Archive for the ‘Traveling’ Category

Sun and Fun

May 30, 2006

Yay! It finally feels like Southern California.  Jeff and I ushered in the gorgeous weather by spending Memorial Day weekend with his family, along with lots of friends, in Laguna Beach for their annual wine-tasting party.  The weather was perfect, and good times were had by all.  Click on my Flickr badge over on the left side of this page for a photo diary of fun!

P.S.  Eric is sending me photos from his camera, many of which I took after my battery died.  They are pure awesomeness, so be sure to check the photo album later for some new additions.

Update: Check out Eric's blog to see his photo diary of the weekend, and go visit his Flickr page for "deleted scenes." Just be warned, some of the pictures of me in both locales will give you a good laugh at my expense!  

Cute Japanese Animals

April 12, 2006

Look at this picture from cuteoverload.com.  Can I go to that park in Japan right now, please, and look at that bunny, and enjoy the fall leaves?  I guess it is fall over there now, huh?

bunny.jpgAnyway, if you're cool you're going to Japan right now.  Eric did, and Jeff and his family are going on Friday for ten days.  I guess I'd better start saving my pennies and planning a trip!

Speaking of both Japan and cute animals, I saw on Animal Planet a blurb about a Tokyo family's pet penguin.  Every morning they would put a little backpack on him (the backpack looked like a penguin, too), and he would waddle, by himself, several blocks to the fish market.  At the market, the fish monger would feed him a fish, then put a fish in the backpack and I guess maybe take some money from the backpack (I don't remember the form of payment), and the penguin would waddle back home with the fish for the family.

Cute Overload is right. The Japanese really do know their cute.

Blotos

March 15, 2006

Paris2005_280  I’m having trouble writing this week, so… I figure I’ll just post some old photos (blotos).  These are from Jeff & my trip to Paris last fall, a weekend trip from our 3 1/2 week stint in Barcelona.   Click on the photos to view them full size.  Why is Paris so f-ing gorgeous!!!??  I have to admit it: I’ve never seen a more beautiful city.

This is a picture I took of the Hotel Letitia, where we went for drinks  with Jeff’s parents, who were in Paris for the week.  Paris2005_008

It’s an old, old, super-old hotel, and apparently used to be the hot spot for all sorts of old-timey Paris2005_012chic artist types, none of whom I can remember at this moment.

Here’s another one at the Letitia, of Jeff & me.  Not sure what I’m laughing about — it looks like he’s tickling me, but his hands are visible — but I like this picture a lot.

Paris2005_080 Here’s us with Jeff’s parents, Ken and Deb, at the Hotel Coste, another old badass place.  The food was amazing and the scenery even better.  Plus, they sell these amazing mix CDs there, one every year.  Deb bought one for Jeff & me and it’s fantastic.

Paris2005_082 Paris2005_084 Here are a couple more of the Hotel Coste.

Here are some more photos that show how ridiculously gorgeous Paris is:

Paris2005_116 Paris2005_119 Paris2005_125Paris2005_131 Paris2005_136 I want to go back! Now!

Damn, nostalgia is a bitch.

October 28, 2005

Last month when I was in Spain, Jeff and I went to Madrid for a weekend to visit his friend Monica.  I hadn’t been since I was 21, when I lived there for a month while studying abroad.  Frighteningly, that was five years ago.  That was an incredible, unforgettable summer, and sadly I’ve lost touch with almost all of the friends I made on that trip, even though a few of them were some of my favorite people ever.  I was really, really excited to see Madrid again, and a little nervous, but as much as I tried to prepare for how I would feel when I got there, I was not prepared.

We got off the train and met Monica, and started walking toward our hostel. On the way we passed the Atocha metro stop, and I was instantly blasted into the past.  That stop is where we got off when we went to Kapital, the hugest, most fantastic club I have ever been to.  And there was the little bar across the street where Timur, Kristin and I drank lemon drop shots before going to Kapital, and there was the McDonalds where we all met before going to the little bar to drink the shots… (Hey, don’t judge me — it was an easy meeting place, OK)?

Throughout the weekend I was most surprised by how much I didn’t recognize — a lot of Madrid looked totally new to me — but then I’d be walking along and BAM. Suddenly I knew exactly where I was, and moments I hadn’t thought about in 5 years were suddenly so fresh in my mind it was as though they had just happened.  Conversations, music, smells, sounds — the ghosts were everywhere.

At the museum Reina Sofia, there were the steps I ran down in tears with Kristin when two jerk-ass fuckers in my group made me feel bad and thought they were just f-ing hilarious.  Outside the Retiro park, there was the median in the middle of the intersection where we were standing when I said, in perfect Spanglish, "This is really peligroso," And Whitney said, " Yeah, this is peligroso as hell, y’all."  There was the couch at Kapital where we all piled, waiting until 6AM so we could take the Metro home, and there were the stairs Mary Ellen slipped down in her too-cute-to-be-practial shoes on the night she proclaimed, "Damn, why am I such a sexy bitch?!"

Possibly the strangest part was revisiting the apartment Kristin and I lived in.  I took the metro back to our stop, Bilbao, and knew exactly which exit to walk out of, and which street to turn left on, and which apartment to stop in front of.  The street looked different from how I remembered.  I hadn’t taken any pictures of the ugly 1970s buildings squeezed in with the beautiful old ones, so in my memory, I had nicely just erased them.  I think the trees had been cut down and replanted also, so instead of the regal, rustling leaves I remembered, this was a little bare looking, and the sun was harsh.  I tried to find my host parents’ apartment number so I could ring them and see if they remembered me, but the numbers didn’t have names on them, and I couldn’t find their name on the mailboxes inside the door.  I hope they haven’t moved — somehow that would be too sad. 

Revisiting a place that meant a lot to me, from a whole different chapter of my life, was a very interesting experiment.  I learned a lot about my memory, and how who you’re with makes so much more difference than where you are (which I really already knew), and how maybe I tend to cling to the past too much, but maybe not.  I think the ghosts are OK, because even though it can be sad to think about a part of your life you can never get back, it feels good to know I’ve done so much and have met so many great people, and if all goes well, my life is really only 30% underway.

I hope I’ll get to return to Madrid someday, and if I do, I’ll have new memories to add to my old ones.  Until then, I’m going to try to track down my favorite ghosts.  Wish me luck.

A Public Nuisance

October 21, 2005

Possibly the highlight of my trip to Barcelona was one of the nights Jeff and I went to the absinthe bar.  It’s called Bar Marsella, and apparently Ernest Hemingway used to go there.  It looks like they haven’t changed a thing, it’s so old and cool looking.  We were sitting there drinking absinthe (yes, it was real and no, it did not make us hallucinate) and *enjoying life*, and I noticed a girl sitting at a table nearby.  She was a white girl with long, brown hair, which would have been beautiful except for the fact that she was starting to let it grow into dreadlocks.  Just at the bottom, she had like 4 or 5 dreads, and it was so gross.  I personally have always felt that white people should never, ever, under any circumstances, have dreadlocks, and this girl was no exception.

Later, in the cab on the way home, we were enjoying life, like, a whole lot by now, and once again the subject came up.  We vehemently discussed how they’re disgusting to look at, and who knows what could be living in there?!  Do these people think it looks good, or are they just too lazy to drag a comb through their hair?!  As the conversation continued, I became impassioned.  "They’re a nuisance!" I declared.  "They’re a public nuisance!"

A few minutes later I looked at Jeff and said, "Did I just declare dreadlocks a public nuisance?"

"Yes, you did."

And we laughed all the way home.

No Place Like Home

October 7, 2005

So, my August-September-October Travel-a-thon is almost over, and not a moment too soon.  Jeff and I returned on Tuesday from spending 3 weeks in Barcelona, and are you ready for this?  From the time we left BCN to the time we landed at LAX, THIRTY-THREE HOURS passed.  Thirty-three greuling hours of travel on a janky US-Airways plane that must certainly have been made by Mattel, because every time we went through turbulance or landed or took off, everything in that plane rattled and shook and creaked.  And there were plenty of landings and take-offs, including a "whoops, we’ve been flying for an hour, but let’s turn around and go to Madrid so you all can sit on the plane for three-and-a-half hours while we fix three of the malfunctioning bathrooms.  OH, and it’s my last day as a pilot — I’m retiring — so I’m going to fly like a 13-year-old boy, swinging this way and that, just daring this jury-rigged, poor-excuse-for-an-aircraft to fall apart around us."  There was also a period of, "Well folks, we’ve finally arrived in Philadalphia, and since you’ve all missed your connecting flights, we’ve booked some of you on flights with other airlines, to which you will run at top speed through three terminals, slipping and sliding in your socks because you won’t have time to put back on your shoes after going through security, lugging two carry-ons and three bottles of expensive Spanish wine that had better not break or you will not have any gifts for your boss or your dad, only to find you  have missed that flight as well.  At this point, you will wait for a shuttle to the "Ramada Inn Ghetto," which will pass by twice but will refuse to stop.  Your boyfriend will sweet-talk the Holiday Inn guy to drop you off at the Ramada, where you will be greeted by a complementary selection of pimps and hoes gracing you with their presence in the lobby."

Needless to say, by the time we reached LAX the next afternoon we were ready to kiss the ground.  I’ve got one weekend here and the following weekend I’ll be in New Mexico with Jeff and his parents, and then I am going NOWHERE until Thanksgiving.  I’m getting really excited about doing things like grocery shopping and using electricity without a plug adapter.  Last night I went to Souplantation and nearly cried with tears of joy as I filled my bowl with clam chowder.

It is so good, SO GOOD to be home.

Wha… ???

August 30, 2005

Last weekend was the second weekend of my August & September Travel-athon.  It works great because I get Mondays off, so long weekends are easy to plan.  This time I was in Charleston, South Carolina, with 5 of my girl friends from high school.  The weekend was fantastic — relaxing, fun, much eating, drinking, and merriment had by all.  But I think the most important thing for you to know is this:

Saturday after a delicious lunch (including fried green tomatoes, black-eyed pea fritters, and sweet tea! yay!) we were walking around in downtown Charleston, and encountered a middle-aged couple walking leisurely toward us.  My friend Elise stopped them as they approached and politely asked if they wouldn’t mind taking our picture.  The husband hesitatingly reached toward the camera, then suddenly got a pained expression on his face, pulled his hand back and said, "I’d rather not."

"You’d… rather not?" 

"I’d rather not."

And there it was.  The six of us stood without moving or breathing, our mouths hanging open, just staring at him with a mix of horror and fascination.  I looked from him to his wife, and she nodded in agreement.  They would rather not. 

They kept walking, and we kept standing there.  After about 10 stunned hours of open-mouthed, wide-eyed, eyebrows-raised silence, we slowly started moving forward; then at once we all burst out with questions.  Did that really just happen?  Has that ever happened before in Earth’s history?  Are we really in the South?  Aren’t people supposed to be friendly here?  Did that really just happen?  REALLY?  And most importantly, why???  We all agreed that times when people refuse to take pictures are rare, and when these rare instances do occur, the person always provides some sort of explanation.  Examples are: "Oh, sorry, I’m really in a hurry," or, "OH, you don’t want me to take that, I always ruin pictures.  I can’t take a good picture to save my life," or, "OH no, sorry, I’m really drunk."

But "I’d rather not?"  We tried to come up with possible scenarios to explain their behavior, but we just couldn’t.  The behavior is unexplainable.  It is an unsolved mystery.

Shortly after we walked away, I realized I should have snapped their picture, just to throw them off.  Why do my genius ideas always come a minute too late?