The city that loves you no matter what; Amsterdam

dear Amsterdam, It was wonderful to visit you after such a long time. I think I might have fallen in love with you again and this time I think it is permanent. You are still the same, but I changed.

small001

Just like eight years ago, the time I visited you for the first time, I experienced all the things that you are supposed to experience when one has a date with you. And god had I forgotten how intense you make one feel. It is not the drugs, it is not the prostitutes, it not the gay cinemas, it is none of that.

small002

I guess it is just the way you are, my Amsterdam.
The kindness you offer to every single person who goes on a date with you.

small003

When I exited the Central Station for the first time I witnessed the billboard that warned about white heroin that was sold as cocaine in your streets. My mother, my brother who is ten and my cousin who is not much older wondered what kind of a place I was going to show them, but my first reaction to the sign was only in Amsterdam and smiled. I know it is a serious issue, but I bet even you cannot imagine Paris or Johannesburg or Beijing addressing the issue of drugs the way you.

small004

Continue reading

So much more than just the most expensive city in the world

Dear Oslo, It would had never crossed my mind that you would be such a carefree, easygoing and unhurried city. The image I had of you was not the most flattering one. A rather dull character with very boring buildings that would do not have any stories to share with the strangers. I am not certain how I had arrived to such a conclusion about you.

oslo002

Maybe because I had not really met anyone who had talked about you with yearning passion. In fact people seem to be rather indifferent after visiting you. All they pretty much said how expensive you are, perhaps the most expensive place on Earth and I am not saying they are wrong. But there is so much more to you, my Oslo.

I had booked my flights in April to see my friend, Ragnhild whom I met in Swaziland. She had visited Helsinki frequently after graduation and told me it was about that I came to her in Norway, so when flights for fifty euros appeared, I acted. I was excited to meet her again, after almost a year but for you I held no expectations. Well, besides you being expensive. Continue reading

You are the kindest city in the world, my Bologna

Dear Bologna,

Honestly I never expected to miss you after our brief engagement yet here I am writing to you and admitting you caught me by surprise. I think of you and wish I was with you again. Visiting you made me question once again my relationship with Helsinki, the experience of belonging to her at this point of my life. I know I will recuperate as the time slowly but surely leaps forward, but right now I cannot shake off the feelings you embraced in me.

b001

The conference you hosted reminded me of how exhilarating pleasing it is to connect with people in a heartbeat and share stories that even the friends you have been lucky enough to have do not know about you. I remember before coming to you I was slightly intimated of meeting you and all other fifty people, none of you having the slightest idea what I am. I imagined withdrawal, alienation and solitude. It had been months, perhaps even years since I had to meet so many people in a new context. I had forgotten what strong capacities us humans have to bond with complete strangers.

b006

And for you my Bologna, as much as it saddens me to concedes this, I had no inclination despite the polygamous character of my relationship with cities. You were no Florence or Venice or Rome that everyone so warmly speaks of. I envisioned yet another city who so foolishly strives to convince all the foreigners of his worthiness. I even booked my flights so that I could stay one night more in Italy and see the actual Italy that so many tell me about. But I never left you in spite of my plans.

b010

You took my heart and made it yours.
And you gave me yours and made it mine.

b008

Your vibrantly majestic and lush Parco Montagnola embraced wholeheartedly the smiling people that strolled in perhaps your most beautiful part of body. Students spurred out from every corner as you boasts with the knowledge of being home to the oldest university in continental Europe. Graffiti paints your lukewarm orange, red and yellow walls and doors that have seen so much more than any person in the world. Torre degli Asinelli and Torre dei Garisenda proudly stand in the middle of your historic centre, watching over people who call you home. For its visitors enchanting Basilica of San Petronio tenderly awakens in their minds the feeling of comforting serenity. But what makes you so special are your porticos that you so proudly carry. The most stunning and lengthy roof structure over a walkway mesmerised the world I owned. The stroll up to Santuario della Beata Vergine di San Luca with 666 arches was one of the tiresome but simultaneously rewarding hikes I ever did in my life. Continue reading