Thursday, December 28, 2006
Lisbon is amazing. Don't have much time to update with anything real substantial, so here is a funny and
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Want to really see a city? Just wander. I no longer follow a map when I’m exploring a city for the first time. In the past I would map out all of the popular areas and “must sees” and then start heading toward them. The problem was that my eyes would spend more time looking at street signs than looking at the city. I would spend more time worried about the next turn or getting lost than I would spend enjoying the moment. I wasn’t able to enjoy the moment for what it should have been: a time to relax, enjoy and discover.
What I do now is quickly read about good areas to visit, see where they are on the map to get a basic idea and then I start walking in that general direction. Sure, sometimes I don't make it to my intended destination. Funny thing is that without a doubt, I can say this is the best way to explore a new city (for me). Every corner becomes a new unknown. You never know what's next. You’ll wonder for hours and it will feel like nothing. I did this when I first arrived in
So next time you visit a
Monday, December 25, 2006
...and loving it. I wish that I didn't have my camera stored in my luggage when on the plane because the view coming into the city was stunning. I've never seen anything like it.
I have several days to explore the city before I meet up with my friends for the new year festivities.
Photos to come soon...
Sunday, December 24, 2006
For the past 23 years I've celebrated Christmas with family and friends back in Wisconsin. This afternoon I'm going to my friend Keyan's house where a small group of friends will celebrate together. The following 8 countries will be represented: Switzerland, Peru, Spain, Italy, Denmark, France, Uruguay, and the U.S.
We all chipped in money and bought copious amounts of food and drink. Somehow I was elected to cook the turkey. Please wish me luck....!
To all my family and friends back home: know that I'm thinking of you with much love this holiday season, and always!
I came across The Invitation a year or two ago and just rediscovered it once again while looking through some old documents in my computer. I think it's pretty amazing and hope you will too. More Oriah to come soon.
"In The Invitation, bestselling author Oriah wrote about what we long for. In The Dance, she taught us to embrace who we are in the moment, to learn to join the dance of life. Now, in The Call, Oriah shows us how to discover our unique place in the world. The call cannot be found in the expectations of others or in the outside world; it can only be found within ourselves.""
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy
I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it's not pretty
and if you can source your own life from its presence
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn't interest me to know where you live
or how much money you have
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Friday, December 22, 2006
It's official - I'm going to Zürich and Berlin. I've heard that both cities are amazing so I'm very excited. Feel free to email me if you need a swiss bank account...I'll see what I can do while in Switzerland.
Below are my travel plans over the next three months:
Prague (Feb/March, to be confirmed)
Brussels & Paris (2nd time, March to be confirmed)
These additional cities add to the following cities that I've already been to.
Visited: Barcelona (duh), Rome, Milan, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, Cologne, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London
Planned: Zürich, Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Prague
Below is just one example of how sun and color can affect our mood.
''Russian health authorities fear that a rare lack of snowfall could cause a wave of depression across the country. This has been the warmest December in Russia since 1870, and much of the country hasn’t seen a single flake of snow. Winter days are extremely short in Russia, as it’s so far north, and people depend on snow to reflect sunlight and brighten moods. “The psychological state depends directly on the light,” Russian psychologist Baleria Mikulina told the London Daily Telegraph. Officials have installed extra street lamps and urged citizens to turn on all their lights, hang up yellow curtains, and wear colorful clothes..'' Via The Week
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In a extremely informative article entitled, "Spain No More?", Norman Ho, a senior editor at the Harvard International Review argues that President Zapatero has radically altered the Spanish identiy while implementing his vision for the ''new Spain''. My favorite excerpts are below.
''There can be no question that Zapatero’s reforms are bold, dynamic, and dramatically new. But whether or not they are ultimately beneficial for Spain’s national interest and world security is another question. For a nation that has been marked by historical disunity and uncertainty, Zapatero’s domestic reforms dangerously strip away the layers of Spanish society. In his attempts to create a “New Spain” and bring Spain quickly in line with other European nations, Zapatero is sacrificing Spanish national identity and showing that he simply does not understand the distinctiveness of Spain’s unique domestic and security needs.''
''Zapatero’s decision to embrace Old Europe ironically brought about a decline in Spain’s prestige and influence with the rest of the European Union. Despite his administration’s heavy campaign and his assurance to France that Spaniards were the most passionate Europeans, Zapatero indubitably looked bad after the historically low turnout of Spanish voters to the EU Constitution referendum. But perhaps what is most disturbing about Zapatero’s policy is his alacrity to sacrifice Spanish natural interests to please Old Europe.''
''Zapatero, during the discussions on the EU constitution, made it clear that he would be willing to compromise Spanish voting strength for the sake of agreements on the constitution. As a result, Spain has decreased voting power compared to Germany and France and thus has less influence in EU decision making. Zapatero also, as discussed earlier, pushed away an important non-EU friend, the United States, whose political support might have given Spain future leverage it might have needed to protect and even to enhance its power within the European Union in situations which required standing up to “Old Europe.” Instead, Zapatero has alienated the United States, one of Spain’s leading economic trading partners, and has started down the path of decreasing his country’s influence in European Union.''Read the full article here.
People Watching at its Best...
A must for anyone visiting Barcelona, the Ramblas are a little over 1 kilometer long with Port Vell at the Southern most end and Placa Catalunya at the northern most end. Shops, restaurants, tourists and street performers line the promenade ensuring a fun, lively and always interesting adventure. Make sure to bring a camera...
I previously wrote about my first few hours after arriving in Barcelona. In truth, I didn't even realize it that the airport shuttle bus dropped me off right next to Placa Catalunya on the northern most end of the Ramblas.
Below are just a few examples of the countless street performers.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I’m constantly scanning my surroundings as I walk. I’ve noticed a lot of interesting trends while doing so in
Hold me Tightly
Women of all ages grasping the arm of their female friends while walking in the street. I’m pretty sure that doing so in the
Just shave it all off
Crazy super skinny and pointed sideburns on younger men.
The already well documented mullet on both men and women of all ages.
Fun with Color
But perhaps the most interesting and shocking trend that I’ve noticed involves a large and growing number of women (most are 60+). So what is this trend that has caused grannies to go wild all over
Less than two months ago Dolce & Gabanna broke ground on a new store on the fashionable Passig de Gracia in Barcelona (less than 5 minutes from my friends house). The store adds to the already impressive number of luxury stores such as Valentino, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Bulgari etc…
D&G really must have wanted the store open for the Christmas rush because it was recently completed and had its grand opening just one week ago. Today I went into the store for the first time and was greeted by some extremely nice workers. They were more than happy to show me some 500 euro jeans, 450 euro shirts, a 300 euro belt and a pair of boots for 700 euro. Of course I bought them all. Then I woke up, realized I was dreaming and cried myself back to sleep.
P.S. Isn't the necklace amazing?
Monday, December 18, 2006
Today marks the return of mullet Mondays. In truth, it never actually went away, I've simply haven't had the time to capture and post photos. Thankfully Christmas shopping has provided ample opportunity to capture these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat: the Barcelona metro. Enjoy!
The always busy Park Guell is a masterpiece designed by Antoni Gaudi. At the top of Guell park is a terraced area where you get an amazing view of the park and of the Barcelona skyline. Some photos are below with more on Flickr. A ''must'' when visiting Barcelona.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I enjoy people watching. I picked it up from my father. The photo below shows how almost all outdoor cafes are setup throughout Europe. Notice how most of the chairs are facing the sidewalk (which is less than 1 meter away). I particularly like the large cafes that have 20 or more rows of chairs. This setup can make you feel like your on a runway as you walk by. Work it, baby...!!!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
My plan is to post photos first with all my thoughts and observations to follow. Below are a few examples from each city. The links below will start a slide show with photos from each city.
Clicking here will start the Belgium photo slide show.
Clicking here will start the Paris photo slide show.
Amsterdam & Rotterdam Photos
Clicking here will start the Amsterdam & Rotterdam photo slide show.
The photos bring back a lot of memories. Enjoy!
Wow, what an adventure! Sorry for the lack of overall communication (blog, email, IM), but finding internet cafes was way too time consuming (and often expensive).
I arrived back in BCN late last night. I'm in the process of digesting everything that occurred and sorting through the countless photos. Photos and more details to come very soon.
Friday, December 08, 2006
MSN.com recently posted a good piece that hit home for me. It details how six twentysomethings "lived their dreams in France and around the world on entry-level salaries and a strict savings philosophy."
Read the full article here.
P.S. The weather has been cold, damp and rainy...not the best weather for travel and exploration. We'll be in Paris tomorrow morning through Monday. The weather forecast does not include rain, but time will tell.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Zach & I arrived in Amsterdam around 8PM last night. The city is beautiful right now. Christmas lights illuminate the entire city giving it an amazing feel & glow at night. It's also created a great opportunity for photos. I'm very pleased with how the photos have turned out so far and I'm excited to post them once I'm back in BCN.
Walking around the streets instantly brought back a lot of great memories from my first trip to Amsterdam back in May with my good friends Lee & Peter. Because it was a Tuesday night there was not much to do. We decided to see the new Bond movie. We went to a theatre that was very similar to the Oriental in Milwaukee, WI. It has a similar look and feel, but an updated screen and sound system. The movie was great and I would highly recommend it.
Today I had cake and coffee for breakfast. It was very enjoyable. I'm really happy that I successfully exchanged a 6 month old pair of jeans from H&M. I was almost happy when one of the buttons fell off because they were too loose on me now. I thought it couldn't hurt to at least ask if I could exchange them. The didn't hesitate for a second. The new pair not only fit much better, but they're the new style. It worked out well. Perhaps you have some old jeans that you could exchange. You would be amazing at how liberal many exchange policies are. The worst scenario is they say no. The best scenario is thye give you a brand new item.
We'll be here in Amsterdam until Saturday morning when we'll leave for Paris. The adventure continues...
Two days was not nearly enough time to explore Cologne. My friend has a car and the drive from his apartment was only 1 1/2 hours. We got there in the late afternoon when it was already starting to get dark. As we approached the city, I could easily see the Dom (cathedral) towing over the much smaller buildings surrounding it. It was decorated for Christmas which make it particularly stunning.
There was a large outdoor festival the night we got there so there were vendors all over the city selling everything from arts & crafts to food to toys and of course, beer. Lots of beer. Garbage collectors were unsuccessfully trying to keep the streets clean as people and garbage were overflowing the narrow streets.
We spent several hours walking aimlessly around the entire city. I think that is one of the best ways to explore any city. I recall getting a weird feeling as I heard German. I think its the rough tone that freaks me out just a bit. Zach is a great travel partner. He speaks German, English, French, Dutch and Arabic, so he's able to speak the local language for every city in this eurotrip.
Later in the night Zach and I met up with some friends of Zachs and relaxed a bit before heading off to a big disco that occurs once a month (Greenkomm) . Zach and I were luckily enough to be there the night it was going on. The club had main dance floor, multiple observation decks and a nice lounge room w/ bar. The disco was extreemly busy and we had a great time.
I left cologne wanting to see more. That's alright with me, its just another excuse to visit the city again. That is, after I visit Berlin...
Monday, December 04, 2006
Are you American and planning on visiting the UK or Europe? Make sure that you've saved a lot of dollars because it's crazy expensive right now. The pound just hit a 14-year dollar high over the dollar while the dollar fell to a 20-month low against the euro.
It now takes 1.97 dollars to get 1 pound and 1.33 dollars to get 1 euro. Ouch.
I've felt the effects of this first hand...especially while in London.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Brussels is an interesting city. The city is charming (read: boring) and beautiful. I took some really great photos. I will post all the photos when I get back to Barcelona.
Language & People
I found the locals to be very friendly (and old). Everyone speaks Dutch and French as they're the official languages of Belgium. French is more widely spoke in Brussels.
All signs are written in both languages. This, along with the fact that the streets are small, angled and interwoven make getting around extremely difficult. The Brussels city map is a useless joke because all the street names are on top of each other making it nearly impossible to read.
Food (best part of Belgium)
Beer: Brussels is to beer what France is to wine. The number and quality of beers in Belgium is crazy. My friend and I went into one bar that had over 100 regional beers on tap.
Waffles: Orgasmic. The smell of Brussels is an intoxicating vanilla smell from the countless stands all over the city. The waffles have a crunchy outside with a warm and soft inside. Never again will I call a normal waffle a Belgium waffle.
Fries & Durum Kebabs/Wraps: I normally do not like fries, but the fries here taste so good that, like the waffles, I've been buying some every day. What really makes them special are the numerous sauce options. Most places have at least 20 different flavors to choose from and one tastes better than the other.
Chocolate: The best in the world. They're works of art. You could easily eat kilogram of free choclate every day from the samples they offer when you walk into the stores.
Brussels is great for drinking in a pub and drinking the world famous beers. They're all over the city and fun to relax and chat at with friends.
Feel like dancing? La Demence is a very famous disco party that occurs once a month. Great if you are lucky enough to be there the one night a month it occurs. Sadly I was not.
The most popular reoccurring weekly disco in Brussels was playing polka music on a Friday night....and the YMCA. If anything, Brussels was a nice reminder how great I have it in Barcelona.
Being "the capital of Europe" I expected more from Brussels. Enjoy Brussels for one or two days to eat, relax and see the beautiful architecture, but do not expect a crazy night.
I won't be in any rush to visit again and I'm looking forward towards Cologne tonight and Sunday and Amsterdam and Rotterdam next week.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The lack of interest most Americans have learning a second language is very unfortunate. I hate to admit that until recently I was in the group. I wish I would have been smarter and started earlier (just like my father always told me).
Interest Facts (source):
Ihave two friends in
- Spanish has grown to be roughly the same size as English in terms of its native-speaker base, and may overtake it. Spanish is challenging English in some parts of the
, where a number of towns have predominantly Spanish-speaking populations. Side comment for my US friends: How many times have you heard “Press one for English, press two for Spanish” when you call an 800? Exactly, a lot. USA
- In terms of native-speaker rankings, English is falling in the world league tables. Only 50 years ago it was clearly in second place, after Mandarin. Estimating the number of speakers for the very large languages is surprisingly difficult, but it seems probable that Spanish, Hindi-Urdu and English all have broadly similar numbers of first-language speakers. Some commentators have suggested that English has slipped to fourth place, where its position will become challenged by Arabic in the middle of the present century. The figures opposite show the demographic profiles of Chinese, Spanish and Arabic over the century 1950–2050.
- Chinese will remain the largest language terms of native speakers in the world for the foreseeable future. Its transnational use will grow.
- Arabic, demographically speaking, is the fastest growing of the world languages.
- While English is a major language, it only accounts for around 30% of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is likely to account for less in the future. Neglecting other languages means ignoring significant potential markets.
In lieu of a quote, I am post 4 maxims by a Poet named Changming Yuan. I read them in a London bookstore. I liked them enough to copy them down to share with you all.
1) The meaning of life, if any at all, is to create a meaning for life.
2) A house for sale is never a home, while a heart unoccupied is a hotel for rent.
3) He is happy who is not afraid to be rich, sexual, famous and powerful.
4) The mask is the only garment that will never go out of fashion.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The London adventure left me without any clean clothes, with a lot less money, but it also gave me lot of amazing memories. I had several experiences that I know I'll look back on and just smile as I relive the moment in my mind.
After what seemed like a long time away, I arrived back in Barcelona late last night. In my rush to make my flight, I forgot a lot of items in London. This includes my camera, a ring and too many clothes.
Leaving very little time to relax, tomorrow afternoon I'm heading to Brussels where the 15 day eurotrip begins. The the tentative travel plan looks like this...
Barcelona > Brussels > Cologne > Paris > Rotterdam > Amsterdam > Brussels > Barcelona
With only 24 hours until I leave, I don't have time to let my wet clothes hang dry like I normally do. Lucky, a dry cleaner agreed to dry my clothes (for only 5 euro!).
I have a lot of other things I need to do before I head out. I'll try and update as the trip progresses. However, I have no idea if I'll have access to internet or the time.
The following text comes from an essay written about East London by freelance writer named Erica Johansson.
"A stranger is simply a friend you have not got to know yet. What lies between are openness and contact. It does not matter whether you are in London, Lisbon, La Paz, Laos, Lesotho or Long Beach. Cross that boundary line. Maybe you will get a nice chat, prejudices confirmed or refuted,
another viewpoint, a new friend. Your travel experiences will however be richer in many ways. "
Read the full essay here.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Douglas Karr wrote this amazing manifesto about happiness:
Our culture is inundated with messages that lead us down a path of self-destruction. Happiness is equated with things we do not have... cars, money, 6-pack abs, awards, lifestyles, or even just a soda. Knowledge is equated with wealth, albeit accumulated or inherited. This is the disease of our culture, assuring us that we are never smart enough, never wealthy enough, never have enough.
The media entertains us with stories of wealth, sex, crime, and power - all things things that may hurt us or others when taken in excess. Our government even participates in the misdirection, tantalizing us with lotteries. Every marketing message and every commercial is the same, "You will be happy when..."
We are not happy with our spouses, so we get divorced. We're not happy with our homes, so we relocate our families and buy bigger until we can't afford them. We shop until our credit is used up and we go bankrupt. We are not happy with our jobs, so we join in hurtful politics to try to accelerate our promotions. We're not happy with our employees so we hire new ones. We're not happy with our profits, so we let faithful employees go.
We are a culture of individuals who are told that hording is the best path to happiness. The grass is always greener" the next girlfriend, the next home, the next city, the next job, the next drink, the next election, the next, next, next... We are never taught to be happy with what we have now. We must have it, and have it now. That's when we'll be happy.
Since it's only possible for the selected few to have it all, the bar is always higher than we can reach. We can never achieve happiness as defined by our culture. How do we cope? We medicate. Illicit drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, tobacco are all necessary and popular since they take the edge off of our unfulfilling lives.
In truth, we are on top of the world. We are the leaders with everything element of success that a culture is measured against. We have the mightiest armies, the most fantastic natural resources, the greatest economy, and the most amazing people.
Yet, we are not happy.Don't rely on anyone or anything outside your own self to drive your happiness. It is up to no one but yours. When you own your happiness, no one can steal it, no one can buy it, and you don't have to look elsewhere to find it.
God bless you and yours this fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is 1 day out of a year. Perhaps we should have 'Self-giving' and reverse our calendar. Let us spend the rest of the year being happy with what we have and one day spoiling ourselves with what we don't have. Let us be happy with our family, our children, our home, our job, our country and our lives.
You'll be happy when... you find happiness in yourselves.
"Although the young person has never been old, the old person once was young. When you look up the age ladder, you look at strangers; when you look down the age ladder, you are always looking at versions of yourself. As an adult, those fantastic younger incarnations can seem either long left behind or all too continuous with who you are now." - Mark Grief, "Children of the Revolution" November 2006 Harpers
I find this quote very interesting. It's difficult for me to think of an older person any differently than how I've always known them. I don't see the 25 year old that smoked, drank and partied too much in the successful 50 year old business person. Likewise, it's interesting to look at the 50 year old loser and wonder what they did (or didn't do) earlier in their life.
This quote reminded me how my experiences right now will affect me for years to come
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family that are celebrating back in America. It feels extreemly strange to have a holiday such as Thanksgiving, one that I've grown up with my entire life come and go without mention. Earlier today I did have some turkey. Sadly, it was packaged, pre-sliced turkey from Tesco, a huge supermarket chain here in the UK.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll try and recreate my own little day of thanks and pig out.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I am supposed to be in Barcelona by now. Well, I missed my flight by 5 minutes. I was a bit upset - that is until I found another ticket for $40.00 leaving on Sunday. Not only is that extremely inexpensive, but it will give me another weekend in London. I'm going to take advantage of this as much as comfortably possible. The only downside to arriving in Barcelona on Sunday is that it will give me only one day to prepare for my 3 week Eurotrip .
The past couple of days have kept me very busy. I went to a very popular disco on Monday called Heaven. The people I went with got me in free and into the VIP room. The VIP room was extremely posh, but I didn't stay in there for very long because I was dancing in the large house music room for most of the night. It's funny how fast 5 hours goes when you're dancing and having a good time.
Yesterday during the day I went to the V&A museum. I continue to be amazing at the quality of museums that you can enjoy in London for free. I was there for several hours and would haved stay longer had they not kicked me out for a private party that was about to start.
Later in the night I saw the musical Avenue Q (it won a tony for best new musical in 2004). I was very familiar with the musical because I've owned the score for well over a year. Still, seeing it live with all of the additional content kept it fresh and fun. I would highly recommend it to anyone, but it's especially good for those in their 20s and 30s that are still "trying to figure it all out". The CD can be bought from Amazon.com.
I continue to be amazed over the food here in London. I've had some amazing Indian & Moroccan food. Staying here through Sunday will allow me to enjoy even more of the many things London has to offer.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Ok, this video is too funny. WARNIGN: Don't watch if you're easily offended. It's from a new comedy series on the BBC here in England. I can't help but laugh as I'm in the process of learning Spanish. Thanks for the link Michael!
Monday, November 20, 2006
I am shocked at the number of obese people in London. I recently read in one of the news papers that 20% of children in London are considered obese.
In contrast to the general population, I am shocked at the number of crazy sexy people in London clubs.
The number of completly drunk people walking around the city in the early afternoon is astonishing. I saw a woman fall flat on her face and fall asleep in the Kings Cross stop.
Speaking of the tubes, one woman sitting next to me grabbed my crotch and then licked her lips. Another one decided to expose herself to me right before taking another swig of wine directly out of the bottle. She was drugged and drunk. Nice. An insance guy decided that he wanted to feel my friends bicep. Oh, and why must people stuff themselves into the train when there already over packed? This especially makes me upset considering the trains run almost every minute. I don’t enjoy being so close to people that I can count the number of hairs in their nose.
London is the party city of the world – without question. If one was so inclined, you could easily party from Thursday night until Monday morning without a break. Clubs are open at all times of the night and day – and they’re BUSY. I went to Juice at Fire on Saturday night going into Sunday moring. A local magazine has club updates. This is what they have to say about Fire.
"Juicy is back this Saturday at Fire with its megamix blend of disco debauchery,tits and torsos right through from 11pm Saturday through to 10am Sunday with the extra bonanza allowing the hardcore to stay on into Later (10am-8pm).How much can you take? This week the Main room is kept rump-a-pumpingby special guest Steve Pitron and residents rob Sykes, D’Johnny and The Oli.Filthy beats and treats can be found in the Mirror Arch from Dave Cross,David Jimenez and Per QX. Juicy draws some of the sexiest gym-bunnies theworld has ever seen. Fusing together mind-blowing production, pyrotechnicsand extra sexy go-gos, Juicy is an event not to be missed."The weather has been cold and rainy. I think I’m getting used to the Mediterranean climate.
I love the unspoken rule of people standing on escalators stay on the right while walkers stay on the left.
British people are a bit crazy and I think they would openly admit it.
I'm taking advantage of all the freebees that stores are giving out for Chrismas. I have enough face and eye cream to party for 15 hours get no sleep and still have a fresh, glowing face. ;)
Unlike Barcelona, the city is actually decorated for Christmas.
The Tate modern museum is amazing.
Tonight is Popcorn at Heaven.
Tomorrow i'm going to the V&A during the day and going the musical Avenue Q at night.
More on London when I get back to BCN.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I'm heading to London in a few hours. I'll return to Barcelona on the 24th for a nice 4 day weekend (party!). On November 28th I'm going to Brussels where my friend Zach lives. We're taking a 15 day road trip stopping in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Cologne, Paris and some other smaller cities along the way. I'll be back in Barcelona on the 14th of December. That will leave me with two weeks to relax here in BCN before leaving for Lisbon with a huge group of friends to celebrate the new year. Wish me luck. Ciao!
p.s below are links to new photos
interesting buildings in BCN
statues & other art
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Here it is...a bit late. You see, the problem is that my friend lives in the most affluent area of Barcelona. People that sport the mullet tend to stay away from Gucci, Armani, Prada, Valentino, D&G, etc. As a result, I've seen a lot less mullets on the street, making them more difficult to share with you. Perhaps I need to visit the Raval and Born districts more often...they're both mullet heaven.
Thankfully, I saw this beauty on my way to dinner a few nights back. Notice how he's grooming while waiting for the light to turn green. I know deep down inside you wish that was your hand and not his.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
According to Wikipedia, "Panellets are the traditional dessert of the All Saints holiday in Catalonia, together with chestnuts, sweet potatoes and sweet wine. Panellets (Catalan for little breads) are small cakes or cookies in different shapes, mostly round, made mainly of marzipan."
Funny, until recenlty I though pannellets was Catalan for fuckin amazing- because they are. They remind me of all the different types of cookies that people make during Christmas.
Street vendos also fill the streets this time of the year selling roasted chestnuts and grilled sweet potatoes. I've enjoyed sweet potatoe back home, but they've never tasted as good as they do here. Knowning that they'll be gone soon, I buy them almost every night and eat them with no butter or sugar. Click on the photo for a larger version. Yum!
The three photos below will give you a small taste of the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. These photos do not show the true architectural beauty - it is simply amazing. I guess that means you'll have to visit Barcelona to see it in person...correct?
About the Building (Source: MACBA)
The MACBA, designed by American architect Richard Meier, has a longitudinal floor plan with a 120 x 35 m base, in which a circular piece that serves to articulate exhibition space, is vertically inserted, passing through all four floors. Richard Meier’s architecture is clearly based on rationalism and alludes to the masters of Modern Architecture, particularly Le Corbusier, by combining straight and curved lines to establish a dialogue between interior space and exterior illumination which filters into the galleries through large skylights. Every floor of the MACBA is bathed in natural light, as Meier uses it to both define and generate space. To make this possible, Meier separated some of the supports from the façade. This same concept determines the atrium space, which is designed as a vertical gallery, parallel to the main façade, which filters and distributes light into the different parts of the building while communicating interior and exterior space through ramps that allow access to all floors and a hall which leads the visitor to the galleries.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Are you aware of the very high profile scandal involving the nation's top Evangelical leader? The President of the 30 million memeber National Association of Evangelicals has been exposed as a man who cheats on his wife and family, employs a male prostitute, uses illegal drugs and generally lives a life of complete hypocrisy.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."
Haggard is a tragic, yet typical victim of the closet. How will the 30 million Evangelicals process the fact that they’ve been led and misguided for these many years by an extremely dysfunctional gay man? I suppose most of them will go into some state of pathological denial, but maybe a few will begin to reassess just how far they've been led astray from the true teachings of Christ. And maybe a few will consider that Evangelical homophobia is driven by self-hatred, fear and internal rage and not by anything good, noble or Christian.
This all sounds way too familiar to the Catholic priest scandal.
Put simply, the citizens of
I agree with the Mike Tate, the president of FairWisconin when he said, "We did not lose because the people of
Frankly, all this makes me just a bit sick.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Where are you from?
Near Chicago (I’ve resorted to stating the closest city that everyone knows...it saves a lot of confusion and explanation)
Oh, an American. So how long have you been here?
About three months now.
You’re here for school, right?
No, I’m just traveling Europe for now. I'm looking to get a job soon, starting in February.
Whaaat? You mean that you’ve been doing absolutely nothing for 3 months and that's your plans for the next 3 months.
No, I’ve been traveling and I’ve seen pretty much everything in Barcelona.
But you don’t have a job or go to university?
Correct. I'm traveling too much now.
Hhhmmmm….I see. Lucky you.
Yeah, it’s fun.
What did you do back in the U.S.
I had a nice job, but was a bit bored and wanted to do something interesting. I quit my job and was in Barcelona two weeks later.
Wow, seems crazy.
Exactly. I'm not bored anymore.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
I heard that it’s an amazing city with a great night life. I wanted to be in a fun city when I was not traveling. The weather does not hurt either. Oh, and I wanted to learn Spanish.
Good choice. How is your Spanish coming along?
Slowly. (it’s at this point they always test my Spanish…most of the time I fail.)
Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish Spanish...si?!
Yeah, you need more practice.
A lot more.
So, um, like how do you afford all this without working?
I'm an escort. It pays really well.
No...really!? I thought you didn't work!
It's easy, I don't consider it work, per se.
Yeah, I guess... Are you really an escort?!
No, I'm just really thrifty and live off savings. I made a lot more than I spent for almost 2 years while working full-time. Friends and family helped with starter money. Still, I would be happy to take anything towards the cause...you know, not having a job and all... ;)
That's good you're not an escort. How about a drink towards the cause?
Sure, that works.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Transportation in Barcelona is extremely efficient. I find it very simple to navigate around the city due to its size and multiple transportation options available. These options include: underground metro, taxi, bus and light rail (not as common).
My primary mode of transportation is two muscular legs (sexy) supported by a very tiny ass (not so sexy). This is because 1) I'm never in a rush 2) I would rather spend my limited resources on things other than taxis and metro tickets 3) it's a great way to see the city and 4 ) it's excellent exercise. When I'm in a rush or going across the city I'll take the metro. It's clean, easy, fast and often includes free entertainment in the form of eccentric bag ladies, bums, drunks and aspiring "musicians". Just yesterday I watched an elderly women with no teeth (unsuccessfully) attempting to eat an extremely ripe peach. I was in such awe that I must have watched her for 10 minutes. In that time she finished chewing maybe one bite. The old men that link to sign only songs they understand is also very entertaining.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit bitch on a friends moped (which are EVERYWHERE, btw). There is nothing to keep you from falling off and I nearly pissed my pants as he was weaving in and out of lanes. The people that drive the mopeds are absolutely crazy. You must stay out of there way or risk being run over.
Anyway, I've been taking photos of the cool cars here in Europe. My three favorite photos are posted below. All of the transportation photos can be viewed here.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
As some of you already know, I have not been getting along with one of my roommates. I noticed a few odd things within first month, but shrugged them off as small eccentricities. Well, those small eccentricities grew and the tension calumniated during a fight two weeks ago. I won't get into the details, but it was at that point that I decided that I no longer wanted to live with this wack job. My two other roommates are in the process of looking for a new apartment for the very same reason.
My initial thought was to move into a new apartment starting November 1st. However, I looked at my calendar and noticed that in November and December I’m going to be in Barcelona a total of two, maybe three weeks. I immediately saw a great opportunity to save 800 euro in rent. Jose, a good friend of mine here in Barcelona offered to let me crash at his house until I figure out what I’m doing long term. Not only will this save me 800 euro, but it freed up my security deposit at the last apartment to the tune of 600 euro.
Yesterday I packed up my things and moved my suitcases into Jose's apartment. The next step is creating a long term strategy and figuring out if it involves the U.S or Europe. I'm open to suggestions, so comment way. ;)
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I was sweating profusely when I awoke around 04:30. I instantly recalled the bazaar dream that I just had. I was back in Milwaukee in my parent’s house. My mother and father were speaking perfect Spanish to each other. They bragged that it only took them 1 week to learn when told them I was trying to learn. I was insanely jealous, then I woke up. Oddly enough, they were also talking with their neighbors, the Martinez’s, in Spanish. Spanish must be on my mind.
I think a conversation with a friend over dinner last night may have trigger the dream. We discussed how my Spanish was progressing and agreed to start speak Spanish whenever possible. I’ve also been listening to my Spanish MP3s a lot more often.
Very strange stuff. What do you think it means?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Just booked a longer multiple country adventure starting on November 28th going through December 14. I get back from London on the 22nd so I'll have a few days to rest up before this trip begins.
I'm flying into Belgium where Zach, a friend of mine lives (whom I met when I was in Amsterdam last May). We've stayed in contact and have mutual friends here in Barcelona & Amsterdam. He's a great guy and will great to travel with. We'll spend one or two days in Brussels and then head off to Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, along with many other smaller cities along the way.
I'm very excited for this one.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I'm a big fan of quotes. After all, "The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotations." - Benjamin Disraeli
I have a large collection that I've picked up over the past few years. Starting today, I will post one quote a week...who knows, maybe you may like them as well.
"The object of life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, 'Holy Shit, What a Ride!!!'' — Mavis Leyrer
Thursday, October 26, 2006
My first trip to London taught me several things.
1) Pack light and tight
2) Book an afternoon flight, so you don’t miss your early wake up call.
3) Use the Barcelona Bus to get to Gerona Airport.
4) Leave plenty of time for metro delays
5) Bring food because Airport food tastes really awful and is completely unhealthy
All of these little lessons made getting to and from Italy much easier, less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.
The plan was to connect with a friend of a friend that lives in Rome (Michael). Michael was kind enough to offer his extra futon in his huge apartment within the center of Rome (score!). Even better, he’s a tour guide, so he knows EVERYTHING about Rome.
Destination Italy – Getting There
The bus dropped me off right in front of the arrival terminal. As I walked into the terminal, I noticed a huge mumblefuck of clothes and people. Clothes were everywhere. People did not look happy. I quickly learned that this was due to a strike by the company that handles luggage for all Ryanair flights out of Girona airport. Apparently the strike started with little warning. While the flight itself was not canceled, Ryanair was not able to accept ANY checked luggage. Surprise!
All passengers were given the option to reschedule or receive a refund. Problem was that they were unable to estimate when the strike would end. Some people simply had to make the flight, regardless of what they could or could not bring. This forced those that brought checked luggage to wear 2 or 3 layers of clothing, toss what they didn’t absolutely need, leave the physical luggage behind and carry all other clothing in garbage bags on the plane. I vividly recall a very large man attempting to put on two additional pairs of jeans only to rip a hole in both of them. I also recall a massive pile of orphaned luggage sitting in the corner of the terminal. As you can imagine, people were irate! Thankfully, I’ve become a light packer and only had one small roller suitcase that complies with in-flight regulations (see London lesson #1).
I got into Rome around 23:30. By the time I arrived at Termini station in the center of Rome it was a little after 24:00. Italy lesson #1: book an afternoon flight, but not so late that you arrive to your destination after midnight. Given that I really didn’t know Michael, I didn’t want to call him until the morning. I thought a hostel would suffice for the few hours I needed to burn. Problem was that all hotels and hostels were closed when I arrived. I had 8 hours to burn in the middle of the night/early morning with nothing to do. It was pitch dark, not a single thing was open and homeless, whores and drunks were everywhere. For the next 5 hours I walked around, trying to stay awake and look badass so no monkeys would bother me.
At 5:30 the Termini station and one café opened. This gave me a place to eat and rest for a few hours before calling Michael. I must have been very tired because woke up twice to a security guard banging on the café table. This is the closest that I’ve been to being a bum.
I got a hold of Michael and we made plans to meet one block from his house. I took a 10 minute bus from Termini to Michael’s apartment. The buses in Rome and no place for germaphobes or claustrophobes. I could barley fit into the bus, yet people continued to pack in. Forget the concept of personal space. Most people looked and smelled awful. On the bus, I recall riding past many historical monuments, finding it very difficult to grasp the history. It was so breathtaking that I felt like I was on a movie set, not in a real city.
The people are a bit crazy. You see a lot of crazy people everywhere. Seriously, people that would get locked up in other counties are free the wonder the city. Like me, you might expect most people to be fashionable in Rome. The reality is that people are either dressed in high-end fashion from head to toe or no fashion. There is not much of a middle ground.
People say that when you leave Rome you enter Italy. It’s true…Romans have a very different vibe than the rest of Italy…it’s not a good thing. Michael and I took the train through Florence and Tuscany to Milan for a day trip. The difference in personality and appearance became immediately evident.
One thing that is the same all over Italy is how the men go completely overboard with the eyebrow waxing/trimming in Italy. I’ve never seen such hideous eyebrows.
I was entertained throughout the trip because of Michael and his cast of friends. I met Romans, Austrians, Americans, Irish, Dutch and a real Lady from England. She’s 22 and a friend of Michaels. Her father was knighted in England, making her a Lady. She does some “secret” work for the Italian government and has her own driver that takes her all around.
The cities number of things to see make it impossible to see everything in one visit. The city has over 900 churches alone. Thankfully, I was able to experience Rome more like a local because of Michael. I owe him – big.
The list includes: Tiber River, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant Angelo, Pantheon, St. Peters, Roman Forum, Pizza Novona (Neptune Fountain), Museum Capitolini, Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter Basilica square area) and the Sistine Chapel where some of Michelanglos finest works are held (Last Judgment, Original Sin and Creating of Sun & Moon). I was in complete awe.
Rome has very few trash cans on the street which encourages people to toss garbage on the street (which is exactly what they do). Dirty birds!
Taxi oddness – Rome has a massive shortage of Taxis. In order to get a taxi, you have to call the cab company directly or go to designed cab stations that are nearly impossible to find. You can’t flag them down as they’re driving. They simply won’t stop for you. This is especially fun at 06:00 when you get out of a disco after dancing for 5 hours and need to go directly to your train heading back to Rome ;).
We went out in both Rome and Milan. Shockingly, the nightlife in Rome is amazing. Muccassassina, one of the venues in Rome was one of the best that I’ve been to. It is located on the site of an closed 3 story industrial complex. Each massive floor had a different type of music which invites a very fun, diverse crowd.
Disco Billy’s, the venue we went to in Milan was equally huge, but was spread out one massive floor. To give you an idea of the size, the club capacity is over 2,000 people.
Both discos were absolutely packed with people because of special events that were going on at both clubs. Talk about good luck. Email me if you want the details, photos and some video clips.
One word – amazing.
Olive Ascolane – Marinated olives friend into a crispy shell.
Suppli Tomato sauce,rice and fresh mozzarella friend into a crispy shell.
Tiramisu – The best I had in my life.
Fresh OJ – Fresh orange juice made from blood oranges. Orgasmic.
Crepes – perfectly browned crepes filled with nutella. Need I say more?
Pizza – Fresh, natural ingredients on super thin crust. I could not get enough of this stuff.
Gelato – Again, the best I’ve had in my life. It’s so creamy, yet only uses Milk making it a healthier alternative to custard.
Sun dried tomatoes – I ate so many that I got a stomach ach.
One of my favorite food experiences had to have been when I was sitting in the bistro of an internationally known 5 star hotel sipping an espresso and eating assorted deserts with Michael, his friend from NYC and another friend of his who happen to be the hotel manager. All free! She was a really interesting person and we had a great conversation. A commercial was being filmed in the extravagant restaurant. It’s these types of connections that make a good trip a great trip.
I passed the same historical monuments I saw heading into Rome on the bus heading back to Termini. This time, I had a better appreciation of the history and beauty of Rome. I left the movie set and found myself feeling like I was entering Rome for the first time.
Rome has spoken; the case is closed. - Augustine