Now that the year is in full swing and things are pretty much back to 'normal', I feel myself wishing I was back in Europe. I miss walking on cobbled roads, I miss the musty smell of the old cathedrals where little old ladies in black sit running worn rosaries through their fingers, I miss negotiating the price of roasted almonds or chestnuts with old men whilst trying to steal some heat from their mobile barbecues...
I miss being privy to the busy lives of the pigeons and storks nesting in secret places, right above the people living in the towns and cities below - my camera lens allowing me unlimited access to their daily routine. Things you don't always notice in your own city.
I miss the irresistible smell of roasting coffee beans that attack the senses when you walk by quaint little coffee shops. I miss being able to throw all talk of dieting to the wind and being able to unashamedly place my order of pasteis de nata or whatever chocolate-bliss-delight is on the menu.
I miss being surrounded by so much history. I miss the sound of so many different languages that are strange to my ear. There is something magical about observing people interacting but not being able to understand what they are saying. I often find myself translating the script in my head - the stories become my own and endings are often open ended...
People say so much when they don't say anything. Somehow being in an unfamiliar setting with a language that you don't understand makes one more aware of the expressions on people's faces. I suspect there is a great lesson in there somewhere!
The thing that I really became aware of today as I scrolled through the pictures I took on our recent trip, is how many people actually make their living on the streets of the cities in Europe. I took these pictures without having a specific theme or interest in mind and I was actually quite amazed when I realized how many examples there were. From painters to dancers to buskers to people preparing food. They were all just getting on with the business of surviving.
I looked at these pictures with different eyes today and have new respect for the people that I snapped as a happy tourist, not REALLY giving too much thought to their reality. Even though it doesn't always look that way on the photos, it was freezing on some of those days.
I guess seeing all of these people on the streets in Europe adds to the magic of the place but I certainly have a renewed respect now that I see with different eyes.