italy's only major corporation is fiat... but there is a gelateria on every street corner.... this makes me think the entire country is run on ice-cream.... (mafia controlled confections???)... but it still doesn't explain why i ordered two 2-Euro cups of gelato every day, but i have a hard time splurging for a $2 cone of Izzy's Ice-cream in st paul. hey. did anyone see that car just go by? it was red. COOL!
rome is many things, but elevator-friendly is not one of them. to reach the 5th floor of our building, 4 bags and 3 people had to manually open 2 doors for 1 ride in a 1/2 sized phonebooth that traveled at 1/3 the speed of small town news... but that was just the beginning of my complaints...
riding down by myself, the elevator stopped to picked up an elder-granny. not knowing cramped-elevator-etiquette, i scrunched against the corner. she jibbered away. i pointed up and down (trying to explain elevators through her senility) and then I motioned that I was going DOWN. she jibbered more. i pointed down again, frustrated with her elementary understanding of motion. she just kept jabbering....
unable to take it anymore, i left the elevator figuring i could walk the remaining couple flights.... only to realize we were on the ground level and that i had just wasted 2 minutes of her soon-to-terminate life....
recently acquired :: air travel tickets [round-trip] to roma, italy
purpose of visit :: pleasure [visiting UB's sisterblog, touring with my sister]
average temperature :: 65 degrees f
quest :: last minute vacation
early eliminations [price] :: san fransisco | albuquerque | vancouver | seattle | montreal
possible forays :: boston | manhattan | puerto vallarta
!! update : dark horse entry :: fargo [parents got offer on house. many boxes left to move.]
everything was so old it made me feel like i was in europe.
the weather didn't cooperate (we only had one day of poofy clouds, which i adore)... so you have to do the best with what you have. there's some related story about lemons, but it's not the one where a car dies every week.
my favorite sight from savannah. i think this pumpkin colored house summarizes savannah perfectly. weed house: savannah :: brooklyn bridge: new york.
while preparing a shopping list with my dad, he said: "we need sugar, eggs, baking soda.... and.... and.... shoot, what was that.... a baking essential.... very important.... oh, yeah ice-cream."
believe it or not, i am the conquistador introducing the idea of fruits and veggies to this sugar-based culture.... and if everyone catches small pocks, so i need to finish off the cookies... eh...
my vision: a 12-day odyssey into the heart of incan ruins.
my reality: a weekends in ND and Georgia.
i need a new travel agent
it was a looooooong trip home. my "window" seat was windowless and after 11 hrs I began to feel a little like a coffin-dweller. particularly since a large chinese man was blocking my view of the onflight movie.
a presidential visit and weather delayed pretty much every airport we tried to leave from. because my flight(s) from philly kept getting delayed, i would go get a new boarding pass for a different itinery because i was going to miss my connection to MSP. after the 3rd itinerary change, security pulled me aside, questioned me about all the changes, bomb checked my shoes/jacket and patted me for weapons.
finally got transfered to midwest airlines, a company i now love. their coach section is like first class with extra wide leather seats + ample legroom. the prices were close to normal coach prices.... best of all they fresh-bake choc chip cookies on every flight. now that's my kind of airline!
Every May 22nd must be Annual dinner with a strange Jess.... last year, I had a long brunch in NYC with a Jess I had never met before. This year, I did dinner with my dad's co-worker's daughter who's living in Barcelona. While last jess was more punk, this jess was more apple pie americana. I'm excited to see what next year's jess is like. Maybe she'll be an astronaut!
P.S. Tuna Tartar is raw.... not tuna with a mayo/pickle tartar sauce.... thankfully, I was able to change my order before the damage was done. Do they not cook any food in Europe?
the computer was down for two days... (interstingly, the same thing happened in the middle of my may trip last year)
- tibidabo: amusement park on mountain overlooking barcelona... unfortunately, we didn´t go to the park... you had to buy a full amusement park pass and we only wanted to the ferris wheel above the city... the view was still nice, although polluted...
- bistec cappriccio = beef cappricio = raw beef.... i only saw the beef ¨with parmesean cheese and butter sauce.¨
- susie planned day trip to figueres to visit the dali museum designed by dali for dali. it was very dali.... a little tacky at times... a little dark and disturbed at times... but very intersting and much better than the picasso museum (just his early work) that we saw the day earlier.
- tried ¨horchata¨... supposed to be almond juice... tasted like carrot juice with cream... yeah....
- today i ate every pastery i could find coated in chocolate... croissants... dessert waffles... and chocolate pudding in a crisp kit-kat cone coated in chocolate. shot for the chocolate museum, but was never able to find it.
36 hours left....
tried going a bunch of places, but we couldn´t find them, they didn´t look interesting or were closed... however, the day was not wasted:
- finally found a real chocolate shop and spend 7€ on different desserts... all very good...
- wound up in a ¨family area¨ ... outdoor school basketball game... children playing in a park... and a group of 60-80 yr olds doing the traditional sardanes circle dance to a live, outdoor band dominated by double reeds. i´ve never seen so many old people jump at once before.
- walked by the meditteranian and waved to heather around 3pm. couldn´t tell if she was waving back.
- found a great italitan restaurante. the back patio (surrounded by concrete and ivy) was a beautiful garden terrace area. the weather was perfectly crisp. there were no smokers around us. it was the best ambiance we have found in bcn.
susie and i swiped our subway cards and started down the stairway. i always get very excited by metros... the routes are map-reading at its purest (no turn towards the gas station when you reach the barn) and i love the efficiency of 300 people barreling down the carpool lane... i saw a train at the bottom of the steps (which is even better, so we don´t have to wait). we made it just as the doors closed. then, susie looked at the train name. not only were we on the wrong train, but we were headed the wrong direction so we couldn´t even connect.
... was the whole reason i wanted to see barcelona, but the tour was disappointing. i had no idea that they were less than 50% done. scafolding everywhere. however, our second pass through the church (after a trip to the museum) was much better. the museum talked about how gaudi used nature (seashells, spirals, leaves, trees, waves, etc) as his basic church elements. you could see them all and it was really quite fantastic the scale he used them at.
most nerve wracking: climbing up to the top and crossing the stone bridge. i clung tight enough to the handrail to leave an imprint. my thighs hurt all night from hundreds of steps of shaking.
i knew spaniards had a tough upper lip, but i never thought they also had an equally tough roof of their mouth. the caustic crust on the french bread sanwiches are tearing my mouth apart... but they are delicious...
in a jetlagged haze yesterday, we visited sagrada familia and i was grossly disappointed... but today, with those 18 hrs of sleep under my belt i mandated to my sister that we visit casa batllo. a-fricken-mazin! gaudi is, in fact, the genio that i knew him to be. everywhere you looked was beautiful... wood carved doors, stain glass room dividers, swirled ceilings, window handles that clung to your hand. by far, my favorite was the dining room overlooking a mosaic balcony. (it was the perfect tour= i was blown away by the beauty and creative expression. susie was impressed with its structural solidity and the engineering aspects of the tour). as we left my mind quickly flipped through its rolo-dex of ideas, looking for the million dollar screen play which would allow me to build a house like that.
eating dinner on la rambla, we ran into the airport couple who was flying our itinery. (mama was big-city demanding and always checking in to make sure they would make their connection to barcelona.) if susie and i were more social, we would have asked them to dine with us. but being engineers and computer guys, we sighed when they kept walking.
exiting the subway on the way home, i saw a second amaing builing: an office park built on stilts above a pool of water.
day one is a jetlagged blur... i vaugely remember doing or hallucinating these things:
- eating a bacon and cheese sandwich while people watching on la rambla.
- seeing the Sagrada Familia for the first time. dissapointed that you can´t get any perspective.
- lots of public work projects. bcn seems junky. 2000 construction sites, 4 workers total
- tried to replicate a fire in hearth with pretzel logs and moterella. my matches keep breaking and i can´t get the fire started.
- rode subway to subway because it´s the only way to stay awake. sitting equals sleep.
- htoel has english breakfast, but only for the english. being american. we don´t qualify.
- finally, at 5 pm went to bed. slept until 11.30am the next day. feel so much better...
you can´t check in because you´ll for sure miss your connection. the plane leaving chicago is delayed.
like hell we´re giving up like that.
kid kept kicking my thigh with his dirty shoes. as much as i hate the germy airline magasizines, i set one on my leg so he would kick that. susie and i hold memorial when we were supposed to be leaving for barcelona. preparing for war.... can they get us any where to spain? to europe? can they extend our stay by a day since they stole one from us?
...is delayed... we have 12 minutes to run and catch it across 2 concourses. near end, a cart picks us up, literally drives us around a corner and says ¨¨you´re at concourse A, you can walk from here¨¨
we make it... we try to sleep... mostly impossible for me... i can´t even sleep under normal conditions...
with 60 minutes of sleep under my belt, we arrive at 8am... our first day in bcn.
* attended a 3 hour graduation. (imagine 2 hours of reading the phone book, getting up once to stretch your legs and use the civic center bathroom... ick!)
* mother's day river boat cruise with a dixie band and band concert featuring a whole troupe of retired band instructors.
* haven't had a real meal in a couple day... mother's day ice-cream cake... baptism brownies... grad party cheese platters (featuring the new Salsa n' cheddaaar)
* final preparations: tomorrow's the big flight. just want to be there. it's been busy with illinois activities, but my mind has been oogling la sagrada familia....
En route to "Two Boots Pizza" (Underblog's suggestion), I got lost in Little Italy and ended up having a fabulous italian meal. They close Mulberry St to traffic every weekend and it feels like you are on the streets of italy. People everywhere... pasta everywhere... more cannolli than you can find in the entirety of ND. My NY friend commented on how this evening felt like a little vacation for him. After dinner and dessert, we walked one block over and were suddenly in NY. Perhaps tomorrow i will actually make it to Two Boots-- third time's a charm....
If I could walk 10,000 miles, I would do it today while the sun is shining and the weather warm. I took about 100 digital pics today as I wandered across the Brooklyn Bridge and all the way down central park from the Jackie Onassis resevour, through the great field (boring) into the ramble (the best) and ending up at the lake (a close second). The ramble was my fav because it reminded me of the fjord land of Norway. This evening I wandered around Union Square since I hadn't done enough walking earlier. I miss public water fountains and bathrooms.... I think I got a little dehydrated.
There was a group of rollerblading 9-year-old school kids in matching plaid that stopped for water near my bench. After one drink, a little girl screamed, "Yuck. It has an aftertaste of Hobo pee!" Do people still use the word "Hobo"?
It stopped raining today, so I went up the Empire State Building even though the sky was overcast. Poofy clouds always make the best pictures.
Blue Man Group was sold out once again, so I did what any single, metropolitian male would do: ride the "nIsland Ferry" (as the sign said). Following Kelliher (DDS)'s advice, I got directly off the ferry and on to the one headed towards manhattan... which is harder to do than it sounds. The mean ferry-man, started closing the doors when I was about 10 feet away, so I had to run and do an Indiana Jones (sans fedora).
Oh how I yearned for the sweat smell of Subway tonight (the urine kind, not the virgin, un-toasted sandwich shop). I crossed the Brookyln Bridge to take pictures and ended up wandering into a "less desirable" area after dark looking for a train station. I assumed it was safe since the cars were all expensive... but then maybe this was were the drug lords double-parked. As I approached the subway stop, I was never so excited to inhale that distinctively MetroAreaTransit smell....
P.S. A simple reinstall of drivers now allows my friend to connect to the internet via ethernet instead of his smashed USB plug.
I have 6:36 to type this. Friend's computer died horrible death.... to bad there is noone around to fix it. Bought 10 min fro $2.50. Most gone checking my email.
Yesterday, I waited in line for about 4 hours for Spamalot tickets. SPAMTASTIC!!! It was a wonderfully fun show. I loved it and it was worth the wait. I lost my train of thought because a fire truck just drove by, got stuck in traffic near my ear and honked for 30 seconds. 4.19 Better save once so I at least get somehting posted. It was a fun, fun show... "setting musical theatre back 1000 years." Tim Curry stole the show. There were no witches (too expensive). I ate a restaurant under a large nose today ("nobody nose italitan like we know italitan"). On my way out I touched a sculptuer of a female butt as the sign insisted for good luck. The bronzed butt poke paid off and I got front row, center, mezzanine seats. Couldn't have asked for better. Thus ends my trip posts unless his computer gets fixed.
Went to the trade center rubble today. On one hand, it was amazing how big of a space was destroyed. On the other, it's amazing how small of a space has lead to such huge international missions. Space is relative.
Found my dream condo in Battery Park City, so I went in so I could get an apartment tour if they would give me one. The building was actually a Ritz Carlton. They've got good taste. At least it wasn't an old people's home... all my dream buildings in MSP and ABR have housed the elderly.
Ate a burger with Mango Pepper sauce. Very Tasty. I love eating dinner at 9:30pm. Go Blue 9 Burgers!
Today I went to Moma... during the first few floors I was contemplating what the nice weather in central park would be like, but I turned the corner and ran into the Persistance of Memory by Dali... a personal favorite. I was captivated and it was really powerful in person. It was smaller than I thought it would be (8.5x11ish) and I got in trouble for looking too long and too close... so I stopped by it again on my way out.... just as long and just as close. Similarly Starry Night by Van Gogh was AMAZING. I generally don't like it because you see it everywhere from coffee mugs to fuzzy toilet covers... but it's really powerful in person. Kudos to those artists and Moma, a top drawer museum.
This evening I went to Dylan's Candy Bar, a 2 story candy store and bought every flavor of gummy bear I have never tried. I also bought one of every chocolate covered ______ I hadn't tried. None of them made the subway trip home.
Finally, a Peanut Butter Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity. I love the movie and couldn't resist going despite warnings of commercialism and success run amock. AMOCK I SAY! The drink was like a peanut butter cup with straw. Heavenly and sugary. I sipped the drink staring at all the beautiful couples who were obviously there because they girl loved the movie and what it stood for (more than the guy she was with). As for me, I was also there reminscing my first love... each and every sip of her....
Brunch in NYC is a scam. My friend took me to brunch (at the Life Cafe... From Rent) after 1pm and the menu claimed brunch went until 4:30pm. I'm sorry, but after 12pm, you lose all right to use the "br" of breakfast. 1pm is clearly lunch--4:30pm borders on early supper or at least lupper... just ask my grandparents... they have dinner at 4...
Today I road practically every colour train NYC has to offer. While waiting for my subway to arrive, I studied the map as a Scottish Tourist asked me if the green train stopped here. I hoped so since I also wanted the green line and she informed me she has been waiting for a half hour. Frusterated, she walked to another station and I hopped three different lines to get me where I was going. I stepped out of the subway just in time for a downpour and had to watch a play in soggy pants.... which meant I could actually enjoy it without worrying if I could make it until the end without excusing myself to the bathroom.
That afternoon there was a huge stack of cars waiting at a traffic light. One lady was really upset and honking like there was no tomorrow with a cigarette butt hanging out of her mouth. Only later did it strike me that she was also wearing a full clown costume. I can see why many writers like living here.
As the plane started its descent, I could see lots of lights off in the distance and I got really excited until I realized those lights were New Jersey.
I have never seen so many lights before. New York is great... even that first strong wiff of BO.