Once upon a time in Cnoc Fola

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamt of a specific place by the sea.

Cnoc Fola Festival, Donegal festivals

She did not know if the place was real, but that did not matter, as it was real for her.

crafts in Donegal, summer in Donegal

She had grown up in the high mountains of Transylvania and she loved the mountains.

seafood in Donegal, Cnoc Fola events

But she missed the salty fragrance of the sea, mixed with the scent of pine trees.

Story telling in Donegal, ancient crafts in Ireland

Books were describing this place, Bloody Foreland, as the last vestige of the ancient people of Tuatha de Dannan, where magic is still alive.

festivals in Donegal, wild atlantic way holidays

And she could see this place so clearly in her mind’s eye.

fish and seafood Donegal, Donegal people

Its colors and its people…

Teac Jack Donegal, Bloody Foreland Donegal

The dancing and the laughter…

Irish dancing Donegal, sean nos dancing

The crafts and the crops…

basket weaving, creel making Donegal,

mussels picking Donegal, fresh seafood Donegal

…but some say it was just a dream.

Concert for pots and pans

Reminiscent of an invitation to dine within the inner temple of the kitchen in the Oitavos Hotel in Cascais, I have to thank Chef Sebastian Fratye for such an experience.

fine dining at Chef's Table

It may not be overly exaggerated to view the experience of dining at the Chef’s Table as akin to that of a classical concert – sizzling pans, knives on cutting boards and bubbling pots weaving their melodies to produce a culinary crescendo – with the listener enjoying the benefit of ‘tasting the music’ afterwards.

dinner at The Oitavos Hotel Portugal

Extending the metaphor, an overture of black eyed bean salad with dried tuna and a sprinkling of red pepper and red onion swerved as a prelude to greater things to come, the salty tuna complementing the earthy, full-bodied beans.

people in kitchen of Portugal hotel

A second starter of sweetbreads and crawfish in a tarragon and Muscatel sauce was a fine example of how almost anything can be combined if knowledge and skill is aplenty.

gourmet eating in Portugal

Then came the soft, mellow tones of scallop, lightly kissed on a hot pan flavored with butter, garlic, coriander, mustard and lemon confit – a well-performed adagio.

kitchen of restaurant in Portugal

And the climactic finale – 40-day matured Portuguese Black Angus steak accompanied by an aromatic Douro red wine from Vila Regia, which Nuno Antunes, the F&B manager, said emerged from the vineyards the Champalimaud family own in northern Portugal. The encore: a dark chocolate dessert that literary opened its petals before us as pastry chef Joaquim de Sousa delicately dripped his sweet, creamy sauce over it.

pastry chef decorating desert

If you did not believe in magic before, watch this. And if you did, you see how right you are.

The way of the menhir

I have touched the silent menhirs in Carnac, Brittany several years ago and I left with more questions than I came with.

I needed to try my hand again, in Portugal, just outside the beautiful Evora, where the Almendres form one of the most interesting megalithic monuments on the Iberian Peninsula.

I rushed my pace to get to the stones, up the narrow, tormented path, until I thought I heard a whisper…

…ever so soft, almost as if someone was getting ready to say something.

There was no wind. But when I looked around, something fell into place, when my eyes began to delight in the details at the side of the road.

So I spent about one hour on a 15 minutes walk and remember every second…

That soft voice must have been a better self, trying to teach me… Where was I rushing to? The stones had been there for thousands of years, they were not going anywhere and their stories were outside themselves.

They just drew the stories strongly towards them, with their mysterious apparent silence.

But they are shouting for those who can hear: “on the way to the menhir, it is the road, not the destination.”

Instant perspective of heterotopias of time

Airports can be such a contrasting combinations. On one side, they are cold, characterless warehouses, with no soul – we never spend enough time there to leave too much of ourselves.

In the same time, they can be nests of spiritual gatherings, hosting such a diversity of humans with all the hopes they carry while inhabiting them.


And if you start paying attention at the people queuing at the security control, most of us are walking like in a trance, maybe even some kind of meditation. And when you start listening to some of the things people say, you might just get an instant perspective of the beauty of the human mind –

…it’s like putting your life back again,” says a man giving me a smile while he is gathering his belongings after passing through the security machine.
…we have to die so new little people can grow again, right mamy?” A small little girl says while pulling at a large briefcase towards the conveyor belt.

…if you are to choose only five words to define you, what would those be?” The dark-haired girl asks her boyfriend while he is taking his computer out of his bag to put it in the tray. He looks at her and asks her if she took out her toiletries bag. She smiles.


Are airports heterotopias of time? Can we connect better with each other if we rationalize that we are constantly in an airport?


Escaping reality in reality

There is something comforting about hotel lobbies. Like being in front of a portal to a world where you are simply a guest. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA No commitments, no expectations, no definite plans. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am here just for a while, I don’t need to own this place to enjoy it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I take in the scent of overpowering restroom airfreshners – which I would never use at home – and I vibrate with  the expectations of discovering the place. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Why do I feel so good about this blissful uncertainty and change completely once the holiday is over? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our whole lives are temporary stop-overs in places we call ‘homes’. Do we really enjoy them better because we give them a permanent status? Because they are full of stuff we call ‘our own?’


Or we need our homes to have something to escape from? Or it’s me, a constant escapist, somewhere over the rainbow when I’m not behind a photograph? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Je Suis Charlie: A thank you to all my diverse selves, wherever you are out there

It’s no coincidence that I have been reading “Tomorrow’s God” by Neale Donald Walsch when the events in Paris happened.

And even though Walsch says that any act of violence is a cry for help, is so hard to look at the attackers and admit that they are merely the embodiment of our collective failures in how we treat one another. Hundreds of years of bowing to fictional descriptions of a series of Gods who are continually separating us from one another. It was such a tough mirror to face.

So, like never before, I was so proud to be a human being when people gathered in Paris and other cities of the world, showing that Life, above all, is what we treasure most and what unites us all.

Many humble thanks go to everyone who was out there on the streets marching on behalf of Life today. With your permission, from the wild northwest of Donegal where I am now, I would like to call you all my different other selves and join in your diversity and solidarity.

100_6017Tomorrow’s God does not require anyone to believe in God.” N.D. Walsch



Tomorrow’s God is separate from nothing, but is everywhere present, the All in All, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the sum total of everything that ever was, is now and ever shall be.” N.D. Walsch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow’s God is without gender, size, shape, color or any of the characteristics o an individual living being.” N.D. Walsch


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow’s God talks to everyone all the time.” N.D. Walsch

self assurance

Tomorrow’s God is not a singular Super Being, but the extraordinary process called Life.” N.D. Walsch


Conversations during Afternoon Tea

I believe the initial idea of the afternoon tea was to feed the hunger and satisfy the thirst of those who were too passionate to converse, to stop the flow of ideas….

Historic ambiance of Brown's Hotel, London
Historic ambiance of Brown’s Hotel, London

…writing and how a forgotten red scarf on a chair can tell a story…

Contemporary chic Corinthia Hotel London

… time passing and how sometimes the memories of smell and taste overwhelm those of faces…

Contemporary chic Corinthia Hotel London

… should a scone have a crusty top or be more like a brioche?

Historic ambiance of Brown’s Hotel, London

… art nouveau and how some places are like a magnet for our romantic fantasies…

The Ritz Hotel of London

… chocolate and love and how the simple thought of the separating them is hard to imagine…

The Ritz Hotel London

a travel photography blog


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers