London: Matinée

Sunday, January 27, 2015 – Saturday, January 2, 2016

The word “matinee”, French by origin, today in English means a dramatical or musical performance in a theatre or cinema which takes place in the afternoon. It derives from the 19th century French word matinée, literally “morning”—a time of day when activities and events are held.

“Matinée” is also the name of a little cafe in Budapest from where I now write this brief journal about my foray into the London.

The establishment just a stone’s throw away from the famous Andrássy avenue is a tiny two-storey building with about six tables. Sitting on the corner of a side street next to a florist, Matinée is unimposing and secretive; walking into its wooden-framed glass door is crossing the threshold into European hipsterdom, a place filled with black jeans, beards, tattoos, a Japanese “lucky cat”, and, of course, good coffee.

You wouldn’t find this coffeehouse in your Lonely Planet guidebook to the Hungarian capital, but if ever there was a handbook of hipster hideouts in Budapest, Matinée would be top of the list, along with other places such as “Konyha” and “We Love Coffee”—both near Budapest’s Deák Ferenc ter.

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Picture of the Week – February 7, 2016

 

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The Memorial to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence, located on the edge of Budapest’s City Park and just a few paces from the much visited Heroes’ Square, stands out in the winder snow because of its rusty columns, which represent the gathering of individuals to form a spear of resistance against their communist oppressors.

The monument is a piece of modern art which requires knowledge of its history to appreciate; a quick look into its background is also enough to understand its shape—an arrow or the tip of a spear which is out of shot to the left.

Built in 2005 in time for the 50th anniversary of the War of Independence, it stands on the site of a former Catholic church, demolished by the communists to make way for a statue of Joseph Stalin.

While seemingly imposing when viewing it in person, the site is in fact humble and silent, most noticeable for the lack of a large marble tablet of some sort which might otherwise explain the reason behind its creation.

France: Bon à Savoir

Saturday, December 19, 2015—Budapest

“Hi, there. Could you tell me where the check-in counter for easyJet is, please?” I said nonchalantly with a smile to the young lady at the information desk.

She looked up at me, then at her watch, and said, “The check-in is over.”

“Oh, that’s odd,” I replied, seemingly unaware of the grave meaning behind her blunt, four-word sentence. “But luggage drop-off ends half an hour before take-off, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, sir, it does.”

Bemused, I gestured to my timepiece—it showed 6:25pm. I reasoned, “And the flight is at 7:55pm, no?” Her reply made my heart sink.

“No, sir…take-off is at 6:55pm.”

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France

A small gallery of my trip to France during Christmas – baguettes, Bordeaux, Sauternes, camembert, but sadly no mimes. Paris and Caen.

A journal of my visit can be found here.

 

Italy: Rosso e Blanco

“He scarcely hesitated. He was afraid to hold back, being fearful that if he waited too long this moment might never come again—or that if it did, his courage might not match his desire for knowledge.”

‘The City and the Stars’ – Arthur C. Clarke

 

I use Arthur C. Clark’s description of Alvin, a resident of the billion-year-old city of Diaspar, as a form of encouragement whenever I am hesitant about embarking on new and unpredictable adventures. Some will come easy; some will bear more strain—such is life. Just as Alvin, who is possibly the very last curious man left on Earth, must venture to Lys, despite the frightening uncertainty of what he might find and in spite of the daunting probability of never returning home, so, too, must I traverse the globe one tiny step at a time. We all must, because we all owe ourselves at least that much.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 – Milan

The more I travel, one thing becomes abundantly clear: There is no dignity in rushing to the airport in the early hours of the morning to catch a 6am flight. You arrive looking terrible; everyone else looks just as bad. The sight almost makes me want to laugh, because you, me, the supermodel—looking like she just ran a marathon—and the businessman—who could pass for a tramp—we are all suffering; there is no exception.

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Italy – Italia

A small gallery from a week in Italy – pizza, coffee, art, and music.

A short journal of my trip to Italy can be found here.