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  • Writer's pictureNigel

A Table by the Window 窓際のテーブル

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

2023 年 6 月 1 日

(This week I am hosting Svitlana Borzenko's blog. Svitlana has been living in exile in Frankfurt since early last year. It has been translated from the original Ukrainian.

今週、昨年初めからフランクフルトに亡命してきた Svitlana にブログ スペースを譲ります。 オリジナルのウクライナ語から翻訳されています)

"A Table by the Window" is the name of Svitlana Borzenko's newly launched blog. It can be in an apartment or a hotel, on in a train or in a plane, in a restaurant or a coffee shop. A place for a pause, reflection and a coffee. For short notes or sketches in a notebook. For a few leisurely read pages of a new book. For a conversation with those with whom everything in the world is in the same tonality, whom you listen to and hear, and who listens and hears. For leisurely contemplation of the inside and outside of oneself and the world.

The first text will be small sketches from Portugal, a story about new tastes, smells, touches in this journey.


This border has a powerful magnetism - the border between civilization and the force of nature. The force of nature beyond the control of a person. The force of nature that hypnotizes with its pristine power. Once you have felt it, you turn back to it in your mind, fly to it at the first opportunity. Again and again. To the ocean.

We know less about it than about space. It occupies 70% of the surface of the planet. We, humans, have explored it only by 5% at most. That is, we know almost nothing about it. Maybe it is examining us, testing us, allowing us to be near it?... Because when you stand a few meters away from its powerful waves, as if on the shore, you still feel like a person who has the power and the ability to make decisions. However, a few steps away, literally behind the third foamy wave, you are just a grain of sand, a molecule, an atom. The surf of the ocean in a calm weather is similar to the breathing of a giant creature that, waking up, can swallow everything with one roar.

A French photographer, whom we met on a wild beach outside Cascais told us about Nazare, the place where he settled with his Portuguese wife. A small fishing village, 100 km north of Lisbon, it is known for the most gigantic waves on the planet. The Nazaré Wave has broken the Guinness world record for its height. From time to time it reaches the height of a 7-story building.

I came to one of the meetings with the Ocean on foot. From the small French town of Saint-Jean-Pierre-de-Port at the foot of the Pyrenees, through northern Spain to Finisterre, which was called the edge of the world in ancient times, and then to Mouchia, to the giant gray boulders on the Atlantic coast and the lighthouse in the fog. It was almost 1000 km of St. Jacob's Way, an ancient pilgrim's road.

Today my "Table by the window" is at the «Fortaleza do Guincho» restaurant on the Praia do Guincho beach. The restaurant is titled Michelin, the beach is famous from the scenes of the sixth series of Bondiana. The beach does not have cozy and quiet bays, it is washed by powerful waves of the open Ocean and blown by strong winds. From the table opens a view of the sunset over the Ocean. This is such a unique date.

We walk along the shore for a long time, facing the powerful wind and ocean breeze. We watch how gray-blue-turquoise waves mix shades on their palette. Waves are foaming, silhouettes of birds lose their contours in the evening haze. A gallant waiter pulls a chair out, inviting to the served table...

It was one of the best birthdays I've ever had.

Lisbon. An underground art gallery

Usually, most people go down to the subway with the goal of getting from point A to point B. This place is subject to the system, speed, certain algorithms of management and distribution of human flows. That's why, after a year of commuting on the Frankfurt subway, going down to the Lisbon subway, I caught myself with completely new sensations. There was an almost homely atmosphere in the carriages. Passengers actively communicated and gesticulated, drank various drinks, and comfortably read something near the window. The cork seats of the old carriage, framed in red plastic, noisily distracted vibrated from the movement. Something was grinding, swaying, everything was somehow too loud, colorful and at the same time fun. After getting used to it, I glanced at the next platform, near which the train stopped. I could not take my eyes off it. I had to get off. And then at the next station. And on the following one too. I felt like I was in a fairy tale...

Only later I found out that Olaias is one of the ten most beautiful metro stations in the world. I read about the history of its creation and participation in its design by famous Portuguese artists and architects. The moment I stepped onto the completely empty platform with giant columns and amazing stained glass windows, there was only a feeling of childish surprise and fascination. I recalled a similar festive feeling when, as a student in Kyiv, I got off at the Golden Gate station (it is also, by the way, in all the world rankings). Every time I “froze” among the harmony, the rhythm of the arched vaults and the huge mosaic panels that told the story of the history of my people from times of Kyivan Rus.

The Lisbon underground gallery is a unique free exhibition available to hundreds of thousands of city guests who are transported by metro trains every day. There are more than 50 stations, each of which tells its own story. The walls and sometimes the floor and ceiling of many stations look like a single canvas. The plots are diverse: fantastic sea and fairy-tale scenes, historical stories dedicated to the geographical discoveries of the Portuguese, landscape olive gardens. Many artists are famous. The material is well-known - azulejo tiles, as well as modern ceramics, stained glass and sculpture.

Lisbon is a special love among world capitals. Older than London, Paris and even Rome by hundreds of years, it did not build skyscrapers, is not filled with advertisements and noisy car traffic. Burnt by the sun, weathered by salty winds, Lisbon is like an eternal European hippie left out of globalization. Having preserved the charm and color of a mixture of ancient civilizations, it sings melancholic faro melodies that you sing along to without knowing the words. It generously treats you to fresh grilled sardines with a crispy crust.

You almost slide on the calsada, polished by centuries - the famous Portuguese cobblestones, black, white, sometimes red, yellow, gray - blue stones of which weave into ever new ornaments under your feet, without feeling time. Only here and now. An intoxicating and free city.

Cascais, "dinosaur claws" and “Travesseiro de Sintra”

Elegant, expensive, luxurious, today's Cascais is more than a place of rest. This is a lifestyle – a high-quality, healthy and wealthy. With a good climate, next to the amazing beaches of the Lisbon Riviera, golf fields, green parks, hotels and world-class hotels and restaurants.

After getting off the train, which departs from Lisbon in this direction every 20 minutes, you immediately feel the refined otherness of this town. It is surprisingly calm here, comfortable and thought out down to the last detail. And it's delicious.

It was here that we first experienced serving of the seafood and fresh fish in a rather original way. Having ordered a large plate with a good dozen of all kinds of seafood delicacies at a fairly reasonable price, and having eaten absolutely everything (an indispensable condition), guests can then order whatever they liked the most without restrictions and for free. Be it oysters, crabs, squid... The only problem is that some seafood is simply impossible to eat, not being used to it. Here, for example, are these "cute" persebesh, or known as "dinosaur claws"... By the way, the most expensive of all seafood on a huge dish. How do they taste, you ask? Almost as they look. Although local gourmets are delighted with them.

The Sunday food market in Cascais diversified the taste palette with delicate fresh goat cheeses, the special taste of pineapple from the Azores, the least sourest of all in the world. We also tried yellow dragon fruit, or pitahaya. The red is more famous and affordable, has a sweet taste reminiscent of a combination of kiwi, strawberry plus has a hint of banana. The yellow variety is the sweetest of all types, with a richer taste and aroma.

Next, Sintra, a favorite place of Portuguese monarchs, with luxurious palace and park complexes, which are a must-see, awaited us. You completely understand their desire to settle in these hills as soon as you get out of the car. How sweet and life-giving the air is here! Dense relict forests on the hillsides and proximity to the sea make it a healing elixir. Not to mention the stunning views.

Now I will not talk about architecture. I want to talk about the taste and smell that the city left behind. In addition to the air I breathed, as if I drank from a healing spring, Sintra is the taste of Travesseiro, probably the tastiest pastry in the world, at least for me and for today.

Small, almost weightless rectangular cakes made of super thin puff pastry, filled with a delicate egg-almond filling. It was the confectioners of Sintra who invented them, and it is here that they are the tastiest in all of Portugal. "Melt in your mouth" is exactly about them, because you don't even notice how the plate in front of you is emptying... The long line continues to flow down the narrow street to the old pastry shop, where the guests first get a waiting number to receive the long-awaited dessert.

No matter how tempting the famous Pasteis de Nata look after that, they cannot surpass "Travesseiro de Sintra".


Svitlana Borzenko is an artist and journalist from Lviv, Ukraine. She graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Passionate about traveling and new cultures, she writes about her experiences and impressions. One of the most profound experiences for her was the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain. At the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, she moved to Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where she now lives.

Thank you for reading ".......A Table by the Window.........."


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