this one, I headed for it, entering a kind of gallery. I found the museum, which turned out to be a large room, with some posters about the life and works of Kepler. Also, some models to illustrate his theories. However, the funniest part was when I entered the place. There was a woman, a middle-aged lady. I said “Hello”. She looked at me astonished and asked me: “Brazilian?”
It was my turn to be puzzled. How the hell did she guess? There was nothing in my clothes that could tell it, nothing in my voice since I had only said hello. She continued: “From São Paulo?” And I started nodding in accordance. She started talking to me in a mixture of Czech, Italian and English. And we established a short conversation, thank to my linguistic ability to understand whatever people are talking in an unknown language. I paid the 0,30 cents of Czech crown and started reading the posters.

She was so happy to have a Brazilian there. For what I could understand, she had a cousin or a nephew who had married a Brazilian girl and moved to São Paulo. So, I felt no one had the right to think me Mexican (like the guy on the train). Me and my Brazilian from São Paulo face. =)
After that, I found a big building and discovered it was the National Museum, the new building. It was not so cheap to enter, and I hoped the posters and all were bilingual as in the Kepler museum. There were about three exhibitions: one about inventions, one about the history of a certain region of the Czech Republic and one about insects. The latter was only in Czech so I did not spend much time there. And I felt sorry for the people who visited museums in São Paulo because I had seen none prepared for foreigners. When my Finnish friend had visited some years before, I had to be there with him, to explain. Maybe it will change with the upcoming international events which will be held here, who knows. Anyway, I am digressing here. I took some pictures when the guards were not looking because I bought the cheapest ticket and if one wanted to take pictures, s/he would have to purchase the other type, the more expensive ticket.
As a kind of divine vengeance for being a nasty boy, almost all the pictures were blurred.

As I went to the old building of the museum, across the street, I learned I would have to buy another ticket and it was crowded. So I looked at the clock, it was past one and I hadn’t had a big breakfast. It was time to decide where to have lunch. i hated having to decide by myself and have no one to give a second opinion. Then I remembered the suggestion the American couple had given in Berlin. I had already found the restaurant in my way to the Kafka museum. So, it was not so near but walking was all one had to do. On the way, as I was walking a wide avenue with a lot of stores in both sides, I decided to enter a bookstore and buy another guide. My guide was not complete and I wanted to study Czech history. You can call me a defeated or pseudo nerd, but I was still feeling the weight of my stupidity, the night before. I took the opportunity for also buying some postcards and getting hungrier.
As I arrived at the restaurant Tri Stoleti I realized what I hadn’t the day before. It seemed to be quite an expensive place. The atmosphere was very cozy, the lights, the background music. As I sat a beautiful waitress came to serve me and she was very friendly. I ordered the usual: soup to warm up, then some traditional food, which here meant pork and some bread dumplings. The traditional glass of wine, but I wanted it to be Czech and white, for a change. Then I was full, but she offered me dessert. I felt I couldn’t and asked her about some traditional Czech dessert. She mentioned the Apfel Strudel, which I thought to be traditional in all the countries around. But why not? And when it came it was a surprise for the eyes and a bliss for the taste. I almost cried as I ate it, so exquisite it was and I wanted to ask for another one, but it would make me explode. It was probably one of the most delicious things I have eaten during the trip. And the best: when the check came, I had spent only about 20 euros, a bargain for the type of service I had had.

After that, I started heading for the castle. Jiři had suggested that and asked me if I had gone there. So I tried to find it again. It was getting colder and dark and I could not find the castle, though I am pretty sure I got close to it. I did find a post office, or Posta, as they call it.
So I decided to go home because I would have a date.
A date?, you may ask. Not really. I was going out with a guy from the couchsurfing site who hadn’t been able to host me but had some time off to go out. I called him, I told him where he could pick me up and there we went for an adventure, with the blessings of my dear host.
His name was Marek and he told me we would be going to a new bar because he had got an ad on the net and he would get 5 free drinks.
The place was called Suzana. It was a very weird place, and this is from a guy who has been to reaaaally strange places. He was driving so he didn’t want to drink a lot so we asked 4 types of drinks and I drank most of it. We talked about life and culture and many other things but I saw no spark on his eyes. I was also not so interested as well, so we kind of agreed it would be just a tacit “we are just friends”.
We left the bar and he asked me if I wanted to go to a club. I agreed because this kind of invitation had been rare till then and it might not happen anytime soon. We went to a club named Friends. There was a Brazilian night (!) going on, whatever that was. The guy discovered only later I was Brazilian, by the way. So we danced a bit, talked a bit, drank (he was drinking soft drinks, remember?). I tried to hunt, not much success, he asked me if there was anyone interesting, I said yes, he told yes for him, but nothing happened. No approach and he told me he was tired and he wanted to go. There were some Italians there trying to get everyone (us not included) and I felt staying there might make me feel like “How soon is now”, so he told me I could stay, it would be easier to go back by tram or subway. I decided to go, I was a guest and did not want to arrive soooo late. We went and he took me home. The moment of goodbye could be an opportunity to try something, to move one base, but he was so dismissive, like “have a good night and a good life” that I felt it was better to admit defeat and withdraw (not that I was so wanting it anyway - and don’t read any rejection resentment here, I mean it, there was none).
Maybe tomorrow, my last day, I would find castle. What other surprises would I have in my final touring around?

domingo, 5 de junho de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 13

Day 13 - One should have studied it better

So, here I was. Ready to explore a whole new country, a different language, far from whatever I had studied or had contact before. Alright, the alphabet is Latin, but it was quite an experience.
I tried to wake up but I didn’t even manage to move the blanket. Maybe half an hour more? One hour later, I was leaving. I decided to take a picture of the name of the street and the building. Just in case I got lost when I wanted to return. I headed the same way back to the station. There was a church and a square next to where my host lived. There were some small stores and grocery stores around. As I got to the station, I decided not to get the subway. I wanted to go walking to the center of the city, there was no sign but anyway I felt like walking. And I kept walking and following my instincts to get farther and farther. I could not see anything like a big building or whatever, but I knew I was going to the right place. And in less than 20 minutes I got to the center.
The streets, the buildings started to change from the colorful low buildings to some bigger, ornamented buildings, the first tower was seen.

As soon as I arrived downtown, I saw a street fair with magnets, handicraft and many other things. I felt like buying some paintings but god knew how I would never be able to carry it (or them). I bought a Prague hood, and it would be a present for sure (which I kept to myself).
Then I decided to start visiting some places. There was some sunshine but the wind was cold. It was about time I entered somewhere to get warm. The Kubist Museum was the first place visited. I had learned to respect the avant-guards since the wonderful visits to Magritte and Dali. It was very pleasant and the museum was almost empty. I loved the Cubist furniture, and felt my furniture was so ordinary.

Very soon I arrived at the central square. The cathedral was sitting there, magnanimously. A lot of tourists around. I saw the astronomical clock, there was a bride and a groom, I think they are always there only for tourists to take pictures. There were other important and different buildings. I saw the river and the bridge but I decided to stay in one side of the river and crossing for some exploration only after lunch. By the way, it was almost 1pm and I was getting hungry. As I had to choose for myself where I was eating, I had been paying attention to that since I had arrived downtown. In fact, I had already chosen a restaurant to go. One which had its menu written on the window, with some special ink. I had liked the place and I wanted there to be the first restaurant I was in Prague. So I tried to walk back the same way I had come from. But there were so many small streets, almost alleys. What could I do to find it? I could not ask because I had not paid attention to the NAME of the place. But hey, not many have the menus written on windows, right? None. Let’s keep walking. For almost an hour! Hunger was taking over and I felt cold and tired. I decided to be a bit more flexible and give up looking for the restaurant. I entered the first one I saw and sat. There was no table for one. Only for two or four. There was a group of Americans near me, and some French friends. I kept staring at the chair across from the table and I could not believe there was nobody there. I ordered some pasta and pork steaks and while I waited I took off my coat. A suggestion is never to sit near the door, because keeping the coat on makes you feel too hot and taking it off makes you chill as people enter or leave. And while I was waiting the radio was playing some very nice songs like Michael Jackson’s “Your not alone” and Enya’s “Sail away”. Is it very impolite or disrespectful to etiquette to cry in restaurants?
Anyway, the food was tasty and I was ready to face the cold again,after some soup and wine.
I left the restaurant still a bit annoyed for it was not exactly what I wanted to have, where I wanted to be. But I headed for the bridge, the most famous of them all, Carlos bridge or Karluv most.

In this picture, I managed to get some details of the bridge, the people and part of the city. As I was crossing the bridge I saw a banner of the Kafka museum. I was not a big fan of him, having read the Metamorphosis, Letter to father and some short stories, but as a student of literature, I felt compelled to go there and learn a bit more about him. So the matter now was to find out how I could get there.
The museum was very easy to find as there was a banner I could see from the bridge. When I found it, there were some statues of two men pissing. It was not as famous as the pissing boy we DIDN’T see in Brussels, but it was nice because I got a picture of a guy “helping” the statue. After that, at night Jiři told me these guys were made by an important and controversial Czech artist, David Cerný.

Then I entered the museum. It was a delicious surprise. It was quite different from other experiences in museums: the lights, the way the manuscripts, his biography were scattered around the rooms of a two-storey house was remarkable. There were sounds, some pictures in a small structure with water, resembling a river. It was not so cheap to enter, but definitely worth it. There was a room in which one wall was a mirror, whose meaning I could not grasp (there was a relation to a certain novel).

As I left the museum, it was getting dark. I wanted to go places the other side of the bridge, but it was also colder. Colder than I had imagined. So I decided to walk back to the station I had seen and take the subway to return. Walking home in that cold didn’t seem the smartest thing to do. On my way to the station I entered a different street and there I was, in the middle of one Christmas fair. It was crowded and some guys were playing some medieval-like songs. I had some hot wine and it made me feel better for another 10 minutes. I saw the black house which had been Kafka’s house. It is so different to walk around a place after visiting a museum or reading more than I had about it.
In no time I returned “home”. My host was already there and he introduced me to one of his roommates, Vlastin. He was a friendly and intelligent guy, though he had the tendency or mania to intimidate the guests before showing how nice he was. I guess it was a kind of test. Or his charms, depending on from what perspective you look at it.
I had some tea, what later became a tradition. It was miraculous, it was really cold. (I learned later Prague had the coldest temperatures of all my trip).
Jiři let me use his computer and I could send messages to home and check on Carol. I looked around and I still could not believe she was not there, sitting on the other bed and rambling about how Kafka this or how that guy on the subway that.
But as she had told me, I was supposed to have a lot of fun, so I engaged in conversation with my Czech host and those evenings with him were so energizing, so peaceful. His way to look at life, or how he was learning Chinese because of his girlfriend. And the way he so promptly answered my questions. We talked about everything. And he taught me some Czech. I would be able to understand all the different symbols and pronounce any word correctly. Thanks to my lessons of linguistics and his patience, I could read well though I had no idea what I was reading.
Then, we went to a bar nearby. He told me it would be a noisy and cigarette-stinky experience. But I guess the cold had prevented people from leaving their houses. The bar was half-empty and not so noisy so we could talk a lot. I was there with the two boys and a girl who was a friend of Vlastin’s. The night would have been perfect, had we not started a game. It was a kind of quiz. Jiři asked his friends what they knew about Brazil. Of course the traditional Carnival and soccer came first, but they knew a lot of other things about Brazil. Paulo Coelho had just released a book there and Jiři had read him. So far, so good. Then, the game was inverted and they asked me (after having some Czech drinks to taste) what I knew about the Czech Republic. I started thinking and nothing came to my mind. Nervousness removed all the remaining ideas. Seeing my hesitation, they tried to help. “So, let’s start with the basics, what’s the capital?”, he asked. I started thinking. He added: “This one is difficult”. I was so nervous I did not read the irony in his tone of voice. I thought” “difficult?! like Australia or Canada maybe, everyone thinks the capital is one city and it is another”. And the first city which came to my mind was Cracow. And I said that. Total failure. They laughed a lot and told me it might be if Cracow was in the Czech Republic and not in Poland. I wanted to hide my head in the earth... After that, the big intellectual discovered he was IN the capital of the country. And a lot of things started coming to my mind: Milan Kundera, Prague Winter, Czech cinema. But I feeling so down because of my stupid mistake I wanted to make up somehow.
Another interesting thing that happened that night was that in the toilet, in the urinals they had put some slices of orange and lemon. I had never seen that even in Brazil, only ice or some kind of small balls for that purpose. And Jiři had noticed that and said we were pissing on orange that night but his grandfather had told him stories of how he was happy to get one orange as Christmas gift, when he was young. This made me wonder and hate Stalin (and what he represented) a bit more. After more talking, I couldn’t hate anyone because I was too busy snoring. =)