Travel Writing

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Getting Lost in Istanbul

Thousands and thousands of travelers rush by as the muezzin breaks the constant humming of the crowds with his thundering voice, calling Muslims to prayer. You sit there, in what seems to be the center of the Universe, surrounded by voices and faces, smells and colors that you’ve never seen together. Istanbul is noisy and crowded, but it’s also more alive than everything I have ever seen. With its eclectic mix of visitors, tiny streets packed with lamp shops and ice cream stands, rushing peddlers magisterially balancing their tea trays, colorful cats that everyone seems to love…Istanbul gets into your soul and makes you fall in love. Istanbul smells of roasted corn and chestnuts, of fried lamb and a plethora of unknown spices. It seems to speak all the languages of Earth at once and it sounds of Adhan calls and merchants yelling their offers, of cars and trams and ships that create a dizzying scene that is constantly changing and always mesmerizing. Istanbul has culture and nature, it has history and religion, gastronomy and diversity, it descends from great empires and clings over two continents; it is the capital of small commerce and heaven of cats.

Love Letter to Naples

Naples is not a city for everyone, as many could hate it from the first look of this restless place. If you are not scared of the ruthless traffic that seems to completely dismiss rules, you might be scared by the piles of trash that keep growing in the side streets, or by the loud and exuberant way of the Neapolitan people. Among thousands of graffiti and tens of thousands of immigrants, Naples is more real and authentic than any other Italian city I have visited. Just like the Vesuvius volcano, that looms menacing over the city, Naples erupts each day from the first light until late into the night, and in some corners, it never goes to sleep! Erri de Luca, a writer from Naples said that it is “a city where suitcases sit next to the door, ready to take flight” and that “it is clear that every Neapolitan, not just the city, has a secret compartment”. The city has come a long way from the days so beautifully described by Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels, but it still has some of the same attributes. It is still a raw depiction of unscripted life in Southern Italy, where there is still a gritty scene deep under the tourist routes, and Neapolitan families still have some of the same problems. It is a destination of contrasts, a modern, miniature Tower of Babel. If you like silence and cleanliness, Naples might not be for you and it may be better to keep the road towards sunnier places that can be found nearby...

Ruthless Memory of Wood and Stone

Hiraeth! It is a Welsh word that has no direct synonym in English and I found it online while searching for a way to express a feeling. It’s a kind of homesickness that goes beyond the usual sense. It is a kind of longing for a place that no longer exists, that you can only feel inside your soul. It might not be your home per se; it might just be a memory of childhood, of a better and simple time, or relatives long gone and days of happiness. One definition of Hiraeth that is not entirely compelling of its sense is the “the longing to be where your spirit lives” and I completely fell in love with the deep meaning of this. This is exactly how I feel about the village of my grandfathers and the warm days and nights I spent there as a child. Those days have long gone and the village itself, with all its memories and people is also gone. It was destroyed to make way for a coal mine… I understand industry and progress and everything… What I will never come to terms with is why it has to come at the expense of the most enchanting woods and the small pastures filled with all the flowers of the universe… and all the shattered dreams and hopes, and all the spilled tears and sorrow, the destinies it changed along the way. Why do we have to let progress eat everything that is beautiful about the past? I spent many summers in that tiny village with just a few houses and no other kinds. I had it all to myself and most of my childhood dreams are tied to that place…and although I cannot remember things I did there, I do remember it more as a feeling of peace, its image deeply imprinted into my heart…

Bucharest Old Town

It’s difficult to imagine the former glory of the Bucharest Old Town, hidden beneath all the shiny new storefronts or eaten away by the relentless passing of time. There’s an almost eerie feeling wandering around the lifeless cobblestone streets on a Sunday morning. At times, you can still sense the soul of this eclectic and fascinating area of Bucharest. It’s no wonder that the city was once known as “Little Paris” and some of the renovated streets of the old center still capture part of that authentic charm of times long gone. Some of the old inns, mansions and churches have survived the long years of neglect and can now be admired in full splendor. Nevertheless, Bucharest Old Town is still far away from being saved, mostly famous for its restaurants and nightlife. Urban explorers and lovers of culture must work through the constant construction works and disheartening derelict facades in order to get a glimpse of its raw beauty. Those that love this place still hope that someday the area will be completely reborn and all its treasures saved from the dust. As the evening sets in, especially during the warm seasons, this becomes a completely different place and the atmosphere changes dramatically. The pace becomes almost hypnotic, as rivers of people overflow into the most vibrant streets, frantically searching for the most popular restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. Locals and tourists alike indulge into the free and careless spirit of Bucharest Old Town.

San Marino - Where the Eagles Fly

In clear days, the solitary silhouette of Monte Titano can be seen from far away, as far as the elegant resort of Rimini, the preferred departure for travelers that wish to reach San Marino. As you get closer, the rocky titan becomes even more imposing. The three towers perched above are a magnificent reminder of its troubled past. According to legends, the oldest republic of the world was established by a woodcutter named Marinus. The splendid cathedral atop the mountain is dedicated to him. San Marino is not only the city in the clouds, sculpted into the rock, it also includes eight other surrounding settlements, or castles as they are officially known. There are many things to say about how fascinating and special this corner of the world truly is, cold and chained within its own walls, yet so vibrant in its freedom and perfection ideals. A walk through the labyrinths of cobblestone streets can take you to another world, back to a time of armored knights, hidden treasures and medieval intrigue. San Marino is unique and spectacular destination, maybe too popular for its own good, with thousands of tourists climbing the steep road towards the city to visit the dozen attractions marked on a map. But to really reveal the soul of San Marino it takes more, you have to explore the secluded alleys, to spend some time admiring the endless rolling hills from the top of the towers and to find the authentic atmosphere behind its walls.

This function has been disabled for Silviu Salomia | Photographer & Writer.

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