Tag Archives: lisbon

Frederic

How does one fall in love with a city?

You can’t find the recipe in any tour guide. There must be a perfect combination of circumstances, that might have nothing to do with your expectations. You just accidentally feel that your heart is arrested by that place. That’s when you get in trouble.

I didn’t expect at all, that the interiors of an ancient palace near São Jorge Castle turned into a boutique hotel, the soundtrack from the movies of Almodovar, the french monsieur Frederic Coustols telling me stories about how Marcelo Mastroianni stayed 6 months and Wim Wenders filmed his movie “Lisbon story” with a fadista singing in the hotel, would make me feel that little magic in the air.

_MG_8807

Frederic is the wisest of all my friends and one of the most unordinary people I have ever met. Random curious tourists enter the big red wooden door to the right from the São Jorge Castle in Alfama and find themselves in the cafe of Palacio Belmonte. Accidentally, a man in pyjamas and inevitably with a cigar, chilling on a sofa, starts talking to them, telling fascinating stories they want to believe in. People usually have no idea that the man in front of them is the one, who back in 1994 “came out of the blue” to save the building and turn it into this magnificent boutique hotel: “The building called me. I was taken by the building”.

1476508_10151722793771213_616767916_n

I first met Frederic in my first trip to Lisbon in 2012, when I went to interview him for a project of Aisha.Mir – Russian magazine about travelling. Since then Palacio became for me a very special place, that welcomes and comforts me every time I go there. Whenever I feel like it, I pop by surprise for a chat or a dinner with Frederic and Maria in the cozy kitchen of Palacio Belmonte.

I think Lisbon is special for the light, for the quality of the year, but also, mainly, for its rare architecture. The harmony of the colours. People feel in peace in Lisbon.

And then, what is strange in Lisbon is the pace of life: you are in a car, the car is going fast and somebody starts crossing, and you have to stop. And the people crossing, they won’t go faster. It will take one minute, maybe. But you have to stop. It’s not a stressed, speedy city. It’s a calm city.

Frederic is the biggest dreamer I know. Once he told me: “I like creating beauty, and when people come here, they become beautiful too”.

Lisbon is a beautiful city. But I’m sure that it’s not just about the nature, the architecture and the light, but also about the people, like Frederic, that can see the beauty in details and multiply it by sharing their vision with the others.

Amo-te Lisboa

Since August of 2014 I live in Lisbon, the best kept secret on the map of Europe. Once I discovered it, I understood that I desperately needed to live here and nowhere else in the world.

22 of March, 2012 – exactly 3 years ago I went to the Chamartín train station in Madrid to take the night train, that would take me to Lisbon for the first time. I had no idea about Portugal and had no expectations. I had a free week, a 50% discount on tickets and a rented room in Bairro Alto for 10 euros per night for a week. Lisboa was calling me. 

And not? When I went to the train station I found out that my train was cancelled because of the strike of railway workers in Portugal. So, I changed my ticket for the next day and one night later I found myself in Lisbon.

It was an absolutely mesmerising experience. I had been to different cities in my life, but never ever I had that weird and exciting feeling that… I was finally home.

amo-te

I was born in Yerevan. I used to spend all the summer holidays there. But I always felt that I was different. It was the home of my close ones, but never was my home.

Since I was 5, I lived, grew up, studied and spent the most part of my life in Moscow. In no other place in the world I felt myself alien as much as in Moscow. I made a lot of attempts, I would fall in love with Moscow and its greatness every spring and then get disappointed with it once and again.

I spent 1 month in Malaga, 1 month in Barcelona and 1 year in Madrid. I love Spain and every part of it. Would I like to live there? Yes, probably. Did it feel like home there? Nope.

And then unexpectedly I found my home in this fantastic city, with the weird language that sounds like Russian but has nothing to do with it, with the myriads of hidden (and not) spots which simply take your breath away, with the smell of ocean, coffee and flowers, with the magnificent light that only Lisbon has.

That is how my story began.