Moneydick

Technology, Art, and Power

Month: January, 2006

Groceries and GROCERIES

There’s a lot of nice things in Europe.
I’ve been floating around over here for so long that I now have a different approach to seeing, experiencing, and comparing. Though I tend to enjoy every city I’ve been to, I can’t help comparing each city’s properties with my past experiences. Without meaning to, I now rarely compare a country or a city (or a cheese) to an American equivalent. I compare Amsterdam to Venice or Lisbon to Grenada. Comparing Europe to America like I did in the beginning of my trip makes a bit more sense.
Today I picked up some food for the next week here in Grenoble, France. I got some chicken, pork, pasta, potatoes, yellow peppers, sauces, and a loaf of bread with cheese to go with. It nearly filled the small red basket I picked up at the front of the small supermarket. Loading it all on the conveyor belt, I felt like I was buying the entire store compared to the four people behind me. I had more than their groceries combined, and then some.
Most Europeans go to their supermarket once a day for their daily needs. They can get by only purchasing 4 items every day–it must be the strangest thing for Americans. I had completely forgotten how it’s done back home. Full carts are emptied into¬†massive minivan¬†trunks¬†for the drive home. Completely normal.
At least in European cities where local stores are nearby, you buy what you can carry back home and up the stairs, rarely more than¬†three bags full. If you’re the type who owns a car, you still wouldn’t drive it to just buy groceries. Cars are for trips, and the market is a daily foot affair.
Over here that means smaller fridges (think mini-fridge at that¬†cheap hotel), smaller energy bills, and more footin’ around which equates to less laziness, more daily human contact and exercise, and billions of other plusses.

 

Lisbon, Portugal. To Grenoble, France on the Nextus

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At the Oceanarium, the
Largest Aquarium in Europe

So I met a Meaghan in Bordeaux when I was staying with a girl I met through globalfreeloaders.com and she was like yo you should come to Grenoble because there’s haunted houses and alpine resorts and craggy climbing peaks every place your eyeball goes… so I says ya that sounds like a peachy keen idea and I’ll let you know and now that’s my next destination after the place I’m currently in which may or may not be Lisbon, Portugal where they’re not quite Spain (wishing they were Brazilian) but very colorful and happy and fun without all the snootyness of some Spaniards I met.

Without writing too many more periods, I will be hitting Strasbourg February 5th after Grenoble’s coldness to partake in goodness unparalleled by any soul.
I have uploaded so many good pictures that I nearly blew up the Internet, so check them out before it burns to the ground. CLICK HERE FOR TELEPORTATION TO LISBON.
The Portuguese scene is my favorite so far. Maybe I just like the fact that there’s no personal space and I can share pockets and food with strangers, but there’s also a familiarity to Lisbon, mainly the fact that it’s become a replica of San Francisco in many areas:

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  • There’s a perfect copy of the golden gate bridge constructed by the same architects.
  • Trolly cars get people up and down the steep places, and many highly angled streets have steps.
  • The steep hills look out towards the water (and sometimes look out towards the Golden Gate bridge), like many areas in the San Fran bay
  • The art scene is off the hook.

It’s Good to Be Bad

This travel blog thing just hit 10,000 visitors. It only proves the old American proverb evermore truthful: It’s good to be bad.

good2bbad

I’m in Lisboa, Portugal. Paris, France next. Strasbourg, France on the 5th of Feb. Whenever you thank a Portuguese man or woman for something, the answer is always: “Nothing.”

I’d like to use this space to thank the people of Europe. Via organizations like hospitalityclub.org, couchsurfing.com, and globalfreeloaders.com, (websites that require systems of planning that I’m still getting the hang of) I’ve met the most incredible folks. Without them, coming into a new city would be always the same: A big dormitory filled with people all in the same place, wondering the same thing, and each just a wide-eyed transient surfing between the top 25 cities of Europe. I love hostels and the people I tend to meet in them. If you knew me you’d know I have no gripe about much anything–but there’s a sweetness to sucking the city knowledge out of a local.

But tourists traps are beginning to piss me off. Venice, Italy is the biggest tourist trap of them all. Beware of the dog shit too.

The Spanish Afternoon

la version Fran?ßaise

And here begins the story of how I was mugged on the streets of Barcelona.
It was around November 15th, 2005.
I had just spent a very pleasant week in the sunny cultural capital of Spain. El Sol shone on the stone buildings and the man urine from the night before stank–but it was but a common vestige of the past night’s madness. I had gotten used to the smell.
I had just enjoyed a relaxing picnic of olives, avocado, fresh baguette, and brie in tropical park of Mont Juic. Strolling down a street a couple blocks from the Mediterranean in my lazy afternoon food-coma-stagger, passing a group of deaf kids signing furiously while playing soccer, listening as the whizzing scooter daredevils raced by, doing all these things at once–I felt like I was home.
I was shuffling along with my new found Canadian friend Sally, enjoying the sights all relaxed-like. After our descent from the cliffs of the park overlooking all of Barcelona, we were making a beeline for The Aquarium near the center of town. On the walk we were deciding whether a post-lunch siesta or a walk through a Spanish aquarium would be better.
I had been having a good time here, but this particular afternoon was quickly rocketing past even the sunniest beach-filled days at my beach back home in California. We soon passed a local church, with flocks of 15-18 year old high school kids milling about and smoking. I was walking on the left side of street down the sidewalk and Sally was on my left. We soon passed the kids and I found myself stopped by a young man on the street.
He was between the ages of 17 and 25, and was of Spanish descent, with a 5 inch scar down the left side of his face. He looked homeless, and I slowed down to see what he was now energetically talking to me about. He stepped up to me–a reasonable distance for such a city–and with a quick flurry of eyebrow raises, quickly asked me:
“Hello! Where are you from?”
I replied “Los Angeles.” and he looked as though he had heard something about Los Angeles the way people look when they want to quickly find common ground. He then even more excitedly asked me:
“Do you play futbol?”
(more…)

New Mission Statement?

I’ve always tried to make this site different. When the site was still young and I would occasionally put up funny videos, I cringed to think that this website might someday turn into a ‘Funniest Home Videos’ on the net. There’s far too many of those.
I’d like there to be some serious resources on this website–information people can refer to and share with people. I’d like to somehow contribute with this website, so from here on out I’m going to try to balance advice and insight with entertainment.
Too often I’ve merely written: ‘Been here…this was fun…here’s some pictures…food was good.’ That only goes so far.
Because travel is what I’ve been doing for the past 4 months, it seems strange to me that I’ve failed to write more distinctly about the mechanics, philosophy, and spirit of travel.
I’m going to think on this a bit and see what I come up with, though off the top of my head I can think of a few topics I know I need to cover:

  • American Students Abroad
  • European Conceptions of American Politics
  • Tourism and the Industry
  • European Study Abroad Programs
  • European Political Self-Awareness
  • Drug Laws
  • Energy Use
  • Homelessness and Vagrancy
  • Exploring a Fresh City
  • Why the Australians are so Nuts
  • Guidebooks: Lonely Planet or Rick Steves? Wikitravel.com?
  • Hitchhiking, Couch Surfing, and Trust

… well the list goes on. Maybe it was a little easier to come up with a list than I thought.
Because there are so many topics, I would really love to have some suggestions on something to write more specifically about. Specific questions would also work.

It’s surprising that more people don’t write comments. Almost 10k different people have read this site since I left the states. If you’ve got the vitamins just write in the box below or drop me an email @

Portugal and Beyond


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