Poland goes to Lisboa

One thing that relates Poland with Portugal is that they usually show up next to each other in drop-down lists when filling online registration forms.

Silly stuff aside, they’re both catholic majority countries, which probably accounts for some of the recent increase in Polish tourists walking in the streets of Lisboa. Among them, were two very special visitors.

Uma coisa que liga a Polónia a Portugal é que, normalmente, os dois aparecem ao lado um do outro nas listas de países, quando se preenchem formulários online.

Parvoíces à parte, são ambos países com população maioritariamente católica, o que provavelmente justifica parte do aumento recente de turistas Polacos nas ruas de Lisboa. Entre eles, estiveram dois visitantes muito especiais.

Kasia Szybka, from Warsaw, was visiting Portugal, invited by Turismo de Portugal – the government tourism office – to sketch the Pope’s visit to Fátima in the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the holy mother. Pedro and I invited her to come sketch with us during one of our lunch hours. We took her to cozy and picturesque Largo dos Trigueiros for a coffee and a doodle. We shared a bit of dark humor and stories about our visits to each other’s countries.

Kasia Szybka, de Varsóvia, visitou Portugal convidada pelo Turismo de Portugal , para visitar a visita do Papa a Fátima no 100º aniversário das aparições. O Pedro e eu convidámo-la a vir desenhar connosco durante a hora de almoço. Levámo-la ao acolhedor e pitoresco Largo dos Trigueiros para um café e um rabisco. Partilhámos humor negro e histórias das visitas aos países de uns e outros.

Mateusz Hajnysz from Łódź came to visit western Algarve and Lisboa with his wife and two kids. Mateusz was the first sketcher I met in Manchester the day before the Urban Sketchers International Symposium kicked-off last year. We used the same Largo dos Trigueiros as the starting point of a tour around the Castelo hill, which saw us sharing tips on lighting in watercolor, how to sketch weddings and how to manage a local urban sketchers chapter. In the end, we came to the conclusion that both our languages had tricky and illogical pronunciation rules.

Mateusz Hajnysz de Łódź veio visitar o barlavento Algarvio e Lisboa com a mulher e os dois filhos. O Mateusz foi o primeiro desenhador que conheci em Manchester, no dia anterior ao arranque do Simpósio Internacional de Urban Sketchers, no ano passado. Usamos o mesmo Largo dos Trigueiros como o início de um passeio à volta da colina do Castelo, que nos ouviu a partilhar dicas sobre luz na aguarela, como desenhar casamentos e como gerir um grupo local de urban sketchers. No final, chegámos à conclusão que ambas as nossas línguas têm regras de pronunciação estranhas e meandrosas.

Poland sketches #5 Sights of Krakow

Krakow, Poland, Wawel, cathedral, Katedra Wawelska

Kraków is definitively more touristy than Warszawa. The medieval town’s survival during WWII made it possible for the city to skip the soviet-style modernist renovation and helped preserve the atmosphere of a historical European city, with all the layers of the preceding epochs in plain view. The historical center is peaceful, if a tad busy with mostly Russian and other European tourists going about. It was at a time, the capital city of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa, part of a Swedish dynasty of kings moved the capital to Warszawa, to be closer to all the territories that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled over.

Krakow, Poland, hot chocolate, chocolate, Wedel

Kraków’s historic center (the Old Town, Kazimierz and Wawel) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since ’78 and was one of the first of its kind. The cultural DNA of the city feels very different from that of Warszawa, partly because while Warszawa was closer to Russia, Sweden and Germany, and prey to their invading armies, Kraków was closer to the Habsburg Empire’s ambitions.


Poland sketches #4 Buildings of Warszawa

palace, building, culture, science, Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, Stalin, monument

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“Buildings are perhaps the subject that interests me the least, which kinda collides with my base education as an architect. A silent rule that I keep to myself is: sketch that which bores you until it doesn’t bother you anymore! The infamous Palace of Culture and Science was a worthy opponent. It’s 237 meters of concrete nemesis that I enjoyed sketching as much as the Warsawians enjoy it being there. I tried to make the result a little more interesting by rendering two distinct layers – shape and rhythm in line-work and its true scale in color-wash. Sometimes, experiments don’t go as we want them to and the sketchbook is a harsh master on that – it makes us carry our mistakes with us. Specially a hardbound sketchbook.

pavilions, Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, nightlife, bars

When it’s about representing buildings, I prefer the people approach: interpreting what people make of buildings, as was the case of the Pawilony – concrete prefabs of repeated design that were the origin of a hip spot of the nightlife of Warsaw.  I usually go for details, but between sketching the extravagant interior of any given bar and the regular rhythm of the whole block, I went for the monotonous general picture. Yet another challenge overcome!”

Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, university, library

Poland sketches #3 Warsawians

Orkiestra z chmielnej, Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, music, guitar, accordion,

Warsawa is a grey city, but its denizens not so much. The polka tunes played by Orkiestra z Chmielnej invaded the tunnels under one of the enormous soviet avenues, taking advantage of the crowds of people passing by in all directions.

Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, wódka, patrons

While I expected mostly slavic facial features, the truth is they are as diverse as they come, almost as a testament of the permanently shifting borders of the country. Desired and, at times, abused and invaded by both close and far neighbors along the millenia, Poland, and Warsaw for that matter seems to be in some sort of crossroads of Central Europe. Slavic, nordic and germanic features are prevalent, but one can identify features from almost every corner of Europe here.

Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, wódka, patrons

In Warszawska, a bar in Śródmieście, the central district of the capital, youngsters flowed in. Some patrons, after noticing being sketched became friendly and engaged in conversation. One of the most communicative was a local video producer and stop-motion artist. The seemingly underage barmaid displayed a quiet jelousness about not being portrayed in a sketch, but soon enough she got what she wanted, although I am unsure whether she enjoyed the result.

Poland sketches #2 Food in Warszawa

Pork, food, Pod Samson, Poland, Warsawa, beer
Pork! It’s pork!

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“Sketching allows for different scales, compositions, assembling of notes and thoughts. And above all, maybe the feature that pleases me the most, it’s a pretext to sit and take a breath, watching, interpreting for a while, everything that goes around. Might be a problem while travelling in groups: “Isn’t it ready yet?” one might hear eventually, resulting in us being forced to keep on moving with an open sketchbook in our hands, waterwashes still wet (it’s a time-consuming chemical process, the evaporation of the water, especially in near-zero temperatures).”

Pork, food, Pod Samson, Poland, Warsawa, beer
More pork.
hot chocolate, chocolate, Wedel, breakfast, croissant, bread, honey, jam, butter
E. Wedel, a century-old chocolate maker of Warsawa serves richly-flavoured breakfasts in a proper victorian atmosphere.