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.
|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:
- 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.
This travel blog thing just hit 10,000 visitors. It only proves the old American proverb evermore truthful: It’s good to be bad.
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.
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?”
Continue reading “The Spanish Afternoon”
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 @
It’s high time for another assortment of favorite pictures (pictured on the right is a questionably PC bus ad in Copenhagen, Denmark). Though this image is not my favorite, it’s up there.
‚ÄúDet er uhyyyygeligt‚Äù kinda translates to ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs unpleaaasant‚Äù And it is from Lars von Trier‚Äôs miniseries Riget, or The Kingdom. Those two retards are awesome and kinda creepy —Anonymous comment
Some of these I’ve never seen on screen as I tend to just automatically whip out my camera when I see something I want to see again. Each time I upload my pictures to this website or Flickr, I launch about 200 at a time.
I make sure to take out the images devoid of visual information or that contain images too explicit for my younger viewers. For the most part I don’t know what I’ve uploaded.
I’m at a cozy Internet cafe in Granada, Spain where I can sort and share some of these gems. Without further yipper yap, here they are in no particular order:
Chinese Guard in London History Museum
Windy Crags in Edinburgh, Scotland
Aluminum Party Preparations, Edinburgh
The Best Shuarma (shawana shwarma?) I’ve ever had. Served by Habib at the Kebab King in Granada. Kebab con pollo picante pictured below:
The Kebab of all Kebabs.
The Escalera del Agua at the Alhambra gardens known as Generalife. The fountains and water displays the Alhambra was a braggable quality to even the richest muslim princes from arid nations in the good ol’ days.
Continue reading “Portugal and Beyond”
Granada is the most beautiful place I’ve seen so far. The walled fortress of Alhambra, the last Arab outpost in Spain, has no equal as far as I know. Though I haven’t seen Versailles, I would choose the ornately carved marble walls and very zen reflecting pools and fountains of Alhambra over any palace. Sadly I can’t live there now, but if I were around in the early 1800s before Washington Irvine told the world about Alhambra and brought the Spanish government to treat it more like a palace than a forgotten old building, I could have lived there as many vagrants and hobos did. [pictures]
I’m now 4 months through my trip, and I’ve razed 32 cities in my quest for edifying gastronomic, visual, audible, tactile, and smellable experiences. Time moves at a slower pace when one lives in a day to day fashion for 4 months in so many cities. Because most things I see are new things, there’s a certain significance to every hour and step I take that I don’t have in my own neighborhood. I can’t help but pack every day with new things. Foods, streets, museums and people are all very unpredictable.
The best days are wandering days… those first couple days in city when I get my bearings, find where most people go to get groceries, and generally where all the good things are.
Seeing museums are great, but meeting random characters on the street or in a hostel can be a far more enriching experience. My favorites are the Natural History Museum in Vienna, the Vatican Museum in Rome, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the Hundterwasser Museum in Vienna. But these are just crap compared to events like these:
I was walking back to the apartment after I saw Alhambra [photo gallery] down a hill. On either side water from the palace flowed, and I decided to have a seat on a bench and listen to the water flow down the hill down its specially grooved ravines. It was about 5:30, and the afternoon breezes were dancing with the sunlit ferns on either side. ahhhh. I then saw an old man with a small dog (a common combination in Europe) walking up the hill towards me. Every now and then he would stop, mutter something, look at his dog, and point off the road into the ferns. His little dog would then scamper off into the bushes and the man would continue, chatting to himself as if his mouth were full and he was a Spanish auction caller of days gone by. As he passed me, he calmly said ‘Buenas tardes,’ then continued muttering to himself or his dog.
I’m taking the train to Irun, then a night train to Madrid, and will arive in Granada 2pm tomorrow. Nineteen hours of travel. Just finished the Lord of the Rings, and starting some fairy tales by Mr. Andersen himself.
I put up many many new photos here.
Found this in the introduction¬†to ‘The Alsoran’, a local free newspaper in Prague. I think it’s hot shit, and I wish more people would talk like this. It speaks very succinctly what many wise travelers and locals¬†I’ve run into have been thinking.
Hey kids! Guess what time of year it is. Time for some fun, fun, fun. I hope everyone had a great time on the previous holidays and found the perfect costume to express their individuality. Monstrous things we chose to be. Who are archfiends really? Before you start reading this you should listen to Working Class Hero by John Lennon. the knaves of this world are not the boys strapping C4 to themselves, or the women taking over elementary schools, or the Buddhist Kamikaze pilots who said prayers as they flew their planes into a US warships. They are theocrats telling their disciples only in death will they find nirvana, the Catholic Father who sent young French boys through the Gates of Jerusalem, the mothers making their children work for people who use them, the fathers telling their children driving a metal box to work everyday until they die is what their life should be. The people that pilfer reign over the souls of this earth and use them towards their own empowerment and, more staggeringly, making them and their lives. These are the dastards.
Nothing has changed. People who punch keys on a plastic box are no different from those who spun textiles in factories 100 years ago, or any different than the person who drove a plow and horse 100 years before that. They were slaves then to land owners, dukes counts and kings. Now they are slaves to corporations, directors, presidents and CEOs. These quintessence give their lives to the ruse of having just enough money to live and a life beyond this. You cannot even spend the little you get the way you wish. Unless you go on a holiday to get a tan you’re not doing well enough. If you can’t buy a new car every 3 years, you need to work harder for someone else. That is what they tell you. Read the Guardian. It is all there, the trips to Malta, the New Renault. The promise of $50k a year that you need to equally divide amongst charity, insurance, bank mortgages, petroleum gasoline, pensions and Tesco. No one needs any of this. Soviets stood in line for bread. Capitalists stand in the same lines for brand name bread. Go to Carrefour if you don’t believe me. a suicide bomber is not an extremist (an extremist is a person with a strong opinion). They are nihilists adrift in a world looking or a reason why. But, there is no reason why. There is only you. The “absolutists” proselytizing that¬†only by ending their life will they find happiness are evil whether this is the 40 hours a week in a 6×8 cubicle for 25 years working for someone else or the split second it takes to blow one’s self up. I is the death of our essence and mind. We have a disability as humans. We need something to believe in. We search the globe. We search the fantasy of religion. Through all of this searching we forget to look the one place we can find the only thing to really believe in. We fail to look at ourselves. In this failure we are lied to by those around us and become their pawns, whilst they live a life of endless affluence. This is monstrous. People are educated just enough to type on a computer and write for a boss. If you believe in yourself and educate yourself¬†you will accomplish everything this life has to offer. Few are that brave. The indoctrination starts at a young age. It is often impossible to reverse the brain washing.
I believe in me. That is versimilitude. I believe in the love I share. There is nothing more to believe in. There are no countries. There are no religions. There is only us and this planet. We are beautiful creatures with beautiful minds. When you find yourself you will find happiness. I live in peace. I live in Happiness, I don’t need money to survive. I didn’t have to work 400 hours for another person to sail across the Indian Ocean. I just did it. Because I can do anything. I am me. You are you. Love your life. Believe in whatever you want, but believe in yourself first.¬†Do everything¬†anyone tells you is wrong, crazy or selfish. I have no reason to hide behind a costume of those whom I have been told to fear. Nor should you. Trust is only a state of mind.
I managed to fix everything that was wrong, and ended up improving my publishing platform with the latest version of WordPress. It’s pretty slick, and now I can just send an email to a secret account that I set up and my server will publish my words in the split second it takes for email to get from one city in California to the next.
Tomorrow I’m going to St. Emilion, a city outside of Bordeaux, France known for wineries and a cozy middle ages stoniness.
The unplanned journey began in Brussels: I am now no longer booking way ahead of time my flights and hostels like a Rick Steves avid reader. I am proud to say unbooked and off the hook, with options before me, and a Eurail pass in hand. This makes life much easier as I can stay as long or short as I please wherever I am without having to cram a cities’ sights in at the last minute.
However, I’m worried this may make me lazy, especially due to the increase in sunlight I will be absorbing when I venture farther south to Andalusia, Spain. What will be become of me?
On another note, take a look at this corporate architecture mockery next door to the cathedral in Brussels, Belgium….