Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Traveling’

Airport accounting: NAIA 3

April 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

In Frankfurt airport. The temperature outside is 36 degrees…Fahrenheit. Sweater weather. Yesterday we were in NAIA Terminal 3, sweltering. NAIA 3 is not bad, but they really need to turn up the airconditioning because even we natives are melting. Yes, it’s the fault of climate change, but humans have invented airconditioning and our airports get maximum use. And they need more toilets because the toilet nearest our boarding gate was a 7-minute trudge away in the vaporizing heat.

Where our day went:

Trip by car from Makati to NAIA 3 at 11am usually takes 10-15 minutes but in heavy traffic: 38 minutes

Check-in, despite fairly short queues and Internet check-in option (with side trip to pay travel tax because ticket purchased in Europe): 52 minutes

Passport control (Terminal fee was waived): 5 minutes

Security check and X-ray at boarding gates: 3 minutes

Trudge to bathroom: 7 minutes

Queue for toilet: 5 minutes

Boarding for Singapore Airlines: On time

Departure: Delayed for 30 minutes, presumably due to runway traffic

Arrival in Singapore: On time.

* * * * *

In Udine. Half-conscious.

Where we’re staying.





Around the neighborhood.

At the film festival.

We’re spending this day in airports.

April 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Traveling 2 Comments →

saffron freud

Off to Venice-Udine-Vienna-Budapest. Today, airports—Manila then Singapore then Frankfurt then Venice. It’s our second least favorite thing about traveling, next to enduring the angry stares of three cats the night before a trip.

In the weeks before departure we spend a lot of time deciding what book to bring. We like to read something set in the place we’re visiting, written by a native. The candidates were:

For Udine: As A Man Grows Older by Italo Svevo, set next door in Trieste.

For Vienna: The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch, The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, The Snows of Yesteryear or An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor Von Rezzori (technically not Viennese, but set in the Habsburg Empire). We’re taking a break from Stefan Zweig.

For Budapest: The Adventures of Sindbad or Life is a Dream by Gyula Krudy, The Door by Magda Szabo. Which have not yet arrived as our sister hasn’t ordered them yet, having decided that working 12-hour days, raising three kids and going to spinning class is too light a schedule so she started on her MBA. Just writing that made us tired. We need to take a nap after watching a movie.

For Venice: Not Don’t Look Now by Daphne DuMaurier or The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan because they’re scary.

Then we wandered into a bookstore and saw this new edition of The Interpretation of Dreams. Which we’ve never read, even if we feel like we have because we’ve seen so many movies with psychiatrists in them. And we misquote Freud a lot, and attribute to him stuff he never said, so we owe him.

This, then, is our travel read (and the Svevo). If the prose is impenetrable, we can throw it from a great height onto the heads of the people who swore it was accessible.

* * * * *

Great big thanks to Ms Del Rosario at Asia International Travel for booking our train tickets on such short notice. We love trains and do not mind 11-hour journeys. Planes are faster, but when you factor in the time you spend waiting in airports and inhaling recycled air, bleecch.

Is anyone reading this in Budapest?

March 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Traveling No Comments →

Nyugati station, from the National Geographic

We’re thinking of going in May and want to know if this is a good time.

Budapest because:

1. We’ve never been there.

2. Patrick Leigh Fermor walked to there from Holland (Though we’re taking the train from Trieste to Vienna to Budapest, making it a Vestiges of the Hapsburg Empire tour. Last year we traced the Nazi advance backwards).

3. We’ve read some Hungarian novels in translation and Hungary sounds so civilized.

4. The Lubitsch movie The Shop Around the Corner is set in Budapest.

5. A friend of ours went there many years ago and when he pronounces it “Buda-pesht” we roll our eyeballs but are secretly envious.

6. Every time we’re in Juan’s house we hear that Budapest song by the guy who writes songs named after cities (Barcelona, Amsterdam; we’re waiting for Srebrenica, Addis Ababa, Macchu Picchu) and like the properly insane interpret it as a sign.

7. We’ve seen Bela Tarr movies and while we can’t claim to understand them, we finished them.

Fondation Louis Vuitton: The building is remarkable, the art not so.

November 26, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places, Traveling No Comments →

museum front

Finally the van approached the Fondation Louis Vuitton and we could see the building with our own eyes. It is amazing. It is as if a zeppelin crash-landed on Waterworld, and the scavengers made a giant sailboat with the parts. How does it stand up? More importantly, how can the art inside compete with the exterior?

how it's held together

We were disgorged by the van into a long queue for tickets, even if it was just two and a half hours before closing time. Tickets in hand, we joined the next queue at the main entrance. Above the main door is a big, glittering LV logo that made me feel like I was entering an enormous handbag. A guard inspected our bags while a lady with a clipboard asked each visitor where she was from. There was some discussion over whether some Americans with a baby in a stroller should be admitted. The experience was not unlike being judged by the doorman before gaining entry into a trendy nightclub. lobby


Read our article at BusinessWorld.

The second best bakery in Paris

November 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling No Comments →

2nd best
Every bakery claims to make the best baguette in Paris. This bakery in Montmartre does not care to be in that overcrowded group. It proudly proclaims itself the second best in the region.

grocery cat
The cat at the grocery doesn’t care because cats don’t eat carbs (except in Italy, where cats eat pasta), but he’s very friendly.

Paris, beyond macarons and Birkins

November 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places, Traveling No Comments →

view of paris from montmartre

Paris is beautiful and filthy, like a supermodel with a PhD who doesn’t change her underwear. Or a very hot guy genius with skid marks, except that Paris is obviously feminine. Male or female, it goes without saying that they will cheat on you with everything that moves. And you still would, because it’s Paris.

There is the real risk of getting Stendhal Syndrome—overdosing from the sight of so much beauty that you lose consciousness. Try not to succumb outdoors, as you will either land on dog poop or a homeless person. The homeless are mostly Eastern Europeans begging on the streets. There are shelters where they can spend the night as it’s getting very cold, but apparently it’s safer to sleep outdoors. In Montmartre, which is clearly divided into immigrant and bobo (bohemian bourgeois) sections, the residents have expressed solidarity with the newcomers, providing them with hot food and doing their laundry. Periodically the homeless immigrants are rounded up, given 300 euros, and deported. They come back.

Read our column at

Here’s a very abridged translation of Valerie Trierweiler’s tell-all book about her relationship with French President Francois Hollande.

And a report on how Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin couldn’t name any books by Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. Oh the scandal.