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Cold Outside, Warm inside – Cologne and The Hague, 2023.


The greatest thing about our annual gatherings is how different they all are. But, in some sort of divine intervention, end up being exactly what we need. The Hague gathering started in a very special way for me, with a flight to Cologne, instead of Amsterdam, as it logically should. Where I would meet the German representative who suggested a road trip to the Netherlands together, being so close from her place, by car.

I was able to catch up with her news and connect with her moment in life. Friendships, as marriages, are for the good and for the bad. And most of the times the only thing we want is to be heard without judgement and seen, truly seen.

Even if and when we try really hard to avoid it.

Before our road trip, I had time to see a bit of Cologne, had some tips from different friends and both had suggested the Cathedral, UNESCO world heritage, and the most famous brewery in Cologne, Früh Kölsch, over a hundred years old.

Needless to say, I followed their lead.

Visited the oldest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe, stunning and peaceful, as all churches are, strolled by Rhein river banks and had lunch in Früh Kölsch, one of the most well-known and typical dishes in the city, with a very suggestive name: Himmel un Äd (Heaven and Earth), delicious. As was the beer…

The brewery is great in itself. All in wood, one of the things I fancy the most in Northern European countries, all pubs are in wood, making them homey and cosy. It was crowded with all kinds of people, young and old.

Very democratic.

Even managed to see a bit more of Cologne by car, before we left the main roads to drive to The Hague.

Our Dutch host, whom we haven’t seen in 26 years, was already waiting for us in her flat, where the five of us stayed.

In one of those typical old and amazing Dutch buildings.

In each bed, we had a chocolate shaped with our initial waiting for us. Such a touching and thoughtful gesture made my heart smile.

There’s a kind of intimacy that only happens when we visit other people’s houses and have meals at the table together. For the Southern Europeans, that is a must do. We spend more time at the table than anywhere else. Not necessarily eating, but definitely drinking and chatting.

Our Dutch representative and host was waiting for us with snacks, healthy and sweet, and wine, which was the perfect way to do it, since we were all arriving at different times, it was cold outside and we were probably too tired to go out.

That was what mostly defined our time in The Hague: connection, catching up, togetherness and a bit of culture, which we saved for Saturday.

We are all very much aware of our priorities…

It started quite early, with a trip to Museum Voorlinden, a very, very cool Museum, in the middle of a huge park, with an amazing exhibition of a German artist called Anselm Kiefer, weaving together myth, history, poetry, and philosophy. Amongst other sort of permanet exhibitions. All very different and nonetheless stunning.

The building, the majority of which in glass, had different rooms, including a gigantic library. And a piano, treating us with music.

Followed by lunch in a very pretty little square.

Passing by some of the most famous buildings in The Hague, like the Peace Palace, where the International Court of Justice stands.

Later on, after some snacks and a couple of beers in a Dutch pub, we passed by The Hague City Hall, an impressive modern building, all in white and glass, and rushed to a show at the Netherlands Dance Theater.

A magnificent and modern building.

As I thought it was the shortest show I’ve ever been to, whilst having a drink in the lobby, such a good idea, by the way, we went back to the room for the next dance shows.

Five in total and all very upbeat and thrilling.

Mila’s living room was the stage for deep conversations, laughter and care. At all times of the day and night.

Sunday started the best way it could, with breakfast at home.

Followed by a trip to the harbour, one of my favourite places to visit, with all the different boats and pubs, where, of course, we had a drink. Tried a walk on the beach, but it was so windy we almost lifted or feet from the ground and started to fly.

We still had time to go to the biggest Christmas little shop I have ever been to. Full of little rooms and at least three floors, with every and anything slightly related to Christmas. I wonder what they do for the rest of the year…

But a bit of Christmas spirit never goes out of fashion. Or season…

Whilst driving back to Cologne, it was my turn to open up, which I did, to an attentive and caring listener, whose home I got to know. The perfect spot for a writer, absolutely lovely, as were her husband and younger son, whom I finally met after hearing so much about, for the last 20 years.

It is very rewarding to associate a face with a name.

We have been talking about how boys can be all the same, regardless their nationality, German or Portuguese. They all seem to be quite short in words, replying only to what is strictly necessary, without any kind of storytelling, as girls usually do. Being able to laugh about it without falling into desperation from lack of details is soothing and reassuring.

We are not alone…

Before heading back home, I got to know a different and oldest part of Cologne and also the Court where Jutta is an honourable judge. The building is old and impressive, on the inside and out, and its scent is exactly the same I remember from my youth and the court my dad worked for years, the scent of paper.

The one thing we do before we all part is to set the date and place for the next gathering.

So, Madrid 2024, here we come.

We started our gatherings with four people, the next one with five and in 2024 there will be finally the six of us. 27 years after we met for the first time.

It is special beyond words how, despite being from such different places, we are all the same, your faces are so familiar, and our conversations so deep. How we laugh, are moved to tears, and express all kinds of emotions and nothing, absolutely nothing changed, even though our lives did.

Six in the City – Madrid 2024


Made amends with Madrid, even though “too big, too crowded and too noisy”. Nothing of the sort matters when we are in good company and with such a committed guide and amazing host.

In heels…

My liver is complaining, my legs no less. No pain no gain, they say.

Living is taking every opportunity to really connect, interact, feel, consider, and appreciate what life brings. Our motto, or so it seems…

Six girls strolling all around a city where every building is an inspiration. One of those places in which you walk by with your eyes up in the air the whole time. Even whilst chatting, catching up, listening to explanations and tips, stories, and all there is to know about the capital of Spain, by a proud and keen Spaniard.

As one should be, of their own country and culture, simply because it is part of our identity.

Blessed by Señora del Pilar, we managed to see and go to the most iconic places in the city, resisting the temptation to stop in every tapas, beer and vermouth bar.

Shopping, culture, monuments, churches and museum, nature, gastronomy and an amazing treat only royals like us deserve.

Casino de Madrid is one of the most impressive and well preserved buildings I have ever been. With the most stunning old library and its 200 hundred year old books. I could spend hours there, just eye browsing the titles.

But not the only one.

Madrid had preserved its most ancient buildings, instead of tearing them down to build more modern ones. And the result is stunning.

There’s also a writers’ neighbourhood, quiet as it should.

With excerpts of literature printed on the floor and streets sharing their names with the most famous Spanish writers.

When in Madrid, do as Madrileños do.

That’s what we did, a full Madrid experience, on Sunday, spending hours in street markets, food eaten on the street and a few occasional drinks. We even managed to meet a street poet, looking like a painter, who wrote a poem about us, which could not have moved me more. As he depictured our trips and ourselves as if he knew us all. And when I said I had tears in my eyes, he smiled and hoorayed in joy.

25 years after we met for the first time, we decided to get together once a year, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the past three years.

Lisbon 2022, The Hague 2023, Madrid 2024.

And will continue to do so. Because this sisterhood of girls from six different countries matters more than any geographic distance.

Copenhagen 2025, here we come.

Why Lux Meant So Much to Me


About Lux 97: Can’t remember where and when, whether it was still day light or if the sunset was already upon us. A cobalt blue sky above our heads. Where it is already black, you’d even be able to spot a star or two.

If it wasn’t for the city lights and the clouds.

At a certain point, Jutta said, sort of asking, “Lux was very important to you”, not sure if she also added: “had no idea”, to the question. In any case, surprised by the fact.

It really was, I replied.

First of all, I fell deeply in love. And that is something you don’t forget. Especially because you’ll lose the ability to love passionately and deeply. You can only make it when you are young and innocent. Believing everybody else abides by your principles, has the same priorities.

The object of my passion was madly in love with me as well

Scots (in the picture), as I recall it, was my first night out. Only know it is Scottish, and not Irish, because of some notes I’d taken back in the day. Remember being at the counter, and having my ears ring everytime they rang the bell for last drinks’ call.

It was also where I met the future object of my love.

Had been in love all my life, am that kind of fool. Occasionally, even with several guys at the same time, never making it happen properly with any of them. But not like this, being mutual, that is. Most of the times it was unbalanced: Either me totally interested and they not really, or the other way around, they fascinated and me not really. We did not stay together after Lux, never saw him again. That’s also something you don’t forget. What to do with all those feelings? Even though you do, because you are young, hence still creating memories. Therefore, I soon forgot about him until 15 years later, getting back in touch 8 years following that. You know the rest of the story.

It was my first trip all by myself.

I was 25 years old, which I know it to be a bit late for Germans, and Northern Europeans in general, but that’s the way we do things in the South.

Have travelled before, as a teenager, with an international school, staying with an English family, all previously arranged. So no major responsibility. Now, I’d have to manage everything by myself, in a foreign country, where I don’t know the ways of things. You can’t forget that either.

Also travelled a lot, more than I had done so far.

It was pretty special. A couple of friends picked me up in Luxembourg and we drove to Holland, passed by Utrecht, Maastricht, stayed in Rotterdam and made trips to Amsterdam, Delft and The Hague. It was amazing. They drove me back to Lux and, right after that, with my parents, driving from Lisbon, we went to France, Belgium:  Brussels, Liège, Bruges, Ghent, and Germany, Trier. With Linda, we went to the North of Lux by train, and also to Strasbourg, all of us did.

It was just the start of a lot of travelling, during the following years.

Another important factor was, besides having all my school friends around, I developed new friendships, mainly with girls.

My sweetest and dear friend Linda, even though we got apart, very different lives, she will always be in my heart and fondest memories of Lux. She visited me the following summer, met all my friends, and I visited her in 2002, in Malmo.

Louise, whose marriage I attended in London, in 2004.

Would never forget her generosity and kindness. Before her wedding, I visited her in Vigo and she came to Lisbon and also met all my friends. We kept in touch thanks to her, who would always send me postcards. Then came Linkedin, and Whatsapp. I remembered her as being so kind, so easy going with everybody else, always seeing the good in people. Humankind generosity.

And that’s mastering it.

You, Jutta, without whose friendship I would not have survived a broken heart. She listened to me for hours, gave me pictures of my lost love, lent me her car, even though I have no idea why and where I went, we partied endlessly, talked even more, she drove me to the airport and we kept in touch for a good while.

Until people stopped writing postcards, I guess.

Can’t wait to meet you in Dusseldorf, what a great idea to travel to The Hague from there.

Because of an emotion attached to it, I recall the first time I met Christel. Very bold and brave, for a shy Portuguese girl like me. Later on, we hung out more, so laid back and cool, her kindness coming from the heart, very feminine. Always a surprise, like she was this time. Yet another act of emotional generosity I shall never forget. Reinforced and upgraded 25 years afterwards. On Monday, I could still feel the masseuse’s fingers on my back. Saturday night fever for 50 year old’s. And bachelorettes.

And Dearest Mila

Whose good spirits, initiative, kindness, generosity, proactivity, I always admired. The four of us would hang out a lot from September onwards. Partying like crazy, as crazy as you can get in Lux…

Truth is, we were the life of the parties.

Shall never forget Mila’s farewell dinner to me, as per my records, she is a great cook. And the pub crawl for the new stagiaires. Both memorable nights.

Thanks to Jutta’s pictures, we can remember everything much better.

I think it is the feminine bonding that makes it so special to me. It is a strong one, and bonds are unbreakable.

Finally, it’s the emotions attached to Lux 97 that made it so special. Not exactly Lux, even though a part of it, obviously.

Sometimes I wish I did not feel so much and so deeply, a blessing and a curse. Great for Literature, not so good for daily-affairs.

Emotions make the memories stick, or not.

And now, 25 years later, amazing conversations, major decisions taken, acts of kindness beyond words, new memories created and documented, in pictures and text, next meeting arranged, and great plans for 2023.

The bonding we recreated in Lisbon, and being in touch with the other girls, makes it even more special: Brings us closer, meaning that our experience in Lux was not in vain, or just something you soon forget because you live other things.

All of us lived major events in our lives, losses and gains, achievements and things we left behind, but they did not make us forget who we were, on the contrary, meeting and reconnecting is a way to remember precisely that.

Representing also a possibility to recall and get back the bits of us that were dismissed along the way and still make us happy. Being it stronger than laziness, sheer “I can’t be bothered”- or any other excuses we give ourselves to avoid truly living a bit – tells me that, despite life and its hassles, we still want to be in each other’s lives.

So yeah, Lux was very special to me, for a million reasons.

I believe it was for all of us, in different ways. None of us planned it, let alone knew who we were going to meet, what would happen.

How it would make an impact in our lives.

We embraced the experience and the people we met, chose our friendships and our crushes, and simply lived. 25 years have passed and, regardless of personal experiences, none of us forgot about names and faces of the ones that personally meant something. Even leading different lives now, with new long-lasting relationships and families, there are some people we bonded with and therefore shall never forget. It might stay in the back of our minds, because we have to move on, living our current lives. But still…

Can’t wait for the next 25 years, in close touch, thanks to technology.

Lazy Sunday


I wanted to show as much of Lisbon as I could, considering it was their first time here and so much to be seen. I also did want us to relax, reconnect, catch up, have fun, enjoy good meals, and get a couple of drinks. Sunday was the last day to do that.

Was also not sure when everybody was leaving and times to be at the airport. Given the chaos European airports have been lately. Forgetting a bit that the girls still had a long way home, between airports, flights, and rides back to their places, the furthest being Germany and Denmark.

The plan had been previously thought, before meeting everybody and realising that walking around all day would make us feel a bit tired.

And, as Christel said, it is weekend after all.

So, my initial Sunday plans were a bit unrealistic, to say the least. They included: Belém, Jerónimos, Santos, Basílica da Estrela, Campo de Ourique; the fancy shops at Av. Liberdade, Casa do Alentejo. (With Mila: Cabo da Roca, Boca do Inferno). We did none of that. We did better.

I do prefer off the beaten track strolls

(like getting lost in Alfama), but there are things we simply cannot miss in a city we visit for the first time. And because time was what it was, that’s what I had planned: A Lisbon basics.

Realised as well that “My Lisbon” no longer exists.

Fortunately, my favourite neighbourhoods, Príncipe Real and Chiado, are still there, charming as ever. But I no longer know about cool places to have a drink, dinner, and just chill. My days are long gone, even if Lisbon is full of fancy places for different meals, just as I like them.

Christel had looked up for cool places to go for Brunch close by and we ended up in a neighbourhood we had not managed to have been, Bica. Therefore, it was the perfect choice. The sky was blue, they promised it would rain, and we were very fortunate to be able to eat outside, eating, relaxing and chatting, for as long as we felt like it.

Waking up the neighbours with our laughter.

I soon realised that there would be no time to go to Belém and Jerónimos, one of the most impressive monuments I know. Maybe next time. Had treated the girls with Pastéis de Nata at their arrival, a Lisbon welcoming, so they did not miss much. Even though Pastéis de Belém factory is worth a visit, through the endless rooms, in blue and white tiles, so very Portuguese.

Instead, we decided to relax.

Walked down Elevador da Bica, Praça São Paulo, Cais do Sodré, all the way alongside the river and stopped on the chairs of one of the new kiosks that opened up, following the renewal of the whole area of Praça do Comércio and Ribeira das Naus.

Reconnected a bit more, conversations tend to go personal when we are in touch for a while, and the bonds between us grew stronger.

That was the mood for the whole Sunday.

Checked the view from the Arc, in Rua Augusta, nothing to write home about, hence, the lack of tourists’ endless lines, and decided to go for a last walk, until Estação do Rossio, the new Eden, and back.

We said good-bye to Eva, whose flight was later on.

I decided to ride the tube with the girls, to go to my mum’s place for a visit. In the end, I ended up taking them to the airport, accompanying Jutta to Terminal 2, heading back to Terminal 1 for a last chat with Christel, who could not believe I was walking from the airport to my mum’s place.

Which I did.

Despite all the walk during the whole weekend – 30 km in 2 ½ days… not bad for 50 year old’s – and being a bit tired due to lack of sleep, I can be a bit of a pain to fall asleep in strange places, alcohol might not have helped.

Walking helps me clear my mind and my rug sack wasn’t that heavy.

The girls had been posting pictures on the group as we took them, so that the others would not miss too much. And Mila surprised us with a video of her own, and a picture of her unpacking, on Sunday. A very cool way to see her and to recall her voice. Very sweet.

All in all, it was a great weekend, super special, more than any of us could expect. And the main goal was reached, to have a good time and to catch up, face to face. And get closer to one another.

Besides, I haven’t smiled, or felt so happy, like I did with the girls, for far too long. 

So, thank you all for coming, can’t wait for the next trip, with all of us.

Saturday Fever


On Saturday, I had an early start. To check in at the hotel in time for breakfast with the girls.

The plan for Saturday was Sé (Cathedral), Brunch at Pois Cafe, closed permanently, we found out about it Saturday evening, although nothing is mentioned on the website, we took breakfast at the hotel and waited for Eva to join us for our daily tour:

St. George’s Castle, a line that started in Martim Moniz, joking, only saw it from the outside, getting lost in Alfama, never made it, Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Largo das Portas do Sol. We did what comes next thanks to Jutta, who treated us all with a Tuk Tuk trip, despite my reputation being ruined forever, which I had to redeem, as my terrible sense of orientation was making us waste time:  São Vicente de Fora Monastery, National Pantheon, Casa dos Bicos, Igreja de Santo António, Never made it to Igreja de Santo Estêvão, Chapitô, Mouraria; drink at roof top Martim Moniz, we’d rather have our welcome drink at the hotel, very good, by the way, all the service and staff very welcoming, the rooms were amazing, a design we are not used to see in hotels, quite personal, truly recommend it.

And Cais do Sodré for dinner and a drink at Pensão Amor, in Pink Street.

After the Tuk Tuk trip, we ate at the place I planned to have lunch the day before. Everything seems to be tourist priced in Lisbon, which was definitely sold to tourism. Great food.

Jutta treated us all with Sardines key rings, not knowing that I get one from almost every city I visit. We also took the time to connect with the 3 missing girls, also Jutta’s idea.

The little gifts shops up until the Castle are lovely

Artists got really creative and we managed to have a lot of people making a living on creativity. The colours are very vivid and the products: sardines, very Lisbon, Couple’s Handkerchiefs motives in different products, and others, are made in a very stylish taste. Although a pain if you drive in the city, the Tuk Tuks are also an opportunity for people to make a living, instead of moaning about crisis and the government. Our guide was very well-informed about the sites we saw. Speaking very passionately about our History and collective characters, a truly Portuguese experience.

Eva wanted to get some tiles, the famous Portuguese Azulejos. Therefore, we strolled to a more dodgy area of the city to get them. After that, we checked out the Christmas market at Rossio square.

Totally forgot to treat the girls with Ginginha…

And, when coming back, in Rua do Ouro, Christel had this brilliant idea for the three of us to get a massage. We definitely deserved and needed it, so we took it gladly, after a quick stop at the hotel.

Our Saturday evening fever was such a treat from the girls, I felt 20 years younger afterwards. Christel could see it right across my face. I shall never forget. Not very used to random gestures of kindness, they always surprise me and move me to tears.

Eva was having dinner with her daughter, so, after the massage and a relaxing moment at the hotel, the three of us had dinner at Time Out Market, tried to go to Pensão Amor, an endless line, as soon as they put it in the guides, the places are over. And ended up in a pink bar, typical enough for me to realise it’s been ages since I went out. No longer used to the flirting, people screaming inside closed doors, and the night mood in general. We had a great timed, danced and laughed quite a bit. Headed back to the Hotel, passing by the City Hall and Praça São Paulo.



On arrival, and truth be told, except for Jutta and Christel, who have been in touch since Lux, and regularly visiting each other, none of us knew one another. All we’ve got were 25 year old memories of ourselves. No idea who any of us would have become. The Whatsapp group was a good call, we’d be able to feel each other a bit, by the way we respond or not respond to text messages.     

Memories, they say, are not 100% true.

In fact, 50% of our memories are made up, a study says, quite harshly. I wouldn’t go as far as to say: they are not true, even though, in hindsight, there are no facts to prove it happened the way we feel it did.

However, they are emotionally true.

How we perceive events, if not processed, is by the emotion they generate. And it is the emotion that sticks to our mind and body, hence, its power, not the facts and data. So the memories we have, and how they affect our present lives, in decision-taking, initiative, behavior, relationships, etc., are more emotional than factual.

Nonetheless, what matters is our we perceived things.

As it is the only way to guide us within and get to know what’s behind it.

In any case, the memories were good and that’s all I had. I remember feelings, acts of kindness, and lines of conversations much more than an actual specific night out. Fortunately, also kept stuff I had written during my stay there, which helps to trigger the memory. And the more you pull the strings of memory, the more the thread unfolds.

The first arrival was Christel

And what a delight to see her. Conversation flew easily and deeply as if we’ve been friends all this time. No holding back. A great surprise, even if she had already surprised me while we were in Lux.

And that I will remember.

Then, Jutta arrived. No awkward silences, catching up on Jutta’s last news, great to see her again, when we hear that Mila would not be able to make it, as she fell very sick to the point of not being able to move. Even though she made it to the railway station. Brave girl.

Terrible blow, we were all very eager to see her and catch up.

They were staying at Rua da Vitória 88, right outside the Metro station gate, and I managed to walk for 10 minutes around the neighborhood to realise it. Christel, one of the few girls I know who can read maps, got there straight away. So, very central. The plan for the day was: Lunch at Praça do Comércio, Arco; elevador de Santa Justa (Rua do Ouro; Rua Augusta); Chiado; Bairro Alto; Misericórdia; Carmo, São Pedro de Alcântara, Príncipe Real, dinner at Pica Pau and Pavilhão Chinês, for a nightcap.

We managed to make almost all of it. Except that we had lunch at the most charming hotel, chosen by Mila. Made it to the Arco on Sunday, no big deal, my favourite place with a view is São Pedro de Alcântara, which we saw during the night, only. Santa Justa only from the outside, Rua Augusta every day, Bairro Alto from the garden, Príncipe Real and Pavilhão Chinês. We met Eva in Chiado, had a drink at Jardim de S. Pedro de Alcântara, to run away from the rain, and tried to have dinner at Pica-Pau, but ended up at the Pizza place just across the street.

Great conversations and important decisions. A small step to Humanity, a big step to me.

Mila, sick as she was, had generously suggested that someone should take her room, as it was already paid. Christel immediately suggested that I should take it. I gladly accepted the offer. Made my life easier and, most importantly of all, her generosity touched my heart deeply. Even saying she was sorry for not coming, devastated as she was. And very, very sick, even had the kind heart to notify the hotel, giving out all our names, so that one of us could take the room.

Generosity comes in so many different ways

This whole weekend was just the sign of it, the whole time. When it is different than yours, you take it as if you were not generous at all. Also, it is one of those things that really moves this old Portuguese emotional heart. Thought and talked all time about her, made sure she felt better and not to worry about a thing, albeit feeling exactly the same, very much looking forward to talk and to know what has she been up to for the past 25 years.

We’ll do that next year, in The Hague.

25 years have passed, I feel a huge gap between my 25 year old self and my 51 year old one, life matures you, whether you like it or not. We were all different, but connected anyway, making new memories, as Christel so well put it.

Lenços dos Namorados (Couple’s handkerchiefs)*

Lenço dos namorados: Portuguese Love Tradition*

The sentence you have on your ornaments is: The friendship of a girl friend is worth it more than anything in life.

The most agreed version states that the first handkerchiefs, initially embroidered in black and red only, were created by low class women, trying to reproduce others, common amongst the nobles. Coming into life in the mid 20th century, when, in rural areas, some men, aged to be married, started to use them as adornments (probably a gift from their beloved).

There’s also a legend about the love a girl felt for a boy and, since he did not make a move, she decided to show her feelings in needlework.

Out of which a relationship of a lifetime love was born.

It is not set in stone that the main function of the first handkerchiefs embroidered like these was to be a declaration of love. Such romantic side might have come up later.

When a man used an handkerchief it meant that yes has been already said and the relationship official, modern days engagement.

Given by the woman, not the man.

Nonetheless, some older embroiderer already said they never did a single handkerchief to get a man.

Why did they do them, then?

Basically because the black and red handkerchiefs started to have people to buy them. Which added up to the paycheck at the end of the month, of the women from Minho (my dad’s region).

The commercialization of the handkerchiefs surpassed all the romanticism they had in the past.

The handkerchiefs we see everywhere in souvenirs shops in historic districts all over Portugal have little to do with the ones firstly embroidered to the men from Minho. Are no longer made in cross stitch also, preferring a simpler embroidery, and linen was replaced by cotton.

The colours made the handkerchiefs unique.

It is also not set in stone that the first handkerchiefs had the famous rhymes we can read on them today. They could have a sentence, on a spiral, with spelling mistakes, given the illiteracy of the embroiderer, in a childish handwriting. Today, even knowing how to spell, the embroiderers pretend to be illiterate and misspell voluntarily, because that’s what sells.

Handkerchiefs from Minho or Vila Verde handkerchiefs?

Minho is a mixture of colours. The handkerchiefs, a product of Minho, are nowadays very attached to Vila Verde district.

(I learnt how to swim and how to float in Cavado river. And my father taught me how to ride a bicycle just on the banks of the river. Vila Verde is where my father used to spend the summer with his family, as a young man.

*Partial translation of this article of which both original version and images posted here they have copyright. You can use the English version if you like, as long as you link it to me.

25 years


It all started with a message on signal, notifying me that JK had joined. It’s been ages since I have spoken to her and was not sure whether she had kept the same phone number. Texted her immediately. And she quickly confirmed that indeed she was the German girl I had met in Luxembourg, in the Summer of 97, almost 25 years ago.

I was already in touch with a German guy – who, in turn, was still in touch with his Lux buddy since then – and a British girl, separately, and was so excited with the possibility to meet again that I created a whatsapp group immediately, with the four of us.

J was still in touch with her Danish friend, who joined the group almost immediately, even though she did not have whatsapp at that point.

It was the 5 of us for a good while, the boys were silent and the girls talkative, as usual. Just reconnecting, sharing pictures, remembering an unforgettable summer for all of us. We were all there for a traineeship in the European Parliament, but we partied way more than we worked, and we were getting a nice amount of money per month.

J, who is the most organised of us all, and thanks to her I’ve got pictures of everybody, kept her Lux albums untouched, and one of the things she had was a list of the stagiaires, with names and surnames of our friends and acquaintances back then.

We remembered names, but not surnames.

I looked up for a Dutch girl we all remembered and loved, M was a party girl and very cool, and found her on Linkedin, we got back in touch and I added her to the group.

While scrolling on my phone, I realised I still kept my dear Swedish friend’s phone number and, in a leap of faith, decided to text the number, to realise it was her, who joined the group as well.

Later on, Louise, the British girl added a Spanish girl, not sure how she got her contact, to the group.

And today, after 25 years, we’ll meet again, in Lisbon.

Me, Jutta, Christel, Mila, and Eva. Hoping to meet with the other two girls next time. As the boys, as much as we’d love to meet them, did not manifest themselves. But are still in the group, so I guess that’s a good sign.

My heart is beating loud in my chest, in anticipation.

We made it, girls.

Summer of 97


Discovered her memories the day she died.

A character, my aunt Iris.

When someone leaves this world, and as everybody would, I was looking for pictures of the deceased. Amongst the notebooks she did not have time to burn, and other relevant pieces of memory, I came across one of those life-events’ albums – full of pictures and documents – she had put together as some spiritual writing exercise.

The holy grail for a writer.

When a particular photograph caught my attention, he looked gorgeous, mysterious, and lost. Her mid-twenties boyfriend, as I found out later on.

Not sure if I’ve got inebriated by her books, spread all over the dark brown shelves on her writing sanctuary, or something else triggered my soul, all I knew was that I needed to know more about that bloke, and that story…

With some cross-referencing between her personal website and the files on her computer, I found an unpublished manuscript. With dedications, table of contents, and acknowledgments. One of those books (becoming many within one) you must write, but never managed to find the right tone to make you satisfied enough to be able to finish it.

Besides, all authors use real people as inspiration for their characters, and I am afraid she was also worried about making sure her characters were only characters and not real people, and how to hide the true identities of the ones she was so inspired by to the point of writing a novel.

Her first, if I am not mistaken.

My aunt Iris’ computer was a gold mine of records: messages, emails, and letters. Facts, in the form of dates, locations, and times, and emotional pieces of memory, written in notes and, at times, even full chapters. Also found some old writing she did after they parted, in a box packed with old postcards and pictures. None of him. And very few on the album she had dedicated to that trip.

It got me even more curious… I deeply felt I needed to finish what she had started.

Apparently, it all began during the Summer of 97…

Summer of 97 – Luxembourg


Brian Adams had his 69 Summer, so to speak. Me, and a bunch of other pretty cool Europeans, had our very own version of it, in Luxembourg, it was the Summer of 97.

We were there for a traineeship in the European Parliament (except you, I know…) and we had a great time. Loads of fun, not much work to do, new people to meet, mingle with, spend time with.

Some of us kept in touch for a while, life got in the middle, and the majority of us lost contact. Or kept in touch with just one special friend.

My case, with Louise, from the UK.

I lived abroad ages after Lux, but kept the same Portuguese mobile phone number, the first and only Portuguese number I’ve ever had.

So did my dear friend Jutta.

And all of a sudden, on Saturday, I got a notification she had joined Signal. Could not believe it could be her. But it was. We started chatting right away and Markus, with whom I was in contact with as well, suggested a 25th anniversary party, next summer.

We’ve created this watsapp group for that purpose. There’s 6 of us there.

It is private, obviously, and it has this picture of Scott’s.

I found it inspiring, as unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of us all, the good old gang.

I was just talking to Jutta about her visiting Lisbon and associated one thing to another. Since the majority of them never came here.

The girls in the group were OK with it, the boys did not reply.

We have a saying in Portuguese: Quem cala, consente. Which means: if you keep silent, that means consent.

So, I believe the boys consent…

Anyway, if you are reading this, and would like to come over to Lisbon for a get together, please contact me with your name and country, to:

Unfortunately, I deleted all my social media accounts, so I am no longer in touch with Linda Katz (Sweden), the only contact I had from Lux, as I don’t remember the majority of the surnames, sorry about that.

But I remember names… Toby, from the UK, Eva, from Spain, Mila, from Holland, Andrea and Connie, from Germany, Anders, from Sweden…

Anyway, I hope you search for Luxembourg 1997 European Parliament Traineeship/Stage and this shows up.

Please reach out.

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