Wednesday, October 21, 2009

rainy day in barcelona by k

it's raining, it's pouring and i'm loving it! arel and dorian got a ride to school with a neighbor, so i have barely left the apartment (i did go downstairs to see them off) and barely left bed (i did make breakfast and lunches). but since they set off, i have been in bed...reading the paper, editing a document for the school, catching up on short everything to avoid doing what i should be doing, which is working on my website and marketing for my coaching practice! this blog post is the last thing that stands between me and facing that, so don't be surprised if this is a long post!

i have been meaning to write since barak, dorian and i went to venice. you already know about the wonderful trip from barak's earlier post. i went into the trip especially curious what it would be like to be back in italy after so many years. when i was younger...a lot younger...i think i was 18 the last time i was there, i found being in italy pretty horrible. the first time i went was with karen when i was 15 or 16 and we basically fled the country because we were trailed by packs of men all the time. really. we couldn't take many steps without men coming up to us and not leaving us alone. i know it sounds like i'm being dramatic, but it felt extremely oppressive. we cut our time in italy short and high-tailed it back to france.

the next time i went was when i was 18. i went with my dad and my uncle Winnie. i thought being with older men would make me less of a target, but it was pretty much the same, and now i was with people who had no sympathy whatsoever for how it was for me. on the contrary, they kept saying they wished that women would do that to them. again, i was thrilled when it was time to leave the country.

so, i wondered, what would it be like to go back in my 40s. well, a more different experience i could not have imagined and i have asked myself what changed. of course i'm older and not the innocent catch i used to be. but i think it's more. as the days went by i kept thinking, italy has changed. in the 25 years since i was last there, italy has least that's my theory. it is now much more a part of the greater europe than it used to be, italians (again, i think) travel much more and are not so cut off. i think in the past, young blond women was a rare sight and was the suggestion of other places and other ways (in other words, maybe they'll sleep with me because italian women definitely won't!). now, the streets of venice are crawling with blonds and all shapes and sizes of tourists. i imagine venice is the extreme of this phenomenon in italy, but i'm guessing it's similar in other places as well. literally, not one man looked at me the whole trip or tried to talk to me, even the one afternoon i went walking alone. i know they say older women (am i one?) become invisible, but i have to say, in that moment, it felt good to be invisible. i could be an observer and wander around relaxed. i'm excited now by the prospect of exploring italy again, which is great because it has so many amazing places and the food is tasty.

life is good in barcelona. i still love being in europe. i love the fact that we can fly to venice in under 2 hours, not be jetlagged and get right back to life a few days later. i am also realizing, though, something that really bugs me about being here. europeans are stuffy! of course, not all of them, but on the whole there is a certain stuffiness, seriousness, snobbery and resignation that i see here more than in san francisco. i know i'm making vast generalizations here, and i know san francisco is not the rest of the united states. another way of putting it just popped into my head...europeans are not silly! they don't do silly things or giggle. or they don't do it in public. or something. (i feel i am digging a hole for myself here and i can see barak cringing at my making sweeping statements like this, but oh well.) or maybe i'm just hanging out with the wrong europeans! i miss silliness.

i'll leave it at that and go back to enjoying the rainy day!

Monday, October 5, 2009


VALL DE NÚRIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Last wednseday i went with my class to a beutiful mountain "town" called Vall de Núria. I put town in little two dot things cause all it really was was a lake, a huge hotel, activities, a youth hostel, and some amazing hiking paths. On wednsday when i got to school i just walked around bothering people about their oversized suitcases until we finally got on the bus. It had to have been one of the most horrible long bus rides ever. As you can see, i got pretty darn bored! So after about 2 and a half hours of talking and listening to music, we finally got of the bus! Finally we were there! It was so beutiful!!!!!! NOT!
We were there, ubt there was not vall de nuria, there wasa a train station. Mr. McKeen got everyones attention and made the best announcment ever. We were gonna wait for the train for more then an hour! So everyone got relaxed and just started talking and running around the lot. After about and hour and 20 minutes we got on the train and after 45 minutes, saw a beutiful lke and hotel. "IS THAT IT?!?!?!?!?!?!" everyone thought to themselves. And yes, it was. We got out and everyone was so happy that....................................GROUP HUG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We went up to the youth hostel and went to our rooms. We go on some warm clothes and went back down the hill to the lake to go canoeing. That was good. The water was sooooooo cold though. 6 degrees!!!!!!!!!! ahhhhhhhhhh. poor Ona she fell in. After that we went up the hill to have free tme and me and a bunch of friends went of to a huge grassy area with cows, and naturally, cow shit....lots and lots of cow shit. We pretty much just chilled and talked for like 2 hours and then went back to the hostal for dinner. It was a fantastic dinner of frozen pasta salad with pineapple and tuna...YUMMY. We then went upstairs and learned how to orienteer ourselves with no compass. but im not gonna get into too nice to make you suffer with that story. We then went to our and went to sleep (wich was almos impossible bacuse TOM wouldnt SHUTUP. Anyway next morning w had a typical bad spanish breakfast and then went down the hill to do tubby. Tubby was basically going down a hill with a gresy inertube. that was OK. Then we went to a ropescorse wich was cool especially wen you fell and the harness pressed real hard against your pakete. I tried too moonwalk on the wooden board wich didnt go so well...then me and oscar had pushing fights! after that, we went up for not gonna describe anymore meals because it makes me think of the good food my family was having in venice. :( anyway after lunch we went minigolfing and i did horribly...i got 30 strokes in 1 hole!!!!! :S I was in a group with oscar and sime. After tha we went on a scavenger hunt an my group won in just 23 minutes! After the orienteering we went up and had freetime...we went over to the cows again and told a lot of jokes. after free time we ate and went into our rooms to get ready for the....dun dun DUN.....DANCE. Axe and disgusting fragrances flew around as my friends tried to get as manly as possible. Then we went down stairs. Blinding lights and lud, horrible spaish rap played on the speakers. Everyone danced a lot but mostly they were just jumping up and down with on hand up and sweating fro no reason. AT LEAST WE WERE HAVING FUN!
The dj was this old skinhead who had horrible music and couldnt even find Low in his library....wat a loser. I really wanted dance with this one girl who i really like...i wonder if dancing net to her counts? any wa after the dance we went up to our room and crashed after liek five minutes. The next morning we woke up and had to pack before brkfst. another breakfast made of manuer. We took all our bags down the hill and went hiking. We went to this really amazing path. I got really jelous of the people in group C because i heard they ran into a couple of supermodels. At least they sent me a pic! SUPERMODELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After the hike we went back and got on the Train. Another long, horrible journey. Goodbye Now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

weekend in venice - by b

we (KBD) just got back from venice where we met my parents who are traveling in europe. we planned the trip some time ago before we know that arel would have a school trip to Vall de Nuria in the spanish pyranees) so he couldn't join us. i think he would have really liked venice. i saw a few small groups of kids in boats there... and i imagined him as one of them.

i had a good, relaxed time in venice--- it reminded me in a few ways of our time in esouria in morocco last year. very very mellow, slow. elegant, yet a bit shabby --- my favorite sort of place.

day 1.
my dad has talked about glassblowing for as long as i can remember... and has always wanted to check out the glass blowers on the island of murano, just off venice. we headed out there. it is very touristy... but was oddly quiet when we got there---especially once we got off the boat and a few meters from the dock. an official-sounding guy stood on the quay as we got off the boat telling us the murano glass factory was the first right. of course there is no one murano glass factory... but several.. and his job was to make it sound like there was but one. the one he works for. no murano but murano! we found a factory that gave a demonstration of glass blowing and sculpting..... i love the rich orange color of molten glass..

my parents bought kristin a couple beautiful necklaces of murano glass. so it is definaely possible to find interesting work there. but for the most part and for my taste most of the glass i saw was runofthemill and not interesting. i did like this gate to a factory that did not seem to have a tour.

and this piece in a shop did make me laugh (not scream)

the stop just next to murano on the vaporetto (water bus) is the cemetery. it is on Isola di San Michele, a former prison island surrounded by walls. igor stravinsky, josef brodsky and ezra pound are buried there. i did not see one, but i imagine the special funeral gondolas are an amazing sight. here is my dad there.

kristin had the nice idea for dorian to water some plants at the cemetery with one of the watering cans for this purpose

we rode back and got off for some lunch in a restaurant in a large garden. i liked this ad nearby. so i got inside.

for lunch i stumbled into two local treats... one was sardines in saor. the other was a spritz made with Apero (you can get one with Campari.. but I prefer the sweeter Apero). During our time there we got an email from Ariege with tips for Venice. she asked us to drink an Spritz for her.....

we ended up in st. marks plaza which really is quite incredible. here is a requisite pigeon

four horses atop the basilica in st. marks plaza. local legend has it that the horses had eyes of rubies that were stolen. and on very very dark nights you can hear the horses whinying as they chomp at their bits and wish to search the plaza for their eyes

not your classic venice photo.. but i loved the way the water lapped on the steps.. and made the algae move. it reminded me of my general laziness and contentment there.

a more classic pic

day 2
my mom really wanted to go check out what is apparently the oldest jewish ghetto. it was a few blocks from our apartment in the cannaregio district. according to a guidebook i bought, the word comes from getti which were cannon foundries. the ghetto has a pleasant plaza with synagogues, a museum, an old-age home which doubles as a guest house serving kosher food.

we then made our way to the peggy gugenheim collection that no less than five people had recommended we visit. it is on the grand canal in the home of gugenheim. it was the perfect size for a museum... one floor... and a very very pleasant place to hang out.

here is a neon sign in the courtyard. at the peggy gugenheim.. "changing place, changing time, changing thoughts, changing future" apt.

one of MANY spritzes drunk for ariege. ariege, john, stella and hugo went to venice after we hung out together in barcelona and costa brava a few months ago.

a pollock in the peggy gugenheim. the blue is the grand canal through reflected through the windows

a man! on horse outside... overlooking the grand canal

my dad talking to some dude in the courtyard. i saw a book later in venice called "art addict" about guggenheim... on the cover she is sitting in this great chair.

a different angle reveals more neon. in english: "If The Form Vanishes Its Root Is Eternal".


the gate to gugenheim collection

i broke off from everybody who went back to the apartment. i just walked around. i went back to st. marks. and found a little bar nearby. the barman was making this artwork. i joked with him that it was for the bienale which was on it's last weeks in venice.. it is perhaps the most prestigious (if you're into that sort of thing---prestige, that is) art event in the world. he seemed to like that. and he offered me the venetian price on my drink (not the tourist price) ( a 50 eurocent savings)

i liked this shop's hours. honest.

a GIANT rosary on a church

day 2 was friday night and the first night of the holiday of sukkot---so my parents went to synagogue. dorian, kristin and i went for a drink. and then we cooked a tasty meal of pasta at the apartment. i bought a good bottle of proseco to go along with it. the five of us ate and drank. it was good.

day 3
we started day 3 with a gondola ride. and it turned out to be a great idea. dorian wanted to do it. a gondola can get you off the larger canals and into some really peaceful spots. we were able to see families getting going in the morning... get some peeks into little private courtyards.

we went for the gondola ride at high tide. the gondolier asked a colleague how this little canal would be before turning into it. he carefuly distributed us and moved us around a few times as he tilted and turned his way under a very tight bridge. the gondola belonged to his grandfather. he was very close

the gondola was relaxing and fun

ok.. i'm getting tired ... here are some miscellaneious pix

advertising overtakes the bridge of sighs. sigh.

my parents on a vaporetto, #52

i went for a couple of early morning runs. there is a lot of water. but there is place to run too.

dorian and i walked to the "end" of venice which was only a few blocks (two bridges) from the apartment. the light was different.

a quick game of bananagrams. i got the hang of it.

dorian jumping in the apartment
dorian jumping down the stairs in the apartment

the kurdistan pavillion of the bienalle... i live on this planet sometimes