Deep Breath

Urban Drifters

On Sundays Washington Square Park is boiling with music, laughter, picnics, street artists, performers and puppeteers. May you feel depressed or lonely on a hot Sunday afternoon, go there! Once you step into this park with a grand piano just under the arch you end up like in some sort of pink smoke or lucid dust, so unreal you need to take a deeper breath.

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Like this old man.

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Or this young one.

City rests it’s weary bones in parks, among the children chatter and in the tired eyes of an old man.

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Artist Studio

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 I had a chance to visit some artist studios during the Bushwick Art day.

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It’s strange to realize how a place, so empty, can be so inspiring.

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Visiting someone’s place can be a truly lifting experience in it’s very own sense, like seeing an artwork or hearing a musician. It’s soaked with the intangible joy.

Analogue New York

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Two months ago I landed in New York. City of big dreams, aspirations, desires. The city of chimeras. Delirious New York.

22150024Eternal spin, a tempest, a stroboscope feel.

22150016Anxiety.

24480012My gaze cannot focus anymore.

24480015The city of great contradictions, paradoxes, disparities. Inequalities.

22150006The color is my queen of gaze.

22150015The city is composed of distinct universes that sometimes seem to be so distant from each other. I like to wander in chaotic Chinatown, it’s like some unnamed city, self-contained, abstracted. I love to spend my lazy Sundays in hipster Bushwick, and later walk through the Jewish district where only black dressed rabbis with their wives are seen. Or go Coney Island to see some Russian culture.

22150008On Saturdays I meet my friends in East Village, the neighborhood so counterculture once, and now so hip. But still some remains of the alternative past are easily found, in the bizarre and the odd.

24470009Here is the famous punk clothing shop where some big pop culture figures still drop by for some new quirky gems.

24470004Which ones would you choose?

24470007It’s hard to realize that on that corner of East Village Lou Reed and Andy Warhol would throw parties once, or that this building was used for Led Zeppelin album cover.

24470019It’s eerie to walk on the streets of such cultural memory.

24470013When you ramble around in East Village look around – the mosaic man left some artworks in the most unexpected places of all.

24470015In honor of Japan.

24470016There is some street art, but this issue deserves a separate blog post.

24470022“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

Francis Scott Fitzgerald on New York, in The Great Gatsby

24480005I am forever enchanted by this city.

China Dream

china_EgleMyk“With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Picture shot in Guangzhou, China

The eternal Bali bliss

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Bali – the island so long dreamt of, island of inner peace and eternal bliss. I finally put my feet on your land, after an 18-hour trip. Waves of heat and the smell never experienced before – I realize it’s my first time in Asia. It’s around midnight, and we step into the urban jungle of Denpasar to reach the cheapest hotel somewhere in the neighborhood of the airport. Dogs hauling, taxi drivers beeping to us, all sorts of animals crawling in the bushes around us, but we marsh bravely towards our goal – a shower and a pillow.

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The first couple of days fly pass indulging into the lucrative delights of local food. I mean it, food itself is a totally self sufficient pleasure on the first days on this island: you can just go to whatever buffets and warungs (family-owned businesses), it will be phenomenally good. Local spices, freshest ever fruit smoothies (my favorite was avocado-mango-chocolate one), green curries, “nasi goreng” (aromatic rice dishes), babi guling (for meat lovers), sates, seafood, vegetables – for a minute you start thinking that’s all what life is about. On top of that, it is so cheap – the average prices for lunch is around 4-5 dollars per person. But you can find spots for 2 dollars as well!

One lunch place I truly recommend to try out is a buffet called Made’s Warung in Seminyak. And don’t forget to take a fresh coconut juice served directly from a coconut!

peoplepraying_EgleMykAlthough we spent our first Balinese days in local tourist places – Seminyak and Legian, we were lucky enough to encounter some local celebrations of Balinese Hindu people, all dressed in white with frangipani flowers in their hair, immersed in incense smoke.

palm_EgleMykBut otherwise, these were extremely touristic places and even though it was great to recover after a long trip and enjoy quality food, there was little about the real Balinese culture. So we quickly packed and went to experience Ubud – a so called “spiritual” and “cultural” center of Bali.

temple3_EgleMykAnd actually it was in Ubud where our real Bali experience started. It is still pretty touristic with all the hotels, spa centers, yoga classes and shops, but there is still something very special about Ubud. It’s so peaceful and mystic in a way.

me_EgleMykOne of the best things about Ubud is that it is full of things to see and do. One of them is of course, Tegalalang rice terraces. We were crazy enough to go there by bikes from Ubud (on a hot summer day), but you can easily get there taking a taxi. Strolling from one layer to another, encountering the local rice field farmers, makes the whole experience absolutely unique. It’s a must see in Bali!

monkeys_EgleMykSome “National Geographic” moment :} Another thing to do in Ubud is visiting the Monkey forest. Monkeys are considered holly animals in Bali, so they live like nobles in temples and are fed by locals. In fact, they are truly spoilt here, and not every banana will content them. Here is a moment of monkey family deeply asleep I captured with my camera.

waterfall_EgleMykOh yes, and this is the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen in my life. It’s called Munduk Waterfall and it is surrounded by spice forest, where real fragrant cloves are grown. You can also find coffee and banana trees in this forest as well as avocados and Durians. If you are crazy about spices and spice markets, ask your driver to get you to the local spice market nearby this waterfall. It’s the best spice market in Bali.

cliff_EgleMykThese are the famous Bali temples – Pura Tanah Lot and Uluwatu temple.

temple5_EgleMykThere are local “priests” sanctifying with holy water and shamans with holy snakes..

Vaidas_EgleMykThere is plenty of incredible beaches in the south of the island which are not too touristic, at least not like Jimbaran or Kuta beaches. This one was insanely calm and beautiful, it’s right next to Padang Padang in between of the huge cliffs. Around 2 pm the water shallows so you can lay down and have a “natural spa” :} There are also special beaches for surfing pros which are also hidden. You can live on a cliff in those beaches in small rooms facing the sea, and have dinners on the coast, right by the water with fresh fish and seafood. If you want to know more about those secret beaches, just leave me a comment or message, and I will disclose more details.

stairs_EgleMykThis beach is also really calm, local and not overcrowded. It is situated in the east of Bali, near Padang Padang Bai, in Candidasa. It’s just so beautiful and peaceful.

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Chill at Gili Air

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Gili Air is the best place for chilling on this earth. You can get to Gili islands directly from Bali. Just take a boat.

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Gili Air is not as touristic as other Gili archipelago islands and its population is only 1,800 people! You can go around the whole island in an hour and a half.

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And yes, this is a taxi in Gili Air :) Since there are no cars or other transport. But you can rent a bike if you don’t feel like walking on foot.

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There are no real hotels either, but there is plenty of budget cute little bungalows with an open air shower.

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The coast of the island is strewed with bungalows and open air cafes by the water. But if you step a little bit further to the midst of the island, you will discover true local life with cows and sheds and chickens.

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I have never experienced such chill in my life before and never seen such relaxed people. There are some local people from the West as well, some Australians mainly, who seem a bit stuck in this tiny little paradise :) Their skin is tanned and their teeth are white and they laugh all the time. The island does its job :)

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The coast is full of corals. They look like tiny white bones.

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During the daytime, you can simply lay on the beach or go snorkeling. It’s a fantastic place for snorkeling, the water is crystal clear and the coast is shallow enough. Ahh all sorts of colorful fishes and big turtles around you, it is a crazy experience!

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And in the evenings you can have a fantastic dinner by the water with freshly caught fish or seafood.

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Or have a cocktail with real fruit juice :)

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There are the most beautiful sunsets here as well. The sun sets down to a vulcano.

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I will miss this place so much.

 

The Labyrinths of Fez, Morocco

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In “Only Lovers Left Alive”, a movie by Jim Jarmusch, one of the main characters, vampire Eve (enacted by Tilda Swinton) lives in this spectacular place called Tangier, situated in Morocco. The place is so alluring with its decorative interiors and sights that you can almost touch the textures of wood carvings and vibrant ceramic tiles and feel the smells of eastern spices. This place looks so eternal and authentic that it is almost hard to believe it is real. 

That’s how I decided to visit Morocco myself. 

For this trip I chose the city of Fez, the city in the desert, with the most peculiar urban structure I have ever seen. And I will shortly explain why.

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Have you ever been in a Medina quarter, an arabic “old town” ? If you have, you’ll understand what I mean – the experience is absolutely unique. To enter a Medina you usually have to go through the gates since the whole quarter is hidden in between of tall walls. And then you suddenly find yourself in a maze of tiny narrow streets with authentic old houses (usually very low level, only 1-2 floors). The feeling is like getting back in time since everything in a medina is so authentic – no supermarkets, no cars, not even bikes, only donkeys.

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The city of Fez has two Medinas, and the larger one, Fes el Bali, is enlisted into UNESCO World heritage. Here you can find also an oldest madrasa (or “medersa”, a religious school) in the world dating back to AD 895, truly an architectural masterpiece.

So as you can see I had plenty of inspiration for my photographic endeavors.

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When we arrived at Fez International airport, we took a taxi to our Riad, a traditional guesthouse, which we have booked in advance. The taxi drove us by the gates of the Medina and let us out. And when we asked the driver how can we find our Riad, the driver just smiled and pointed to the gates.

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But as you can imagine just after entering Medina we got lost like 10 times or more that day. Occasionally we would meet other tourists, with eyes like plates, obviously lost :) On top of that, the locals on every corner were offering to “lead us” to our Riad, something like “hey, where are you going, you wanna stay at our Riad? Where are you going, hey, wait, let me show you”. And this mantra on every street corner you enter. So the whole experience was kinda crazy – heat, thirst, insistent locals and the maze…

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We were so tired from this continuous course we could barely stand on our feet. Soon we realized that the only option was to call our Riad and actually ask to pick us up.  Fortunately, the manager from our Riad was very quick to come and lead us home. Just after getting into our Riad, having a shower and a hot glass of fresh mint tea, we instantly relaxed and everything stood into place.

So we stepped out again into the oriental labyrinth to experience the magic and the local life in the Medina.

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I couldn’t help but falling in love with Fez. We were wandering around for hours, everything was so colorful, luscious, fragrant and delightful: the cedar wood carvings, the mosaics, the decorative architecture, everything. There was plenty of inspiration on every corner.

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Wandering in Normandy: cosmic stations and picnics

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Normandy, a region of North-Western France, is a historical site of European history. Although not the most popular site in France for tourism, it has lots to offer for the passersby.

The most vivid part about this region is its abandoned bunkers and fortresses built by Germans during the World War II.

To be honest, my trip to Normandy was rather spontaneous and I didn’t make any research in advance. As a result, I didn’t expect to find anything like that when visiting Normandy for the first time. Thus, I was struck and highly impressed by the massive and brutal aesthetics of this place – ghostly monuments of war facing the sea.

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You may end up spending hours wandering around these bunkers, which resemble rather some kind of cosmic stations on a deserted planet than a war relic. The atmosphere is truly peculiar and I’m sure – if I was a filmmaker, I would shoot a movie in this place.

I would recommend a book by a cultural theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio, called “Bunker Archaeology“(1975), which I discovered later after my trip. The author wrote this book for as long as 30 years and the English version was finally published in 1997. In this book Virilio discusses the bunkers and fortresses from a philosophical and archaeological perspective trying to answer the questions of cultural memory, monument rejection and recognition, etc.

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I believe Virilio would have been approved by the French Situationists for a successful attempt to implement “pshychogeography” :)

As for the gourmand part, I never ever drank better apple cider and ate tastier Moules Marinières (mussles made with cider) than I did in Normandy. And never had a better picnic on the seashore next to the spectacular cliffs of Etretat with goat cheese and camembert bought from local farmers. Ahh the simple beauty of life!